East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


In the shadow of Arséne

And so finally the new Lupin TV series hit the screens, as a Netflix Original, and I spent a day watching it while my computer system was slowly grinding back to normal. Together with the fifth season of The Expanse, this was for me the highest expected show in the late2020/early 2021 season.
So, is it any good?

Short review: it is very good.

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Warming up for the new Lupin

We’re snowbound – this morning my brother walked through the snow to the post office only to be told that all the systems were down because, you know, snow. Snow equals no internet services. No post office, no bank. So we inventoried our supplies, decided we can hold on, and set out to see how we’ll spend the next weeks.
Soft lockdown.
The village looking like a ghost-town.

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Dusting off my French with Arsène Lupin

I have talked in the past about how, to Italian kids of my generation, Arsène Lupin, the character created at the turn of the last century by Maurice Leblanc, was a timely and much welcome introduction to tongue-in-cheek adventure and good-natured rule-breaking, jazz, sophistication and beautiful women, thanks to a wonderful TV series featuring the excellent Georges Descrières in the role of the gentleman thief.
Indeed, Descrières as Lupin and Patrick Macnee as John Steed have a lot to answer about how I turned out as a person.

Later came the Lupin books, often in strange translations and abridged editions to make them suitable for young readers, and later still the movies, but everything started with the TV series. Re-watched today, the series is slow-paced and suffers from an almost theatrical construction of certain scenes, and yet the acting, the production values and the locations (episodes were shot all over Europe) are worth alone the price of admission.

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Nine TV shows that made me

My friend Jessica, over at her blog, is doing a series of posts about media that made her the writer she is. Books, movies, TV shows… I dunno, probably also videogames, LPs or whatever. After all we are the product of our experiences, and when it comes to stories, the stories we enjoyed reflect on the stories we write.
All of which simply means, I’m pilfering her idea, and I’ll do a few posts featuring stuff that had an influence on my writing.

Now Jessica’s done a post about her top five TV shows, and that got me thinking.
I grew up with more shows on the TV than films in the movie theater, and really my early years were spent between the telly and books with a few odd comics thrown in. As a consequence, I think like most from my generation I picked up some bits and pieces from the TV when I was putting together my writing language: ideas, characters, the way to handle dialog…

So I jotted down a list, that includes a lot more than five shows, and then distilled it to a handful of special shows, and I was surprised when I found out that, while unsurprisingly most shows date from between the ’60 and the ’80s, fantasy shows (including SF and horror) do not take the top positions. Curious, what?
In the end I reduced my list to nine titles. The rule of thumb for the selection: I must be able to trace at least some elements of my writing to the series, I must have watched it before I started seriously to write my stories, I can quote snippets of dialog from it at the slightest provocation.
Also, the list does not include animation and anime series.
Let’s see…

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Other people’s Pulp: Arsène Lupin (2004)

arsene_lupin_decrieresI mentioned in a post a while back how my tastes in literature and movies were influenced – among a myriad of other things – by the 1970s French/European series about the exploits of Arsène Lupin.
Maurice Leblanc wrote 17 novels, 39 shorter works and 5 comedies about Arsene Lupin, between 1907 and 1941 (and one was published posthumously), and he created for the French audience a character with the cultural impact and weight of a Sherlock Holmes or a Tarzan, with a touch of Gallic anarchy and darkness.
Like Raffles and more than Raffles, Lupin was the archetypical gentleman thief.
The character was brought to the screen a number of times, and as portrayed by the late, great Georges Descrieres in the old TV series was a perfect modern-day swashbuckler, winning through smarts and not just brown.

In the last week, my brother dug out our collection of DVDs of the series, and started watching them – turns out he never saw it before. I can hear him laugh from where I sit.

So, to relax last night I re-watched the 2004 movie version, and latest incarnation of the Maurice Leblanc’s character, Arsène Lupin, as directed by Jean-Paul Salomé.

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Role Models: Arsène Lupin

Role models.
Everybody needs one, right?
Well, as a kid growing up in suburbia, insight of the toxic smokestacks of the FIAT plants in Turin in the 1970s, I had three role models.
One was Robert Culp, as Kelly Robinson in I Spy.
One was Patrick Macnee, as John Steed in The Avengers.
And one was Georges Descrieres, as the eponymous character in Arsene Lupin.
I’ll talk about all three, just because, in three posts; and I’ll start with the latter, just because.

Georges Descrieres

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