VIDEOS FOR FEBRUARY 2020
Here are a few videos or films you can watch here or there, even on your telephone. I trust your inspiration and improvisation to find where and when.
Do not forget it is in fact only a list of suggestions. Take them in any order and in any way you like.
All illustrations are from Love’s Labour’s Lost The Globe Theater, London; the musical Love’s Labour’s Lost; and the first season of Sanditon.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU
Table des matières
BLUMHOUSE TV — HBO — INTO THE DARK — 2018
This series is different from many others since all episodes are about 90 minutes. The stories are thus long and rich in detailed twists and turnarounds. Each episode is, in fact, one full story. No follow-up from one to the next.
The stories very often start as a simple banal ordinary even humdrum situation concerning a limited number of characters. And yet at once, we know there is something strange, some tense relationship between two or more people. And it is this dense tension that is exploited but always in a completely absurd, extreme and violent way that leads to the death of all characters, of most characters of some crucial characters and then the situation is reversed or fully destroyed.
The power of these stories is in the surprising and extremely suspenseful methods and ways used by some to destroy others, or not so much methods but circumstances in which one or more characters will be destroyed. And there is no escape from this sequence of facts, events, developments, etc. No one can stop the machine that will produce its final horror.
Some stories are very creative though it is at times quite clear what sort of twisted distortion is going to take place. And yet it is so twisted, torsaded should I say, that you can hardly know what is going to come next. Yet there seem to be some general lines used in most stories. The main of these lines is the role of women. I would even say that most stories are described from the point of view and at times to the benefit of women, or one woman.
I would even say that it is the main charm of this series, the way women are set as equally powerful, creative and horrifying as men could be, have been, still are. Imagine a female Trump and you can be sure everything will be a lot worse than it is under a male one. To be a woman does not mean in this perspective to be lenient, comprehensive, understanding, humane or simply charitable. It means to be spiteful, crushingly authoritarian, exacting and cruel.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU
JANE AUSTEN — SANDITON — ITV-PBS — 2019
That’s a short first season and they really tried to capture Jane Austen’s complicated rendering of women’s psychology at the beginning of the 19th century in an aristocratic male-dominated society that was challenged by coming industrial ventures — and social requirements — after the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, and with the USA in the background, their slave economy in the south and nascent super-exploitative capitalism in the north.
The great quality of Jane Austen is her centering her fiction on her women characters, which is a brand new thing in England at the time, and her capturing the vast diversity of possible social situations for them, from a rich lady with no direct heirs to a poor farmer’s daughter with no life prospect in her family, not to speak of an affranchised black slave eighteen-year-old girl who has inherited a fortune but is not of age to take care of it.
Social classes are also very visible with the top meaning rich aristocrats, the poor meaning low aristocrats, the craftsmen who are toiling in difficult conditions confronted to the lack of security in their working conditions, and the irregular salaries, and finally, the entrepreneurs of the time, those who are able to develop the economy because this financial and industrial work is banned for the aristocrats who can only finance these endeavors but not lead them really, manage them in any way. Strangely enough, and so far, the merchants and shopkeepers are absent, more or less absent, from this first season.
Sanditon is the development of a seaside resort at the beginning of the 19th century, hence only for the rich, and first of all aristocrats, south of London, hence open essentially to the top society of London. Sanditon is, of course, a fictional city but the filming took place essentially in Somerset. Many of the Sanditon scenes were filmed in Somerset including the seaside towns of Clevedon, Brean and Weston-super-Mare. Dyrham Park near Bath, Somerset was used as the location for Sanditon House. The majority of interior filming took place on interior and exterior sets built at The Bottle Yard Studios in Bristol. Yet in the series, Bristol is not mentioned as a close-by and rich city having worked its wealth in colonial trade and before in slave-trade. The only allusion to it is indirect and concerns Sidney Parker who built his wealth in the West Indies in the sugar production and commerce, but his connections are in London, which is both handy of course, but probably not entirely realistic since he is originally from this southwest area of England. Unluckily, we are not shown the famous pebble beaches of Weston-Super-Mare.
I must admit that the men in this season are definitely limited in scope and depth. The only one who has some depth is the son of the main craftsman, but his depth is not at all, or nearly not at all, exploited. The season is entirely dominated by the women, quite in fidelity with Jane Austen, but it is slightly wrong since in this society then men were the only really active segment of this entrepreneurial society. And Queen Victoria was not going to change that in spite of her very long widowhood, some kind of widowed celibacy. Lady Denham is in a way the one who represents this woman’s position: to be the widow of a rich lord with a rich estate and who refuses to remarry, living her life then in some kind of whimsical widowed celibacy that turns the lady into some tyrannical Shakespearean “weird sister.” I must say the insistence of the season on a case of brother-sister incest, whose stake is the liberation of the sister from it into marriage, and another case of brother-sister companionship with the brother physically handicapped by his obesity, and probably what goes along with it, diabetes. The case of the close solidarity and fellowship between brothers, married or not, is more discreet, in fact, dealt with very superficially. But that’s normal since it is the point of view of women that is privileged, hence actual wives, potential wives and paramours.
