Saturday, October 30, 2010

Go Ask Alice

Go Ask Alice is a book about the life of a young girl in the 70s who becomes addicted to drugs. The book is written in a diary-style, but the name of the diarist is never mentioned. The whole story is a work of fiction. The diarist is quite shy, often lonely and has difficulty to make friends. One day, she is invited to a party, where she is served a drink laced with LSD. Her nightmare begins there, as her life spins out of control.

The book was published in 1971 under the byline “Anonymous”, but it is a universally acknowledged fact that Beatrice Sparks (the editor) wrote the entire diary. She wrote this with the aim of preventing young people from taking drugs. The title Go Ask Alice refers to the song White Rabbit, written by the band Jefferson Airplane, whose lead singer, Grace Slick, was known to be a drug user. The lyrics of this song are all about drug-taking and are based on the character Alice in Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

I recently bought the book Go Ask Alice in its English version. I had already read L’Herbe Bleue (the French version) when I was twelve. I must admit this book fascinated me and I liked it very much for different reasons. First of all, stories where drugs are involved have always attracted me because this is something that a lot of people will be concerned with at least once in their life. Secondly, the accuracy with which the hell this teenager goes through is described, touched me. But the main aim of this book seems to me to prevent young people from taking drugs. On the cover page you can read “More than five million copies sold”. If only one person has been discouraged to try drugs after having read this book, I think the author will have achieved something great. In my opinion, drugs are a scourge of society. Interestingly, the book was removed from school libraries because of explicit references to runaways, drugs and sex, which were taboo in the 70s. I believe this reflects the mentality of the people at that time: they chose to ignore the problem of drugs rather than finding a solution to this problem.

Xavier Henrotte.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

The film is centred on Alfie and Helena who splited up after 40 years of marriage and their daughter Sally. Sally is married to Roy but she realizes that she is unhappy and really needs a way out. So we follow Alfie, Helena, Sally and her husband Roy in their new lives, in which they try to catch their dreams. Alfie does not want to grow old; Helena wants to be happy again after her nervous breakdown; Sally wants to make a brilliant career and have her own art gallery; and Roy desperately wants to acquire fame with his writings, despite being a bad writer. They all have a new lover and try as hard as they can to make the best of it. Although Helena is apparently the only one to find the way to happiness, Sally says that it is thanks to Crystal, a charlatan who keeps on telling Helena her future and giving her hope.

If there is just one thing that we must remember, it is the sentence pronounced by Sally, referring to the disillusionment of all the characters except Helena: “Sometimes the illusion works better than the medicine”. Helena is the only one to know happiness while everybody’s life is troubled and this is because she lives in a world of illusions: she is not at all down-to-earth.

Even if it is a very unusual movie, it is worth being seen, at least for the message which is delivered: we all should find a balance in our life between our rationality and our illusions. The storylines are well arranged and perfectly linked together. Even if there is not much action, we are carried away by the movie. We heartily recommend you to go and see it!

The cast mainly consists of Anthony Hopkins, Gemma Jones, Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin, Lucy Punch, Roger Ashton-Griffiths, Antonio Banderas and Freida Pinto.

Maite Moriaux and Xavier Henrotte.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

After having heard about Woody Allen for a while, but without having ever seen one of his movies, we are planning to go to the Caméo in Namur next Monday to see his latest movie called “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger”.

Woody Allen is a famous film-maker we talked about several times during the lessons. Indeed, we discussed him last year in our course of “Histoire des littératures et des civilisations anglophones” with Mrs. Bragard and saw a few extracts of one of his movies, which we quite enjoyed. Mr. Vandelanotte also spoke about Woody Allen once or twice during his lessons. We have thus the opportunity to go and see a movie directed by this artist we have talked so much about.

As a kind of introduction, we have done some research about Allan Stewart Konigsberg, better known as Woody Allen. He was born on the 1st of December in 1935 in Brooklyn and is not only screenwriter but also director, actor, comedian, jazz musician, author and playwright! Woody Allen’s major themes are literature, sexuality, philosophy, psychology, Jewish identity and the history of cinema. His works are often appreciated for their satirical purpose, melancholic tone, pessimism and humour.

We have read the reviews about “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” and surprisingly they are not so positive, in the way that it is apparently not Woody Allen’s best movie. But still we are not afraid to go and watch this movie… and we will tell you how we appreciated it!

Maite Moriaux and Xavier Henrotte.