With new year, comes new year resolutions. Chinese New Year, which falls on a Thursday (February 19) this year, is no exception. Prepare to kick of the year with a more healthful, greener eating from Spot Dessert Bar.
Life is complicated, and in the case of Xavier (Romain Duris), a successfulish Paris writer, it is more so. In writer/director Cédric Klapisch’s “Chinese Puzzle”  (2014), Xavier struggles to deal with the following:
- His wife Wendy (Kelly Reilly) leaves him, taking their children to New York to live with her new man.
- He comes to New York because he cannot stand being apart from his children. He has no job, he needs to get a job, but he cannot legally work in the States.
- His old girlfriend, Martine (Audrey Tautou), also comes to New York.
- He is the father of his lesbian friend Isabelle’s (Cécile De France) baby. Isabelle is raising the baby with her Chinese-American girlfriend Ju (Sandrine Holt).
Did I mention Xavier’s life is complicated? To further muddle up the plot, he marries a Chinese-American woman so he can get U.S. citizenship to stay in the country. The fake wedding will also help him better fight for legal authority over his children’s lives.
Moving from the Lower East Side to Queens is putting a year and a half of life (more precisely 534 days) in boxes. A year is long enough for me to pinpoint my favorite neighborhood croissanteria, fresh produce vendor and cafe. But a year is also short, in the sense that I do not yet see myself as a New Yorker.
Having scheduled movers as well as packed and unpacked boxes, I’ve learned a few things about the art of moving.
Honestly, I don’t have much stuff.
That’s what we would all like to believe. When I called the movers, I stressed that I have maybe one luggage, five boxes (maybe a little more), bed, desk/chair, small bookshelf and, okay, I’ll throw in two lamps. But no, I travel light.
Turned out, I was a little off in my calculation. Either the boxes I salvaged from my apartment’s recycling bin were too small, or I had too much not-essential-but-might-be-useful-later things.
The first rule to moving, “Stop. You are deluding yourself.”
You + Your Life = Boxes
Excluding furnitures, my roommate summed up her years in the city as follow: “This is what I am, 20 boxes. Actually, 20 Gracefully apple boxes.”
As for me, my New York life thus far fitted into 12 Fresh Direct boxes.
Odd really, as depressing as the notion of life amounting to boxes is, the concept is also beautifully refreshing. Sure, moving is a hassle no matter when, where or under what circumstance. But at the same time, starting afresh is also deliciously easy. Simply pack and move (literally and metaphorically).
And now, we come to the third and most important law: Newton’s third law.
Hortense Fiquet, stares impassively. She is not strikingly beautiful, hardly, and her oval face is pale and smooth like a hard-boiled egg. You wonder what the artist saw in her face that compelled him to paint her 29 times, excluding sketchbook after sketchbook of Hortense’s pencil drawings.
She is Madame Cézanne, Paul Cézanne’s lover, wife, the mother of his only son and his most painted model. The Metropolitan Museum of the Art has put together the “Madame Cézanne” Exhibit (Nov 19, 2014 ~ Mar 15, 2015), bringing together 24 of the artist’s painting of Hortense.
To understand the significance of the woman behind the great man, we must first find out about the man.
Cézanne, a Post-Impressionist painter, has inspired modernist painters like Picasso. Cézanne rejected Impressionism’s emphasis on light and color, and turned to structure, order. Jackie Wullschiager wrote in a review for the Financial Times:
Cézanne’s directness — the balance, pictorial logic, simplification of natural forms to geometric essentials — laid the foundations of modern art
That “directness,” is visible even when painting Hortense. Cézanne absorbed her face, exploring the sharp angles and planes of her face, painting it over and over, and reducing it to odd geometry. The artist was not concerned with replicating her face. Instead, he ventured into early abstract art, freeing the painting from the need to represent reality.
But I wonder, had Cézanne looked at Hortense beyond a paintable object, would they be happier as a couple? Continue reading
When Shakespeare talk of “Much ado about nothing” — the title of his play and also (much later) two movies, 1993 and 2012 — nothing refers to gossip and rumors. In the play, nothing not only made Claudio reject Hero on the day of their wedding day, it also forced Benedick and Beatrice to confess their love for each other.
Today, nothing refers to, well, nothing, and the idiom has come to equate “all that fuss over nothing.” Somehow, I’ve managed to take counter-productivity to a new level in my attempt to move to my new apartment with as few boxes as possible.