The show is, of course, beautiful due to the enormous investment in settings, props and costumes. At times some scenes look like retrospective nostalgic fashion shows, but true enough, only the English can do that with style and brilliance.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE — LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST — LIVE RECORDING IN SHAKESPEARE’S GLOBE — LONDON — 2009
This production is extremely faithful to Shakespeare’s text, though of course not to his own production since he had no female actors and used male teenagers for female parts, and female parts are essential in this play. In fact, this production is even cheating slightly with Moth, Don Armado’s page, by having him impersonated by a woman. True enough it is a difficult part, but I am sure they could have found a competent young actor, and what’s more, small in size. Moth is supposed to be fifteen or sixteen, with no hair on his face. The exchange between Armado and Moth at the beginning is slightly made fake since Moth is no longer a “tender juvenal” though Armado is definitely a “tough senior.” In Shakespeare’s production, they would have five more tender juvenals for the Princess, her ladies, and Jaquenetta. We lost these tender juvenals played here by women, but we should have kept one and I must say a young actor looking as if he were sixteen would have been a lot more impressive since a lot of innuendo goes along with this Moth who is going to play Hercules in his childhood or nearly, killing some snake in his cradle. Moth in very light clothing, nearly naked actually the way he is represented in so many statues would have been a lot more impressive. I must admit I found his violent apparition with some kind of a soft stone club weapon looked rather innocuous and silly, and the snake being so slender looked even rather banal. It is obvious Moth could not play on his teenage looks to impersonate a child and it probably would have been better to be able to play on that and then the snake could have been some monstrous thing not a piece of string, or isn’t it a piece of rope?
But the noble courtiers and the King are young, more or less as they should be — at least today — and the Princess and her noble ladies are also more or less young, at least as they should be today. We seem to forget that in Shakespearean times marriage for a girl was normally around 13, and there could be some waivers to go down to 11. The marriage laws of the 18th century confirmed such a fact, which meant it was not entirely respected before and some marriages must have concerned very young girls. We find it difficult today to be realistic about such things. A mature woman was around 20 at the latest and the mature woman of 30 only appeared in the 19th century. Think of Honoré de Balzac and his The Thirty-Year-Old Woman.
But on the other side, this production is extremely better than most because of the setting, or rather the absence of any specific setting since it mostly takes place outside the court and the scenes inside are mostly set in the library of the King’s residence, a castle or a mansion. But that is because it was produced for the Globe Theater in London which is supposed to be a real, or at least as close as possible to a real Shakespearean theater, in fact, a reconstructed original Globe Theater that burnt and brought Shakespeare to the end of his career as a playwright, moving back to his family in Stratford-Upon-Avon. The setting is the vast space in front of a house façade with a built-in canopy supported by two majestic pillars, and with an open sky over it, and surrounded by various galleries. I remember seeing a performance of a play by Shakespeare in what was an approximate acceptable built-in environment in the early 1960s: it was the back yard of an old inn and the stage was mostly the delivery platform behind the inn plus the few doors and windows opening onto or over this platform. The audience was seated in the yard under an open sky, and the rain was menacing. Since then the Globe has been rebuilt. But I also remember visiting the Shakespearean theater of Ashland, Oregon, in the 1980s. This theater is built on the same pattern, the stage being the space in front of a house façade.
This video shows how flexible such a setting is, in spite of its total preset genericity. The flexibility comes from the fact that the acting space is a lot vaster and it is expanded within the Pit, those extensions being like octopus-limbs with standing audience all around, and in this production, the actors often get down into the audience or come up from the Pit. That makes the performing space more than flexible, actually volatile. Imagine then filming a play in this volatile and versatile space. The result is astounding because they moderately recreate what was common in Shakespeare’s time. A play was also in a way a masque with music, dance and singing interludes regularly. That is why Shakespeare liked all kinds of situations using disguises and having characters playing what they were not, and characters being fooled out of their wits, in other words crazy. This play is using two direct episodes of this type plus one episode that is the result of the first of these two. In the first episode, the King and his courtiers disguise themselves as Russian visitors to play some seductive game with the Princess and her ladies. They disguise themselves to break their oath with the simplest pretense you can imagine: “I did not do it since it is the character carried by my disguise that did it.”
The Princess and her Ladies had been warned so they disguised themselves: they exchanged the favors that had been presented to them, their capes, and they veiled their faces. The would-be Russians fell in the trap, in the four traps and declared their love to the wrong persons. When they came back as themselves, the Princess and her Ladies had switched back to their real identities and they made fun of the Russians that had tried — in vain — to entertain them and they cross-examined the men with their false declarations that were true in their own minds but false since the beneficiaries were the wrong women.
The third episode of this type is the concluding presentation of the Worthies by the third band of characters, the simple people, yet clearly characterized: One is a teacher of some kind, Holofernes, who uses Latin more than plain English. One is a preacher of some type, Nathaniel. One is a local constable. A fourth one is in fact supposed to be the entertainer of the King and his three courtiers during their three-year-long studying retreat. And a fifth one is the page, Moth, of this entertainer with even a sixth one, but female this time, Jaquenetta, some kind of milkmaid, though she will not impersonate a Worthy, since all Worthies are of course male The Worthies are supposed to be nine but only five will be presented since there are only five male plebeians: Alexander, Judas Maccabeus, Hector, Pompey the Great, Hercules as an infant. The five would-be impersonators will be laughed at, mocked, interrupted, fooled in all possible ways by the nobles, both from Navarre and from France. This production goes far beyond simple words and it ends up as a brawl more typical of a pub scene than of a court scene. Definitely, we are dealing with the inns and other shady houses of so many plays with the famous Falstaff, or some others, though we remain within a comic scene and no Mercutio will be killed by no Tybalt whom no Romeo will kill.
And yet, though this production insists and lengthens these masque scenes, there is another level of Shakespearean style at work. The architecture of the play is a perfect musical composition at all levels of the possible meaning of every single word, line, situation, and character.
