Monday, July 11, 2005

Jeremy, I am sooooo sorry!

Last night I received an email from the daughter of my closest friends in Warsaw. She is a woman of great poise and intelligence. And tact. She writes this:

i z przerazeniem stwierdzilam, ze Jeremy propaguje mowienie "zzzzCoca", jak rozumiem za Twoja namowa. hi hi, nic dziwnego, ze moga sie wtedy kelnerzy patrzyc dziwnie. ogolnie przyjetym zdrobnieniem od coca-coli jest "cola", "coca" zas oznacza kokaine....

Oh shit! (forgive me for being crude, the situation calls for it)

For those who do not speak Polish, it reads more or less thus:

With great dismay, I concluded (from reading my comment to his post here) that Jeremy is encouraging the use of the term “zzzz Coca,” as I understand it, under your tutelage. [Jeremy, my fellow traveler to Poland, asked how to order “with coca cola” in a restaurant. Being savvy in slang, I said: ask for “z Coca"; “z” means with, and “Coca” is slang for Coca Cola.] He he, it’s not surprising then that waiters looked strangely upon him. The colloquial term for Coca Cola is “cola.” “Coca,” on the other hand, means cocaine.

Damn! I knew there was a slang term. But it’s been years since I had to order Coca Cola for anyone! Jeremy: I’m sorry for getting it wrong and for making you look like a cocaine junkie to all Poles you interacted with on your trip.

How can you laugh When you know I’m down

First of all, if you’re looking for a post detailing my own mental breakdown or decline – forget it. This ain’t it. I’m writing about a movie. A very funny movie.

I would have missed it but for Saul & Mel – the two who are ensuring that this summer I do not fall into a state of cultural nothingness. But they know how I feel about French films and so yesterday afternoon, there we were, sitting at the Hilldale theater along with 6 other people, all of them over the age of 80, all dripping with sweat under a broken air-conditioning system. A situation made to bring out the giggles, no?

Okay, here’s why I adored the film (which, btw, received a scathing review in our own Cap Times but was thrown many plump tomatoes elsewhere). Yes, I’m nuts about the French farce. I’m completely won over by films that have no story line, or an implausible story line and yet still manage to charm you. The acting has to be superb (as it was in this film) and the setting authentic (ditto here). After that – it’s one big pull into the saga that details the peculiarities of human nature.

Apart from my two partners-in-viewing, I was the only one laughing out loud. Maybe the rest could not keep up with the subtitles. Maybe they were napping. Maybe they were in it for the popcorn. But really, how many movies in the last five years have caused me to laugh out loud? Perhaps one other, except I cannot at the moment remember what it was.

What’s it about? Well, suicidal depression for a start. And helping another. This second theme is what causes critics to have a fit because the implausibility here is just outrageous. And yet, I’m thinking that it’s not. I can well imagine a situation where you find yourself spiraling into a giving mode, while someone, the beneficiary, hardly even notices your efforts on their behalf.

I’m not going to ruin the movie for anyone by even hinting at the tragic/comic (maybe none of the above!) ending. But here’s a big plug: most of the story takes place in a Parisian restaurant. I mean, even if you hated the movie, how awful can it be to sit for two hours and watch people eat French food?

The title: apr├Ęs vous