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Joelle Havelaar (UK)

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Le Dossier: How to Survive the English!
Le Dossier: How to Survive the English!
by Sarah Long
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take it with a pinch of salt - Very witty but for a bilingual audience, 16 Mar 2011
I read this book a few years ago, and got on this page to buy it for a French friend.
I have to say I'm astonished at some of the negative comments I have read. Some readers just didn't get it at all and I understand why.
This book is second or third degree humour! It takes a specific audience to enjoy it, and the title is pretty clear on who the target is: French people living in the UK. I think English people can enjoy it too, but only if they speak good French, and please do not take it seriously.

A lot of the jokes come from play on words and expressions, and if you don't know the French and English meaning, then you can't see why it's funny.
I'll give you one example: she goes on about the fact that "not taking yourself seriously" is seen in the Uk as a quality, whereas in France saying that a man is "un garcon serieux" is a compliment. This plays on the fact that the French use the word serious here to mean responsible, whereas the English use the expression to mean someone who has a high opinion of themselves. Now she does it in a witty and candid way, which make her remark funny (and I'm not doing it justice), but if you don't know both languages well enough to appreciate their subtleties, then you miss the pun entirely, and when it is being explained, the humour gets lost too. This is not the only form of humour she uses, but the book is full of these, and I can see that non bilinguals stand no chance of getting it. It's only funny if you get it instantly.

This book was not written by a French woman living in London, but by an English woman who has lived in Paris for a few years. I'm impressed at how well she understood both nations and languages to come up with this.
It's a p1ss-take of both the English AND the French, the miss-understanding and the love-hate relationship between them.
Hortense, the alleged French author, is a caricature of a Parisian upper class woman, and her portrayal and silly (sometimes bigoted) comments are spot-on and hilarious. She's judgemental but endearing in her naivety and lack of understanding of the English, and the joke is on her. If you don't get the fact that the book is there to make fun of her, as much as being self critical of some aspects of English life, you would find some of her points outrageous, but that's precisely why they are funny.
French expats who have lived in the UK long enough to really get to know and appreciates its culture and its people, will enjoy reading this, because Hortense's candid remarks will remind them of the oddities they use to be puzzled with.

It has to be said that this book reflects the spirit of a time, and probably only applies from the 90's to about now. So I can understand that English expats living in France will not identify with any of it.
Equally I think French people who have only lived in England for a short while, will not get it either.

Also note that there is no French version of this book, it was not translated from French to English. I desperately looked for a French version until I realised that it only works in the English version. This is British humour and it doesn't translate ;-)
This is a niche book that will not appeal to the wider public, but I would think any long term French expat in England and vice-versa will be laughing from start to finish.

World Apart [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
World Apart [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Jodhi May

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A movie I remember 20 years after..., 24 Jun 2008
I saw this movie only once, in 1988 and never forgot it. This is a deep and meaningful story (a true story if I remember correctly), with outstanding photography, that stand as a testimony of an era: Apartheid.
My English and History teachers thought it was a good movie for a school outing, to raise our awareness of geo-politics, and they couldn't have been more right. I'm French and at the time, I had been learning English for 5 years. My class saw it in the original english version, but that didn't matter; the difficulty of the accent, and therefore reading subtitles took nothing away from its beauty, and its impact.
In 1988, Nelson Mandela was still in prison, and Zola Budd was making the news for allegedly running in South Africa (her motherland) despite the boycott. Apartheid was a hot topic.
This film tells the story of a teenage girl whose mother gets arrested under the 90 day detention law (arrest without charge).
The evil of the regime seen through the eyes of a 13 year old girl, is deeply moving and will touch your soul. 20 years on I remember the soundtrack, I can clearly recall key moments, and the very last scene of the movie. I remember being left stunned in the dark theatre, and looking at my classmates when the lights went back on, us all thinking "that was something"...
Now recalling all this, I want to see this movie again.

Shooting Dogs [DVD] [2006]
Shooting Dogs [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ John Hurt
Offered by FilmloverUK
Price: £4.99

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a realistic account, very powerful, very courageous, 10 Feb 2007
This review is from: Shooting Dogs [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
The beauty of this movie is in its simplicity. initially I found it a bit slow, and disconnected, but it all comes together in the end. The characteres are life-like and not exagerated, unlike what you find in a lot of Hollywood movies. Their emotions, their dilemas, their decisions are very real. No-one is portrayed as evil, or overly good, they are just decent human beings, doing what they can. For example it would have been easy to portray the belgian officer in charge of the UN forces at the school, as a baddy. But instead, we can see what it must have been like for him too, and the constraints that he has to work with. The title of the movie comes clear as an expression of how powerless the UN troops were, because of the lack of political backing. They can only shoot at the dogs.

This movie tries to help you understand how such horrors can actually happen. It shows one of the Hutus charactere, who also seems like a decent guy, getting sucked into the madness.

There are no heros in this movie, in the hollywood sense. Just ordinary good people trying to do what they think is right. This movie is very humble in the sense that it's telling a true story with no attempt to make it anything else than what it was. It really makes you think.

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