For one simple instance, let us consider the end. The brawl scene I was speaking of just right now is interrupted by what would be a Deus ex Machina that propels the entertaining scene into the “abymes” that are so famous in Hollywood films. In fact, it is not a Deus ex Machina per se, though it is the King of France that is projected onto the stage, it is a Deus ex De Profundis, a Deus ex Machina that casts the death of the king of France in less than three lines on the chaotic stage.
But this kind of meaningful architectural music is everywhere, and the tempo is systematic triads of elements turned into quadriads by adding one element to the triad. Thus, we have three male courtiers, but they are four with their king. In the library scene three of them, including the King are revealed as having written sonnets or odes to three of the ladies, including, the Princess, but Berowne is revealed as having done it when Jaquenetta arrives, sent by the Princess, with Costard, to deliver Berowne’s sonnet he wrote for Rosaline to the King. And then, as they say, they are “even” since they are four. I just wonder if we could not say it is the systematic square quartering of a ternary licentious circle. Only the plebeians go beyond, at times with long series of words, nouns, adjectives or verbs, though Berowne does not hesitate now and then, who is the most talkative and wordy of the males, though he remains most of the time within these three turning four and once now and then this four turning five.
This is the deepest art of Shakespeare: to systematically use a numerical formula to build all the levels of the language, the psychology of the characters and the dramatic progression of his plays. Here three is disorder, four is order, five is a promised disruption.
There could have been four marriages like in As You Like It or in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, hence the triumph of Hymen, the god of matrimony, but the death of the King of France prevents it, mourning first, and Honi soit qui mal y pense. But since the four possible marriages are just postponed by 366 days, with some conditions expressed by the women, there must be some disruptive fifth element that comes into the picture, and that makes this promised quaternary ending precarious, and sure enough Don Armado arrives with Jaquenetta and they announce she is a couple-of-month pregnant and that this union will have to be sanctified straight away though it is perfectly unethical. That’s the fifth union that in a way blocks the promise of four such unions in pure ethical conditions and makes us doubt they will ever happen even if the King and his acolytes get into some secluded hermitage and if Berowne spends one full year in a hospital, trying to give some joy to the sick and dying.
Then we can close up the play with a strange double song. One for Spring and the cuckoo who is openly associated with cuckolded men, a theme that had been used metaphorically in the play: deer (ungendered), doe (female), (stag, male but not used), pricket (a male fallow deer in its second year, having straight, unbranched horns), sorel (a young buck deer in the third year), sore (A four-year-old stag is called a sore, and a three-year-old stag a sorel; and they are so named from their color). You can note that all the play-on-words about sore and sorel, a sorel being a sore to which an L is added goes against the chronology of age since a sore is a sorel from which an L is cut off. And here you find the three that has to become four by adding one year of mourning for the bucks to be satisfied in their desires and it is the does who impose that year’s delay, true enough due to the post mortem (de Profundis) intervention of the French gerontocrat in chief.
A lot more could be said of course, particularly on the music and the marionette doe and buck having a bout of horny courtship before one being killed by the arrow of the Princess. The hunt is of course metaphorical. I guess I will say a lot more soon and have it published in France since after all this play is about France, Navarre being one forgotten province south of Aquitania which is bargained in the play for some 100,000 gold coins or so. And at the time of the play, the King of France was Henri IV (1594–1610) who was originally the King of Navarre who conquered the crown of France by bringing the wars of religion between the Catholics and the Protestants to an end. The play was written in 1697.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU
STANLEY DONEN & MARTIN SCORSESE — WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE — LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST — 2000
This is a musical that was produced for the stage but this video was shot in a real environment, hence in situ, castle, mansion, canals and gardens. Cars were more than permitted, as well as bikes and other voluminous props. Of course, there is a lot of music, but only for songs that are generally danced too. All that is funny but does not renew Shakespeare who does not need any renewing or updating or upgrading. The directors decided to meet Shakespeare midway and thus they deliberately cut off a lot of the prosaic and prosodic sections that are not really needed. The visual production enables us to play on ellipses, to gobble down these ellipses.
But the directors decided to keep most of the poetry because a fair proportion of the play is not only in unrhymed pentameters, which is improved prose, prose with a rhythm, but there are at times long sections in sonnet form, essentially quatrains rhymed on the ABAB pattern and rhymed couplets. In the whole play, there are four formal sonnets, one formal ode, plus Baron’s confession and Baron’s long section on love, that are rhymed and use many sonnet quatrains. The main four male noble characters, the King and his three courtiers, are boasting about their being academes able to compose sonnets, hence they pretend to be sonneteers, though Dumaine only produced an ode. The musical keeps a lot of this poetry and by setting it to music in songs or by having it spoken out in some kind of Renaissance rap, rhythmic enough to sound like hip hop and slow enough for everyone to understand the language, which is at times slightly esoteric by being Shakesperean, it makes it lightly mesmerizing. Otherwise, the language has been modernized and at times some visual rhymes do not exactly rhyme, like “bow” for reverence and “low.”
That being said the main pattern of the play is perfectly kept and even amplified. For Shakespeare, two is peaceful flowing fluency, whereas three is disruption, but since this is a comedy it has to target four as the perfect equilibrium, and when we are speaking of four couples we reach the acme of perfection. With a tongue in one cheek, since there is a fifth couple on the side of the noble couples, Don Adriano de Armado and Jaquenetta. But to counterbalance this pentacle the directors add a couple that was not in the original play by making Holofernes a woman, Holofernia, and associating her with Nathaniel who is no longer a continental curate, hence non-married, but who becomes an Anglican pastor or vicar, hence having the right to be married or have some love life, and court a woman. Then we reach six couples on the stage and the most important Solomonic wisdom of David’s star. That is not in Shakespeare. And sure enough, Shakespeare’s play ends on and with the departure of the Princess, declared queen in the play (which is impossible in France where the crown is transmitted from father to son exclusively) and her three ladies for the funeral and mourning of her father, the King of France, with a promise to accept to answer the question of a real relationship, meaning matrimony, in one year and one day, and the advice to the four men to get themselves in reclusion in a monastery of some kind for these 366 days.
