Perspective on #MeToo

Your point of view on the recent #MeToo movement will likely depend on your own experiences in life. Your point of view will depend on who has taught you; how they’ve taught you. Your point of view will depend on the values and experiences of those who came before you, both men and women. The combined experiences of women who have experienced sexual assault, childhood molestation, or unacceptable levels of harassment in the workplace outweigh the combined experiences of men for the same, but that doesn’t mean that men don’t have their own fair share. We all share the burden, and we can all help fix the problem.

It came to light recently that a hundred French women–from my own country–recently signed an open letter to all those who participate in the strengthening movements. The letter didn’t so much as denounce the movement as it quietly urged restraint. This is a point of view hardly shared by all, but it is something with which I’m familiar. The sexuality in France is far different and far more overt from what it is in the United States. We don’t see it as something to shy away from. We’re open about it. We’re healthy about it. Sexuality can be an exciting, empowering force for good, and we don’t want to see its power reduced to a cold, frightening taboo the way it is in almost all of America.

The women who signed the letter are well known for these same beliefs, and there are people all over the world who agree. I can sympathize, but as an aspiring actress in the very town where so much of this backward sexual behavior occurs–to young women I know and love–I must take a somewhat different stance.

Certainly, men have the right to flirt, to make their attractions known. But women have the right to stop any unwanted advance cold. We have the right to say no. We have the right to speak out against public figures who wield power and money, and have made these perpetual habits into a pattern of criminal activity all over the country, and beyond. This cannot–and will not–continue. We won’t let it. I’m proud of the women who have stood up for what they believe is right, and I know that they will continue to do so in the future. I know that this already normalized behavior will someday soon come to a stop. I know that sexuality in America may perhaps remain cold and taboo, but I also know that progress means we have to end the pattern of acceptance of what has become a culture that allows rape and molestation, and lets justice go undone when such crimes are ignored.

We need a reset. We need to let people be open and honest about their feelings whether they live in France, New York, or Los Angeles, while being realistic in expectation. We need to learn self-control. What’s more important: we need to teach kids the same. I love my French compatriots, and I love my American compatriots as well. I want us to keep fighting for what’s right, and I want us to be emotionally healthy, sexually healthy, and safe.

#metoo

Here is one celebrity’s take on the #MeToo movement:

What Spirits are Produced in France

What Spirits are Produced in France

French spirits being enjoyed with grapesAlcohol is one of the oldest and most commonly celebrated substance in the world. It seems like each country is known for their own specific type of alcohol. Some are known for wine, while others are known for vodka, whiskey, or beer. Whenever you hear France, you think of wine and cheese. Interestingly enough, France is not only known for their wine, but for their carefully crafted spirits. Spirits, or liquors, are the oldest form of alcohol and can include all types of liquors (vodka, gin, tequila, rum and whiskey). The difference between a spirit and other types of alcohol are that spirits are distilled and the have a higher alcohol by volume. The ABV of spirits usually falls in the range of 20% to 80 or 90% ABV.

The French have been producing spirits just about as long as they have been producing wine. You may not know it, but many of the popular cocktails you drink would not be possible without French spirits. I’ve put together a little crash course of French Spirits to get your taste buds going.

1.Cognac

Cognac is the oldest of the French spirits. Cognac must follow strict production methods including being made in a copper pot, aging in French oak for a minimum of two years, and is distilled twice. Cognac’s main ingredient is Ugni Blanc grapes.

2.Armagnac

Armagnac is widely considered “the original cognac.” The dirtier version of the spirit is made from the same family of grapes and is distilled only once, creating a heavier more flavorful spirit.

3.Grand Marnier

Grand Marnier was created in 1880 by Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle. Grand Marnier is an orange liqueur that is cognac based. The most notable drinks that include Grand Marnier are the Cadillac Margarita and B-52. It is not uncommon for people to enjoy Grand Marnier on the rocks or straight up.

4.Cointreau

Similar to Grand Marnier, Cointreau is a bitter orange liqueur. The difference between the two is that Cointreau is made of a natural spirits while Grand Marnier is cognac based. The result of the natural base gives Cointreau the edge when is comes to mixing cocktails. Cointreau is often used as a top-self version of triple sec.

