Blues roumain – Culture / Next

“You cannot take your country with the soles of your shoes. But we always keep something in the heel. “ Talion, Achilles heel? What is hiding in that enigmatic sentence – perhaps a Yiddish saying – that the old American Joe Bernstein throws at his thirty-something stepdaughter. These two adore each other. A flow of affection and understanding runs between them. And yet what did Suzy and the “Rabbi of vintage products” which spreads its concept of “Story clothes” on several continents?

The young Romanian goy married Ben, one of the three Bernstein sons, a little for love – she was ecstatic at his alluring little nose like a cute potato ready to be devoured – but especially for the opportunity he offered her to escape a blocked future. We are then at the beginning of the 90s. As for the mother-in-law, on the other hand, it is a relational failure. Suzy had it all during her childhood in Ceausescu Romania, and sees Dora as the prototype of the spoiled, rich old woman. No tender feelings here, but ready-made US phrases and a typical American egocentricity, the exiled daughter-in-law thinks she understands.

In an atmosphere à la Woody Allen, this Washingtonian story then continues its march, infusing a humorous lightness in the novel by Catalin Mihuleac, Romanian writer born in 1960 and former geologist. Yet the overall tone of the book is terribly dark. Another story runs parallel to the success story Bernstein. Sixty years earlier, in Romania, the Oxenbergs suffered the anti-Semitism of a regime subservient to the Nazis, which culminated with the pogrom of June 1941 in the city of Iasi. This massacre – it caused nearly 15,000 victims, killed in the streets, at execution sites, in or at the exit of death trains – is a taboo in contemporary history in Romania. For a long time the Communist regime disguised the facts, claiming that the killings had been committed by the Germans. Even today talking about the Iasi pogrom can be difficult.

Catalin Mihuleac features a family from the city’s Jewish bourgeoisie. Jacques, the father, is a renowned obstetrician, specialist in Caesarean sections, the nationalists call him “The vagina doctor” and call for a return to traditional home births. The mother, Roza, is an elegant, emancipated and literate woman, she is preparing the German translation of an anthology of Romanian short stories. Their son Lev is a schoolboy with a sense of the playground business, and their daughter Golda a delicate child author of stories, one of which told to a German soldier will save her from the pogrom.

Very well documented, the novel shows how discrimination against Jews began in the 1920s. For the medical student Jacques Oxenberg, it started with absurd regulations. Example: Jewish rifles can only dissect Jewish corpses “Otherwise they will be fired”. Beatings, inflammatory statements … “Hatred smolders, hatred swells”. And shifting the point of view to the bellicose “on” side of fascist students, announcing the anonymous one of the greedy pogrom mob, Mihuleac writes: “We dream of the moment when hatred can cry out: ‘Hooray!’. ” Full of tumult, the book sees growing fear on the Jewish side until the terrible scenes of killing in the middle of the street on June 29, 1941. The realism is chilling: to the jubilation of the Romanian populace, who tears their clothes from the dying, the panic of the victims is opposed, sliding on the paving stones glistening with blood, begging in vain, dying at the hands of those who were perhaps their neighbors.

The history of the Bernsteins and that of the Oxenbergs will come together in a moving way at the end of the book, but already find in Suzy a bridge. The young woman who follows a teaching at the synagogue discovers a historical passion for this period. Furious that her husband indulges in a life dedicated to business and oblivious to the past, she organizes a horrible conjugal ambush. This is one of the disturbing moments in this book in an unstable balance between burlesque and gravity, but with undeniable force.

Frederique Fanchette

Catalin Mihuleac

The Oxenbergs and the Bernsteins

Translated from Romanian by Marily Le Nir Editions Noir sur Blanc,

304 pp., € 22 (ebook: € 14.99).


“The Golden Age of the Male Order”, cements of anti-feminism

Continuing her study of male domination, Eliane Viennot undertakes here to dismantle the mechanisms of the legitimation of female inferiority in the 19th century.e century, the height of gender inequality. This is not based only on its legalization by the civil and penal codes, it is also the result of a tenacious male will, which irrigates all of society. Over the years, the capacity of this hegemony to adapt to political, economic or cultural changes asserts itself. The originality of this book is to focus on the male point of view, as the reproduction on the cover of Tissot’s canvas announces: the Circle of rue Royale (1868). This sociability is obviously based on a rigorous separation of the sexes, imposed by the triumphant bourgeoisie.