But, and that is the main change, the directors added several cinema newsreels because they positioned the musical in 1939 or so and the tension in Europe is presented and after the departure of the ladies on the sad note that they may never meet again, we have a longer section with the war, the fall of France, the Resistance, the wave that turns with D-Day and the Disembarkment, the Victory and the final come together in some mass movement of joy and happiness. Does that add something to the original tale? No. But it takes something away from the original tale: love cannot be based on a promise for later on, maybe, because life is always a vast “maybe” suspended over our heads, all the more in Shakespeare’s time in London with periodical, cyclical and endemic bouts of plague, the famous Black Death that will be there in London till the Great Fire in 1666. Shakespeare’s unrhymed quintet in act IV scene 3
From women’s eyes this doctrine I derive:
They sparkle still the right Promethean fire;
They are the books, the arts, the academes,
That show, contain and nourish all the world:
Else none at all in ought proves excellent.
is moved to the end of the film, beyond the official end of the play: “You that way. We this way.” And the meaning is changed slightly, even under the light of the Second World War. Shakespeare based his remark on a triad, “the books, the arts, the academes,” triple in the three articles, triple in the three nouns, triple in the three plurals (nine a very ominous number in Shakespeare), but made quadruple with “women’s eyes,” quintuple with noun + plural + genitive + second noun + second plural, a pentacle, in other words, but a pentacle is negative and it does not really build the quadruple pattern that is needed here so that in Shakespeare there is a very bad omen in this unbalanced and unbalancing praise of love, and thus in the film, the Promethean fire becomes the war and after that war, everything is well and clear, perfection is reached. Certainly not in the play because the four noble couples, plus the disruptive fifth plebeian one, do not reach the perfection of four married or reconciled couples at the end of A Midsummer Night’s Dream or the same quartet of married couples at the end of As you like it. And Twelfth Night contains a variation of interest here: three couples for sure but a key element adds a fourth pair:
The three couples are Sebastian and Olivia; Duke Orsino and Viola; Toby and Maria. But toward the end of the play, Sebastian is pressed into marrying Olivia, who thinks he is Viola, due to some disguised ruse. When Sebastian and Viola finally are seen together and revealed as twins, Viola declares herself for the Duke, and their marriage is announced. It is also revealed then that Toby and Maria have married.
Shakespeare in this Love’s Labour’s Lost is far from that optimistic about love. Love is a lot trickier and evanescent. The musical brings this love home if I can say that, by imagining and adding the final reunion of them all, but after quite a powerful tragedy.
They say the musical is glamorous. I would say so, even if it is not a glamorous as an opera could be. After all, it is only a musical. But it is not sexy at all, or if it is sexy it is for children of three, and even so, these infants won’t get polluted or perverted by the shoulders, arms and ankles of four men dancing on the stage, and the women are certainly not in any way provocative, not more than standard women in underground or subway trains.
But it sure is entertaining and mellow enough to let you believe that between various wars there can be some happy peaceful quiet and contended periods of bliss, though I would like to add a fifth disquieting adjective, and it would be smug.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU
THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD — 2005
First of all, and above all, it is a black, practically exclusively black movie, with Eatonville as a black incorporated city (I just wonder if that was possible even in the 1920s. In this city, a woman becomes the center of the story. First, she is married at 17, or maybe 16, to an older farmer. She runs away, with no specification about a divorce, and then marries an ambitious and rich black man who creates the city of Eatonville and becomes the hardware store owner and manager and the mayor of the city. He wants his young wife to be obedient and play the game of the mayor’s wife. She does not want that. Her husband dies and she becomes the hardware store owner and manager, with some man in the manager’s position. She elopes with a younger man, Tea Cake, aka Jody, and they go to the everglades where they mix in some settlement with local Indians. But a hurricane comes, and they do not go away, so they are nearly killed, but manage to survive though Tea Cake is bitten by a rabid dog and will eventually die. Then she goes back home to her hardware store and to a friend of hers, Phoebe.
That is the drama and the romance is the love story between the woman, Janie Starks, and the man Tea Cake. Since it is exclusively or practically exclusively black and Indian the film does not contain, much about the social, political, racial or ethnic environment, apart from a few, very few, sequences on the position of women in this black society, and it is apparently not interested in it. It is at this social and political, racial and cultural level bland, very empty. The only interesting thing is the romance of Janie with her first two husbands who do not satisfy her needs for adventure and total oblivion of the world when in love, to the point of forgetting what a hurricane is in Florida.
As such it is interesting but there are not many new elements different from what we can find in any romance, except that it is sexually rather modest. But I guess the film can provide young black people with role models, though I am not sure these role models are anything but some fantasizing. But role models always are fantasizing, and even at times plain phantasms. It will be perfect for the people who believe life is romance, even if romance is a way to entertain the idea that life could be different from the hard work we know.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU
JORDAN PEELE — GET OUT — 2017
A film that starts like “Guess who’s coming to dinner” and suddenly, it turns completely crazy. Imagine the top white middle class in the USA realizing one day or one night that all they want is something only Blacks have, for example, the eyes of a black photographer, and for some white women particularly, some physical attribute or appendage of the Blacks who are supposed to be highly superior as for the same appendices of white males. Yes, it is as gross as that.
