Ze Post Poppins Blues & other “zooms in”

Mary Poppins & Teorema & My Uncle are three movies about a stranger who comes in a house, disturbs all systems, and at the end leaves the place in a mess of changes. It’s a little pattern in movies history, let’s call it the stranger/revealer. I googled the titles and spent a good time exploring this. Poppins is built on an invisible tree (she comes to “save the father”). The visitor in Teorema is a revealer/disturber – some say it’s God himself, or destiny. And Monsieur Hulot in My Uncle is just the happy French casualness and poetry messing with “modernity”, concrete and productivity.

You can enlarge it in clicking “Mysterious Visitor” in IMDB’s Plot Keywords, you’ll get plenty of, including horror movies.

But I’d prefer playing with the ZOOM today, restraining things to a more little aspect.

I wanted to write something about what happens AFTER Poppins and others. What could happen in movies, after the visit of a disturber. Struggles, changes, back to “normal”, chaos? It could be funny to imagine…

So my tool today becomes : biased Zoom in.

Choose a field, a structure, and choose to find or to study a little part of it, an unknown window, another entry, what happens before, or after. A strange zoom.

You can study resistance to change in hierarchies, but also “what if it was good?”, too. You can write about manipulators, but also about “what happens exactly when the narcissistic perv catches his prey”. You can spend months about mindfulness, but also and suddenly the contrary. How NOT to pay attention, and why.

So, well, the idea is to ZOOM IN on a field, with a deviant will, not in the center, with a bias of invention, generous wrongness, happy curiosity, to find something nobody had the idea to study before. Ideas. Seeds.

Have a good day!

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You can read also :

When to NOT pay attention is an Art for decision making

 

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Thank you Elia Kazan

Elia Kazan (1909 – 2003) was a Greek-American director, producer, writer and actor, described by The New York Times as “one of the most honored and influential directors in Broadway and Hollywood history”.

His autobiography, “A Life”, is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Smart, fast, generous, complex, it made me study his films, Marlon Brando, McCarthyism, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, the “Methods” in acting, New York vs Los Angeles, the crisis of 1929, what it is to be a director, a migrant, etc…

Kazan is a controversial personality because he gave testimony before before the “House Committee on Un-American Activities”, and you can see an example on YouTube when he got an honorary Oscar at 90 years old, a few actors refused to applause him.

So, you could study this interesting struggle between what is quick-easy to judge as a “mistake”, and the huge talent of this man. I read his own book (he explains himself in many pages), I watched “On the Waterfront”, and I understood. It was like a relief…

I’m thankful today because he made me understand many aspects of the American culture, he whetted my curiosity on many other artists. I read the Arthur Miller’s autobiography just after Kazan’s book, and watched many movies adapted from Tennessee Williams (Kazan directed A Tramway Named Desire on stage and as a movie, both with Brando).

A book, and a year long travel, around this, in fact : “What is it to be a standing man?”. Thanks, mister!

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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“Ways of hiding intentions”, the Humor example

I read an interview of François Damien, a Belgian actor who just directed his first movie, a comedy. He talked about the editing process, saying he was afraid of comedies, in which each part “has to be funny”, which is boring and dangerous.

He said, therefore, that each time he felt “a will to make people laugh”, he cuts the sequence, then concluding with this : “Humor must be an accident. Thus even you build it, you have to build it like an accident”.

You can also read :

Intention of effect kills effect

I do agree with him. When the audience notices you “want” to make them laugh, most of them won’t! Or maybe they do, if they’re polite, haha…

Tool :

What does that mean? That humor is like elegance (don’t show off, make it a feeling)? How will you do to “not show” you’re preparing something? A sudden thing (the accident type)? Something climbing under? A complexity, detected only by smart brains (and then you put your audience in your pocket)? What else? What’s the speed dial, in humor?

Have a nice day!

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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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What happens off screen on Instagram

In cinema and photography, we use in French two different words, hors-champ and hors-cadre.

