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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Crime Novels are boring, Mr Whodidit, so what?

Crime Novels are boring, because there’s a murder or many murders (boring), a policeman or an investigator (boring), and at the end, we’re told who did it (boring).

There’s a trick I wrote about : read the end. Now you know Mr Whodidit, then read the book normally, and have fun with all the tricks the author uses to mislead you.

Well, writers have many levers to move, and they do it. Why? To debore the bored reader, right?

  • Show who did it at the beginning (Columbo)
  • Two investigators or more
  • More violence, or comedy
  • Change rhythm : get slow, or hysterical
  • Weird detective (Twin Peaks)
  • More scientific, political, etc (find a field)
  • Research in a foreign place or country
  • Trick (Silence of the Lambs : a killer helps to find a killer, haha)
  • More estheticism, more complexity (Blow Up)
  • Disappearance of an element (no body, no murder, no detective, no solution, etc)

Each attempts seems boring to me, but sometimes is works, Okeyyy. That’s the purpose (and the dial of this article) in poetry, advertising, photography, writing, etc :

How do you recover a bored audience?

Thanks for reading!

JP

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#Antonioni #quote

We know that behind every image revealed there is another image more faithful to reality, and in the back of that image there is another, and yet another behind the last one, and so on, up to the true image of that absolute, mysterious reality that no one will ever see.

Michelangelo Antonioni

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Paterson’s lunchbox & Coloring in the black hole : Chronicle 3

Watching Paterson, a movie by J. Jarmusch, “A quiet observation of the triumphs and defeats of daily life, along with the poetry evident in its smallest details.”

Happening in New Jersey (when I watch a movie I now often check where it happens), I am, with this movie, like the previous one (Only Lovers Left Alive), let with a broken heart, and the weird feeling that Jarmusch is talking about something very personal to me.

When Paterson opened his lunchbox for the first time, I saw that it was prepared by his wife. Awwweeee!

Paterson’s philosophy seems to be : whatever it is, do your job the best way you can, grab microscopic interesting elements from a kind of boring daily life (a dialog, a match box, a ray of light on a roof) and make something out of it.

There’s an article to write about the idea of bad quotes. Writers like Milan Kundera or Oscar Wilde are often wrongly quoted, the sentence coming from a novel and not from them. Kundera wrote in a book that the last adventure of mankind, in our age of “all is discovered now” modernity, was to live in couple. It’s been quoted everywhere, and it goes on, despite the fact the author explained one day it came from a dialog, and it was the stupidest thing to write it as “his” opinion. Same for Wilde, who is quoted from characters he personally hates from his novels.

Jesus on his cross. At this time, people nailed humans on some crosses to make them die slowly. So the basic symbol of christianity is a torture device. Happily he’s not been hanged!

A bouquet of flowers, tulips, roses. Cut flowers are dying. A bouquet is an agony.

An unlimited patience feeding on the conscience of its strength

What do you choose between : 

  1. an extreme freedom which leads to chaos
  2. an extreme constraint which curbs invention

Transcend an influence, enough to make it not identifiable

Good day!

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Pastures New & Feathers Song : Chronicle 2

Douglas Kennedy says that there are two ways to meet tragedy. The first one is the bad luck coming from nowhere : brain cancer, car accident – among encounters with idiots and traitors. The second one is our own (and sometimes powerful) ways to make bad choices, auto-sabotages and other subtle ways of self destructing.

“Mission : not to be duped by myself” and it is easy to say : we all are, at one moment, pastures new seekers. Et donc…

I bought Libération, the newspaper, because yesterday was the first day of our new president in France. French people are funny, they already complain about this guy. They want change, but every attempt puts the whole country on strike!

Well, he’s been elected, right? He’s 39 years old and I’m 51 today, that’s a bit disturbing ! So I watch all the messy mess and I smile : people will very soon Facebook “Macron Go Away”, like with the previous president. But he won’t go away, for sure. I’d say : shut up and let him work.

I read a long interview with Ridley Scott. He talked about Francis Bacon (the painter) as an inspiration for his chest buster. He talked about The Duellists, so graphically gorgeous (after Barry Lyndon) he was accused by critics of inventing “too beautiful images”. “Fuck off”, he said : “I used no filters!”.

I remember the letters A L I E N in the movie theater when I was a student, and today I went to the cinema to watch Alien Covenant to… do something for my birthday.  In the movies I saw a blowing wink towards Giger (knowers will know) and a surprising re-creation of The Isle of the Dead, by Böcklin. If you want to play with Google, you’ll learn that Giger painted his own version of the painting…

I was a very young man when I saw one of the five Böcklin versions, in le Musée d’Orsay, in Paris. I stopped in front of the gigantic painting for maybe half an hour. Tremendous shock.

Yes I found a white feather just after I bought Libération. My brain said : “??!”. Is a feather is a tool to write, or a symbol?

“The gods weave misfortunes for men, so that the generations to come will have something to sing about.” Mallarmé repeats, less beautifully, what Homer said; “tout aboutit en un livre,” everything ends up in a book. The Greeks speak of generations that will sing; Mallarmé speaks of an object, of a thing among things, a book. But the idea is the same; the idea that we are made for art, we are made for memory, we are made for poetry, or perhaps we are made for oblivion. But something remains, and that something is history or poetry, which are not essentially different.”