So, poor Chris Washington is selected by the daughter of the central white family in this kidnap-hypnotize-brainwash-transplant operation targeting young black males and a few young black females. The rest is nothing bur surgery and some convincing, like the noise of a spoon in a cup of tea that is the hypnotizing fetish used here by a woman who is supposed to be a psychoanalyst of some kind… or other.
These white top middle-class weirdoes just forget one thing: that hypnotizing only works if the target can hear the noise of the spoon on the china. Chris Washington is just funnier and more intelligent than all the other victims: he manages to get some stuffing out of the padding of the armchair in which he is tied up, arms and legs buckled up, and he stuffs his ears with it, quite some contortion I guess, but since his head and torso are not tied up it is just some circus work, and we all know Blacks are good at circus work. And then he can destroy the whole project. The details are funny in many ways and both vicious and absolutely deserved, merited and justified for these modern human pirates and enslavers.
He gets some final help from a friend of his who is a security agent in the local airport, and he leaves the mansion by the beautiful lake burning and everyone in there dead or dying. And that’s where the film becomes funny, I mean a real comedy.
It is like some kind of revenge of Blacks against whites. The background is that the present white elite governing the USA are nothing but trying to enslave the Blacks anew by putting them in prison, massively, especially if they are young males, and then by extracting from them what they consider is best and implanting it into white people, including, along the way, some sex slavery for young Black men who become the toys of white women two or three times their age. That is laughable because it is bound to fail sooner or later, first because of global communication, that tells the world every time there is a new black victim on some street at the hands of some police or racist hooligans and fundamentalists. Then these reactionary racists are exposed, condemned and hunted down to the very last one of them.
And they constantly shiver, shudder and quake with fear because they know the Blacks, and the Latino Browns are nearly a majority in the USA and growing, so they will be soon and have the proper figures on their sides, like the Catholics in Northern Ireland. Right now, there are enough progressive whites to make a majority, provided those running on that side of society are open and progressive enough to mobilize these very Blacks and Browns, without frightening away the progressive whites with reforms that are seen as too much or too dangerous. But things are already turning up interesting.
So, let’s play poker for 2020 because we, the people who believe in human progress, have some good trump cards in our sleeves, including a whole bunch of aces. But that sure is going to require a lot of heavy bluffing.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU
LADJ JY — LES MISÉRABLES — 2019
« Mes amis, retenez ceci, il n’y a ni mauvaises herbes ni mauvais hommes. Il n’y a que de mauvais cultivateurs. »
Que ce soit sorti des Misérables de Victor Hugo ou non, cela ne change rien au fait que c’est là l’idéologie qui va donner naissance au laïcisme français qui fait qu’il y a un seul moule, un seul modèle dans l’humanité à la française et c’est d’être un bon cultivateur d’hommes. C’est l’idéal exprimé et mis en forme par Jules Ferry dans son école de la République, laïque, gratuite et obligatoire. On ne cultive pas les hommes. On ne cultive pas la société. On ne cultive pas les esprits, les âmes ou l’intelligence. Pas plus qu’on ne les dresse. Ce ne sont pas des plantes. Ce ne sont pas des bêtes sauvages. Et surtout ils ne sont en aucune façon sortis du même moule. C’est cette diversité contradictoire que Victor Hugo dépeint dans Les Misérables, et justement la beauté humaine, la grandeur humaine est dans cette diversité qui n’est ni la diversité des herboristes, ni la diversité des empailleurs de bêtes mortes, ou des rempailleurs de chaises.
Et je dois dire que l’on voit peu cette diversité dans un portrait du 93, la Seine Saint Denis (j’ai entendu Bobigny et Montfermeil, et nous savons tous ce qui est derrière ces noms), car un amalgame parfait est construit entre tous les résidents de cet enfer comme si on n’avait que des diables, diables gitans, diables forains, diables maghrébins, diables africains, et que pour mener ce cirque on n’aurait que trois flics débiles, tous autant les uns que les autres, qui avec parfois quelques émois peut-être simplement- d’éducation réelle, celle de la rue qui donne le sens de l’humain et non le goût de l’autorité, de la peur causé et de la peur identifiée comme du respect, tentent de mener les bêtes fauves que l’on sait avec un fouet en forme d’armes à feu, de LBD. Et soyons clair tout cela est enrobé dans un Islam de pacotille que le film n’essaie même pas d’affiner. Et là on est aux confins de la fin du contient Victor Hugo, carrément dans le maelstrom des Travailleurs de la Mer mais sans les Travailleurs de la Mer eux-mêmes. On trahit Victor Hugo au nom de je ne sais quelle rêve laïque qui empêche de voir l’Islam comme une religion, comme une éducation de l’homme, comme une faramineuse archive et caverne d’Ali Baba de trésors d’humanité et de culture. C’est une caricature.
L’histoire ne tient pas debout et elle ne peut mener qu’à une théorie du complot. Qui est responsable de cette barbarie ? Si une telle barbarie existe en dehors de la tête de quelque obsédé nationaliste intégriste et populiste de droite ou de gauche, de toute façon extrêmes, l’une comme l’autre. Une telle histoire ne peut mener qu’à des catastrophes, encore une fois aux antipodes de ce que Victor Hugo tente de faire dans Les Misérables. Montrer qu’au plus profond de la plus effroyable crise sociale, au plus profond du plus ignoble des sbires de cette crise sociale, que ce soit du côté de l’état ou que ce soit du côté de la Commune, il y a un fond humain, religieux, spirituel qui fait que d’un côté comme de l’autre on sait, on croit, on divinise l’humain dans sa diversité, et c’est le pire bagnard, condamné pour le vol d’une miche de pain, qui devient le rédempteur car il y a une rédemption qui sort des égouts mêmes de Paris, monte des morts sur les barricades, ruisselle rouge et noir au Mur des Fédérés.
