"Keep working on a plan. Make no little plans. Make the biggest you can think of, and spend the rest of your life carrying it out." Harry S. Truman

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Movies from all over or: how to get a headache !

No news on Ifeanyi's front. Last I heard, they'd found an illustrator, but were waiting for things to become official before they disclosed a name. Audrey sounded very happy about it, though, so I'm curious, expectant, etc, etc. The feedback about my last draft was positive, but as far as the name is concerned, opinions were still divided. The suspense remains.

And since I don't have anything more to report on that front, I shall digress and share something I've been thinking about. It still has to do with multiple backgrounds and what that does to a person, so maybe it's not such a big digression from my favorite themes.

A friend of mine commented that in my profile, I don't mention a single French movie. Mm! How bizarre! as Louis Jouvet said in "Drole de Drame". See, I do know my French classics. So, why is it that when I was thinking about my favorite movies, only American ones popped in my mind?

There was a time when I went to the movies almost every day of the week. And when living in Paris, on the Journée du Cinéma - it's a yearly celebration in France : for one day, you pay for one movie, and you can see as many as you like for a very small entry fee - I would actually see FIVE ! Yep, that's how compulsive I can be. It required careful planning, some running, and a good knowledge of the Odeon area where you can find dozens of movie theaters crammed in the same neighborhood, but I did it. I saw all types of movies. French. Italian. American. German - I was a big fan of Fassbinder, for a while, especially his Lili Marleen with Hannah Schygulla - Chinese, Japanese, British, African, Portuguese... I mean, basically anything that got good reviews I tried to see. Lots of old black and white movies, too. And, of course, many of the movies I loved were French ones : because they were great, because the story happened to have a particular resonance in my life at the time that I saw them, because I loved the subject, the actors - I also did the typical groupie thing in my teens : swoon, hang posters in my room, and the whole fan thing. My favorite, for years, was Alain Delon. Now that I'm supposed to be all grown-up, I'm no longer fond of him because I really dislike his political views. But hey, I was young-er, and was he handsome !

Anyway, why didn't these movies come to mind when I was listing my favorites ? Did I mention only American movies because I was in my English mode, read : writing in English?

I lived a chunk of my life in the US, and my time in New York was the most happening, exciting, interesting time I've had, so far. I was born in Paris, I grew up there, and yet, New York is home. I still think of Park Slope, Brooklyn, as my neighborhood. I mean, I physically miss the place. Whenever I land at JFK and we come out of the airport, I feel like I've just been punched in the heart and I'm being lifted from the ground all at the same time. Pure elation. HAPPY ! Now, don't get me wrong : I would not give up the chance of living in India for the world. Yeah, I should have the ability to be in several places at the same time. Unfortunately, I don't.

So, my point??? Here it comes : Do people adapt so much to their chosen environment that they can experience some kind of internal distancing, maybe even dichotomy? Do I unconsciously switch my "Americanized" self on when I speak and write English, to the point that my other selves move into the shadows ? In other words, are mixed background people composed of several distinctive personas rather than a kind of amalgamated single entity? Or maybe I'm seeing too much into this and I just suffered from temporary memory loss.

Another anecdote comes to mind. Years ago, I was visiting Montreal with friends and we'd met a local who took us around town. When he found out I was half Spanish, he immediately started speaking Spanish to me. Of course, I replied in Spanish, and after a while, he exclaimed : "My God, you sound so different when you speak Spanish. It's like you are a different person." Well, let's see. My mother's family is from Malaga, in the south. Background : poor, working-class. That's where I spent most of my summers growing up. So, my spoken Spanish is not your average Castellano, but rather a popular Spanish with an accent from Andalucia. On the other hand, I learned English in London, working as a nanny for rich families who did speak a very upper class English, and to this day, even after years in the US, I cannot say tomayto, I say tomaaahto. My accent is the result of a wild mixture of influences : it sounds somehow French - but not Inspecteur-Clouseau-like even though I can easily render that one :) - but also British, American, even Indian, now. Is it possible that I put on a different cloak, depending on the language I'm speaking ? And what about when I'm writing ? Does the fact that I chose one language over another one mean anything? And what would that be?

This requires further exploration, and I may post some update on the subject... IF I come up with some brilliant discovery or conclusion.

In the meantime, I feel I need to own up to all the Katias in there, and so, I officially declare that I do have French movies in my list of favorites. I love most of Claude Sautet's movies. And Truffaut. Some Lelouch. As for Alain Delon, I actually liked him best in his Italian Visconti movies - I also adore Visconti, by the way. And I'm a big, big fan of Pedro Almodovar. Red, by Kieslovsky, is another favorite. And Zhang Yimou's movies. And I'm back to American, because I realize I didn't mention Cassavetes, and how could I possibly forget him? So, there. A nice global mix. As Malkovitch/de Valmont said to Pfeiffer/de Tourvel, in Dangerous Liaisons: "It's beyond my control" :)

And next time, I won't even try to list all my favorite anything. Because it's a recipe for recurring headaches!


Rilla said...

rilla: No, no Katia, when you come from more than one background and have lived in several places in the world, it doesn't mean you have split identities. Of course, you are one amalgamated self.
Rilla: Speak for yourself, wierdo.
rilla: Oh, come on. We both love Almodovar.
Rilla: Almo what?

Katia Novet Saint-Lot said...

EXACTLY ! So you both understand what I mean, even if one won't admit it (rilla, don't mention it or she'll blow a casket but I think Rilla is in denial). Thanks. I don't feel so lonely - or is it loony ?