Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Life, Art, nabbed in Parisian love-nest !

In the following post,

itself repeatedly updated, as though with post-it notes, with each fresh whiff of scandal out of France, we apologized to the French President  for having called him “a crowd-courting doofus;  a lackwit wazzock”, and other things still more unkind.   Here, now, is the latest:

Anthony Lane, reviewing the new Tavernier film “Quai d'Orsay” (the title which Wiki gives it in English as well, though apparently it has recently been dumbed down for American audiences as “The French Minister”, rather the way the first Harry Potter book, “The Philosopher’s Stone”, had to become “The Sorcerer’s Stone” to cross the Atlantic), highlights the femme fatale character:

She is played by Julie Gayet, who was in the news recently as the woman to whom the real French President, François Hollande, was paying regular visits  on his little scooter.  And her character is called Valérie, which is the name of the partner whom Hollande was allegedly spurning for Mme. Gayet.  This is not life imitating art.  This is art going to bed with life  and staying there for the afternoon.
-- The New Yorker, 31 March 2014

A nice touch, that, by the way -- “his little scooter”.  This is artful of Mr Lane, suggesting that what the dumpling Hollande has   down there  between his legs  is pretty small, and goes putt-putt.

Si cela vous parle,
savourez la série noire
en argot authentique d’Amérique :


For further instances in which French sex and French politics  intertwine like the rose and the briar, try these:
            L’affaire  Masson  / Grosdidier
            The Muff of Mystery
            The World Cup of Crime


An after-reflection upon Mr. Lane,   the Art of Criticism, 
and the Meaning of Life

Well, no, precisely not, though that is just the temptation:  It’s just a mo-vie.   I enjoy Lane’s reviews the way I enjoy P.G. Wodehouse  -- reliably;  and sometimes there is rather more than that.   Yet in Googling his name, there in the very top returns were some absolutely scathing, venomous denunciations.  Bringing it home that, not only can you not count on pleasing all of the people all of the time (I think Abraham Lincoln said that):  if you so much as delight some people  some of the time, there will be others who downright  despise you.

One of these counter-critics, writing in some New-York-based webzine, poured scorn upon Lane as a mere spewer of witticisms, with almost no knowledge of cinema;  and in particular (in reference to the movie under review, one of those vaporous martial-arts-cum-mysticism films) for having insufficiently spent his life delving into the splendors and subtleties of kung fu movies, or whatever it was.   His final, crushing verdict:  Anthony Lane’s reviews are so bad that they read like something out of a webzine.  (Oh, wait …)
Now, inside this animadversion lie perdu  two traits for which I specially value Mr Lane.   One, that he is no prisoner of the self-referential Cahiers-du-Cinéma-style film-crit hall of mirrors, but has windows on the world:  the review referenced above is informed with a sense of biography and of current politics.   Further, Mr. Lane knows his audience.   Probably few regular readers of The New Yorker (and I have been following that venerable weekly, though in part  pre-natally, since its inception in 1925) could by any possibility care less about puffed-up Oriental kick-‘em flix, however balletic the cinematography.  Mr Lane is not writing for the sort of pimpled basement-dwelling masturbators who batten on kung fu flix.   He reviews them, along with all the rest, simply because he is paid to do so, that is his job, whatever washes up on his plate that week.
As for the charge of wittiness, no doubt Mr Lane would own the soft impeachment.  He indeed is consistently witty, but also at least intermittently keenly perceptive, and occasionally (as here) capable of genuine moral seriousness.

[Note:  I had long suspected, based simply upon the archness of his writing (& yes yes, well aware, pot/kettle/black), that he might share with his countryman Oscar Wilde  more than the charm and English drollery (something that his ‘jacket photo’ on the New Yorker site  does nothing to dispel).  But no, turns out the man is a paterfamilias.  Some years ago,  I experienced an exactly parallel realization  regarding the arch and icecream-suited Tom Wolfe.]

[Afternote:   As for the Meaning-of-Life stuff, sorry, that lies above your service-level.  For that, you’ll have to upgrade to World of Dr Justice Prime ®.]

[Update 27 III 14]  The blushing vestal to get big buck$  in compensation:[-closer-devra-payer-15000-euros-a-julie-gayet]-20140327-[titre]

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