Ici rien de cela. Un discours fataliste qui ne mène à rien sinon l’enfermement dans une cage d’escalier d’HLM. On nous a dit que c’était le mouvement des gilets jaunes. J’ai peur que cela réduise le mouvement des gilets jaunes à une simple bataille politicienne qui refuse toute issue par le compromis et la discussion, qui brandit le référendum comme l’arme suprême, et l’arme suprême des larmes les plus amères un référendum l’est toujours dans une situation de crise sociale car les extrêmes se retrouvent toujours ensemble contre quelque compromis que ce soit. Que le référendum soit rouge insoumis, jaune rebelle ou bleu marine, peu importe les rouges insoumis, les jaunes rebelles et les bleus marines se retrouveraient ensemble pour refuser toute sortie de crise autre que dans la crise.
Le film est plus ou moins bien fait et le collège Victor Hugo de cette ville du 93 n’a vraiment rien à voir avec le Victor Hugo qui vécut vingt ans d’exil pour ne pas valider par sa seule présence sur le sol national un pouvoir qu’il considérait comme illégitime, et pourtant qu’on le veuille ou non le futur Napoléon III a bien été démocratiquement élu président de la République qu’il s’empressa de transformer en empire, et cette fois pas un coup d’état. C’est bien dommage que ce film ne soit pas hugolien, car son sujet se prêterait terriblement (j’entends de façon terrible) à un traitement de ce genre. Mais où est donc l’héroïne Cosette dans cette fable ? Il n’y a pas une seule jeune fille qui réponde à un tel appel. Le film est centré sur des hommes, rien que des hommes, et les filles ou femmes que l’on voit ici et là ne sont en rien des héroïnes, seulement des filles que l’on mate, que l’on reluque, que l’on photographie et filme, que l’on désire onanistement, sans jamais oser toucher bien sûr. On est dans le désir virtuel et rien d’autre, le désir de l’Internet et de ses sites de pornographie plus ou moins déshabillée. Dans ce film il n’y a aucun amour, pas le moindre amour, tout au plus une scène, mais même pas deux, d’amour maternel. Et la flic patronne de ce cirque qui n’a rien de Fratellini, donc de fraternel, condamne toute forme de harcèlement dans son commissariat, bien qu’elle promène ses doigts blancs sur les jambes nues de son subalterne noir. Ça, c’est bien lancé dans le champ de l’hypocrisie. Et s’il n’y avait que cela !
Et le complot à nouveau. Ce sont les flics eux-mêmes qui créent le cambouis social, et on oublie qu’il n’y a de cambouis que dans un moteur bien huilé. On en est loin, du moteur bien huilé. Sinon par le complot que les intérêts des puissants sont toujours dans le malheur des petits.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU
ROMAN POLANSKI — J’ACCUSE — 2019
D’abord et avant tout ? je ne dirai rien — ou presque rien — sur la sexualité du réalisateur. Personne ne proteste quand Adonis est violé par Vénus, et ce à en mourir, chez tant d’auteurs comme Shakespeare. Personne ne dit rien quand Phèdre viole son beau-fils Hippolyte en l’absence de son père à Hippolyte et son mari à Phèdre. Personne ne dit rien des amours incestueuses dans Le Souffle au Coeur. Dans les trois cas c’est un garçon à peine pubère qui est violé par une femme, qui plus est dans deux cas sur trois une femme de sa propre famille, et dans un cas de son propre sang. Mais cachez donc ce sein que je saurais voir. On dirait que les descendants des soixante-huitards pour qui il n’y avait aucune restriction sexuelle quelle qu’elle puisse être sont pris aujourd’hui d’un vertige #MeToo-iste qui leur fait se retrouver avec les pires moralistes religieux intégristes. Ah oui vraiment, cachez-moi donc tous ces angelots dénudés et donc pervers qui nous regardent d’un oeil grivois dans toutes nos églises, Sixtine ou pas. Je passe donc.
Le film n’a rien à voir avec ces histoires lubriques, bien que ce doit être pourquoi mon voisin de siège de cinéma regrettait avec force que les femmes dans ce film n’étaient pas suffisamment montrées, comme ce qu’elles étaient, des femmes entretenues, des prostituées plus que commune ou des maîtresses plus ou moins d’occasion ou régulières. Franchement cela n’a rien à voir avec le problème crucial montré ici. Un militaire est faussement accusé de trahison parce qu’il est juif et d’autres militaires construisent un dossier de faux pour « prouver » qu’il est coupable. Dans cette société de la troisième république dominée par des hommes, dont les célèbres Jules de la République des Jules, tous les sens possibles, y compris le prénom de Jules célèbres comme Ferry, ne voilà-t-il pas que le corps de l’état uniquement masculin, l’armée est mise en accusation pour avoir construit un dossier faux et non-avenu et l’avoir fait endosser par un tribunal militaire. Il ne manquait dans cette machination antisémite que le fusillement par un peloton d’exécution. Roman Polanski, le réalisateur se fait un plaisir de démontrer, y compris avec des scènes superflues comme la scène du duel, comment cette obsession dominatrice des hommes de la bonne société donc catholique et français en diable de pure origine sur au moins 150 génération, jusqu’aux Gaulois, qui pourtant n’étaient pas français et pour cause puisqu’ils étaient celtes. Mais vous coupez les cheveux en quatre dans le sens de la longueur, mon pauvre petit ami ! Pauvre peut-être mais votre petit ami, j’en doute !
