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Montreal Cinemania French Film Festival

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Cinemania Film Festival—one of the largest French film festivals in the world—will take place in Montreal Nov 2-12. It’s a fabulous festival, and if you love French film, I highly recommend it. You can see last year’s programming here.

If you’re interested in attending this year’s festival with a small group of film lovers and film scholars, Rick Winston and Andrea Serota (formerly of the Savoy Theater & Green Mountain Film Festival), and I will lead 4 days of film, food and conversation at Cinemania, Nov 2-5.

We would love to have you join us!

We’ll see 6 films together, discuss the films in depth, and meet privately with Montreal film critic Matthew Hays.

Rick and Andrea will host a session on the wide-ranging influence of French film on world cinema, as well as daily pre- and post-film conversations.

All films are subtitled in English, and discussions are in English, though speaking French is an advantage.

Price (discounted until Sept 12 for readers of this blog) includes 6 film tickets, including the opening night gala, 2 dinners, and 4 days of stimulating viewing and conversation.

Read details and a download a registration form here.

Questions? You can reach me at 802 446-8770, or email.

Bon cinéma!

La Rentree 2017 and Paris Museums

Summer’s over in Paris. La rentrée — back to school — means new backpacks for students and new temporary museum exhibits for everyone.

Here are 3 of my favorites:

• At the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, the lavish temporary expo, “Dior, Cuturier de Rêve,” celebrates the esteemed fashion house’s 70th birthday with a display of over 300 pieces, and following its designers from Christian Dior’s time through the present. Pictured above is a 1958 ensemble by Yves St Laurent. Until Jan 7.

• At the recently renovated Musée Picasso, “Picasso 1932” relates a complete year in the life of the Spanish painter, using a chronological presentation of his work and archives. The exhibition is organized in partnership with the Tate Modern in London, and contains important work, including “The Dream.” From Oct 10 to Feb 11.

• At Musée Jacquemart-André, the temporary expo “The Hansens’ Secret Garden” features 40 Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works assembled by Danish art collectors Wilhelm and Henry Hansen. Paintings are by Corot, Cézanne, Matisse, Monet, and Gaugin. Get ready for a surprise — these works are relatively unknown in France. From Sept 15 to Jan 22.

Paris Via Video Part 2

Last week’s culinary video was a big hit, so here are two others that are très fun — whether you’re planning a trip to Paris, or waxing nostalgic.

Enrique Pacheco’s Le Petit Paris sails through the city with lots of close ups, beautiful light, and time lapse sequences that make you feel like you are there.

Allo Allo, from The House of Nod, gives a high energy, fresh take on the city of love and light.

Enjoy! And let us know what you think of these approaches to the city!

Paris Via Video: Alex Gabriel

Alex Gabriel is a self-trained cook living in Paris. I love his humor, and I especially like his cheese tasting video — it even recommends a couple of Vermont cheeses as alternatives to French.

And his brioche video shows you what to look for as well as how to make a good brioche.

And serious cooks won’t want to miss this one on remaking the chef’s knife.

Do you have favorite Paris videos? Share them here, s’il vous plaît!

Paris Restaurant: Eat Intuition in the 12th

Ethnic influences are an exciting development on the Paris food scene, and Eat Intuition, near the Bastille, is a good example.

Venezuelan chef Isabella Losado has a market-driven tapas menu that includes salmon gravlax with beets (pictured above); delightful button mushrooms with house-made ricotta; spicy beef and pork meatballs on a bed of creamy polenta, and oeuf endiablé — deviled eggs that turn a summer staple into a treat.

Wines by the carafe are from small producers, and fresh pressed fruit juices marry flavors like ginger and passion fruit.

At the end of a springtime Sunday brunch, when the generous slice of flourless chocolate cake, then the coffee (served in small French press pitchers) were gone, we lingered, watching Isabelle move back and forth across her pink-tiled kitchen.

We were grateful for her inspired dishes and filled with newfound appreciation for the melding of two cultures.

Paris Book Review: Murder in Saint-Germain

From frequent contributor Betty Guernsey:

Cara Black in her seventeenth Aimée Leduc mystery “Murder in Saint-Germain” demonstrates yet again that she has not lost her spunk or freshness, nor her penchant for intrigue (in this case, Bosnian/Serbian).

Centered around Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the oldest church in Paris, and the ancient quarter surrounding it, Black utilizes its famed icons and storied landmarks as settings for her action: the church itself, Le Sénat, former royal palace of Marie de Medicis; l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts; the Jardin du Luxembourg; Closerie des Lilas; rue Madame; and rue Bonaparte.

Lovers of the 6ème arrondissement will feast on tidbits of its juicy history, while fans of Aimée will revel in this latest chapter in her amazingly complex life.

