Urban Cowboy, y’all

OK. As a movie lover, I knew Urban Cowboy was a good movie, but I never watched it until today.

I know something : for American people, the “South” is something, say, like… different. The accent, for example. So : imagine what it can be for… a French!

It’s a bit like all of you, but worse, you see? When I see a country music singer (with his hat), I have “this” smile. I’m sorry, but it’s VERY strange for us. Imagining to wear a cowboy hat in a joint, OMG…

One day, a American good friend of mine took a few hours to explain me country music, with the lyrics, etc. Broken hearted men, singing about sorrow, regrets and lost love. It left me in a awe (and, well, my own life was a sadness disaster at this time). I knew nothing about it all. It was interesting…

Urban Cowboy is the story of a dumb alpha male (John Travolta), quitting the family farm for the city of Houston. In a honky-tonk he meets a girl (Debra Winger), marries her, then becomes jealous of a stupid bad guy released of parole (she’s attracted, of couuuurse). Everybody rides a mechanical rodeo bull, etc.

So : East Texas in the eighties, country music and, as I saw in IMDB, “young couples without big bank accounts who have trouble getting along”.

The actors and the director manage to do something great : we, little by little, learn to LIKE these people. A simple minded sexist redneck, a dumb spouse falling for the first bad guy in town, etc. And we love them!

Well, it’s impossible not to love Debra Winger, right?

The hold of tragedy squeezes them all, and it becomes… important. It’s a good movie, I told you!

 

This is a useful tool, and a dial : don’t mock unknown cultures too fast, even if it’s the easiest path for you. Be serious, hold on, bend over, lean, study the most boring universe, and find your seeds. Little by little, I was interested in this film, and I found the music really great (lyrics included). Who will do the same with opera, or Italian classical music or Belgian literature?

Have a nice day, y’all!

 

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La Grande Vadrouille / The Great Stroll

Hi, my American readers! From San Francisco to New York City by way of Wellington, Fayetteville and Wichita, it’s SUNDAY, a special day, right? Time for a barbecue and Rosé wine, or maybe a good old French comedy classic?

La Grande Vadrouille is one of the best. It means literally “The Great Stroll”; originally released in the United States as Don’t Look Now… We’re Being Shot At!

It’s a big production, made in 1966 (a good year : I was born this year). Wikipedia says :

“For over forty years La Grande Vadrouille was the most successful French film in France, topping the box office with over 17,200,000 cinema admissions. It remains today the third most successful film ever in France, of any nationality”.

I copied pasted the plot from wikipedia too :

Summer 1941. Over German-occupied France, a Royal Air Force bomber becomes lost after a mission and is shot down over Paris by German flak. Three of the crew, parachute out over the city, where they run into and are hidden by a house painter, Augustin Bouvet, a puppet show operator, Juliette, and the grumbling conductor of the Opéra National de Paris, Stanislas Lefort. Involuntarily, Lefort, Juliette and Bouvet get themselves tangled up in the manhunt against the aviators led by Wehrmacht Major Achbach as they help the airmen to escape to the free zone with the help of Resistance fighters and sympathisers.

You’ll hear French good persons trying to speak English, fighting with a huge sense of… Frenchiness against the German occupiers… If you like The Great Race and other big budget sunny happy crazy movies, it’s for you.

Is it or Netflix or something? No idea. But if it is, give it a try!

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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Elbowing the Audience by killing the Suspension of Disbelief

“Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back and,
instead of bleeding, he sings.”
R. Benchley

 

ONE

If you go see a theater play, you have to make a deal with yourself, even if you even don’t realize you do it  :

“I accept to believe that these people on the scene are real”

If you don’t, you’ll watch actors making as if, that’s weird, right?

This is not new, of course : Coleridge (an English philosopher) called it Suspension of disbelief :

“a willingness to suspend one’s critical faculties and believe the unbelievable; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment.”

You watch Braveheart on TV. You need your good “willing suspension of disbelief”, and if you don’t, you will laugh all along : you’ll see Mel Gibson (Australian actor) running in a skirt, pretending to fight for Scotland, hahaha.

