« Glory days well they’ll pass you by, glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye, glory days ! » sings Bruce Springsteen in his 1985 hit. The Glory Days of French cinema sure had passed. Gone the time when American directors like William Friedkin and Francis Ford Coppola professed their admiration for Truffaut and Godard while asserting their ambition to make films like the Europeans. In the new generation of filmmakers, rare are those who will list more recent French cineasts as their idols. This doesn’t mean they are not appreciated over there but they are not the objects of the cult-like adoration of Truffaut and Godard in the 60’s-70’s.
Every three or four years though, a strange phenomenon happens : a French movie becomes the darling of America. I was too young to be able to judge the degree of frenesy over Luc Besson’s Leon when it came out but from the cult-classic status that the first had achieved by now, I can guess that it must had been pretty high. Nevertheless, I remember with perfect clarity the infatuation of the American public and critics for Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain, directed by Jean-Pierre Genet in 2001. Audrey Tautou became the symbol of the French je ne sais quoi . It occurred again in 2008 with the triumph of Marion Cotillard at the Oscars where she won the best actress award for her role of Edith Piaf in Olivier Dahan’s La Môme. Since then, Cotillard has been casted in Nine, Contagion, Christopher Nolan’s Inception and soon to be released The Dark Knight Rises and was nicknamed “the French Angelina Jolie”. Quite a dazzling ascension ! While it used to be American filmmakers who dreamt about making films in the fashion of the Nouvelle Vague, it now seems that making it in Hollywood - the Holy Land -, is what French are dreaming of.
I have taken a copy of ‘A Russian Affair’ by Anton Chekhov. I will flick through my copy and randomly select five words. With these words, I will begin five paragraphs to construct a coherent piece of fiction.
‘Broad brush strokes’ was the worst criticism Bill had received. It was easier to deal with out-right negative comments. He knew that his stories would not be for everyone. Not everyone has the same tastes and that is okay. Not everyone would get what Bill was about. That was okay too but when his girlfriend Maggie had made this criticism, she was saying she had got it but it wasn’t good enough. She was saying that his story was not suitably subtle or artful. That there wasn’t enough detail - that Bill lacked imaginative vigour.
Conservatoire lecturer, Maggie was to be taken seriously. She was a professional and spent years performing, studying and teaching dance. When she enjoyed a piece of art or literature, she approached it in a non-linear way. She liked to focus on the finer moments that the work hung upon.
Tea-drinking in the afternoon was the finest thing Bill was ever responsible for. Being financially independent and never having to work, he would take a friend or two to The Balmoral Hotel on Wednesday afternoons. This was how Bill and Maggie spent their first date.
“Was there a better way to get to know someone?” Maggie had thought. She remembered all the trails and tribulations of her own tough upbringing and would not wish it upon anyone. She remembered her father say that you only get to know your true friends in times of crisis.
Lonely in his privilege, Bill never doubted he had something important to say. And he wanted his life to count for something, so he fell in love with the idea of being a writer.
I was really absorbed in this story, especially in comparison with the previous three. First of all, I felt that the internal conflict Yekaterina felt could be compared to the internal conflicts young women face during their quarter-life crisis; career vs. family. It is rather remarkable that Chekhov identified this type of internal conflict long before a time where this conflict is highly prevalent. Also, she played games, testing a man’s patience and lust for her- I guess nothing much has changed in the way of flirting.
I found the protagonist repugnant and arrogant- the pretentiousness in the way he describes others and how little he thinks of them. You see a lot of people like that, and it made me realise their point of view a little more clearer.
It may seem I didn’t like this story, but because of all these little irksome qualities within the story, I enjoyed reading it. This is an example of how undesirable qualities in a character, when written well, can result in a great story.
Can those anons, like back off? 1) Janie is not Eastern European. You are talking about something that happens within EE to an Italian. That is like asking me, a Russian about Italian affairs. 2) What? Does the West not have any racism? Does Austria no longer want to build walls? Is UKIP suddenly gone? Le Pen has disappeared? We are talking about Brexit CURRENTLY because they CURRENTLY screwed over Europe.