Beaucoup plus que la démonstration qu’il y a en France un fond d’antisémitisme qui ressort ici et là et prend le dessus quand il le peut, ce film démontre que dans une société phallocratique, il est amusant de persécuter les hommes qui ne sont pas comme tous les autres, ceux qui sont différents, caractériels aurait-on dit dans une autre période. Et ne faut-il pas être caractériel pour oser être Juif, même si personne ne choisit dans quel utérus il est conçu.
C’est donc un beau film contre le phallocratisme français et n’oublions pas que la France fut l’un des tous derniers, sinon le dernier, pays occidentaux à donner le droit de vote aux femmes en 1945. Et le phallocratisme dans quelque pays que ce soit mène directement au racisme, à la ségrégation, au rejet des autres, à l’enfermement sur des normes qui deviennent très vite moralisantes et intégristes. Et surtout n’oubliez pas que ces normes n’ont rien de droite ou de gauche. Elles sont populistes, c’est-à-dire, non pensées et purement de l’ordre de la dictature hormonale qui fait s’assembler uniquement ceux qui se ressemblent, et je n’ai pas dit celles qui se ressemblent, bien que devant cette dictature phallocratique elles ont vraiment tendance et besoin de se regrouper pour faire front. C’est cela qui manque dans ce film d’hommes pour des hommes vivant entièrement entre hommes, comme des bandes de loups en chasse. Ne dit-on pas que l’homme est un loup pour l’homme ? Surtout donc ne parlons pas des louves !
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU
HOME BOX OFFICE — THE WIRE — 2002–2008
This series is very difficult to cover or review because of the period when it was produced. That was under President George W. Bush and it started being aired after 9/11. The second fact is that we have to, understand Baltimore is a very special urban community where the African American population is vastly dominant. Let’s consider only the period before and during the broadcasting of this series. In other words, the whole city was a ghetto and the Black population was of course in the worst and most derelict neighborhoods.
African American population
We also have to understand that a second demographic group was dominant in Baltimore and this is very clear in the first two seasons and still present, though more on the side, in the three latter seasons. And that will be the main problems considered in the first two seasons.
The first two seasons have to do mainly with the Harbor of Baltimore, a harbor that is dying at the time because it is entirely controlled by an absolutely corrupt Dockers’ Union held by two mafias, the Polish and the Greek mafias in Baltimore with vast connections across the East Coast and the US. Their general way of trafficking is simple. It mostly uses containers brought in by container ships. One container, only known of the dockers’ union people, has to disappear from the computerized log as soon as it is lifted from the ship. That particular container gets out of the harbor untraced and is delivered to some criminal network. Either the goods in the container are the front hiding drugs inside fridges for example, or whatever can be a proper case or vessel for heroin or cocaine packs. Or the goods are just blocking the vision of a specially devised back compartment that is not even ventilated so that no one can suspect foul play, and in this compartment, a certain number of women are hidden to be delivered to some prostitution rings.
It all came out when one of these unaccounted women came up dead in the harbor waters, and when a whole load of women was discovered dead in a container. It took two seasons to corner the dockers’ union chief who was the main organizer and beneficiary of this human trafficking, him and his family, mainly cousins or nephews once, twice or more removed. At that time the series was not so much concentrating on the Black community, but that changed completely when the harbor mafia was brought down, which I believe was only possible because the harbor itself was totally bankrupt because instead of using the profit of this commerce to invest to remain up at the top in the severe competition in the field of maritime container commerce that started raging in the world with the emergence of Asian companies and the rejection of flags of convenience, and in this last case the Greeks were number one. This evolution killed many harbors that did not follow the trend and it brought down Greece as a nation when that maritime traffic and industry collapsed in Greece, revealing the deep unhealthy social situation there. It took ten years to clean up the Augean stables and to bring the country and nation back on track. It also took the selling of the Piraeus harbor to the Chinese for it to become clean and profitable.
When this situation was dealt with, finished, classified, then the series turned to the situation of the African American community. It finally decided to go “way down in the hole” and check how it was in that ghetto. It insists mostly on the completely abandoned neighborhoods in the black section of the city that are not even safe as buildings, that are sometimes vacated in order to be pulled down but never get demolished and end up boarded up and being used by squatters or coffins for murdered gangsters. And the situation is so desolate that it would take pages to describe this vast urban wasteland with tens of thousands of people, mostly children, teenagers, and women, living in such conditions.
The second problem is drugs. Drugs are under the control of Black traffickers, at grassroots level (at street corners because a street corner provides four ways to run if you have to, instead of just two, and one being blocked by the oncoming gang fighters or police patrols, three escape routes in one case and only one in the other case, so it has to be street corners) and at middle level, that is to say, Baltimore, the city and the direct area around it, with necessarily a higher level which is either Black and in New York, or Polish and Greek and it is an invisible and unidentified white network at a wider level. That means Baltimore is the battlefield of two or three gangs trying to take control of the whole city and at the same time, they have been obliged to accept some kind of zoning policy. This situation is a pure and simple war situation with constant guerrilla warfare and firearms killings. The gangs can only survive and keep some balance if they regularly kill some of the underlings or small captains of other gangs, each gang against the two or three other gangs. This leads to one or two or three leaders who are untouched and untouchable. Normally. Sooner or later there is always someone who will have the guts or the unconscious dumbness to kill a chief. To do that this kamikaze had better be young and small because all adults or even teenagers, not to mention all women, are suspicious and cannot approach the “bosses.”