  • Hors-champ is like “out of the field”, I’ve seen “off screen” or “off camera”. It’s what happened but has not been filmed.
  • Hors-cadre is more precise, it’s “out of the frame”, so it can happen just out of the border of the image, close to the edge.

In the movies, it can be used to hide an horrible thing (killing someone off screen but seeing the reaction of a character), and it’s a great idea in comedy : in George Cukor’s Adam’s Rib (with Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn), some hilarious moments happen when a character goes out of the screen (in a bedroom where you KNOW there’s a problem) and screams.

 

All of you, my readers, read articles in past months about fake happiness on Instagram. A splendid bikini lady is smiling on the beach, holding a green smoothie in a hand and her lover’s hand in the other.

Now we’re going out of the era where we “believe” that shit (and be envious).

We all have a “off camera/out of the frame” culture now. We KNOW she spent two hours sweating under the sun like a debandaged mummy until she found a place, a light, an angle and a HDR picture she likes. The boyfriend/photographer in bored like a dying hen (with greasy hands). The assistant (often bikini girl’s sister) screams, cries, gets drunk and wanna die. And of course, as soon (at least!) as it’s done, the teeth-piano-like “smile” vanishes, the smoothie goes to the trash (who wants to drink this cucumber/mango juice?) and they all fight like rabid mangooses until the night (and next picture). Voilà!

Thus you begin to ask questions about humanity, like “Why the wars?”, “Why the diseases?”, “Why asking for autographs?”, “Why cruelty?”, and “Why posting fake #bikini #happiness #lovetraveling #admiremeplease on Instagram?”.

 

So we began to hear about these people stopping bouleshit, changing the comments they added under their pictures, confessing the bitterish moods of the shooting days : articles. What happens after that “revealing moment”? They study Roman architecture or begin to practice an instrument? They add another Instagram next to the other one, like “horrible making of”? They fight poverty? Meditate?

How could one use smartly this idea of “The public now knows the out–of-the-frame”, and smells the fake-iness from one hundred feet afar, without being sarcastic like Celeste Barber? Really I have no idea. I need more coffee. Want a pic?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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Logan, Arthur and Motoko

I am a movie lover, un “cinéphile“. I read a lot about movies. I own thousands of DVDs and Blu-rays. I love Orson Welles, John Ford and Elia Kazan. I love Losey, Bergman and Miyazaki. I BUY movies. I’m able to spend a year to explore 1961 in cinema history (yes there’s a Wikipedia page for that). I’m able to watch all Tennessee Williams movies adaptations in a month, just for the extraordinary pleasure of… oh forget it.

But I download them too. A lot. I watch, and if I like I buy. I’m old school. I don’t have Netflix nor an Apple TV. I want the discs, the bonuses, the sleeves. Les galettes : the “epiphany cakes” (yesss we say that, for movie discs). Makes sense, right?

It’s August, so I found many American mainstream movies to download. Fast and Furious number 39 (or whatever), or Alien Covenant (I wanted to watch is again, because it’s a bad, wrong movie, but also because of Scott, Giger/Böcklin, the “two notes flute in the echo” music, and the stress before the shuttle explosion).

By the way, I wrote to the actress behind the voice of Mother, in Covenant. Great work!

I left 3 movies on the side, because I was sure it was shit.

Logan, King Arthur and Ghost in the Shell. All of them had bad trailers. Logan smelled “I want to end this character violently”. Arthur really smelled like duck-billed platypus shit. And watching Scarlett Johansson exploding a window 6541 times in slow motion on Facebook was enough to keep me away from it (talk about bad e-marketing -> another article).

All of them took me by surprise.

But beware : I’m NOT talking about Kitano’s Hana Bi or Lean’s Ryan’s Daughter (I can’t wait to find these in Blu-ray). Don’t even talk about Heaven’s Gate, Single Man or Fanny & Alexander (I have the Blu-rays, thank you). I’m writing here about mainstream movies, to eat with popcorn and have fun with.