5.Chartreuse

The roots of this herbal liqueur trace back to 1605 when the Carthusian monks began making this spirit. The spirit contains 130 different herbs, spices, roots and barks. Chartreuse comes in two flavors, green and yellow. Green Chartreuse is 55% ABV and is considered the spicier and drier version of the two. Yellow Chartreuse has a lower ABV (40%) and is considered to be softer and sweeter than green.

6.Benedictine

Benedictine is the second herbal spirits to make this list. Created by Alex Le Grand, this rich, peppery, honey-sweet flavor is often consumed neat or in conjunction with Brandy.

7.Calvados

Calvados is from the Northwest region of France. The apple-flavored brandy can be used in any apple based cocktail. One of the best ways to enjoy it is in between course when you are looking to wake up your appetite.

8.Absinthe

Absinthe, AKA the Green Fairy, might be the most famous of all French spirits. While the idea of Absinthe is originally from the Swiss, Absinthe had been intertwined in French culture as far back as anyone can remember. The spirit has reached a mythological status and has been banned and rediscovered in many countries, including France, around the world. One of the best glasses of Absinthe you can have is from one of the oldest producers of the spirit, Pernod Absinthe.

Best French Bars in LA

Perch in Los Angeles
Perch in Los Angeles. Image: Yelp.

Once upon a time, downtown Los Angeles was home to “French Town.” In the late 19th century, “French Town” was home to the majority of LA’s French residents, hence the name. Since then, the french population and influence has dispersed, dropping bits of culture throughout the city. Some of the french bars in Los Angeles have remained with a more traditional french approach, while others have modernized, adapting to the culture, but still keeping that classic french feel.

Top French Bars in LA

Los Angeles is home to some of the best french bars in the state of California. I decided to create a guide to finding the hottest french bars in Los Angeles. Here are some of my favorite spots to grab a drink or bite or just to hangout with friends and dance:

Petit Trois – Hollywood

Petit Trois brings the classic french bar style and cuisine to the streets of Hollywood. The small bar/restaurant is open from 12PM-10PM every day but Saturday, which they keep the kitchen open an extra hour, until 11PM. They do not take reservations and the menu features traditional french bar food like steak tartare and various breakfast style dishes, including the best omelets in the Los Angeles area.

Perch – Los Angeles

Perch resides on a rooftop in Downtown LA. The rooftop has some breathtaking views including Central Library. Perch has an extensive wine menu and a late night bar menu that is offered from 11pm – 12am. One of the best items on the menu are the Merguez sliders and the truffle poutine.

The BoardRoom – Los Angeles

Downtown Los Angeles is packed with different nightlife hotspots from cultures around the world. The BoardRoom is a lounge where you can have drinks, grab a bite, enjoy music, and mingle with others. The food menu is filled with a bunch of traditional french h’orderves and a few classic french entrees. The extensive drink menu will have you asking for another one before you finish your current drink and wanting to try everything on the menu. After 8:30pm, from Thursday to Sunday, The BoardRoom is open for you and your friends.

Pour Vous – Los Angeles

Pour Vous is a fair priced, french-influenced bar in Los Angeles. Pour Vous opens at 8pm from Tuesday to Saturday except for Friday, when the bar opens up at 5pm. The nightlife really does not kickoff until around 10pm. Pour Vous is known for their tasty cocktail menu that leave you wanting more by the end of your glass.

What is Escargot?

For those of us who aren’t very adventurous–or perhaps just overly squeamish about what we eat–it can be a good thing when cuisine from overseas bears a name pronounced in a foreign tongue. Although most of us already know what escargot is, this can especially be the case for those of us who don’t. Escargot is French for snail, and the dish is generally eaten cooked with a hint of lemon. It may bear the same name even for those varieties that are left raw.

