Saturday, June 8, 2019

Double Lives

How many words are too many words? Turns out that depends on the ears hearing them.

When Pru and I set out to have a mini-French Film Festival, it was purely for the sake of two things, namely popcorn for lunch and the usual French movie tropes: attractive people talking about intellectual things while smoking, drinking wine and bedding lovers. The only thing missing in this one was a woman in a dress on a bicycle, so we had to make do with a couple on a Vespa headed to the beach.

Good enough.

The problem was we'd chosen the first screening of the day and the woman running things at Criterion Cinemas wasn't quite ready to be open for business. Oh, she took our money for tickets and popcorn with no problem, but was the butter machine turned on? To my dismay, it was not. And to Pru's horror, she hadn't even set out the shakers of popcorn salt, so she had to go digging for those.

When it's your lunch, you want it just the way you like it.

Hardly surprisingly for a subtitled movie on a weekday at noon, we turned out to be the sole occupants of the theater. Our only complaint was that while generally the previews are geared to the type of film the audience has come to see, instead we suffered through previews for action-packed shoot-em-ups like "Dark Phoenix" and blockbusters like the upcoming "Star Wars" flick, neither of which held the least bit of interest for me.

Beau will undoubtedly drag Pru to the latter, but that's her problem. Tant pis, babe.

After all, we were there to see "Non-Fiction," a French serio-comic look at the state of the publishing industry, a subject near and dear to my heart. It didn't hurt that the film starred Juliette Bincohe because Pru and I are both big fans. The eye candy of Guillaume Canet - whether getting into his boxer briefs after a tryst or wearing a scarf with just the right touch of je ne sais quois - didn't hurt, either.

The film's French title was "Double Lives," which turned out to be a far better descriptor than the dumbed-down American title. Because, of course, these being Parisians, everyone had a lover on the side. When the couples weren't trysting, they were having dinner at each other's houses and discussing the state of the digital versus print worlds while sipping wine and eating pastries from the local patisserie.

Honestly, it doesn't sound like such a bad life.

But we were about halfway through the film when Pru observed in a loud voice (not a big deal since no one else was present), "Is it just me or are these people boring the shit out of you?" Honestly, they weren't, but obviously I also have a bit more of a stake in the discussion than she does, given what I do for a living.

Affairs aside, the movie was a pretty relentless critique of how technology is changing everything from literature to art and human interaction to the political scene and of course I'm going to eat that up in a way that most (cell phone-using, tablet-carrying) people wouldn't.

Let's put it this way, when a character refers to Twitter as the "new form of haiku," I'm the one who cringed. And frankly, a world without libraries isn't one I want to inhabit, despite a Millennial character assuring the Boomers that every book would be online. No, thanks.

Fortunately, not long after her comment, things got juicy when people began ditching their lovers toute suite. One got a necklace as a farewell gift, while another asked for the promise that their affair wouldn't become fodder for his next book (as he was known to do). Seems that the French liked to end their affairs in a tidy manner.

The last scene took place at a beautiful seaside house with waves crashing on the shore, whole grilled fishes for lunch and Canet's publishing house not being sold to a digital conglomerate after all (whew!), satisfying our desire for one final scenic French locale and a reassurance that all is not lost yet in the battle against technological domination. A laugh out loud-worthy inside joke about Juliette Binoche only made it better.

"We must choose the change, not suffer it," one character says of the techno revolution affecting modern life, becoming my hero.

Safe to say that Pru and I prefer a French take on the state of contemporary life to an American one, especially when it comes from attractive and articulate people.

As for me, I'm continuing  to choose the Luddite life. It saves me the suffering of Twitter as haiku.

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