November 22, 2009

My very first art film, 'The Red Balloon'

I must begin by clarifying that my post title is not intended to infer any involvement on my part with the creation of this wonderful film. That credit goes to the Academy Award winning writer/director of 'The Red Balloon', Albert Lamorisse. Besides, I wasn't even around when it came out in 1956! But 21 years later, sitting in a darkened 2nd-grade classroom, I had my first experience viewing this memorable piece of foreign cinema and it made a real impression on me.

Even at the tender age of 7, I realized on some level that this film was special. Or, at least, it was special to me. It really struck a chord, deep within...

I received the newest, restored and digitally transferred edition of the film on DVD as a gift a while ago, but hadn't actually sat down to watch it until yesterday. Boy, I was so glad I finally did because it was even better than I had remembered it! I mean, I was grinning ear-to-ear from the very start. It certainly took me to my "happy place".

I found it interesting that the film was brighter and more colorful than I remembered. I guess that could be directly due to the restoration and high-definition transfer, but all these years I had thought of it as having much darker tones in both mood and color. Except for that BIG red balloon, of course! In fact, Tommy told me I'd have to watch the DVD without him because he hated watching the film back in elementary school. "It was too depressing", he said. And I was like, "Are you freakin' kidding me?! You're completely missing the entire point of the film, dude!" Well, I might be paraphrasing a bit, but that was the gist of our differing opinions on the matter.

I do feel passionate about this little french film. And I think that anyone who watches it can see the amount of passion that Albert Lamorisse must have felt for the project, as it plays like a cinematic love letter to the city of Paris. The shooting location couldn't have been better, either. It was in the Menilmontant section of Paris, a labyrinth of narrow alleys, cobblestones and steep streets. Since this was my first impression of Paris, I know that if I ever do travel there I will want and expect to see all of the key scenic backgrounds featured or I won't be satisfied... NOTE TO SELF: Prepare for disappointment.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the simple story of this precious gem, here's the brief synopsis right off of the DVD:

"Pascal, a young Parisian boy, retrieves a balloon tied to a lamppost, only to discover that it seems to have a mind and personality of its own. At times the balloon follows him around like a loyal dog, at others like a teasing best friend. The two form an almost inseparable bond, one that only an uncaring world would dare untether."

I couldn't help giggling as I typed that description because I kept hearing Mr. Deep-Voiced-Movie-Trailer-Announcer-Guy saying it! Then I had to actually try doing the voice! Good thing I'm alone, right now... By the way, does anyone know what that guy's name is? Oh, wait. I think I heard somewhere that he died. Oops, here I am making fun of him. Do you think that whoever gave the eulogy at his memorial service delivered it with a similar deep voice, like it was also a movie trailer? That would've actually been pretty damn cool, huh? Some might think it was in poor taste, but not really, if you think about it. Of course, it would sort of depend on whether the guy had a sense of humor...

Sorry, about that! It's getting late, and the A.D.D. is kicking into high gear. Where was I before all of that? Oh, yes. I was going to share a gallery of production stills.

So here's the gallery...

On his way to school, Pascal (played
by 5 1/2 y.o. Pascal Lamorisse, the
director's son) discovers something...

The temptation is just too great. Aaaand since no
one's around to stop him, he shimmies on up the
lamppost to take down that shiny, red floaty-thing.

Pascal and his new "friend", running late for school!

Street corner shenanigans...

"Now, don't go anywhere! I'll be right back."

While passing a boulangerie (bakery) shop window,
Pascal sees something he'd like to have. So he leaves
his balloon outside the shop for only a moment...
Just long enough for some bratty kid to sneak up
and take off with it!

I don't have a picture, but Pascal manages to get his
balloon back. Here, he's desperately running down a
narrow alley to escape the gang of mean bullies that
took it from him! Oh, what now? A fat, old woman
carrying groceries?! Come on, give the kid a break!

Sadly, they do catch up to Pascal. They completely
outnumber him (the gang of bullies is much larger
than pictured), too, which is totally unfair!
But, then... so is life.