The etymology of the word has a more literal translation, adding in the word “edible” to make escargot mean “edible snail.” The first use of the word seems rather new, historically speaking, and goes back only to about 1892. Even so, historians do know that escargot the dish was enjoyed in ancient civilizations. To the Romans, it was a rare, expensive food that only the wealthy could afford. But the human palate for snails goes even farther back than that. Archaeological evidence shows that snails were enjoyed in prehistoric times as well.

When you eat escargot, the type of species matters. Land snails can sometimes be altogether inedible. Some are even too small for mass consumption. Of the species that are edible, there are a number that simply aren’t desirable. After all, the taste of a creature’s flesh is important when you’re about to consume a dish often known as a delicacy. Some species are also a good source of protein.

Because the dish is so well known, it even gets its own unofficial American holiday–May 24 is National Escargot Day.

Escargot are often farmed because of their desirability, and these are usually sustained with ground cereals. Naturally, no one wants to eat a snail with full bowels, and so sellers will often forego feeding for a few days prior to sale. After that, the escargot is ready to be cooked and eaten!

Preparation of escargot varies depending on the region where you consume it, but the French variety of the dish is typically prepared with a generous helping of garlic butter, soup, or wine. These substances are used during cooking. The snail is removed from the shell, cooked in whichever other ingredient the chef decides to use, and then likely replaced in the shell. Usually, they are served by the dozen or half-dozen.

In the United States, you might not often have the chance to experience this dish. It is often highly recommended by those who have tried it, and you’re most likely to have the option as part of a cruise or resort stay, or at a fancy restaurant. If you do decide to indulge in this popular French cuisine, then you’ll enjoy a heft fifteen percent protein content in addition to just over two percent fat.

What is Roquefort Cheese?

Americans have a tendency to pasteurize absolutely everything, even when we don’t need to. This is the result of socially reinforced health and safety standards that are supposed to benefit everyone. For example, there are all types of bacteria both good and bad, and most of them won’t do us any harm. Pasteurization often destroys the kind of bacteria that make your gut healthy, and so a lot of the cheeses that are unpasteurized can be hard to find in America–or are at least absurdly priced.

Luckily, you can find some types of cheese everywhere based on popularity alone. Roquefort cheese is a pasteurized brand of cheese that originated in France. It is made from the milk of a  Lacaune sheep, and you can easily tell you have the right one by the obvious blue mold growing within the brick of cheese. It is also usually of the whiter variety, crumbles easily, and tastes tangy and moist. You might also detect the flavor of butyric acid which itself is a product of a certain type of fermentation–and although we won’t detail it in full here (nor would you want us to), it is found in and smells of human vomit. Yummy!

By law, only cheeses that are aged in a specific region of Southern France, the caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, can be branded Roquefort. This variety in France is the king of all cheese, and it takes about four and a half liters of sheep milk to make only a kilogram of the final product.

Without the caves in which Roquefort is produced, there could be no Roquefort cheese. This is because the veins of mold inside each brick can only be found and manipulated from within these caves. It grows within the soil, and so only companies with access to these caves and the specific kind of mold can produce the cheese.

The cheese takes approximately five months to age, and is best enjoyed between the months of April and October.

Roquefort cheese isn’t only known for its distinctive taste. Prior to the discovery of penicillin, it was used as a medicine. Shepherds in the area would use the cheese as a salve, applying it directly to wounds. It was known to curb the chances of coming down with gangrene. Studies done on the medicinal properties have maintained unsurprising conclusions, based on this other usage. In 2012, the cheese was found to have anti-inflammatory properties, and another study a year later discovered that the proteins in Roquefort can stop the spread of Chlamydia.

In other words, if you want to say no to sexually transmitted infections, say “yes” to Roquefort cheese!

Famous French Actresses

French women are known for their elegant beauty, but they also possess superb emotional gravity and wit, and as such make not only a great attorney, but superb actresses. They are daringly gorgeous and ooze a sense of charm that is rarely found in any other nationality. French actresses have made a huge impact on modern cinema with their stunning looks and superlative acting talent. In the 60s it was blonde bombshells Catherine Deneuve and Brigette Bardot who captivated cinema audiences with their sultry looks and in the 80s it was Isabelle Huppert and Juliette Binoche who were international stars. Today Audrey Tautou and Eva Green are among the biggest film stars in Hollywood and a new generation is emerging with as much grace and elegance as their forebears. Below are some of the most famous French actresses with details about their lives, acting careers, and films.