The author identifies the pillars of the male order one by one. For this, she summons literary sources little or not known, without therefore being satisfied with notorious writers of misogyny. An anti-feminist anthology follows, the rudeness of which sometimes leaves one speechless. Viennot then invites us to understand how the caricature of the feminine, guarantor of gender conservatism, was able to establish male domination for a long time. One of the first objectives of the arsenal set up by “The intellectual class”, even within the walls of the College de France, is to prohibit education for the supposedly weak sex, in the name of its nature and its dignity.


Consequently, women writers, and particularly poets, are the main scapegoats for this offensive, especially if, like Mesdames de Genlis and de Staël, they venture into areas reserved for men, such as criticism or political essay. . If the “first of the rope” are the target of this virulent anti-feminism, their colleagues, with little notoriety, are treated as “Blue stockings”. Like Jules Janin, who in 1831 offered a vitriolic portrait of these ladies of letters, all of them, with rare exceptions, deny them talent, creativity and even more genius, which is only available for men. Also if one of them excels in a genre, like Sophie Gay in the historical novel, the male temptation to devalue her is great.

Yet, as a specialist in literary history, Eliane Viennot brings out of oblivion a myriad of women who have managed to get their works published. The most committed denounced the fallacious nature of their opponents’ argument. But the defense of the masculine order became radicalized when, according to revolutions or the emergence of a word challenging this hegemony, some claimed to be citizens and, from 1848 onwards, demanded respect for universalism. Again, if the author evokes the well-known figures of the Saint-Simonians and women of 1848, she applies herself above all to identifying the destructive remarks of their enemies, those of the ancient Jacobin Paulin Crassous with his false Apologia for women to Jean-Baptiste Simonnin with his Hatred of women. If unlike an Alphonse Karr, these “entertainers” have not passed into posterity, they widely disseminated anti-feminist clichés in their time, just like the “Singing societies”.


Morals, as much as laws, carried by jurists who continue the work of Pothier (1770), are the foundations of patriarchal society. However, this book recalls, those of the French fascinate the public. The flowering of Physiologies gives a major place to the question of women; on this, each one has a say, and it matters little whether it is more of opinion than of reason and science.

Alongside the philosophers and physicians who cast negative untruths on the feminine, sociologists, criminologists, historians and linguists are soon to be found. The latter, specifies Viennot, have behind them “Two centuries of guerrilla warfare” ; the work shows that the masculinization of the language consolidates the social order, reinforces the power of men and the invisibilization of women. This relevant observation confirms the conclusions of previous studies by this historian of power relations between the sexes, an uncompromising advocate of the feminization of vocabulary and inclusive writing.

Yannick Ripa

Eliane Viennot The golden age of the male order. France, women and power. 1804-1860 CNRS Editions, 384 pp., 25 € (ebook : 17,99 €).


From the ‘red bourgeoisie’ to artistic stardom

From being an esoteric variant of art, limited to the initiated, performance has become something very close to a popular genre. The spread of museums has contributed to this change, and also artists like Marina Abramovic, who came out of the strict artistic circles of the former Yugoslavia, lived in a van with her partner Ulay and credited her worth to Joseph Beuys before becoming a star. from the art world.

With his provocative actions, he made a place for himself in the media, in the artistic and social world. In 1977, in Bologna, she and her partner stood naked on both sides of a narrow passage through which museum attendees had to enter, inevitably brushing their bodies. They meant that without artists, in all their carnality and with all their needs, there would be no artistic centers.

The performance was supposed to last six hours. It only lasted three because “two handsome officers” appeared, as the creator recalls. They were asked for their passports, which they obviously did not have on them. And they had to stop the action on charges of obscene conduct.

“No rehearsals, no repetitions, random exposure, primary reactions”, says his artistic ideas

Between conceptual art and coated paper, the 73 years of Abramovic’s life have gone a long way, as can be read in his recently published autobiography in Spanish, ‘Derribando muros’ (editorial Malpaso), and dedicated’ to friends already the enemies”.