After much bullying ensues, a real nasty boy pulls
out a slingshot! Then, as you can clearly see, he turns
'The Red Balloon' into... the dead balloon.

Do not despair! Yes, Pascal just lost his best
"friend", but somehow, magically, all of the
other balloons in Paris start floating right to
him! So many, they're overwhelming. Then...

It's up, up and away!

If you've never seen this award-winning film, you should check it out. Even if you have, but it's been many years since (like about 30, in my case), I highly recommend watching it again! Especially this latest restored, high-def print on DVD. I'm gonna try talking Tommy into watching it with me because I really don't think it's as depressing as he remembers it being, but that might be fruitless effort on my part. He'll probably just shoot me down like that poor balloon...

~All photos via Google Images~

November 11, 2009

Now, I'm even MORE Gaga over the Lady!

Man, there's just SOMETHING about Miss Gaga that gets me excited! But not at all in that way... She's such a dynamic performer, and really different than most. If you've read some of my past posts about her, you know that my first impression was not a good one! In fact, you could say that I didn't think of her as being much of a "lady" at all. Nor did I really think she was very talented. But I've been hooked ever since those impressive live SNL performances she did! I saw the light, my friends. And it's very bright! I gotta say, "Gaga's got the goods!"

And she just keeps bringin' it. Within the last few days, she released a new music video for the first single, 'Bad Romance', off of her forthcoming (mostly) NEW album, 'The Fame Monster'. It's actually Gaga's first album, 'The Fame', along with 8 brand NEW songs! I guess the NEW part is the 'Monster' part. Here's the track listing of those 8 songs:

  1. Bad Romance
  2. Alejandro
  3. Monster
  4. So Happy I Could Die
  5. Speechless
  6. Dance in The Dark
  7. Telephone
  8. Teeth

The album's release date is November 23rd, and if 'Bad Romance' is a good indication of how the 7 other NEW songs are, we're in for a real treat! In the meantime, please enjoy Lady Gaga's NEW video for 'Bad Romance', below...

Needless to say, I'm crazy over this video! It's soooo odd in just the right ways. I love most everything about it. My favorite part, though, is the burning bed, especially when Miss Gaga is standing in front of it! That is outrageously sexy symbolism, kids! Go ask your parents to explain it to you. I'm busy.

Gaga 4 Eva! Long Live The Lady!
Thank U 4 playing. C U next time...

November 6, 2009

My Baby Box: Yo-Yo Clown Doll

I'm digging through that old, dusty box again... The big cardboard one, with my baby toys in it. What did you think I meant?!

Anyway, today I'm sharing with you a doll that my grandmother (on my dad's side) made for me. It's what I believe is called a Yo-Yo Clown doll. See how the body is made of different pieces of fabric circles? Those are called yo-yos, and they're typically made out of unused fabric scraps.

I love this thing! And I also love picturing my grandmother Hazel creating this wonderful doll at home in her trailer park, in Hemet, California. For those who may not know, Hemet is largely like an old-folks community. At least, it used to be when I was a kid. Or did it only seem that way from my perspective? I can remember being fascinated with my grandparent's elderly neighbors, mainly because they were ALL elderly! And I enjoyed going for walks around the park with my grandma Hazel, especially so I could see all of the interesting little landscaping decorations people had out in front of their trailers. You know, like garden gnomes, squirrels, gazing balls or cactus gardens. Some even had all of that! We couldn't walk fast enough to get to those...

I can also remember being perplexed by the large Shuffleboard patio area that was right next to the swimming pool. I don't think that I ever saw anyone playing, so it remained a mystery. Speaking of the swimming pool, I always enjoyed getting to go in there during our Summer visits, but not just for the refreshing dip. I was also amused by the old bathing beauties in their skirted one-piece suits and rubber swim caps!

Boy, did I veer off course!
Let's get back to the clown doll, shall we?

Here are just a few "artsy" shots that I took, trying to create a certain mood:

Photo by Anthony at Pop Circus

Photo by Anthony at Pop Circus

That's it for this episode of 'My Baby Box'.
Stay tuned, I have more to share with you!

~All photos by Anthony at Pop Circus~
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