Are you a Cara Black fan? Let us know your favorite titles!

Paris via Film: Paris Can Wait

Un grand merci to Nancy Fulton for recommending and reviewing the film “Paris Can Wait.”

Anne (Diane Lane) is married to Michael (Alec Baldwin), a successful, preoccupied movie producer. Their daughter has recently been launched into young adulthood and Anne now faces a new stage in life. Unexpected circumstances lead to Jacques (Arnaud Viard), her husband’s business associate, offering to drive her from Cannes to Paris. As they depart in his blue Peugeot, Jacques winsomely says “Let’s pretend we don’t know where we are going or even who we are.”

And so the carefree detour in director Eleanor Coppola’s meandering daydream of a film begins.

The quirky pairing between Jacques, with his inimitable style in the art of living, and Anne’s shy luminosity and knowing ingenuity, create a humorous and romantic dynamic that keeps the viewer guessing. Who knows where shared confidences, automotive mishaps, and asymmetric attitudes toward time will take them?

Food, wine, roses, architecture, summer scenes in Arles, Lyon, and Dijon reawaken Anne’s sense of possibility. Yes, Paris waits, while so much more arrives.

Have you seen Paris Can Wait? What did you think?

Paris via Williamstown: Picasso Encounters

The temporary exhibit at the Clark Art Institute, in Williamstown, MA, Picasso: Encounters, was organized with help from the Musée National Picasso–Paris.

The first work in the show, the artist’s self-portrait, on loan from the Paris museum, is a self-portrait that shows the artist as a solitary soul.

The next 35 prints and 2 paintings contradict this isolation, highlighting his collaborations — with printmakers, fellow artists, and Picasso’s famed muses, Olga Khokhlova, Françoise Gilot, and Dora Maar (Maar’s portrait is also on loan from the Paris museum).

It’s not a large show, but it contains important works and offers insights into Picasso’s creative process, including a set of color prints made from a single sheet of linoleum. And the recently renovated museum itself is worth the drive.

Until August 27

Paris via Montreal: MURAL Street Art Festival

The 5th annual MURAL Street Art festival, in and around Montreal’s hopping Blvd St Laurent is a sign of the city’s vibrant art scene.

International artists representing 7 countries and several prominent Canadian muralists have been commissioned to create twenty new murals.

The festival, which began as part of a movement to redevelop the popular Plateau neighborhood, is literally a work in process: artists mount scaffolding and cover the sides of buildings with colorful tableaux, each work unique as the artist, with crowds looking on. There are already 80 examples of such street art in Montreal, created in the previous years of the festival.

Blvd St Laurent will be closed to cars between Sherbrooke and Mont-Royal, but the festival extends to Old Montreal. The festival includes an art fair, 2 weekends of free outdoor concerts and block parties, temporary murals, and guided walking tours of the new installations.

Here is a glimpse of what’s in store.

Un grand merci to Cookie Tager for inspiring this week’s blog post, and for providing the photograph.

Paris via New York: A Tale of Two Pâtisseries

From frequent contributor Betty Guernsey:

Pâtisserie Claude, at 187 West 4th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues in the West Village, is one of those very few, tiny places that has become almost extinct in Manhattan, vanquished due to gentrification and escalating rents. There’s nothing fancy about the place: four marble-topped tables, mismatched chairs, blaring radio, photos (including one of Claude) hanging slightly askew on the wall – but the secret of its success are its fresh-from-the-oven croissants (tender and flaky, though not necessarily buttery), brioches, quiches, éclairs – no breads here – the pride of display going to daily fresh-baked tartes (apple, pear, apricot, hazelnut).

Wonderfully old school, beloved in the neighborhood with its obvious regulars, Claude has clung to its location for years – the original owner, now retired, handed down his cherished recipes to his successor, who carries on from 8 am to 8 pm daily but for Sunday, when he closes at 7 pm.

At the other end of the spectrum, a mere hop, skip, and jump away at 137 7th Avenue South between 10th Street and Charles, is Dominique Ansel Kitchen, its lavender/white décor smacking of Parisian sophistication. Ansel, former pastry chef for Daniel Boulud, is a master of concoction, his fabulous croissants and pastries resembling mad hats designed by Schiaparelli — and his savories, works of culinary art.

Outstanding — his chilled heirloom tomato gazpacho, curvy shell-like garlic croissants, ruffly prosciutto-boursin crossantwich, and truffled crème fraîche cheesecake, all unlike any you’ve ever tasted. The menu, altered seasonally, is served from 9 am to 9 pm every day. Perhaps best of all, the Kitchen has a lovely outdoor terrace, welcoming on a warm spring day, a small but select choice of wines and beers, and for summer, their own ice cream.