Gentry writes: So Square Jaw and I have this new thing we do. Instead of saying “tien, je te donne un bisou” (come here, I’m giving you a little kiss), we say “tien, je te donne un Zizou” and then we head butt the other one in the chest.
Gentry and I arrived half an hour early for the 4:30 pm showing at Forum des Halles yesterday and ended up getting the last good seats in the house.
As we waited in line, we tried to spot who were Royalists and who were Coppolists. Gentry was wearing her satin covered Marie Antoinette slippers and jacket with Chantilly lace cuffs and I wore no mascara and my hair was a little pouffy (by accident). So it was very like seeing the Rocky Horror Picture Show in drag.
I’m going to start with the bad: Kirsten mopes and sighs and runs down hallways suffocating in angst, and you just don’t care. Not caring about Marie Antoinette is bad.
And it didn’t have to be that way. Sofia Coppola is the queen of young women’s private moments. See: the entire film Lost in Translation. Woman waking up, woman in bathtub with her daydreams, woman just after she has said goodbye to her husband, woman looking longingly out window. But. Eh. We just don’t feel it here.
And I don’t think it can be blamed on Kirsten. I think it’s the script.
The good! The good! The eye candy, my god. The adolescent trippy hues, the party scenes, and the score. Gentry confirmed that all of the costumes were historically accurate (she was kind of hoping it would be more 2006 stylized and spark some new trends) and there was a delightfully high pug quotient. There was also a great supporting cast. Molly Shannon and that woman from Bridget Jones were brilliant as gossipy aunts. And I loooved the slutty, but good-friend-to-Marie, Duchesse de Polignac. Especially when she visits Marie at Le Petit Trianon and says, “Ooooh, I lahve the country!”
I personally was a huge fan of the cameos by obscure French fashion people. There were moments in big party scenes where I just turned to Gentry and said, “That's!” and she answered, “Yeah!”
And the beginning of the film is just terrific. There's a scene where Marie Antoinette is riding from Austria to France to meet her husband and we see the Dauphin playing swords in the crispy fall leaves with his friends and everyone’s all nervous. The anticipation is sweet and touching and the opening scenes just rock.
The main complaint I’m hearing in France? The film is too American. I really don’t get that. Are all movies made by Americans too American? Is Schindler’s List too American? I think the people who are saying it’s too American just mean that they would have preferred a film about history more than a young woman’s private life. If that’s the case, you have to blame Sophia Coppola, not America.
And if you’re blaming Sofia Coppola, you can just pack up and leave, just leave right now!
Ha! Ha! I kid!
(No but seriously, if you don’t like Sofia Coppola, you aybemay ontday antway to aysay it erehay. Psst. Come closer, closer. The Sofia Lovers will get you in your sleep and tear you limb from limb.)
La la la! So!
(No, but seriously, they will get you. You are in grave danger if you don’t leave right now.)
After the film, I had apéro with lovely young Annabel, who has this theory: if you wait for something long enough, you’re going to like it.
I love this because it totally flies against conventional wisdom to not set your expectations too high.
I also think it’s true. For me, no amount of bad dialogue could spoil the way Sofia Coppola films light filtering through trees. Or carriages trotting by at sunrise. The way she observes these things, quietly, from afar with no music, and you can just sort of smell dewy grass.
Gentry has threatened a boycott if I don’t update my “diary” right this minute.
I responded that a Gentry-run boycott would probably be pretty interesting as she’d surely invoke some ironic Revolutionary theme--Avec-Culottes perhaps. (Gentry could school a professor on the finer points of French history). The way I imagine it, everyone in Gentry’s boycott would be wearing cashmere underpants.
We will be seeing Marie Antoinette together Wednesday. She emails: I hope they show the part where Les Peuples grab the Princess de Polinac when she's on rue Montorgeuil and tear her limb from limb before taking her severed head to the hair dresser to have it recoiffed so they could put it on a stick and shove it up in front of the window of where they were keeping Marie Antoinette in prison.
I finally saw Jacques Audiard's De Battre Mon Coeur S’est Arrêté(The Beat That My Heart Skipped) the other night and it was the most arresting, human, violent and tender thing. It totally knocked me over.
I walked around the Montparnasse area after the movie, thinking of Mark Ruffalo. This might seem a little random, considering Mark Ruffalo makes no appearance in De Battre, but this befalls me sometimes: I think of Mark Ruffalo. Does thinking of Mark Ruffalo need to happen for a reason? So I didn’t make much of it until...ça y est. The last film that had me this bouleversé was a film Mark Ruffalo starred in, You Can Count on Me.
Where You Can Count on Me is mundane (in plot), De Battre is outrageous and pulpy (I know it has been released worldwide, but just in case--it’s about a thug struggling to become a concert pianist), but then I started comparing the Mark Ruffalo and Romain Duris characters. Are both condemned by the past? Check. Violent, but with big hearts? Check. Reluctant in the roles their families have given them? Check. Are both films about what it takes to escape our own prisons? Familial ties that choke? Check, check.
So yeah, the kind of film that reaches right into your heart and starts plucking the threads so hard that it will have you, days later, remembering that one part where Thomas spends the night before his big audition kicking out those poor immigrant squatters for his own profit, and then how the next morning, full of self-loathing in his spanking new Dior Homme shirt...Will he fuck up the audition? and OUCH!!! There goes my heart, skipping beats again.
