Posts Tagged ‘France’

Have You Heard Of: Camille

In France on September 29, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Quirky French pop chanteuse (and occasional Nouvelle Vague vocalist) Camille has often drawn comparisons to Iceland’s Björk due to her idiosyncratic, and oftentimes outlandish, singing style and the vast range of genres her music draws inspiration from (traditional chanson, electropop, and even opera are all represented). Since her 2002 debut album, Le Sac des Filles, Camille has been a musical superstar in her native country, with nearly half a million albums sold and counting. She has also won numerous awards, including the Prix Constantin (the French answer to the Mercury Prize) for her second album, Le Fil, and multiple prizes at the Victoires de la Musique.

She has also found a surprisingly large amount of commercial success for an artist so experimental in nature. For example, Le Fil was recorded with a low drone in the background throughout the entire record (it’s a B note, in case you were wondering), and substitutes Camille’s avant-garde vocal explorations for traditional instrumentation. And yet, amazingly, this record went Gold in France. Her latest album, 2008’s Music Hole, proves to be no less innovative. Her voice ranges from quiet and almost childlike, to primal screeching, to bombastic diva stylings worthy of Mariah Carey herself. And though she has included more songs in English than in her previous two albums, she still brings a distinctly French flair for the theatrical to the proceedings (witness the nearly wordless, and 7-minute long, “The Monk” or “Cats and Dogs”, which begins with Camille making animal noises). But just when you think you have her pigeon-holed as the second-coming of Björk, Camille surprises with the enchanting “Le Festin” for the soundtrack to Disney’s Ratatouille. If only more American pop stars would be so bold..


Un Prophète (A Prophet)

In France on September 28, 2009 at 7:15 pm

France’s official submission for the 2010 Academy Awards was recently announced, with the honor going to auteur Jacques Audiard’s sprawling prison drama Un Prophète. The film already won the Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes, and is coming off of a rapturous critical and audience reception at the Toronto International Film Festival. Featuring a largely non-professional cast, the film follows a young Arab man as he climbs the ranks of the prison system. Critics have deemed it “tough”, “absorbingly intricate” (Variety) and “sensationally directed and quietly compelling” (The Globe and Mail), and it’s already made over $8 million in France (not bad for a film with a 2 and a half hour plus running time). As for it’s US release, the film already has a February 12th date set and is being distributed by Sony Classics, Sony’s specialty branch which also oversaw the releases of films like Rachel Getting Married, Volver, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It’ll be interesting to see how a gritty and violent, not to mention lengthy, foreign film will play with American audiences.

Do not fear the French!

In France on September 4, 2009 at 11:17 pm

vintage paris 20's

The French rank right up there with socialized medicine and professional soccer on the list of “Things Most Americans Inexplicably Hate”.  For example, the whole “Freedom Fry” hysteria must’ve frightened Francophiles everywhere; after all, which nation was instrumental in the success of the American Revolution?

Nonetheless, Americans have long feared France as a nation of boorish snobs, lazy socialists, and hairy women.  While these characterizations aren’t necessarily false, they diminish the vast cultural influence and ingenuity of the French people. After all, without them the world would be devoid of croissants, existentialism, the Napoleon complex, and of course Van Gogh. So dear readers, the French will invade this blog often and with great relish; but do not fear them. Embrace them!