“I come from a gloomy place.” The Serbian artist, born in Belgrade on November 30, 1946, shortly after the end of World War II and in a family that, as she herself defines, belonged to the “red bourgeoisie” begins her memories with this phrase. Her father was a member of Marshal Tito’s elite guard; and her mother, director of the Museum of the Revolution and Art.

“Peak of Luxury”

“The living room had shelves full of books, a black grand piano, and pictures on all the walls.” She thought it was the “pinnacle of luxury,” and it could be in Yugoslavia at the time, only confiscated from a Jewish family during the Nazi occupation.

In this exquisite environment, his family education was based on soup, which produced abundant nosebleeds. At the age of six or seven, he knew he wanted to be an artist. Just as her mother used to receive her ideas with punishment, this desire immediately convinced her and enabled her a room on the floor as a study.

Abramovic studied at the Belgrade Academy of Fine Arts, although the most important thing in her training process was her participation in Group 70, a student sextet in which she was the only woman. They discussed Lawrence Wiener, Joseph Kosuth, and conceptual art; from the Italian ‘povera’ and the Fluxus performances, the Beuys and Nam June Paik movement.

The peanut and its shadow

He still painted, although he proposed actions that were rejected by the artistic authorities. Until a director who had just been to a Documenta in Kassel curated by Harald Szeemann arrived at a Belgrade center. Her group starred in an exhibition at that gallery, and Abramovic presented an unpeeled peanut attached to the wall, a work she titled ‘Cloud with its Shadow’. Seeing how it looked, she convinced herself that she would never paint again.

In 1972 she was invited to the Edinburgh Festival and staged, in front of Beuys, her performance ‘Ritmo 10’, based on a game of Slavic drinkers. On a piece of paper she placed her left hand outstretched so that there were gaps between her fingers. With her right she picked up a knife and ran it through them as fast as she could. When punctured, a tape recorder recorded her cries of pain. She took another knife and so on up to ten.

It was the first ‘hit’ in a series of ‘Rhythms’ in which he exposed his body to fire and electricity. “No rehearsals, no repetitions, widespread vulnerability, random exposure, primary reactions,” read his ideology ‘Vital Art’.

In 1997 he won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale and in 2010 he had a retrospective at MoMA. Now she is such a popular figure in the United States that she devised a project – failed – with rapper Jay Z, and has been attacked by far-right trolls accusing her of satanic practices.


Learning sifted through archeology

In a collective work directed by Patrick Pion and Nathan Schlanger, researchers explore the transmission of knowledge by gesture, writing or acculturation, from prehistory to the present day. .

“The Destination end of the world”, the beautiful spectacle of the apocalypse

Some novels may leave behind little memories. The house of cards collapsed all alone, the universe does that when you are inside of it. A new, built on a single idea, a situation is anecdotal, however, could persist in the mind. Science fiction is a literature that is conducive to this form, we know how much she gave in experimenting with short fiction effectively, and gives. Destination the end of the world do not rely on the big-thing : a middle class american golden finds himself one evening with smoking, flirting and dancing. This is the situation matter-of-fact. What is less clear is that some of the couples who were present attended at the end of the world.

Everything is already in the incipit : “Nick and Jane were happy to be went to see the end of the world because they had a good topic of conversation to the party at Mike and Ruby.” The paradox contained in this sentence – if the end of the world has taken place, then no one is likely to be able to talk (and especially to the feast) – will soon be reversed. The last cry of the entertainment offers to high net worth clients to pay for install for three hours in a “sort of a tiny submarine” to travel into the future and witness the end of the world. The other paradox, the real one this time, is that around these characters eager for the sensational, there are more and more manifestations of a world that is déglingue. Riots on fund nuclear weapons in Saint-Louis, an earthquake that has virtually wiped off the map Los Angeles, an epidemic of typhus the previous winter and amoeba mutant escaped from a research centre carrying a virus that is spreading…

“I tried to catch a glimpse of the future”

The american writer Robert silverberg quote wrote this new satirical in June 1971 “while the Vietnam war continued to undermine the foundations of american life and that it called into question the certainties inherited from the years of calm and prosperity of the immediate post-war period”, “he explains in a delightful little preface is dated march 30, 2020, or at the beginning of the pandemic Covid-19. With the threat of the amoebae to viruses, he had in part imagined this kind of future in Destination the end of the world. He continues : “Throughout my life as a writer, I tried to catch a glimpse of the future ; what I see today is so scary that the future will, I hope, will bring this time a denial to my vision of the future.” This re-release sound accompanies the news of silverberg quote a historical contextualization, a thematic bibliography and a phrase of Guy Debord very about. “We don’t want any more work to the spectacle of the end of the world, but at the end of the world of the show.” This is a simple idea to a reversal of reality.

