vendredi 25 janvier 2008

a long post to tide you over for the weekend: rule of 3, coen and burton, and hints of england

I never thought I'd have to use that "3 times" rule in France but, man, did I use it yesterday. I used it to get my museum card for D'Orsay. The rule is that if you ask a question and the answer is a loud, resounding NO when you need it to be a YES, you just got to keep on asking until the person says yes. That's how you get things in France. You keep on asking until you have it your way.

The D'Orsay lady is in this cramped little room that has no windows only the glass door that's around the corner so she can't even see outside. It went down like this. And in French.

Me: Hi. I'd like the museum card please. (ONE!)
Her: Okay. Are you a student?
Me: Yes.
Her: Well, you know it's free on Monday nights for you.
Me: Yeah I know (lying). [Either I heard wrong or she was lying, because this is not TRUE. I just checked it out.]
Her: It's free EVERY Monday night.
Me: Yeah, I know. I'd like to buy the card please. (TWO!)
Her: Are you an art student?
Me: No, just a student in Paris. (I show her my student id.)
Her: Why do you want the card?
Me: I'm gonna be here for a year (lying). So, do I pay here for the card? (THREE!)
Her: Yes. (She gets the form.)

I wanted to explain that I didn't want to come here just on Monday nights. That my visits to the museum with friends who are visiting (so far 5 are coming at 4 different times) would cost more if I didn't get the card. But I didn't get into it. I filled out the form, got an interim card for now since the real card is going to be mailed to me, and left.

See how stupefyingly painful easy tasks can be? Why was that so freaking difficult?! I'm contributing to your museum, lady! I freaking LOVE the arts. I am gaga over Impressionist paintings! Is it so hard to give me a form, print out a card and take my money?

When I left, I was mad. Then I felt sorry for her to work alone in a windowless room. Then I went straight to the Impressionist floor and looked at Degas's pastels and works from Monet, Van Gogh, and Whistler, and I felt better. This really weird occurrence also happened.

I was in the Van Gogh room, and they have chairs in the middle so you can sit and stare or whatever. Or draw. Anyway, there was an old Asian couple, and they were asleep on the chairs. And their son was with them and their daughter or maybe the son's wife sitting next to them sort of waiting for them to wake up. And I thought it was slightly funny, I might have smirked, but I didn't do what this douchebag did. This douchebag of a guy, rotund and disgusting, definitely a tourist, wearing SHORTS in an effing museum which is so wrong to me, this living breathing incarnation of the comic book store guy from "The Simpsons" takes a picture of the old, Asian sleeping couple. Fat bastard.

The son gets up and confronts him while the wife or sister looks on. This could have gone badly. Like from a tiff to an altercation involving museum security. But being in the presence of Van Gogh, his self portrait looking on disapprovingly, their voices didn't reach higher than normal speaking volume. Museums, art museums especially, are sort of quiet so normal talking sounds pretty loud to me. Young Asian man asks him what he thinks he's doing, Fatty says that he's just taking a picture.

It went on. And I wanted to watch, I really did, but the other polite half of me just turned around and walked away. I just couldn't bear to watch what could happen. The wife's face. The young guy's face. That fat guy's chubby fingers holding an expensive SLR. I wanted to be there, really. I wanted to know what would happen so that I can pass the story on, as I'm doing right now, but I had to walk away. It was just too much to watch. I'd be just as bad as comic book store guy taking a picture of sleeping Asians if I just stood there and watched. It's funny how I can watch gory scenes in films, I mean I did sit through Sweeney Todd, but I couldn't do this. That's a movie with fake blood. This is real life. Man, I can't get the sad look on the wife's face as she's watching her husband confront the guy, as she's sitting there next to her quiet, sleeping in-laws. That beautiful porcelain face tinted with sadness next to the reposed will forever haunt me.

So I walked into the other room, Monet. And I stared at a painting I can't even remember because I was thinking about what was happening in the other room. And I did it, I just had to do it, I turned around. The husband was gone, maybe to get some sort of weapon, and the lady was standing in front of Fat Beard. She was dressed in an immaculately clean and crisp white dress shirt tucked into a blacker than black skirt with black tights and lovely black pumps.

From about 10 feet away I heard her say, loudly, without hesitation, and in the sternest face I've ever seen, "I want you to erase that photo." The fat guy didn't say anything. He moved to walk around her, but she took step to the side and got in his way. She repeated herself, "I want you to erase that photo." The guy flipped his SLR on and did it. Flup yeah. Score one for the Asians. I continued on.

I also got some sweet postcards too from stuff I liked. The cashier pegged me as an American, which used to get me mad, but now I am impressed by their American pegging skills. Saw No Country For Old Men and Sweeney Todd.

The French love the Coen Brothers, no joke. It could be because they're modern auteurs, having final cut in their films. They don't have real gimmicks or moves to me, they just to me make the best possible film for a script. They really can't go wrong in my opinion. There's a quote that I can't remember correctly but will just butcher anyway. That there's a million places to put the camera, but only one right place. It's written in one of my film notebooks at home. Anyway, the Coen Brothers always put the camera in the right place to me. They're amazing. They have an amazing body of work and have worked with a lot of amazing actors that I have come to admire like John Turturro, John Goodman, Peter Stormare. And I am convinced that Javier Bardem is the Spanish Clive Owen. First a breakthrough role in an American film that'll get him noticed (for Owen it's The Bourne Identity), next he's advertising cologne or BMWs and fighting the ladies off with a stick. Good luck to the Coens this year at the Oscars.

Sweeney Todd was alright. I'm just not into musicals. Unless it's Newsies. Who can say no to a dancing, singing Christian Bale. No one can. I can't remember who said it among the crew before I saw it, but someone said this looked like Scissorhands 2. And that Corpse Bride was Nightmare Before Christmas 2. That was hilarious. Kudos.

Lately, I've been getting these weird hints of England. Yesterday on the way to the cinema, there was a British family on the bus. A mom, a little boy, and a girl. Too cute. And I passed some well dressed British men in St. Michel. I just can't wait to cross that channel, the barrier between complete and slight comprehension.

Lucky you, you get three or so days off from my blog. As always, I will record in my journal what I did to give you all the whole scoop. Pip pip cheerio!