In other movie news, I finally saw La Moustache. I sort of enjoyed it! No, really! Although I maintain that the part from the preview where he’s watching his mustache hair run down the drain and there are VIOLINS PLAYING? Literally. Violins. Yeah, that part’s still REALLY cheesy.
My friend R J Keefe at Daily Blague did an excellent review of De Battre. Meanwhile, I've long been impressed by Duris's fine...talent as an actor.
I spent the good part of my adolescence backstage. The theater made my heart hum. Heck, my best friend is an actress. So, when an acquaintance mentioned his girlfriend’s musical, a project that she co-created and stars in, I said not only will I be there, but I will tell the Internet about it. Mostly because--Parisians, I’m talking to you--I think the project sounds awesome and worthy of your time. Voila, ma pub:
Where will I be this Friday night? Why I’ll be at "Coups de Foudre," thanks for asking. It's a musical that tells its story using popular french songs. The artists covered? They range from Kurt Weil to Gainsbourg to Lio to Les Rita Mitsouko to...Lorie. As you can see, the show, it has a sense of humor.
So come on down, y’all. Hum along, and tap your feet. If you feel so inclined, send me an email and we can arrange a pre/post show coucou. Or not. Wont bother me one bit either way. Hi, I’m Coquette and I was a child actor--I’m totally accustomed to rejection. See the press release.
Coups de Foudre le Vendredi 20 mai a 21h au Theatre Victor Hugo a Bagneux TP 15 euros/ TR 10 euros 01.40.39.92.91
This is my friend Guigui. Everyone say, "Hi Guigui!"
Guillaume is a lover of films. And when I say "lover," I mean, he wants to marry Hollywood and have all of its babies, LUV-AH. I mean, if you are in a room with him for over five minutes, the conversation will wind up at le cinéma. It is a CIRCUMSTANCE BEYOND ANY PARTY'S CONTROL. I don’t know what the guy is reading, but I swear Gui knows a film is going to be made before the screenwriter has even scribbled the first idea onto a cocktail napkin. I think a fun drinking game to play is “Guigui, tell us, who produced XY and Z films?” And by fun, I mean, Guigui will take you downtown and show you who is boss with his mad, mad skills.
I bet you’re thinking he’ll talk your ear off about Truffaut and the nouvelle vague. I bet you’re thinking words like, "film snob." This could not be farther from the truth. For Guigui, the popcornier and more blockbuster-y, the better!
See his eyes twinkle when he talks about The Last Samurai, Troy, The Mummy or good god, The Scorpion King. (Yes, you heard me right, THE SCORPION KING). Last summer, I talked to Guigui just before he went to watch The Scorpion King on our friend Brice’s monster TV, and Gui was ABOUT TO PEE HIS PANTS he was so excited. AND IT WASN'T HIS FIRST TIME SEEING THE FILM. When I made a disparaging remark about The Scorpion King, (because sometimes I can be a total bee-otch like that, yo), he asked if I’d seen it and I said, “The lead actor is a professional wrestler and NAMED AFTER A MINERAL--I DON’T NEED TO SEE IT.”
I have since read the Slate reviews of each of the aforementioned films; I maintain my stance.
The common thread with these movies--besides their EMPTINESS AND NARRATIVE PREDICTABILITY, OF COURSE--is the brand of roaring, large-scale action sequences that any film made outside of Hollywood is hopeless to match. My Big Theory is this: having grown up in a place other than America, Gui and his friends lack a certain immunity towards the Hollywood action film. I suspect they are powerless to some masculine pleasure-drug these films hold simply because they grew up in a country where the rare car chase scene features automobiles that are about as sturdy and powerful AS TIN CANS.
Speaking of cars, two television programs Guigui really likes are Starsky and Hutch and Miami Vice. I will not editorialize further, because I’ve tried on several occasions to pick his brain on the matter, and to no avail. You’re being ironic, right? The car chases, and cheesy cop poses, the crazy 70's zoom lens--you like it because it’s wacky, right? RIGHT?
He just laughs. And turns the conversation back to Kill Bill: Vol 2.
(Incidentally, if you’re interested in the state of French film making. I enjoyed this article, which came out last month).
Last night, Jeanne and I watched the film Flashdance on television. Even after living in France for a year, I still write off watching television as “productive” and “vocabulary-building.” I have not yet called it “working,” but I can’t say the thought hasn’t crossed my mind.
The only problem with learning French from Flashdance is, do you know how much of this film is action montages set to music? I’ve done some rough calculations, and after stringing all of the dialogue bits together, you’re left with approximately 8 minutes and 20 seconds of film.
In one of the 20-second dialogue chunks, Jennifer Beals and her boyfriend/boss are on a date at a fancy restaurant and boyfriend/boss's ex-wife comes over. (You know the part I mean--just after Beals runs her tongue all over the lobster and sticks her foot in his crotch?) The ex-wife, clearly threatened by this lobster-licking stripper that is dating her former husband says, “I imagine he took you to so and so on the first date.”
And Jennifer Beals, whose character we’ve come to learn is no milquetoast--have you seen her with a blowtorch?--replies, “Et c’est moi qui l’ai violé.” (And I’m the one who jumped him).
This is where I looked at Jeanne and said “violet”? Because it sounded to me like the word for purple and WHAT THE HELL KIND OF SENSE DOES THAT MAKE?
And Jeanne said “Eeets, umm, to rape?” (This is the literal translation of violé).
Seeing my nod of comprehension and feeling proud, Jeanne nestled back into her cushion and said “Sank you Neervanah.”