A hardworking husband and father with solid social convictions and major responsibilities on the floor of a gargantuan dispatching warehouse in provincial France is obliged to recalibrate every corner of his life after an abrupt change at home in Our Struggles (Nos Batailles).
Co-writer/director Guillaume Senez stakes a legitimate claim to his chosen narrative territory
A thoughtfully structured indictment of the creeping precariousness of steady work and exploration of the balancing act of a man suddenly left entirely in charge of his two young children, this modest but convincing film benefits from a fine ensemble cast and a committed central performance by Romain Duris.
Trendy articles praise the concept of “disruption” and bow down before the supposed value that “disruptors” lend to the marketplace, but most people probably have a soft spot for stability in their work and home lives. One such man, Olivier (Duris), is about to get thrown for a loop he could definitely have done without.
There’s not an overabundance of “human” qualities in Agathe (Sarah Le Picard) from Human Resources when she tells Olivier that one of the older workers under his supervision can’t keep up the pace anymore. Olivier defends the man in question, but the employee’s contract isn’t renewed and bad things result. Continue reading “Review: ‘Our Struggles’ (Nos Batailles)’”→
When you heard Gad Elmaleh was working on something new, you probably got excited for a Netflix standup special, sitcom, comedy album, or international tour. But this giant of French comedy, so widely revered as to be referred to as “the French Seinfeld,” has something new up his sleeve: some surprising singing chops.
Over the course of the pandemic, Elmaleh has been recording an album of covers under Blue Note records, called “Dansez sur moi,” and re-envisioning the songs of the French master chanteur, Claude Nougaro. The Toulousian singer, who passed away in 2004, blended American jazz and Brazilian and African musical influences into the French chanson style. His hits range from the twangy, percussive “Bidonville,” a song about France’s slums; to “Cécile ma fille,” whose haunting hook describes Nougaro’s fear and wonder at becoming a father.
Elmaleh released the album’s first single, “Armstrong,” back in September, followed by “Nougayork,” and “Le cinéma.”
The album was set to be released in November, but was delayed due to COVID-19. A video for the song “Toulouse” was released in December. Set outside, with Elmaleh and his band playing by the river, the love song to Nougaro’s hometown was shot on site, the lyrics cut with footage of the city, include one lingering image of a larger-than-life mural of Nougaro on the side of a building. Continue reading “Gad Elmaleh releases ‘Dansez sur moi,’ an album of Claude Nougaro covers”→
If you’re an English speaker, you might have trouble using the French subjunctive. It comes up a lot in the comments on Comme une Française! Today, let’s discover this piece of French grammar in more detail, so you can master it once and for all.
The global pandemic and a trade war with the U.S. delivered a one-two punch to France’s wine and spirits industry in 2020. According to the Federation of Wine and Spirits Exporters (FEVS), exports fell 13.9% last year as the industry hopes a new presidential administration will deliver some relief [ . . . ]
— French wines from €10; and an easy cocktail to make with a new gin
By LESLIE WILLIAMS
A recent spate of watching French movies and TV ( Spiral, Lupin, Call My Agent, Une Fille Facile etc.) sent me into my samples corner this week to see what I could find from la Belle France. In addition, Lidl have their annual ‘Taste of France’ promotion in store this week and I’ll be stocking up on Normandy Cider, Saucisson Sec, Breton Butter Biscuits and of course my guilty pleasure — Croque Monsieur sandwiches.
The Croque Monsieur is admittedly best consumed in a dive bar with a bottle of Stella Artois and a Pernod chaser but it seems unlikely I’ll get to do that this year. France is easily the country I’ve spent the most time in besides Ireland and 2020 was the first year I didn’t get to visit since around 1993 — I miss it.
While there is little good to be said about Brexit, a small positive is that it will draw Ireland closer to France with more ferry crossings already in operation and hopefully more opportunities for Ireland’s produce to sell there and vice versa — there is no doubt the French will appreciate our better produce far more than our nearest neighbour ever did.
I think what I love most about France is that my rather obsessive food and drink-focused life is considered perfectly normal there. I love its huge diversity of wine styles and its pursuit of perfection in all areas of gastronomy. The Appellation d’Origine Protégée (formerly ‘Controlée) system covers not just wine and cheese but also chickens, prunes (Agen), lentils (du Puy) and even chilli powder (the wonderful Piment d’Espelette from the French Basque country).
Of course, the AOP system is by no means perfect and more a guarantee of typicité than of quality but it is still miles ahead of any similar system and of huge benefit to rural France where a tiny region can gain fame for a cheese (there are more than 400), an eau de vie or a white pudding (Boudin de Rethel) made by only a dozen or so producers. We should be aggressively pursuing similar IGPs (Indication of Geographic Protection) for Ireland — Cork needs an IGP for spiced beef, drisheen and maybe even things like buttered eggs.
Selections this week are all from France and are a mixum-gatherum of wines —about 20 of which I tasted over the past fortnight. I think only the Dunnes Daronton Ventoux has appeared before and that was a from a different vintage. Bon Appétit et Vive la France!
Wine Under €15
Jean Cornelius Riesling, Alsace, France — €9.99
Jean Cornelius Riesling, Alsace, France — €9.99
Alsace is the only French region where Riesling is permitted in an AOP wine and thank goodness as it loves the Alsace climate. The best Alsace Riesling from producers such as Trimbach or Zind Humbrecht are among the best white wines in France. Entry-level but with typicité, this has lively apple and pear fruits and good balancing acidity with lingering tart apples on the finish.
La Roche d’Argent, Saint Émilion 2018, Bordeaux — €12.99
This is my pick of the Bordeaux in the Lidl French promotion, still a bit young but from a ripe year so drinking well now. Dark red-purple in colour, dark plum aromas with some violet hints, full and concentrated on the palate with crunchy textures and ripe black fruits. This will soften a little over the next five years.
Terroir Daronton Ventoux 2019, Rhône, France — €12.50
From the Rhonéa Cooperative, which has 236 growers in the Dentelles de Montmarail mountains (geographically Provence but classified as Southern Rhône). Made in a deliberately fruit-driven style, this is packed with red and black fruits with noticeable spice notes — fruit-driven palate with a bit of grip and structure thanks to its youth, but very drinkable and suited to rich casseroles or a mid-week pizza.
Wines Over €15
Puech Morny 2019 Gigondas, France — €16.99
Gigondas is a half-hour drive north-east from Châteauneuf-du-Pape and good examples have similar weight and power (if perhaps a little less elegance) than the best wines of its more famous neighbour. This pours a rich purple-red with aromas of dark cherry and blackberry and is fruity and supple with good creamy concentration and richness. Lingering spicy red fruits on the finish and a solid example of Gigondas, a wine that generally costs at least €22.
Kuentz Bas Mosaïk, Alsace, France — €16.69
We associate Alsace with varietal wines but there is a long tradition of blends, often field blends from the same vineyard. This is made from 30% Sylvaner, 20% Pinot Blanc, 15% Pinot Gris, 15% Muscat, 10% Gewüztraminer and 5% Chasselas and, as you would expect, floral Gewüztraminer is detectable on the nose but also pear confit — textured and almost lush on the palate but with balancing acidity. This matched a Tartiflette perfectly.
Château Crabitey Graves 2019, Bordeaux, France — €24
White Bordeaux is often rather overlooked and although it represents just 10% of the wines of the region, it can offer excellent value and quality at all price levels and ages beautifully. A blend of 70% Sauvignon and 30% Sémillon, this has stony citrus and apple aromas that follow through on the palate with the Sémillon flavours rounding out the mid-palate and adding complexity and length. The red version is also recommended.