And in a magic act, “an audience is not expected to actually believe that a woman is cut in half or transforms into a gorilla in order to enjoy the performance.”. Now imagine the work you have to do to accept an opera! 🙂

OK, you got the concept.

TWO

Creators and critics are aware of that. Nathalie Sarraute, a French writer, wrote a book (The Age of Suspicion), where she says that the novels’ readers less and less believe in the author “I know all” invention, and therefore that the writers tend to depersonalize the characters. Readers are more and more also critics, they analyze their pleasure, and you have to be smart and inventive to catch’em back.

In fact, this phenomenon appeared in many Arts.

  • In theater, directors began to play with the old “suspension of disbelief” trick : keeping the lights on in the room, allowing characters to call out to the audience.
  • In novels, the “omniscient narrator” began to speak to the reader (about his doubts, or the way the story was told).
  • In movies, characters suddenly watched the spectator, talking to him (Cf Pierrot le Fou, Godard).

THREE

I found this idea in interviews of movies directors like Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock and Brian de Palma. Their idea is the same, I would formulate it like that :

“I KNOW for sure that I want to make movies for an audience who is AWARE that it’s a movie. I don’t want to put them in a classical “dream mode”, but I want to play with the audience with the fact a movie is like a clock, a fake funny mechanism MADE FOR HIM, therefore I constantly ELBOW THE AUDIENCE with nods, tricks, implausible twists and turns. They have fun not because they believe it, they have fun because they know I’m here with the scriptwriter working for their entertaining intelligence – so there!”.

So what is played here is not “sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment” any more, like in the normal Suspension of Disbelief. It’s a weaving between entertainment AND logic and realism. Inside the audience, the spectator AND the critic are dancing tango, with a smile. Intelligence is summoned, not only the dreaming capacities…

TOOL :

Where would you use this? Advertising? Poetry? Marketing? What would be a private joke to an audience? What is to elbow you spectators, and how to? Why? If you succeed, what happens?

You can also read : Strangeization.

Thanks for reading!

 

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Instagram : __bodylanguage__

 

Light a fire under my fantasy flaw : Words VS Action

This article was triggered by a friend in the USA, telling me that many men from other countries asked her to visit (all this linked to love and attraction, etc…), but… “Who takes a plane to visit ME?”.

I read many interviews of filmmakers, who love to write stories and scenarios, and like to work for days on the editing process, but these directors hate shooting because it’s a compromise of their script – or at least they find it boring and complicated. You’re surrounded by a huge team who spend their time to fix problems, right? With actors who are fragile, lost, or complicated. They know they HAVE TO do it, though.

I think I’m this kind of guy. This is a flaw, and this is bad. I tend to live in a fantasy world. I like ideas, books, and metaphors. I like to say “Let’s keep it a dance”, but I don’t propose real tango lessons. I fantasize about traveling but I don’t even have a passport! I’d love to visit Luca (Italy), Yalta (Ukraine), or Petaluma (California)… and I don’t even have a car.

I’m not a doer, I’m not a strong person, I’m a dreamer and we dreamers tend to overthink instead of moving our asses. I know it can be felt as a betrayal by action people…

I should light a fire under my ass (ohh these American idioms with the word “ass”) but I don’t and won’t. Somebody could light it for me, but that’s lazy to easy to say that, right? And if I don’t move it could hurtburn my bottom, poor me! Condemned to stand up for the rest of my life…

Nevertheless, I think that you could find a sidekick lover, a partner who likes your conversation and dreaming capacities (fair’s fair), who settles in, takes their place next to you, not to become an engine or a pusher, which would be exhausting, but who knows you well enough to guess when to trigger this lever they know about. A single well placed sentence and a dreamer can become a strong action happy man. Tadaaaa.

OK, too easy, and lazy, right? It was probably…

…a dream 🙂

Have a nice day!

(Fair’s fair… I like this one!)

