Microbe et Gasoil

The Poster Moment

Sweetness, which come to think of it, when's the last time you've seen that?
Reported on 18th of July, 2015

Congratulate me! I saw my first film in French (Microbe et Gasoil). Chastise me! I saw it with subtitles in French in a screening for the deaf. Having done so leaves me in a tenuous position, guilt over handicapped parking space-wise, but also criticism-wise: I have to rely on a guess of my opinion. I’m one-tenth sure I understood about nine-tenths of it, so how am I to position myself within the critics who mysteriously, to me anyway, didn’t seem to like it? This is why I like English so much. I need the illusion that I know what the hell is going on. So I can hate it.

Microbe et Gasoil

25 August 2015 @ The Vers Le Large

$8.00 or, if one must be jejune, and one must... 
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆


But I think I liked this slight film, an adjective meant less as an insult than an plea. They don’t really make this kind of non-issue, non-visionary, non-important coming of age film anymore, putting me in mind of My Bodyguard, Cloak and Dagger, or even Diva. Reading that list, this may be a memory of time than a genre, but I’m pressing forward.

There's an argument to be made that clever might be that protection from vulnerability that we all seek. Some mysterious keyboard elf wrote that. I have no idea what it means.

This was before Mr. John Hughes ruined it by being all talented and stuff. I like John Hughes films (Weird Science at the Redwood City Drive-in doubled with Girls Just Want to Have Fun), and I like the films of M Michel Gondry. These are full films, lots of characters, jokes, bits, stories, everything. And to be clear, I like it when there’s a lot of space-age underwear on head stop-motion sharks made of tissue boxes building Jack Black out of pipe-cleaners and parts of Paris.

Microbe et Gasoil is not one of these films, but it does have is two things, both rare. The first is sweetness, which come to think of it, when’s the last time you’ve seen that? It’s not especially mean or cynical or snarky. There’s an argument to be made that clever might be that protection from vulnerability that we all seek. Some mysterious keyboard elf wrote that. I have no idea what it means.

The second is a lack (how does one have a lack?) of contrivance. I use the term lack here because honest doesn’t quite work either. The film lets things happen. It’s not raw, but it’s not lying neither. If not lying is a kind of honesty, this film has it. It can be praised for the paths it didn’t take, that there were many ideas that one could become attached to, and then conspire to keep, against the wishes of the characters or the logic of the story.

Came in ten minutes late, and the film had already started. Less than ten minutes of trailers. I love it.

Came in ten minutes late, and the film had already started. Less than ten minutes of trailers. I love it.

To be specific (you’re not going to see it. Maybe you can’t. You live in America, and maybe it won’t come out there. I live in France; I can’t see English cross-dressing comedies or Tyler Perry movies), much of the film’s trailer, concept, plot, and more importantly poster, revolves the boys building a pretty awesome homemade car that is also a house so they can tour around France during their summer vacation and not need a driver’s license. With such a set-up one imagines all the different scenarios of invading suburban environments, houses falling over and squirrels rescued at the last second by an open window, or mattresses made of taxidermy animals stuffed with fast-food uniforms put through a wood chipper.

Instead, and what’s impressive, is that the film takes its time to get to that point, and, once there, proceeds to destroy the house/car partially, then totally. The film is less about the bit, than the characters who made the bit possible. I guess what I mean is that the film lets the situation and characters decide what happens, rather than the trailer moment, or, in this case, the poster moment.

When we conceive these cool ideas like the house/car, there is a risk of attachment, a threat to both story-telling and Buddhism. The classic attachment with which all TV shows must wrestle: you can’t kill the lead. This may be why Game of Thrones is so popular, despite it being boring and generally terrible; it ignores this one rule utterly. We get attached to a scene, a bit, a character, a line of dialog, a poster moment and so on, and make sure that events conspire to get us there.

I’m grateful for M Gondry’s Buddhism. So: I recommend it half because I did like it, and half because I want other people to tell me if I did.

The Take

The giant stack of hand-drawn porn is pretty awesome. Again, restraint: one could see the Gondry of yore animating it.
Also fun: Mlle. Tatou’s hippie-like ‘it’s all right, sex is natural approach’ to finding the porn in question. Is embarrassment abuse? Yes.
To encourage your actually seeing it: What the policemen do when they first find the house/car on the road. A solid bit.
It has a dachshund.
Total Profits
Doesn’t add up to much, but I found nothing wrong.
Total Losses


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