Marion Cotillard

Born to parents who were both actors it was natural for her to become an actress. Her acting career boasts acting roles in both English and French language films. In America, she acted in ‘Big Fish’ and in France she starred in ‘A Very Long Engagement’. She won an Academy Award for her superb rendition of the French singer Edith Piaf in ‘La Vie en Rose’ and received critical acclaim for her acting in ‘Rust and Bone’. In Hollywood she became highly sought after having acted in films such as Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight in Paris’ and Michael Mann’s ‘Public Enemies’. She also starred in two of Christopher Nolan’s films ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and ‘Inception’. Her performances in movies such as ‘Nine’, ‘A Good Year’, ‘The Immigrant’, and ‘Contagion’ has proven her ability to portray varied characters.

Charlotte Le Bon

This vivacious French-Canadian actress has received universal acclaim for her roles in films like ‘The Hundred-100 Foot Journey’, ‘The Walk’, ‘The Promise’, ‘Yves Saint Laurent’, and ‘Mood Indigo’. Starting off as a successful model she moved to Paris in 2011 and starred as Miss Météo in the talk show ‘Le Grand Journal’ on the small screen. Her first major role on the big screen was as Ophelia in the French comedy film ‘Astrrix and Obelix: God Save Britannia’. She continues to impress critics with her acting performances in movies such as ‘The Marchers, and ‘Big Bad Wolf’.

Audrey Tautou

This French actress is best known for her portrayal of the eccentric, shy waitress in the comedy ‘Amelie’ for which she won several accolades and awards. After attending acting classes at Cours Florent she landed a television movie production role in ‘Coeur de cible’. ‘Venus Beauty Institute’ was her feature film debut for which she was highly acclaimed. A daring actress that likes to experiment with different roles, she acted in the thriller ‘Dirty Pretty Things’. Tautou made her Hollywood debut starring with Tom Hanks in the film ‘The Da Vinci Code’.

Vanessa Paradis

Vanessa Paradis began her career in entertainment as a professional singer at the young age of 8. She was the face of Chanel for many years and has starred in numerous French films such as ‘Café de Flore’ and ‘Une chance sur deux’. Accolades for her acting performances include the Cesar Award and the Genie Award.

These are just a few of the many fabulous French actresses that have taken the movies by storm with their beauty and brilliant acting abilities.

Please check out the following list of the top 10 French movies – see if you can notice any of the actresses!

4 Common French Stereotypes (Not All Are False!)

France is often a place that winds up on many Americans’ “bucket list” or retirement to-do list. France is so far away, and yet we think we know it so well because it helped us in the Revolutionary War, and we kept the French from speaking German today.

While we have similar governmental systems and we often share food recipes back and forth and we have as many French restaurants here as France has American restaurants, the belief that we actually understand each other is not entirely true.

We Americans, at least, are often guilty of buying into various comedy spoofs about French culture (see: the Pink Panther movies) or we get caught up in the glamor of French celebrities, and especially some of our favorite French foods and what we see in commercials promoting such.

While there are a number of French people who have come to America, and some Americans who have moved to France, are we able to cobble together accurate depictions about each other’s society or people from plumbing into how each ex-patriate lives in their new homes? Clearly not.

It is time to challenge some of these stereotypes about French people once and for all. There is no excuse, in the age of Google, for we Americans to continue to be ignorant about the French. There should be a level of understanding, and allow us to contribute to your education by presenting you four common French stereotypes to inform you of the ones which are true and which are not.

  1. The French are all about wine and cheese.

This is true. The French have a lot of vineyards and wineries, and they are very many connoisseurs of the fermented grape. The French will drink wine at almost every meal, and you can be equally sure that a cheese of some kind will be somewhere on the table as well, if not on the plate – or on the baguette sandwich they enjoy eating. The French drink wine not as drunkards, but as a social beverage with meals; one glass at a time is most common. But cheese is everywhere – there are about 400 varieties of cheese in France!