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Stalking Curses & Sisyphus’s like Loneliness : Chronicle 5

I already wrote a little article about this question : Why do people blog? Why do people post on Instagram? It was a long list of hypothesis, but at the end, I bet that people post to be loved. I read this week that the worse thing for depression is Instagram (because, as I guessed well, people often want to show to the world that they are “very happy, blessed by life and in love”, which makes the viewers jealous or at least a bit depressed because themselves are obviously NOT that happy, right?).

You click a hashtag, randomly, and you see billions of pictures. Why do people post on Instagram? The key word is “motivation”. Some take pictures and post them to :

  • Get followers
  • Share their work
  • Meet people with same interests
  • Indicate to others how happy and blessed they are
  • Show how interesting they are
  • Make people laugh
  • Show their “beauty”
  • Reveal beautiful places they visit
  • Indicate they are in couple, in love
  • Indicate they are sad, alone, or tired
  • Put a stalker in pain
  • Show their artistic talent
  • Show their project

Etc! One good question is :

When you post something somewhere, are you aware of your audience, or do you work only for yourself, your happiness?

I watched Paterson and I immediatly thought about another movie : Dead Zone : Christopher Walken is in coma for many years after a car accident. His wife remarry. Then he wakes up. His loneliness is then unbelievable (and the actor fantastic at it). It’s a world of ice. And he has a power to see the future…

Paterson (Adam Driver) is terrible alone too, but it’s VERY different. He has a beautiful young wife, a job (he’s a bus driver), some friends in a bar, and he writes poems. He’s quiet, modest in a modest life – he doesn’t talk much about his poems (though he continuously meets other people – a rapper, a little girl, a japanese man – interested in poetry). He writes in his bus, while he has lunch, in his basement. Nobody reads his poems. He sees struggling people around him (two young men lost with flirting, a colleague and his numerous family problems, a broken-hearted black man in the bar) and stays impassive and calm, benevolent. Idem with his girlfriend (who is a sweet dreamer, a dabbler artist). We all see he is not really connected, to anybody. He just goes on with his life, quietly putting words in his little booklet…

Walken and Driver are standing up. They are the loneliest characters I’ve seen ever (well, apart from Tennessee Williams’ plays). Both find something to do, though. They find their “mission”. The first one leads to drama (it’s from a Stephen King novel, after all). The second one is revealing a “way of being in the world” : being there without being very concerned (cf Inside Sidestepping) or affected. It talks about Sisyphus and about the Waldgänger, too…

It broke me heart, yesterday night, like a Chekhov or a Carver short story can do…

Slide, mortals, don’t bear down

 

Thanks for reading! Have a great week-end!

 

(I love this little dances of words too : Walken and Driver/Driver plays a bus driver/Paterson lives in Paterson, New Jersey/etc)

 

 

 

 

Mistaken & Mugged : Chronicle 1

Sometimes you just need a title to make an article. Not a good article, OK, just “an” article. Or a chronicle. I realized (it’s never too late) that many bloggers just write chronicles, little things of life. I have to admit that it works, it gives a color, and somehow the reader can grab a little seed from it.

My daughters are discovering a movie : Forrest Gump. I could hear the drawling southern accent (now I hear that) from the first seconds (happening in Alabama). Remembering the “Life is like a box of chocolate you never know what you get” thing. Seeing Forrest finding a feather, delicately opening his suitcase to put her in a book. Yes, “her”. For a French, a feather is “une plume”, it’s absolutely and strongly feminine. Her.

I used to find feathers a lot, a long time ago, as signs and coincidences. At this time, I was writing hundreds of letters for Swanny – who never read them (of course). You never know what you get, right? Now when I see a feather I see a feather. I try to.

