Art Notes: Girl from Paris, Easy, Face, Beegle
by Ari Armstrong, September 9, 2005
I caught a couple of modest films on DVD that are quite good. The Girl from Paris is about a woman who is dissatisfied with her big-city lifestyle and longs to be a farmer. So she works to make her dream come true, but finds the romance of the countryside doesn't always fit the harsh realities of rural living. The elderly man from whom she buys a farm has a difficult personality, but he may have a few lessons to offer the girl. The lead character struggles to find and pursue her passion.
Culturally, one interesting thing about the French film is that it shows the slaughtering of a pig and a cow. The imagery is graphic, and it leaves no room for the warm-and-fuzzy tag line, "No animal was injured in the filming of this movie." The movie will get no endorsement from PETA, the "animal rights" organization that is based on bad philosophy and that was exposed as a gang of hypocrites.
As much as Americans like to mock the French (and vice versa), The Girl from Paris reminds us that many Americans are infected with a perverse political correctness from which the French remain largely immune. This movie never would have been made in the U.S., at least not with the scenes of slaughter.
I did have to chuckle at the overly-bureaucratized French system, though. The most successful farmer I know learned his trade by working with experienced farmers in the orchards and by constantly refining his practices. (You can buy his peaches in season in Wild Oats or off the Cameo exit, on I-70 just east of Palisade.) The French woman, of course, had to attend agriculture school before she could be a farmer. (Of course, formal schooling can be useful for agricultural pursuits, but in the U.S. formal education is usually considered optional for entrepreneurs.)
The French movie does contain an interesting critique of abusive state power, though. State officials mistreat the old farmer when a mad cow is discovered among his herd. Mad-cow disease does pose a difficult problem, though. Because it threatens to damage third-party property owners as well as consumers, it does seem to require some sort of governmental intervention. But the proper nature of that intervention is anything but obvious.
But you need not contemplate the cultural and political aspects of the film in order to enjoy it. It is at its core the story of a young woman striving to find what makes her happy and follow her dreams, regardless of the obstacles. Yes, an inspiring French film. Huh.
Easy is a story of a young American woman who is, as the title suggests, "easy." She sleeps around. But she discovers that this gets in the way of any serious romantic relationship. So she decides to become celibate for three months and rethink her priorities.
But this film is sure to displease religious right-wingers, despite its message of sexual responsibility. It contains graphic sex scenes. The woman's boyfriend has a child with a lesbian friend, creating a non-traditional but promising family. A surprisingly well-performed and compelling film.
On the local music scene, Face is an "all-vocal rock band" that covers songs like "The Safety Dance." I heard the group at Nissi's (which is affiliated with the company where my wife works), and Face will perform there again on September 18. (I learned the group's founder is also a biochemist in Lafayette.)
At the same event I heard Dave Beegle, who plays acoustic guitar as well as anyone I've heard. He followed Face, and at the time I said, "He's screwed," thinking a solo guitar player would have a hard time following the energetic performance of the singers. But man can this guy can play guitar. The audience was enthralled. You can hear three of his songs here.