  1. Baguettes are like an accessory.

Baguettes are a familiar staple in France, and it is pretty common to find French people walking around with baguettes in their hand, to eat while they walk.

  1. The French don’t care about hygiene.

You know, we Americans really need to get out of our old world history books. The French Revolution is over! This is so false it’s not funny. Yes, the French actually do bathe and shower, and France is known throughout the world as a perfume capital. Maybe it’s because of the belief that they don’t bathe, so they mask their B.O.? Eh, not so much.

  1. French men and women are real fashion plates.

You would think with fashion being so chic in France that this is true, but let’s just say that the French aren’t necessarily any different than me and women in the U.S. While many French women are beautiful and dress well, there are plenty of “average” women and everyone dress casually and don’t always dress to the nines every day. As for the men, the stereotype of berets and scarves is way false. While men do wear scarves at times, men tend to try to be trendy and fashionable just like women, so you won’t find berets in common use, and scarves are more for the weather and not for fashion. Sorry to disappoint you.

What To Know About The Cannes Film Festival

The French appreciate good film. France has been known as one of the hotbeds for cinema for years and years. And thanks to publicity and much of the common beliefs about French culture and the French people, the Cannes Film Festival has become the pre-eminent event for filmmakers to show their latest releases and create worldwide buzz about their new projects before they hit the theaters.

But Cannes is not the film festival – there are dozens of festivals all over the world in which these films can be shown, and actors and directors can participate in various interviews and roundtable sessions talking about their craft and their work on the latest and greatest films. However, Cannes has become the most well-known film festival in the world, and yet you might be surprised how little people might actually know about it.

Thanks to the publicity and the fact that the Festival is one of the predominant events in the early Academy Award and Golden Globe seasons, and many fall and winter “blockbuster” or star-studded films make their way to France, this Festival has become a bellwether for at least critical or box-office success for many films and stardom (or not) for the main actors or directors.

Now that the Cannes Festival had its most recent rendition earlier this spring, here we’ll present some of our favorite fun facts about the Cannes Film Festival – how many of these did you know?

  • The Cannes Film Festival lasts about 12 days.
  • The very first Festival, debuted Sept. 1, 1939 – the same day that Nazi Germany invaded Poland. The Festival closed the next day and did not return for seven years.
  • The Festival in May of this year was the 70th.
  • The top award is the Palme d’Or, first awarded in 1955 for the best film at the Festival.
  • In 1978, the Camera d’Or was first awarded, given for the best first film.
  • There are five categories of films at the Festival – In Competition, Out of Competition, Un Certain Regard (art films), Cinefondation (made by film students), and The Market (where films are bought and sold).
  • The very first full Festival opened in 1946.
  • The Festival moved from September to April, then to May in the 1950s.
  • The Festival didn’t have enough money to run in 1948 and 1950.
  • The 1968 Festival shut down halfway through due to unrest featuring students who were demonstrating and workers who were on strike.
  • The Festival developed a new rule in 2017 after two Netflix movies that were streaming-only were included in the competition category – the new rule was to force all competitive films to be released in French cinemas.

Horror Films At Cannes

The Cannes Film Festival is known for its surprising variety of genres according to a criminal defense attorney Phoenix. Even those films that don’t go on to win the Palme D’Or are often propelled to commercial and critical success after debuting at the festival. A number of scary movies have gained cult followings after first appearing at Cannes. Here are just a few of the best that you might want to go binge-watch right now!

If you’re a fan of older horror movies with a knack for the thrill ride, then look no further than the 1972 Alfred Hitchcock films (one of his last), Frenzy. Everyone likes a good murder mystery, but not all can be so playful and comical as the cult classic, Clue. Frenzy follows a man who was accused of a string of crimes he did not commit, while the real “necktie” killer was still on the loose.

Most horror fans are in love with The Evil Dead. If you love horror movies, then this is one you can’t overlook. This is especially true if you want to get into Ash vs Evil Dead, a 2015 TV show currently about to embark on its third season. Both the movie and its sequels were directed by Sam Raimi, and are a whole lot of fun–even if they’re not the scariest viewing experiences of your life.