Just watched Pina, from Wim Wenders (the trailer is here). This movie (about the great choreographer Pina Bausch) needs to be seen in High Definition. It succeeds tremendously in making us understand that dance is telling us things out of ideas, out of subtilities of words or even concepts. Then I discussed about Hip Hop Battles with my daughter. Thinking two things :

  • I don’t like improvisation. I have too much empathy for that. I can SEE the guy trying this and that, this is exhausting. Same in music. OK for masters, Coltrane and Monk, but generally I prefer written music. And rehearsed, organized dance…
  • I said to my girl – watch Pina. Thinking about this idea, this tool : If you’re good in your Art, you should read and study OTHER Arts, or other branches of the tree. I’d respect a lot an architect studying harmony in music, or a rapper studying Verlaine.

Most of my American friends tend to dissuade me to visit “The South”. Nevertheless, I will go (if I visit the USA one day). And Atlanta too. I love Faulkner, and Tennessee Williams, you know? Yes it’s a paradox : I live in the North of France, and I think I’d be happier to live in Portland, Seattle or Minneapolis, my type of climate, my type of mood. I dislike sedativeness :

I read this morning a frightening article about San Andreas Fault (it’s here : http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-lopez-jones-quake-05142017-story.html ). I just remember this paragraph :

It’s human nature to live in denial, especially in California, where natural beauty is a sedative. We know the state is cracked and creviced from head to toe, San Francisco once burned to the ground, and we’re overdue for another massive shaker that could take lives, cripple the economy and leave millions of people without water and power for months.

As I study English daily, I daily find difficult words, new words, or vague words, like mug (can be a large cup, to rob violently, a face, or a stupid person). That’s very confusing : a ugly mug lost his mug, mugged by a mug?! So I typed “mugged”. For my title, remember?

I watched a live moment from the always whispering Filthyratbag (Celeste, it’s on Instagram), who is very enigmatic. You never know how to dance with her. I added a little drawing, là, en bas, down under. Quietly sarcastic, tenderly ugly, a new type of chekovian heroin, for sure. Always when I meet her work my left eyebrow climbs a bit.

I read a little the Japanese travel book of Nicolas Bouvier. Found this Basho haiku in it :

Summer grass, all that remains of warriors dreams.

The French way is :

L’herbe flétrie d’été
C’est bien tout ce qui reste
Du rêve des guerriers

What remains of MY dreams? Summer witted grass?

Also, this from Seng t’san :

Cessez de vous en faire
Et suivez le courant
Si vos pensées sont liées
Elles perdent leur fraîcheur

Stop worrying,
and follow the current
If your thoughts are tied up,
they lose their freshness

So, OK, I follow. Observer sans juger (watch without judging), Amor Fati and sequere deum!

Thanks for reading! Bon dimanche !

 

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Fruitful Constraints & Creativity

It’s an old tool many artists know : many constraints are fruitful. Mainly because a constraint is a problem calling for a solution, therefore you have to move, to be creative.

All jobs and activities have constraints : budget, environment, other people, time, space, your skills, your tools.

If it’s too loose, though, you feel a freedom, which can be messy. You can not catch anything. Stuck. You maybe need to tight something up, to find “your” freedom within a new frame.

Brian Eno invent the Oblique Strategies (mainly for musicians) as a card game. You pick a card and you have to obey (sometimes it’s terrible!). Some directors are well known to tell the actors to follow precisely something (the dialogs, or the places they have to move on the set, etc) before shooting. Some digital artists sometimes go out in a park with a pencil and a notebook. A photographer can go outside with the limit of 20 pictures taken, not much. And G. Perec wrote an entire book without the letter “e”.

 

Constraints are fruitful. You probably have many disposable levers for these. A poet can obey : write something in alexandrine; without any letter “p”, in less than 5 minutes. You may have to present a project in ONE minute only, and… with no words. What are your levers?

You can pull a lever to Zero, it’s the Total Constraint. For example, you’re a photographer and you go out without any camera. Just your eye. You’ll feel the need, you’ll feel your brain simmering. As you can only watch and… think, you’ll maybe have bursts of ideas (instead of taking pictures).

Of course it’s an example of “Amor Fati”, being content with what happens to you, even if it seems bad. Embracing fate : every constraint, if you can’t avoid it, should (and will have to) be danced with.

Thanks for reading!

 

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Instagram : f_pilvi