Destination the end of the worldof Robert Silverberg Quotetranslated from the american by Michel Deutsch, review by Pierre-Paul Durastanti, The stowaway “Dyschroniques”, 41 pages, 5 €.

Frédérique Roussel


Splits on the big screen

Impossible to make a list of Piccoli’s best films as he has multiplied the major films and major roles: at the very least we can try to extract five memories of characters or exemplary performances of his art of flip-flops.

Read also Michel Piccoli, the things of his life

La Chamade (1968) by Alain Cavalier

If Michel Piccoli often puts on the screen the figure of the seducer, it oscillates willingly from cynicism to devotion, sometimes both, as in this adaptation of a novel by Françoise Sagan, brought to the screen by Alain Cavalier in full May 68. A political off-screen which exacerbates the shift of an upscale bourgeoisie living in a vacuum, where Lucile (Catherine Deneuve) evolves, a young idler caught between two lovers, one great lord, who maintains him and n ‘demands nothing from her (Piccoli, masterful), and the other penniless. Two men embodying two universes, two relationships to the world, prodigal or chick. Gravity and moral rigor of poverty against lightness and generous recklessness of wealth.

Dillinger is dead (1969) by Marco Ferreri

The brain actor that Piccoli had the reputation of knowing knew on occasion to be instinctive. The almost silent role he plays in this film – which he held as one of the most beautiful in his career – gives it all the measure. In an experimental, even radical gesture, echoing the Godard du Contempt and of Pierrot le fou, Dillinger is dead dynamite all the narrative dikes, of the narrative in place of the subject, as if emptied of its substance. Piccoli, half-naked, reduced to his animal share, devotes himself to the most daily tasks (watching TV, listening to the radio, sleeping, cooking) as the most absconse (painting a revolver in red), until accomplishing , by disintegrating it, the infused violence of an era of which it seems to be the reflection.

Max and the scrap dealers (1971) by Claude Sautet

One year later things of life, Claude Sautet brings together the Michel Piccoli-Romy Schneider couple in Max and the Scrappers, which is like its dark side, and turns out to be one of the most nihilistic of the filmmaker’s career. The actor sets up an examining magistrate who has become a cop, who sets a trap for a gang of thugs to catch them in the act. Manipulator by excess of zeal, cold-blooded animal, whose only flame seems to be his obsession with wanting to shut up the mobsters, even if it is to break the law himself, Max, almost Melvillian hero with an increasingly waxy complexion, seems to be zombify as the film progresses. Being disembodied, haunted by a morbid passion, he covers in extremis an ounce of humanity at the precise moment when he kills out of love, and with a gesture, annihilates everything for which he had lived until then.

Les Noces rouges (1973) by Claude Chabrol

Inspired by a news item that hit the headlines in the early 1970s, the Red Wedding Seemingly ticks all the boxes of the Chabrolian thriller from the Pompidolian period: in a dormant province, an adulterous couple, from the petty bourgeoisie, decides to get rid of their annoying spouses, a sick woman and an odious husband who is none other than the mayor of the city. Figures of fatality and tragic destiny of which they are the toys, as they are prisoners of conventions and their social class, Michel Piccoli and Stéphane Audran in devilish lovers seized with irrepressible lustful impulses, symbolize the turbulences of a passion, which finds expression only in the overflow and the strategy of the worst (murder). When, locked up, they are asked why they did not just leave together, they answer: “Go ? No, we didn’t think about it … “

Nothing on Robert (1999) by Pascal Bonitzer

If he only plays a secondary role in a memorable scene – a dinner in the form of a massacre game where he humiliates a film critic (Fabrice Luchini), accused of having criticized a film he did not seen -, Piccoli finds the ideal setting for another facet of his game: chiseled tongue and theatrical excess. Relentless, ferocious and exhilarating, like this Bonitzer comedy, he delivers a carnivorous and terrifying performance, unmasking a form of critical imposture, here rendered to humanity. Or the pleasure of seeing the Luchini district being blown away by a sacred monster.

Nathalie Dray


Death of Michel Piccoli, antistar of French cinema

It had been revealed by contempt by Jean-Luc Godard in 1963; before becoming the monument of French cinema that we celebrate today. The 94-year-old actor Michel Piccoli, still seen recently in Habemus papam, of Nanni Moretti, died on May 12 of a stroke, according to his family on Monday. At the end of a career with remarkable longevity (more than 150 films).

Authors’ films

This is inseparable from the films of Luis Buñuel and Claude Sautet. Under the direction of the first, Michel Piccoli interpreted troubled characters (The Diary of a Chambermaid, Belle de jour, the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie) before becoming an incarnation of the Thirty Glorious, immutable cigarette in the mouth, in the second, in the 70s (things of life, Max and the scrap dealers, Vincent, François, Paul … and the others).

Read also Michel Piccoli to Released in 2013: “The directors delegate their secrets to me”

Ecclectic in his choices, he also toured under the direction of Renoir, Resnais, Demy, Melville, Varda and Hitchcock. Tall, dark, balding over the years, a thundering or bewitching voice, this enigmatic character is “Delighted to play extravagance or the most disturbing delusions, to break (his) image”, he said, before embarking on directing himself at the age of 70. His role in feast by Marco Ferreri, one of the biggest scandals at the Cannes festival in 1973, is proof of this. He embodies a participant in a gastronomic seminar transforming into a scatological or nihilist orgy.

No Caesar

His refusal of career plans and his anti-Star side also led him to shoot author films: Leos Carax, Jean-Claude Brisseau, Jacques Doillon. In 1990, he greedily camped out a character of a fantastic bourgeois bourgeois in Snowy in May by Louis Malle. Gradually disappearing from the screens, this great modesty, born in 1925 into a family of musicians, will lift a corner of the veil at over 90 years old in a book of interviews with his friend Gilles Jacob (I lived in my dreamss).

He confided his anguish at not being able to work anymore: “We would like it never to stop and it will stop […] It’s very difficult.” Four times nominated for Caesars, notably for the beautiful hazelnut by Jacques Rivette in 1992, he has never been awarded by the Academy. And said to himself “Passionately on the left”. As a former companion of the French Communist Party and “known citizen”, committed against racism (within SOS Racisme), for undocumented migrants and against “money ideology. “



Michel Piccoli at “Libé” in 2013: “The directors delegate their secrets to me”

While we learn of the disappearance of Michel Piccoli at the age of 94, we republish the portrait that painted Release on the last page, in 2013, and titled “Valive, the monument

In September 2011, in the (complimentary) criticism that Released devoted to Habemus Papam by Nanni Moretti, the reader was challenged: “Do you know the expression” sacred monster “? It is played there, in front of you. ” Michel Piccoli of course, who, on the day of the meeting, is there before us, for real, in the empty hall of the Cinémathèque française, where a month-long tribute (screenings, lectures) is paid to him. Less tired by age than what his last appearances had suggested, he comments on a few movie posters, has fun with an “Operating Room” sign: “Exploitation, what a funny word!” In an impersonal space, he sits on an office chair his tall waist, hunched over by his 87 years, but carrying a flamboyant past. The voice is serene, oscillates between humor and gravity. He thinks long before each answer, out of a taste for precision, for fear of being incorrect. The practice of the interview does not please those for whom notoriety has “Never, never ever” was any kind of engine, but it sticks to it. He explains : “I find it immodest to talk about yourself. But I rarely say no, because it is so cheeky that someone asks you to talk about your life, that it becomes very pretentious to refuse. “ A nice trick of mental sleight which he will use all along with brilliance. About this tribute from the Cinémathèque française: “I don’t like decorations. So, I felt compelled to say no. And then I said to myself that it would seem presumptuous to refuse. ”

Piccoli is a brown body with a strange presence in its normality (or vice versa), which served as film material for Renoir, Godard, Buñuel, Ferreri, Rivette, Sautet, Brisseau, Vecchiali, Bonello, Carax… Without no contemporary equivalent, he has built a feline career, leaping all over the rooftops of cinephilia, striving to never fall back in the same place, to reinvent himself, to shoot constantly. “I have only one desire: never to be stuck in my acting profession. You always have to find innovations, know that you have to change everything, put things in jeopardy when they have become admirable. ” He evokes the idea of ​​”travel” and explains: “I’m talking about an internal journey, between different worldviews.” He has this magnificent word: “The directors delegate their secrets to me.” He got carried away in a concentrated enthusiasm: “An actor and a filmmaker are two people who constantly watch each other. I’m working with a director to understand why he chose me, how far he allows me to go in his utmost secrecy. ” It is a nice slip, replaces “director” by “Senator”, conferring on the profession will have legitimacy and power. “I knew the secrets of all the senators I worked with, I questioned them, bypassed them, and I never missed one”, entrusts the one to whom the masters of the image, Godard, Ruiz or de Oliveira have entrusted, precisely, their role and therefore their image.

His secrets, he is careful not to tell. “Am I modest?” Yes, yes and yes.” Does he just recall his childhood in the XIIIe arrondissement, in a bourgeois family, his discovery of theater at boarding school, his beginnings during Simon, his first roles in cinema at the turn of the 1940s and 1950s. Nothing about his family life, the women he loved (Eléonore Hirt, Juliette Gréco or his current wife, the screenwriter Ludivine Clerc), of his children. He describes his own daily life as “very calm”, lives in the Bastille district of Paris. He evokes a family drama, a brother who died before his birth, an event which founds his atheism: “It is incomprehensible that children are denied the right to live and continue to be unlivable.” On the dramas of his time, he sees himself “To arrive in an era which upsets him in a new way compared to other times”. A staunch opponent of the far right, a long-time companion of communism, now a friend of the Socialist Party, he supported François Hollande, to whom he “Pay very close attention”. He wonders : “He managed to become a chef” at the limit “. Isn’t it even more admirable? “ He gives his definition of the left: “Be constantly vigilant about our place in the world.” The engagement was born out of adolescence in the 1940s and the memory of Hitlerian vociferations on the radio. “I grew up in an extravagant, monstrous era, which fascinated me and worried me. Living without politics is lazy. “

There is a Piccoli mystery, which goes beyond human modesty. His unique place in European cinema, his virility which has always dodged machismo, the impression of having always known him as an adult – seen today, he knows his first main role with the public contempt at 38 – make the man intrigue. For the current spectator, he is the man of a cinema that has disappeared today. He is not moved, if not (logically) from a personal perspective: “Alas, given my age, most of the people who made up my movie family are missing today.”

This 87-year-old man does not only fascinate by his physical presence, nor by his glorious appearance, nor even by the pleasure taken by the journalist to interview a “legend”. If Piccoli impresses, it is because he has been able to operate an almost semantic shift. The actor became an author. Of certain films which he certainly made, but above all of a general corpus of roles, of an image of which he himself drew, painted, the features. When so many of his colleagues got caught up in the vanity of being beautiful objects, he worked to become a subject. He explains it, qualifies a film set of “Place where creators – screenwriter, machinist, editor, script or actor – meet where everyone has to produce something”.

His memory stumbles. He searches for proper names, lingers on a few words, including the charming one of “Difficult” that he repeats often. But it only takes a few seconds, a narrowing of the eyes, a vocal flight for Piccoli to become Piccoli again, an old sage and vagabond. And funniness trumps age, these years that are beginning “at bother and tease. “ He solves the problem by talking about Manoel de Oliveira, 104 years old: “Why not do like him and continue for years?”

He does not want to resign. Cinema, why not? But of life, no. Abandonment is the theme of Habemus Papam which he is asked, for the record, if he was amused by the similarities between the film and the resignation of Benedict XVI. He answers : “Ask this admirable filmmaker Moretti to become pope. And let the real pope make films, let him finally explain to us how to be happy. ” A sleight of hand, another one.

Michel Piccoli in 5 dates

December 27, 1925 Birth in Paris.

1944 Become an actor.

1963 Contempt.

From 1950 to the 2000s He has appeared in over 200 films.

Until October 4 Tribute to the Cinémathèque française.

Clement Ghys