The 2002 film Irréversible is noteworthy for a number of reasons, but will leave you literally awestruck because of graphic violence and rape. Although it has been criticized for these reasons, seasoned veterans of the horror genre probably won’t mind the strong content–even though it will certainly be a jarring experience all the same. If you love the genre, then this isn’t a film you should let pass you by.

Inside is a 2007 French film that doesn’t shy away from blood and gore, and it will leave you seriously creeped out. A word to the wise: do not watch this movie if you are, or might become, pregnant. It isn’t difficult to imagine that a lot of people probably had nightmares for a long time after this movie was released. You’ll never look at a pair of scissors the same way. Even so, this film comes strongly recommended.

If you’re in the mood for something a little bit more ridiculous than the typical horror fare, then look no further than Quentin Dupieux’s Rubber, a 2010 showing. It’s about a tire that has the ability to think, psychic connections, and likes to kill.

You can’t really escape cannibalism if you’re a fan of the horror genre. Scary movies tend to fall back upon subject matter that not only scares us, but also disgusts us. We Are What We Are is a 2013 film about a family that enjoys the taste of flesh. The movie also explores certain cultural aspects of religion that might not make sense to everyone.

It Follows was a 2014 film not everyone could get into, but it was fun for what it was. Although it didn’t mark the most cleverly crafted screenplay in the genre, it did take a noticeable glance to what worked well in the past while working its way into the present. The terror in this film was without body or form to everyone but those marked, and it found its victims after they had sex. Naturally, the movie “follows” a bunch of teenage kids as they try to avoid getting slaughtered by the unfortunate curse.

Winners Of The Palme d’Or

The highest honor one can receive for a submission to the Cannes Film Festival is the Palme d’Or, or “Golden Palm” in English. This has been the highest award given at the festival since 1974 when it replaced the Grand Prix du Festival, which itself had replaced the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film in 1964. Because the festival in one form or another dates back to 1939, many of us wouldn’t recognize a number of films that won. Naturally, a film’s popularity is directly linked to the country where it was produced. Here are just a few of the winners of the Palme d’Or.

In 1976, the film Taxi Driver won the award. It was directed by Martin Scorsese, while an obviously young Robert De Niro played one of the leading roles. The movie was heralded as an instant hit by critics, who found its relevance to the time period superbly compelling. It was extremely psychological and followed a taxi driver who had been honorably discharged following the Vietnam War. Some herald the movie as the best of all time.

Pulp Fiction won the award in 1994. Directed and co-written by the now famous Quentin Tarantino, it is known for its convoluted plot and lengthy dialog-heavy scenes that touch on a hefty number of dark and taboo subjects. Although it makes the list as one of the best movies for these reasons and more, there are others who hate it for the same reasons others love it. Its all-star cast didn’t hurt the showing, but that wasn’t what propelled it to the top.

In 2002, the French film The Pianist took the award home (or kept it there, rather). This foreign film won a number of Academy Awards, including Best Director and Best Actor. The story begins in September of 1939 when a Warsaw radio station is bombed by the Germans during the Poland blitzkrieg. A Jewish pianist who was present at the time is forced on the run, and the story takes off from there. It was well-praised at the time of release because of its representation of the era, acting, and music.

In 2009, The White Ribbon won, and then in 2012 Amour won. They were both directed by the Austrian Michael Haneke, now 75 years of age. He is the only Austrian director to have won the award twice, and one of only a handful to do it since the birth of the festival. He has directed and written a number of movies that have won countless awards, and many of his films follow the outcasts in society or those who most would sooner forget. In telling their stories he often relates to viewers on a universal level.

The Danish film Dancer in the Dark won in 2000, and was directed by Lars von Trier. The movie follows Björk (who also composed the majority of the film’s music), a struggling immigrant with an eye condition whose son has the same. Although the film was primarily Danish, it was more of a collaboration between a number of other countries including France, Germany, Iceland, the United States, and others.