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It’s French to Me

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It’s French to Me

In the years I spent flipping through NYU school bulletins not once did I see XXX.6666 Annoyingly Incorporating French Idioms Into Film Criticism Only People Who Speak French Will Be Able To Understand anywhere on the curriculum. Anyone who writes film criticism (at least the “serious” kind), or reads it on a semi-regular basis, probably knows exactly what I’m talking about here. I know my writers do, because some of them are guilty of doing this too.

In this week’s We-Love-Last Days issue of The Village Voice, some Random French Word (RFW) seems to appear in half the paper’s articles. I don’t take issue with the use of “déjà vu” and “musique concrete”—the former has fully absorbed itself into the American vernacular and the latter is a popular enough style of music that Robert Christagu can use it without meriting a punch in the neck—but this gives me the willies: Joshua Clover, who says he dislikes Gus Van Sant for the same reason he hates David Lynch (“Everyone I meet at parties loves them and, worse, expects me to love them too, which is to say, loving them is part of the rules about being a certain kind of person”), uses the word “auto-da-fé” in his article “All Van Sant’s Cowboys Get the Blues” so casually he might as well be talking about a piece of pie. You know what I dislike, Joshua? People I meet at parties who talk to their friends in a language they know the people in the direct vicinity can’t understand.

From the e-pages of Slant Magazine to Film Comment there seems to be no stopping the RFW from making its way into reviews, and sometimes I wonder, “Why French?” Why not Russian or German? (No offense to schadenfreude, which has been making incredible gains in the last few of years.) On page 61 of the July/August issue of Film Comment, Phillip Lopate writes this about Battle in Heaven: “The real battle is between the director’s exciting filmmaking gifts and his tiresomely immature épater la bourgeoisie stunts.” (Wow, Phil, that’s exactly what I was thinking!). Six pages later, Nathan Lee has this to say about his Cannes experience: “I had to reflect on that for a while before crediting her with sniffing out le mot juste.” (Guess I can’t go to Cannes next year because I’ll be too busy reflecting on the meaning of this sentence.) At least Lee is being ironic. But seriously, folks: Being in France at the time that you write your article does not give you a free pass to blow your pretentious load, just as going to a rave in Ibiza doesn’t mean you can pronounce the name of the city as if you were Castilian but still say all the other Spanish words in your mental database as if you were a redneck.

I say all of this having absolutely nothing against the Voice and Film Comment, or any of the writers who write for them (many of whom are great and their intelligence and insight sometimes makes me want to hang up the skates), but what do critics in alt-weekly circles look to achieve with the RFW? Is it to give props to the ghosts of Cahiers du Cinéma writers past or to show off that they got beyond French I in high school? I’ve learned to accept that a thesaurus is sometimes necessary when reading reviews, but when was a French/English dictionary (or Alta Vista Babel Fish) necessary as well? Either way, it’s fucking annoying and if ya’ll don’t stop, I’m going to start my own trend: the Random Spanish Word (RSW). I mean, think of the possibilities and potential for mass confusion:

“It’s not long before se descubre el pastel and you begin to miss the minimalist political paranoia of The Parallax View and even Three Days of the Condor, films that don’t spell out everything for their audience or assume no está el horno para bollos.”

On that note, happy (belated) Bastille Day everyone!

This blog entry was originally published on Slant Magazine on the date above.

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Watch: The Long-Awaited Deadwood Movie Gets Teaser Trailer and Premiere Date

Welcome to fucking Deadwood!

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Deadwood
Photo: HBO

At long last, we’re finally going to see more of Deadwood. Very soon after the HBO series’s cancellation in 2006, creator David Milch announced that he agreed to produce a pair of two-hour films to tie up the loose ends left after the third season. It’s been a long road since, and after many false starts over the years, production on one standalone film started in fall 2018. And today we have a glorious teaser for the film, which releases on HBO on May 31. Below is the official description of the film:

The Deadwood film follows the indelible characters of the series, who are reunited after ten years to celebrate South Dakota’s statehood. Former rivalries are reignited, alliances are tested and old wounds are reopened, as all are left to navigate the inevitable changes that modernity and time have wrought.

And below is the teaser trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAcftIUE6MQ

Deadwood: The Movie airs on HBO on May 31.

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Watch: Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Gets Teaser Trailer

When it rains, it pours.

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Photo: Columbia Pictures

When it rains, it pours. Four days after Quentin Tarantino once more laid into John Ford in a piece written for his Beverly Cinema website that saw the filmmaker referring to Ford’s She Wore a Yellow Ribbon as Tie a Yellow Ribbon, and two days after Columbia Pictures released poster art for QT’s ninth feature that wasn’t exactly of the highest order, the studio has released a teaser for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The film was announced early last year, with Tarantino describing it as “a story that takes place in Los Angeles in 1969, at the height of hippy Hollywood.”

Set on the eve of the Manson family murders, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood tells the story of TV actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), as they try to get involved in the film industry. The film also stars Margot Robbie (as Sharon Tate), Al Pacino, the late Luke Perry, Damian Lewis, Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsch, Timothy Olyphant, Kurt Russell, and Bruce Dern in a part originally intended for the late Burt Reynolds.

See the teaser below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Scf8nIJCvs4

Columbia Pictures will release Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on July 26.

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Watch the Stranger Things 3 Trailer, and to the Tune of Mötley Crüe and the Who

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence.

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Stranger Things 3
Photo: Netflix

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence. On Friday, Jeff Tremaine’s The Dirt, a biopic about Mötley Crüe’s rise to fame, drops on Netflix. Today, the streaming service has released the trailer for the third season of Stranger Things. The clip opens with the strains of Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home,” all the better to underline that the peace and quiet that returned to the fictional rural town of Hawkins, Indiana at the end of the show’s second season is just waiting to be upset again.

Little is known about the plot of the new season, and the trailer keeps things pretty vague, though the Duffer Brothers have suggested that the storyline will take place a year after the events of the last season—duh, we know when “Home Sweet Home” came out—and focus on the main characters’ puberty pangs. That said, according to Reddit sleuths who’ve obsessed over such details as the nuances of the new season’s poster art, it looks like Max and company are going to have to contend with demon rats no doubt released from the Upside Down.

See below for the new season’s trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEG3bmU_WaI

Stranger Things 3 premieres globally on July 4.

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