Jorge Luis Borges, Seven Nights

Misfortunes towards words. I know better now. Maybe.

Thanks. Good day!

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This is the funny story or the #Wilhelm scream – #movies

In the fifties, a sound engineer recorded the sound of a screaming man and put it into the film he was working on. In a scene from the film, soldiers are lost in a swamp in the Everglades, and one of them is bitten and dragged underwater by an alligator.

“Aaaahhh!”. Well, here it is :

 

The guy filed the tape under the name : “Man getting bit by an alligator, and he screamed”. So there.

Years after, a sound designer called Ben Burtt put the sound into a Star Wars movie (on a falling Stormtrooper), in Indiana Jones also. Since then, other sound designers began to put it in movies, and it became a joke.

If you want to know more, Google “Wilhelm Scream”. You’ll find another scream, and some YouTube clips with the best use of it. Ain’t it perfect?

Thanks for reading!

Some examples?

 

 

Some French feel-good movies to choose from

Well, maybe you’ll need them one day ?

17 Feel-Good French Films

IMDB Feel Good French Movies

http://www.rendezvousenfrancais.com/top10feelgoodfrenchmovies/

Franglish’s favourite feel good French films!

20 Best French Films on Netflix

5 Feel Good French Films

The perfect pairing: five feel-good French films – and the desserts to eat as you watch them

The 10 Best French Movies for Beginners

14 Must-see Romantic French Films

You’re welcome

#blur #blurry #ferriswheel

 

 

Constantly Random is an Instagram flaw

Instagram is a great funny app to use and to watch.

I noticed that if you want many followers, you have to be… persistent. If you take pictures of street art, or portraits of homeless people, or pot plants in black and white, dancers in NYC or “I see beauty in dirty ruins”, macro insects or abstract pieces of wood minimalism, you will get many followers.

If, like me, you take “constantly random” pictures and you wander in all kind of “styles”, you’re done. Many people won’t understand what you’re doing, and the few followers you get will quickly unfollow because they dislike you post a happy bee after a blu-ray movie, a wall texture before a black & white dead tree, a HDR sky next to a symmetrical French architecture.

There are some tools, dials and levers to pick, here.

Dial : What kind of spirit are you ? Are you, like a deep-sea diver, exploring a small territory, or are you, like a bee-air forager, smelling and exploring all that you find (from the art of warfare to linguistics, electronic music to Prussia history, American painters to Russian short stories) ?

Lever : Where do you put the lever, from “I show what I love to show” (with the random effect consequences) to “I focus on one thing only” (with the purpose to be more readable and get more audience) ? What is your blog about ? Food ? Or poetry, images, weather, books, music and politics ?

Tool : Play this game : try to find the hidden pattern behind the apparent randomness. Yeah, dear, bend over this caldron and detect it. The forager bee draws interesting patterns in the air.

https://www.instagram.com/jprobocat/

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Reading the News… in old magazines

Diogenes Syndrome is a curse of course, a disease. Some people live like isolated monsters in accumulations of “things”, papers, books, whatever. I don’t live in domestic squalor and I don’t collect old candies wrappers, but I admit I keep too many things in the basement, including… boxes of old magazines.

From time to time I open one box and bring two dozens of old Pop-Rock, movies or news magazines at work. At lunch time, I read them. It provides me many little things :

  • I eventually have small talks with people around me, surprised to see me reading  news from 2001. They think I’m a weirdo, and it’s a good feeling, I don’t know why.
  • I get the satisfaction to realise that the “big pop groups” I disliked in the past vanished into oblivion. Bim. So there !
  • I sometimes google some personalities to see how they are and what they do “now”, fifteen years after. It’s full of surprises, random changes, new roads, and disillusions…
  • I save money : instead of buying a great new book at 24 Euros, I can find, eleven or fifteen years later, a pocket second hand one at 90 cents.
  • Therefore, this makes me often think about what we all find “important” today…

Voilà ! Isn’t it a bliss, from time to time, to get under the surface of the “news” ?

Tool : Why couldn’t we use this “state of mind” for what we have now ? What if we imagine “What will this be in fifteen years” ? In entertainment, but also for our struggles and problems. Isn’t life short ? Is THIS (whatever it is) sooo important, really ?

#blackandwhite #tree #shadowsonthewall

Trailers Blackout

OK I’m french. My english is a frenglish, it’s rusty and wobbly, et voilà. Try me, though. I’ll do my best. I promise. If sometimes it’s too bad, just laugh at me or roll your eyes.

Some movies are… well, you cravewait for them ! And then trailers come. YouTube. Theaters. TV. Pretty well done. Spectacular ! You watch them. Woah. OK, they spoil the movie. They show too many things. C’est complètement stupide, but we are accustomed to stupidity, no ? So there…

It’s difficult to avoid trailers. But one day, try. You resist. You’re strong. You DON’T click. In theaters, you close your eyes and index your ears. TV-Go-Pee. Fermez les écoutilles !

Then, well : discover the pleasure to discover a movie the day you watch it. Incroyable mais vrai. Bim.

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