Videos you shouldn't miss!
This is director Suparn Verma's fun new column for Rediff Movies.
Warning! This column reflects the views of the writer and the writer only! He may or may not have been in his senses so don't let that colour your judgement. The writer shall endeavour to try and refrain from profanity and try REALLY hard from being politically incorrect. But managing both at the same time may be a tough task for him. Hence, viewer discretion is advised. But if you wanna have fun...then what the hell! Keep reading.
The writer shall endeavour to try and refrain from profanity and try REALLY hard from being politically incorrect. But managing both at the same time may be a tough task for him. Hence, viewer discretion is advised. But if you wanna have fun...then what the hell! Keep reading.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni walked hand in hand during their India trip, l'amour in their eyes. French films ushered in the new wave with Truffaut and Goddard, but what is most interesting to me is that their music has been sung in various versions in America.
In fact, French music's unique emphasis on the voice of the singer and their soulful lyrics brings them very close to our mainstream music.
For the last four years, I have been trying to hunt down a song without knowing the singer or the lyrics. Then, voila! I somehow manage to hum the first three beats of the song to a very close friend, Camille, who incidentally is French. She reveals who the singer is and that the fact that the song is one of his most famous, and is known to everyone in France!
Talk about small mercies.
But before you click play, let me warn you, if you are nursing a broken heart that hasn't healed or are on the verge of a nervous breakdown, don't dare go any further. This song, and the one in the next slide, will break your heart with its sound and lyrics (they are subtitled).
For the first song to kick off this week's festival of love for all things French, I present to you Jacques Brel.
There is nothing I can tell you about him which you won't find on Wikipedia; suffice to say I have been hearing this song every moment I get for the last six days. The song is Ne me quitte pas (Don't leave me) and his performance is as real as it gets.
Have you checked out Suparn's first column?
Image: Jacques Brel's Ne me quitte pas
Warning: Not for the faint-hearted!
Yves Montand, the Italian-born French actor and singer, was a well-known crooner; his songs, especially those about Paris, were huge hits. He had a small fling with Marilyn Monroe during the filming of Let's Make Love.
Montand died on the sets of The Island of Pachyderms, on the very last day, after his very last shot.
Director Jean-Jacques Beineix said, 'It was the very last night and we were doing retakes. He finished what he was doing and then he just died. And the film tells the story of an old man who dies from a heart attack, which is the same thing that happened!'
The song is Les feuilles mortes it's titled Autumn Leaves internationally -- but the actual meaning is dead leaves. After hearing the song, I believe you will prefer to go with the actual meaning. This song carries the same warning as Brel.
Open your heart and enjoy!
Image: Yves Montand's Les feuilles mortes
Beg, borrow, steal, loot, murder...
I have been dying to share this with you. It's one of my all-time favourite films and one of the greatest moments in cinematic history.
The first time I saw this film at a film festival in Mumbai 15 years ago, I had goose bumps. I have seen Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colours Blue countless times, but this moment still has the same effect on me.
If you haven't seen his trilogy, then beg, borrow, steal, loot, murder... do what you have to but get your hands on the films. And while you are at it, also get his Decalogoue and Double Life of Veronique.
The video is the climatic moment of the film -- it's a marriage of Zbigniew Preisner's music and the divine Juliette Binoche enacting one of her greatest roles.
Image: The climax of Three Colours Blue
Some things in life haunt you
Romy Schneider, born in Nazi-run Vienna into a family of actors, began her career at the age of 15. She dated French god Alain Delon for a while.
Her first husband committed suicide and her teenage son died in a freak accident; years later, she died from what doctors say was a cardiac arrest. Legend, however, goes that her death was caused by a lethal drug cocktail.
As an actress, she has worked with the best and biggest of names of and has left behind an impressive legacy of films. But her voice mirrors the many heartbreaks in her life.
The song I'd like you to watch is La Chanson D'Helene from the movie, The Things In Life. Some things in life haunt you; her beautiful voice will be one of them.
Image: La Chanson D'Helene from The Things In Life
Ah, the beauty of youth!
Jules Et Jim is my favourite Francois Truffaut film. With each passing year, the many nuances of relationships and what love means keep changing depending on what my perspective of life is at that moment.
This is a magical moment in the film where Jeanne Moreau, who rose to fame with Louis Malles's Elevator To The Gallows and Truffaut's Jules Et Jim sings this tongue twister of a song, Le Tourbillion.
Sing along and have fun and raise a toast to the beauty of youth.
Image: Le Tourbillion from Jules Et Jim
Even the conversation's in music!
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg was part of director Jacques Demy's trilogy. This musical, which came after Lola and The Young Girls Of Rochefort, starred the divine Catherine Deneuve.
Its music was composed by Michel Legrand, who also scored the outstanding soundtrack for The Thomas Crown Affair (released in 1968, starring Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway). Many of you may have seen the 1999 version, starring Pierce Brosnan.
In this film, even the most casual conversation was in a musical form.
I had picked up the DVD in Mauritius; it didn't have English subtitles so it wasn't until much later that I actually understood every single line in the film.
It's one of my favourite musicals ever and this song is about a man who has been drafted telling his lady love that he is going to war.
Image: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
The solitude of a Samurai
I worship Jean Pierre Melville and if I ever decide to explore my sexuality, I would hook up with Alain Delon. He's the epitome of what a man should be. I have always written with him in my head.
But coming to the video, Director Jean Pierre Melville is a master. His film Le Circle Rouge had a 27 minute heist sequence done in absolute silence.
Takeshi Kitano and Melville are masters of silence; their use of music and economy of visual movement is like watching a painting unfold.
Watch the master at work with his favourite actor for a long time in absolute silence and, when the silence is broken by violence, beauty descends upon the frames as a lovely sax takes over.
This one requires a glass of single malt and a cigar!
Image: The solitude of a Samurai
The song of love
Edith Piaf was a goddess and a French treasure. Her musical legacy is legendary.
If you want to get a flavour, check out the movie on her life; it's named after one of her most famous works, La Vie En Rose.
Piaf's life started off as a noir movie and ended up like a Greek tragedy, but her music lives on.
Hollywood has used her songs many times in their movies; the latest was Hans Zimmer using the riff of Non, je ne regretted rien to create the soundtrack of Inception and then doffing his hat to her by using the song as the kick.
One of my favourite versions is of Audrey Hepburn singing Vie en rose to Humphrey Bogart in Sabrina. She first hears an old man singing this song in Paris and then she sings it, in an open top car, her magical eyes sparkling and you're in love.
This one goes well with red wine.
Image: Non, je ne regretted rien
Create a world of your own
Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers is a film I have seen numerous times; it speaks directly to your consciousness as a youth filled with idealistic fervour, something I found only in one Hindi film -- Hazroon Khwaishien Aisi.
The movie has it all -- love for cinema; love without taboos; the discovery of kindred spirits and oneness. This is a rare phenomena that most people die without experiencing.
The only exceptions are the rare few who take the leap of faith, setting aside societal conventions and the culture they were born in to create a world of their own.
This is one such film.
Michael Pitt and The Twins of Evil create their version of this Jimi Hendrix classic, Hey Joe!
Image: Michael Pitt and The Twins of Evil create their version of this Jimi Hendrix classic, Hey Joe!
Lastly, we have the French First Lady, a singer and model who has been linked with Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger, singing L'Amour.
I don't need to point out that Carla Bruni is ravishingly beautiful and has a commanding presence.
Honestly, I was too busy looking at her every time I try and hear this song, but you can't really blame me for that.
Take a look yourself!