Logan surprised me because it was more violent, tragic, or let’s say “less stupid” than some other X-Men I watched (I watched them all). I like these superheroes movies, but here I was surprised and wondered about the audience targeted by it. So what : Adult geeks? I don’t know, but I loved it. The Wolverine girl, Xavier in his chair, powerful but dying, the cross-to-X at the end, it awed me.

I was really ready to laugh sarcastically at Arthur. But Ritchie made Snatch and the Sherlocks, and I loved U.N.C.L.E., so I tried… And I found it brilliant! Smart and fast, funny at times (I LOVE when Ritchie plays with dialogs/possible scene, like when Sherlock Holmes will fight), and so powerful (ohhh Excalibur). A good evil character (hello Jude Law), a mage… A good one!

I will forgive everything to Jude Law since he played in My Blueberry Nights.

Ghost in the Shell climbed greatfully towards the spider-tank scene (I own the anime movie, and I needed to know what they’ll do with the tank). The face to face with mother ending crushed me. The sound is great. Kitano is perfect. Binoche is fantastic (strong, fragile, alive). What a great surprise!

Well, I’m thankful. I read today something like “Even if it’s bad, it’s OK if it’s made with the heart” – I don’t remember where : Gide or Valéry? All of them were made with some heart.

Then I wonder how to blog about Logan : what are and what could be other branches in the almost totally kryptonitelic ridiculous tree of Superhero Movies? About Arthur : what’s the drive in Ritchie : a casualness, a “I allow everything, shut up” energy? About Ghost in the Shell : how to make a robot alive? How to adapt a fucking Japanese cartoon with elegance? How to convince Scarlett Johannsson to play that?

 

After all this, you will ALWAYS need to clear your spirit from special effects, Excalibur’s devastation, jumping in an invisible electronic device, or fake claws. I suggest an Ingmar Bergman’s movie : Winter Light. Or just one quote of this movie instead :

“God does not speak because there is no God. You should learn how to love, instead of praying”.

Thanks for reading!

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Babette’s Feast, a Frenchization

In a remote 19th-century Danish village, two sisters lead a rigid life centered around their father, the local minister, and their church. They take in French refugee, Babette Hersant, who agrees to work as their servant. After winning the lottery, Babette wants to repay the sisters for their kindness and offers to cook a French meal for them and their friends on the 100th anniversary of their father’s birth. It proves to be an eye-opening experience for everyone.

As they say, Babette’s Feast is “still the gold standard of food movies”. I use it here because I find it’s a good example of… well… the reasons why people love the French – when they do 🙂

Babette is the perfect example of the Intruder/Revealer type. She disturbs a system, here a rigid grey life, with her “way of being”, which is here the love of food, et la gourmandise.

Nothing is the same after her…

Gourmandise is the French word for “love of good food”. I think you don’t have this word in English, which is maybe cultural (Mayflower spirit?). It’s like a positive, smiling way to talk about… greed. Yum!

On this pattern, there’s another movie, with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp : Chocolat.

I agree : this spirit can be a bit disturbing for obedient Anglo-Saxons. Each time I’ve been in France with an American friend, this person was like amazed (in many ways : surprised, annoyed, afraid) about our freedom, our “not following the rules that much” ways, our casualness, our inefficiency too – and the food. The food, always, and again.

Here (like in other countries like Italy), c’est un Art de vivre, an Art of living. And we fight for that! Many of our cheeses are and will stay forbidden in America : not “safe” enough, not enough disinfected, sanitized…

Here I pity the French who live in America : they’re all missing… the cheese! And also, I will now search for “cultural differences movies”, where Anglo-Saxon’s culture irrigate our exhausting Frenchiness.

 

Tool : what from other country’s culture thing do you need in your job, in your life? What if you ask a Japanese expert about your company? What for? Where are the axis of progress?

Have a nice day!

OK, here’s a little Camembert to say goodbye.

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