A Farce of a Scandal
The French are all aflutter. This is the first time in the memory of forever that a movie of theirs, one of the three great filmmaking nations (the other two being America and India), stands a chance of taking home the top honors at this year’s Academy Awards. If you don’t know that the film in question is The Artist, then you live in a cave and need to call Plato to have your projector fixed.
The concern is over the teaser posters for another film starring Jean Dujardin, Les Infidèles, which is not some anti-American diatribe co-financed by the Islamic Republic of Iran; infidèles does not translate as “The Infidels,” but as “The Unfaithful.” In a typically contradictory and capricious move, the governing body of French advertising, the ARPP, has ordered all of the posters taken down by the end of the week, calling them sexist and offensive to women.
It isn’t so much the image that is offensive but poster’s tagline, je rentre en réunion, which on its face translates to “I go back into a meeting,” but the word rentrer in this instance is clearly being used to suggest its other meaning: insertion/penetration. And réunion is also not meant to be “meeting,” but a re-union of a coital type. It’s actually a very forced, rather lame jeu de mots, but entirely appropriate: judging from the trailer, Les Infidèles is that most dreaded and forced of theatrical genres, film and stage: the French farce.
Media outlets on both sides of the Channel, but not the Atlantic, are worried about how the five thousand eight hundred putatively Puritanical American voters in the Academy are going to react to the “scandal,” as Le Parisien called it, of Dujardin’s misstep, presuming they understand the bad play on words to begin with; otherwise, it just looks like another dumb Rom Com poster featuring the French equivalent of Gerard Butler between the equivalent of Katherine Heigl’s legs. Without understanding the context of the caption—and nobody in this town will understand its nuances or will care enough even if they did—it is the French who look unnecessarily Puritanical in this case.
I love it. After years of having stale croissants pelted at us from the top of the Eiffel Tower because Americans have been so outraged at incidents like the infidèle Bill Clinton getting a petit blowjob from a fat-bitch intern in his office, I am almost feeling charitable enough to go back to calling Freedom Fries by their original name.
Let’s face it, nobody in Hollywood gives a shit what goes on in France. Well, that’s not entirely true: the girls care because Paris makes a lot of the clothes they wear on the red carpet. But another reason Academy voters aren’t likely to give this tempest in a teapot a further thought is Les Infidèles isn’t just a silly French farce, it’s that weird Euro sub-genre: the anthology film, a sort of poo-poo platter combo of shorts from different directors—in this case including both Dujardin himself and the director of The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius—loosely based around the same theme. The last of these oddities to make the rounds of art houses was the Je T’aime series about Paris and New York. Yawn, double snore.
This hasn’t been the most exciting week in the news, which is probably why I had a dream around Monday or Tuesday about Pippa Middleton, for some strange reason. It was actually a bit of a nightmare because she’d had extensive plastic surgery and couldn’t talk, so loaded were her lips with collagen. I’m fairly sure the dream had something to do with the fact I’m about to go to India and need to renew my visa. When I was asked on the application what I was visiting the country for, I was sorely tempted to put, “Extensive cosmetic surgery. But please keep it hush-hush.”
This means that my dream wasn’t really a dream about Pippa, but rather me as Pippa, which is odd because I’d rather be called Philippa, thank you very much. Now it turns out she’s dating George Percy, the future Duke of Northumberland, whose estimated net worth will one day be upwards of $500 million.
The Duke of Northumberland is known as the “Prince of the North,” so Percy’s equivalent in The Game of Thrones series would be Robb Stark. That would make Pippa’s equivalent character Jeyne Westerling, whom Robb married after taking her cherry when she was nursing him back to health after he was wounded in battle, and I’m not sure how this item managed to get from plastic surgery and Indian visas to fantasy novels, but I’d just like to caution Pippa about this romance with Percy because (spoiler alert!) it doesn’t end well for poor Robb in the books.
A few years ago, I attended a couple of informal talks at Norwood Club in New York and elsewhere about the world-changing potential of social media. I wasn’t so much skeptical as I was sort of annoyed that it would be geeks and regular people, not glamorous Hollywood types who made filmed entertainment, who would change people’s tastes and alter egregious wrong-thinking across the globe. I was obdurately old fashioned that way.
I was a latecomer to Facebook and an even later comer to Twitter, entirely because I’m a modern misanthrope, not because I’m a technically challenged old geezer who doesn’t get it and needs lessons down the Apple Store. I’m still ambivalent about it, although Twitter does let me zing easily from my phone when I feel a zinger coming on in the gym or the wine section at Trader Joes. But I have to admit that for all of the bullying and trolling and flaming that goes on in the interweb, social media is a staggering force for good.
From the Arab Spring to the anti-bullying campaigns to the withdrawal of SOPA/PIPA from Congress, which was really nothing short of staggering, everything I heard in those ecstatic eulogies about social media have come true, and then some. That a massive Twitter campaign forced the Susan B. Kommen Foundation to reinstate its funding for Planned Parenthood this week is just further proof that the internet is democracy’s most effective champion, a real-time referendum that should never be censored, and any attempt to do so is tyranny.
Our Schizo of the Week, Dennis Woodruff, is an old Hollywood fixture. He’s not really schizophrenic, just a deeply eccentric character who has had some success in being a deeply eccentric character, so why not keep it going?
I met Dennis today at a gas station on Santa Monica Boulevard in his gussied-up station wagon. He not only agreed to pose for me, he even insisted I post his pictures online.
“I’m putting together a horror film,” he replied when I asked him what projects he was working on, seeing as his car is emblazoned with INDEPENDENT FILMMAKER. “It’s based on that guy who is chopping off people’s heads in the Hills.”
“You mean the one the dog walkers found a couple of weeks ago?”
“That was probably an Armenian mob hit.”
“Big deal, I’m changing it. I’m trying to raise finance for it.”
“Don’t look at me. I’m not riding a bike because I’m rich.”
“Terry Richardson, you know him? Yeah? He’s taken lots of pictures of me, even has them up on his website. I have an art show going up in a gallery in Burbank soon. You have an amazing aura about you.”
“No, really. There’s something incredible about your energy. I don’t know what it is. I don’t mean to be weird about it or anything.”
Weird? Heaven forbid. We’re just birds of a feather, Dennis, that’s all.
You mean Moulin Rouge wasn’t a French film?
I’ve got a candidate for Schizo of the Week a couple towns over. He rides around in a station wagon literally covered top to bottom with stuffed animals… on the outside. As far as I can tell, he eats all his meals at the McDonalds in the Reading Cinema/Walmart parking lot. I should ask to snap his picture, but some people dont react well to that.
Rules of SOTW is they have to agree. But someone who does that to his car wants to be noticed. Just ask. He might even like your aura.
Killough, did you purposely omit Britain and Italy from the great filmmaking dominions? In terms of good films, I’m quite sure that the UK kicks our ass, and even more so in per capita terms. The same would apply to Italy back in the day.
As for the Jean Dujardin poster, he looks great but the tagline is so stupid, it’s not even funny in French. And that’s saying something.
To marry one daughter off to the future Prince of Wales and another to the future Duke of Northumberland is a staggering accomplishment of Mitford proportions. You rarely see that kind of gold-digging these days. Sigh.
In theory, the nations that are most gaga over film are the US, France and India. That’s not saying other nations don’t make better films; hell, even Romania makes better films than we do. And the Italians over the French any day. Venice and Berlin trump Cannes, for sure.
And thanks for your generous comments about last week’s roundup. I think quotation marks aren’t used enough when it comes to Hollywood? Speaking of which, check out the ShitPeopleSayInLA vid I posted on FB.