The third problem, that could be the solution, is education. No money, no qualified teachers, no policy, no means of any sort to bring this black population out of their total cultural fallow wasteland where becoming a corner operator is the only future they can imagine if they are boys, and being a ghetto courtesan of some kind, in other words, a slut or a whore, for anyone who wants such services, if they are girls. Some teachers believe they can make a difference but we are in the years of the Iraq war and trillions of dollars have to be found to pay for this never-ending war so that federal money was becoming scarce for education and other services, the police particularly as we are going to see. As for education, there is no real possibility to educate these young people out of the ghetto, out of poverty, and we have to be clear on one point: the drug traffickers, the holdup bandits, the hijackers, the kidnappers, all of them are Black in the ghetto and all their victims are Black too. The gangs are not exploiting the whites. They are exclusively exploiting the Blacks, and from time to time but rarely victimizing Asians. This is the acme of capitalistic greed and exploitation. The whole series does not give us one single case of a child becoming a teenager and managing to get out of this ghettoic rawkus alienation through education. We are not even shown any picture of a college in this city of Baltimore. Colleges are off-limits.
That leads to the last problem: the police. Under the Black mayor in three seasons, the police have money for overtime and cars, but it is in the hands of the friends, associates and buddies of the Black mayor. If you are not Black, no way up except if you accept to do the dirty work of covering up the extraordinary level of crime, particularly blood crime, in the city. It is this rotten situation that brings in 2004 or 2006 a new Black District Attorney who is supposed to be clean. How long will it last? And a new white mayor who captures a section of the Black vote by promising a special effort for the schools and special treatment for the police that would be cleaned up. But that mayor is a mayor and of course, he is a politician with ambition, and within two years he manages to be elected governor of the state of Maryland. He keeps part of his promise for schools, though we are not shown the result. But he does not keep his promise for the regeneration of the police, and this time a couple of impatient rebellious cops, one white, one black, cheat with their police department, with the city council and with the press: they use illegal wire-tapping equipment to be able to penetrate the communication among the top leaders of the gangs to manage the tracking of a special delivery. But they need extra personnel, extra cars and extra money for overtime. To achieve this target they create from nothing at all a serial killer fable among the homeless in the city, by using and manipulating the killing of homeless people mostly by other homeless people and mostly for petty grievances, and by attaching a red ribbon to the wrist of a few victims, organizing the “fake kidnapping” of a wasted distant cousin of one of these two cops. The press is im-‘press’-ed and reacts at once, revealing a lot about these homeless people and at the same time bringing a lot of attention to the police situation that cannot cope with such problems. The two cops get the means they want to fight against this phantasmatic serial killer, and they use these means to corner and arrest the main Black drug leader and capture an enormous delivery of cocaine and heroin, plus a great number of underlings. One of the middle-of-the-way underlings will accept to take several murders under his responsibility, the main leader could be concerned with, but an important white lawyer often defending the gang people is revealed to be corrupt too at grand jury level, and then this lawyer, the DA office and the white female deputy (who is the mistress of the Black deputy police chief I am going to deal with later, and this one is married to a Black lady who wants to make a career in Baltimore’s politics and eventually become Mayoress, isn’t that all simple?) work out a deal. The main gang leader will walk free and keep his capital but with a clear understanding, he will not deal with the drug market anymore. One middle of the way underling will serve a moderate amount of time for several murders, and the others will serve moderate time for drug dealing.
On the other hand, the police department will be completely restructured in the hands of a white associate of the mayor who in the meantime is elected governor. The two main cops who organized all this underground police-trafficking are sent back to the sidewalk beat or so but without losing any pension rights. They will survive. And the main “victims” are the white Head of the PD who is ousted but becomes the head of the State Police, and his direct black deputy who resigns because he refuses to doctor the crime statistics for a few quarters to help the White Mayor to be elected governor. Because altogether all that does not change a basic fact: crime is growing and statistics, when not doctored, show clearly the casualties are not in any way on a downhill trend.
To give an overall opinion, I will say I am rather disappointed by the series because it remains entirely locked up within a small group of people, hardly ever showing what the real state of mind of the masses in this community is. Everything is seen as being nothing but circumstances that have to be used by the politicians for their own good. It is in a way very sad. And apart from the opening and closing song, the culture of this Black community is hardly ever explored or really used. It is true it is a good song. Here are the lyrics of it.
Way Down in the Hole
When you walk through the garden
You gotta watch your back
Well I beg your pardon
Walk the straight and narrow track
If you walk with Jesus
He’s gonna save your soul
You gotta keep the devil
Way down in the hole
He’s got the fire and the fury
At his command
Well you don’t have to worry
If you hold on to Jesus’ hand
We’ll all be safe from Satan
When the thunder rolls
We just gotta help me keep the devil
Way down in the hole
All the angels sing about Jesus’ mighty sword
And they’ll shield you with their wings
And keep you close to the lord
Don’t pay heed to temptation
For his hands are so cold
You gotta help me keep the devil
Way down in the hole
Down in the hole, down in the hole
Down in the hole, down in the hole
Down in the hole, down in the hole
You gotta help me keep the devil
Down in the hole
But unluckily even walking with Jesus is not shown really, except marginally with the regeneration of the drug addict Bubbles in the last season, but because a younger teenager he had taken under his wing dies of an overdose when this young man finds Bubbles’ small drug hoard. It is love, but not for Jesus, that leads him out of the ghetto and out of drugs with a job in some kind of shelter for the human wrecks that are surviving while waiting to die of dereliction and alienation.
But if you want to learn Black and white urban slang direct from Baltimore, you will have here a beautiful case and in no time, you might start speaking like a true Baltimorean Black gang mobster or Black police workhorse or plodder.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU