Beginning on March 1st, 2014, Double Exposure began receiving ¼” reel-to-reel tapes labeled only X + I in packages devoid of return address. In the first package came, also, the following picture which we believe to be a photograph of the two commentators heard in dialogue on the tapes we’ve received so far. The incipient location and provenance of the reels is as of yet unknown. For now, we publish an edited transcript of this first dialogue since, conveniently, its subject is Mood Indigo, currently playing in BAM’s Rendez-vous with French Cinema. We will keep readers abreast of this mysterious critical source as more information comes to light.

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X: I think it might be worthwhile to set the scene, and telling the story of the last time we came to Nanoosh, even. It was after Lincoln. And it was when they were out of falafel at Nanoosh Falafel.

I: This was my schedule when I went to London for a day. Exactly every turn and every place.

X: I can’t say I’m not disturbed. I can’t say I’m not disturbed. So let’s talk about this movie [Mood Indigo, the latest feature directed by Michel Gondry -Ed.] for a second. Have you seen Brazil?

I: No, I haven’t.

X: Basically, the point is there are two versions of the film. One’s the director’s cut, and one’s the studio cut, which they cut half an hour from, and they were like, “We don’t like the ending.” I mean look, the story of Brazil is the same, it’s 1984, right. But the studio ending involves an elaborate fantasy sequence of the hero’s escape from this sort-of fascistic society. But, it’s a fantasy. The studio cut it after the fantasy, as if that was the real ending. Mood Indigo sort of felt like the Brazil studio cut in reverse.

I: It starts with this really bourgeois fantasy life of being rich enough that you don’t have to work, so you sit around all day inventing pianos that make you cocktails; your chef and servant is also your fiercely loyal lawyer and supposed equal; the first woman you meet falls madly in love with you because of your neuroses and lack of socialization; impenetrable philosophers are real celebrities because of their incomprehensibility. Maybe this is just an American fantasy of France that is completely true.

X: When the priest says “I’d rather hear ‘Chloé’s dead’ than ‘I’m a pauper.'”

I: That’s the real tragedy of the movie.

X: Totally. It’s upsetting. His wife is very ill, and he’s thinking, “Even worse, I’m running out of money.” It seems that that is the actual death and, also more upsetting, the actual impotence.

I: I don’t think he was impotent.

X: He would hump a mound of dirt that had a gun growing in it, and the harvested guns would come out limp. Either way, there’s still a Freudian interpretation for those limp guns that couldn’t shoot straight. He isn’t a “straight shooter.” And he gets shot in the hand, clearly a reference to masturbation and its role as a universal ill.

X: This might be the best Duke Ellington music video ever made. Because there aren’t any.

I: I think we should come clean right off the bat about which Michel Gondry, and, more importantly, which Audrey Tautou movies we’ve seen.

X: I think we should come clean about which FRENCH movies we’ve seen.

I: We should list every French movie.

X: Yeah, and I think we should put a disclaimer that we are definitely not on the Canal+ payroll.

I: I loved the beginning and I thought I would love the entire movie. The design, the use of stop motion. The awakening of mundane household objects playfully imagined and rethought. Even the things printed on computer screens were hand-written when they appeared. It was a very romantic vision.

X: What I wrote down when I saw that was “slow it down.” It was too much. I wanted it all to slow down a bit and I got what I wished for because the movie really starts to slow down after a certain point. But I didn’t like the opening. I thought it was kind of obnoxious, and the stop motion made me uncomfortable. Which is not really a ‘critical’ opinion but it is an opinion.

I: Romain Duris plays Colin, an independently wealthy man, who wants to fall in love like his two best friends have. He proceeds to successfully—

X: What are you doing?

I: It’s a summary. He proceeds to successfully court and wed Chloé, Audrey Tautou. However, their happiness is unsustainable as Chloé becomes sick when a flower blooms in her lung.

X: Shouldn’t we have integrated the summary into the conversation?

I: The Green Hornet [Gondry’s 2011 comic book adaptation starring Seth Rogen -Ed.].

X: What’d you think?

I: I mean it was pretty fascinatingly made, but its one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.

X: Does that apply to this, too?

I: It was a standard superhero movie filtered through almost throwback, slapstick, Jewish/Mel Brooks comedy, and then all of that filtered through French surrealist filmmaking but on a very high budget.

X: That sounds really good.

X: The characters are flat and you don’t care about them living or dying. So the question naturally becomes: What is the point? Why give them conflict at all? Why give death any role?

I: I agree with you and I think that’s where the movie went wrong. There is a moment where they are having a delightful time at an ice skating rink: a bird-woman announcing a contest, lots of fun plot stuff playfully established. Then, suddenly, someone dies to win the contest, which consists of grabbing a bobbing, rubber hand suspended over the rink. She was an extra, this character, but the sudden intrusion of death, especially in a scene where all the characters are wearing armbands around their biceps, it is a very odd intrusion.

X: The Nazi imagery. Terry Gilliam shout-out!

I: No, for Gondry, more likely a Ridley Scott 1984 commercial reference. He seems to be an encyclopedia of commercial technique. Anyway, emotionally it threw me off and it never really came back from there. In the end— Do you remember the last beat of Eternal Sunshine [Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Gondry’s 2004 memory-erasure rom-com -Ed.]?

X: You could tell me the last beat of Eternal Sunshine and then I would remember it.

I: They realize that they’ve erased each other but they’ve come back together, somehow through some fog, shadow or whatever that they were able to hang on to.

X: Good for them.

I: They meet in the hallway and basically he says “We know I will do this,” and she says “We know I’m going to do this. We’ve already done this and it doesn’t end well.” But then, and I do not recall the exact dialogue, he says, “Who gives a fuck if it’s not going to end well, we have to do this.” I believe he says “Okay” and laughs and kisses her. Sort of a beautiful, pragmatic thought. Deleting your memories…it’s all you really have. It’s all you have to go on.

X: Which is all you have? The memories or deleting them?

Waitress: Falafel wrap. [Sounds like a waitress –Ed.]

I: Right here.

X: The memories or the lack of memories?

Waitress: Here’s the egg wrap for you.

X: Thank you.

I: At the end of your life you’re just going to be a collection of all the experiences you have, whether positive or negative. Unless you have Alzheimer’s.

X: Which, you know, might be part of the question of Is the Man Who is Tall Happy? It might be. I don’t know because I haven’t seen it. Obviously not about Alzheimer’s, but…

X: Tautou is good, but she’s also a very charismatic actress. She is good in Amelie, even.

I: Even? Amelie is a great movie.

X: Right, but she’s so charming she can be flat, she can be a flatly-written character without being a flat actress. This guy, I’m pretty sure he’s the star…

I: That would be a good name for a band. Flat actress.

X: I’m pretty sure he was the star of Populaire, the French typing movie.

I: Did you see Populaire?

X: No, but I saw the trailer.

X: So, I also feel like, correct me if I’m wrong…

I: The recently deceased Charlie’s Angel marries the most famous archaeologist of the 20th century. What’s her name?

X: I don’t know. Why are we doing a quiz show?

I: Farrah Leakey-Fawcett.

X: I just didn’t like this movie at all. I really didn’t. And you like the movie?

I: I was sitting there thinking, “Oh, I have to not like it in order to have a proper dialogue.” And then it turns out you don’t like it anyway.

X: But at the end of the day did you like the movie? No.

I: I’d give it a thumbs up.

X: I would give this a “would not smash, at all.”

I: I’d give this a thumbs-middle.

X: But you’d give the beginning a big thumbs up?

I: Until the flower in the lung.

X: I would give the beginning a thumbs down. And the end a thumbs down. In hindsight, I would give the end a bigger thumbs down than the beginning but while watching it I would also give the beginning a thumbs down, would not smash.

X: Fellini used to make movies that were very imaginative but had this total sense of real human beings in those situations. Terry Gilliam did too, on a good day. Brazil is a really good example of that. They also had a sense of imaginative people in very real situations, like Baron Munchausen or Nights of Cabiria, which is also not what this was. But in both setups they played the real off the imaginary, which isn’t what this was at all.

I: That’s what this was to me.

X: Real? If you think those characters were real you’re dead wrong.

I: No, but the world felt very real. I think using a somewhat muted palette, even in a very colorful world, and relying heavily on handheld camera allowed me to buy that these were real people living in this world. It felt complete.

X: Ok, that may be true, but if it is then they’re disturbingly shallow human beings. And even Fellini’s disturbingly shallow human beings had a lot of heart.

I: Yeah. You know what this really was like, especially the last half? Synecdoche, New York.

X: Yeah but Synecdoche was so good.

I: I hate Synecdoche. That’s one of my least favorite movies that I’ve ever seen. It’s honestly on my bottom list.

X: I’d have to rewatch it.