Wes Anderson’s ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ Review

Exercise: write a 800-word review of an art piece or of an exhibit of your choice. March 12th, 2018.

‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ is the quintessence of the aesthetically pleasing. Its candy colors, its sumptuous scenery, its matching soundtrack, and its precise camera movements — sometimes static, sometimes following the characters around — won Wes Anderson’s film many awards in 2015, including the Oscars for the best achievement for costume design, the best achievement in music and hairstyling, the best achievement in music, and the best achievement in production design.

The Grand Budapest Hotel’s beauty flows from Wes Anderson’s capacity to mix contradictory elements. Though kitsch, the sceneries of the film are incredibly elegant. Though sad, Zero’s story manages to make us laugh at absurd scenes, like the one when M. Gustave runs away from the police officers who came to arrest him at his hotel, or the chase between Jopling and the duo Gustave-Zero.

The movie transports us to 1985, in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka, where a once-majestic hotel overlooks the heights of European mountains. The story sets with the owner of the hotel, an elderly Zero Mustafa, (F. Murray Abraham) telling his story and the one of the hotel to a young author (Jude Law), who recounts the story in a voice-over. It is only then that the real story of the Grand Budapest Hotel begins.

The story takes place in the marvelous hotel between the 1930s and the 1960s, and revolves around the one person Zero considers his mentor: M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), and Zero’s soulmate, Agatha (Saoirse Ronan). Back then, a young Zero (Tony Revolori) was trained by Gustave — “the original concierge of the hotel” — to be a lobby boy at the Grand Budapest Hotel, after immigrating from the fictional city of Aq Salim al-Jabat because of the war. There, Zero meets Agatha, a baker with a birthmark in the shape of Mexico on the right cheek, who works for Mendl’s.

Through flashbacks, we follow the adventures of the trio over three decades, within symmetrical, poetic and mysterious sequences for which Wes Anderson alone seems to possess the secret.

The iconic hotel is well-known for its exceptional services, which earn M. Gustave a great success with his guests, including the 84-year-old Madame D. (Tilda Swinton). However, a month after having spent the night with the owner, Madame D. passes away, and bequeaths her lover a precious legacy: the painting Boy with Apple, which infuriates her family, especially her son Dmitri (Adrien Brody).

Then ensues a fierce competition between the two enemies.

Soon after Madame D.’s death, the police accuse Gustave of the murder. The scene of Gustave and the other inmates escaping the prison thanks to Zero and Agatha is one of the most hilarious scenes of the movie.

At this point, the previous pink tones are replaced by blue and beige tones, and the plans become very wide, letting us see the prisoners escape the prison; and Gustave and Zero flee the scene. Soon after the jailbreak, dialogue is minimized, and the scene is narrated in music, like in a silent movie.

On their way to meet Madame D.’s butler Serge, (Mathieu Amalric) — the only person who is able to provide Gustave an alibi for Madame D.’s death — the pair are chased by J. G. Jopling (Willem Dafoe), Dmitri’s ally. Meanwhile, Dmitri himself follows Agatha around, after having spotted her walking around with the precious frame.

With his own style, Wes Anderson stages dramatic and violent events, such as murders and arrests, in such a formal and elegant way that it becomes humorous. Every shot is scrupulously filmed; every music cue matches the actions and the emotions, and every color is precisely picked. The colors are bright and pink when Zero talks about the hotel and M. Gustave; they suddenly fade and contain blue undertones when he counts Gustave’s stay in prison and the escape. The only black-and-white-shot is the last one of Gustave, Zero and Agatha together.

The characters’ personalities are well represented by a perfectly chosen cast. Ralph Fiennes, far from his role of Harry Potter’s villain Voldemort, makes us love M. Gustave, a caring man, despite his very strict management of the Grand Budapest Hotel, who would do — and who did — anything to protect those he loves. With his famous eyebrows’ shape, Adrien Brody manages to give the character of Dmitri a creepy look that makes us fear him. Ten years after hanging up his costume for Osborn in Spider-Man 2, Willem Dafoe perfectly portrays another villain. Finally, Tony Revolori and Saoirse Ronan offer such innocent portrayals of the young Zero and Agatha that we can’t help but fall in love with their romantic story.

For all these reasons, the movie ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ appears as majestic as the hotel of the same name.


A Teacher Opens Up About Trump’s Project of Arming Teachers in Schools

Exercise: write down 10-question Q&A. March 9th, 2018.

Nancy Kaufman has been teaching English literature in high school for 20 years. She taught in different areas of Los Angeles, some known to be more difficult than others.

Following the attack in a high school in Parkland, Florida, American people — including students who were in school when the shooting happened, and parents of high schoolers who died in the attack — asked for more gun control.

At the same time, President Trump suggested to “conceal guns to gun-adept teachers with military training experience.”

Kaufman agreed to share her opinion on this measure, based on her experience as a teacher and her strong knowledge of American history.

What do you think of Donald Trump’s idea to let “trained” teachers carry guns at school to defend themselves from potential attacks?

It is a disaster ready to happen… I think it would be very dangerous to have teachers carry guns in schools. At first, Trump evoked “teachers” in general, but later on, he said it would concern teachers with military or special training experience, who represent a very small percentage. It would also be voluntary, not every trained teacher would have one. But still. Their guns could be used against them if someone found it, like a student or a parent, for example. And what if the teacher is crazy or angry? It could be very dangerous.

Have you personally ever felt in danger at school because of the recurrent attacks in American schools?

No, never. I used to teach in a high school in South Central. It is a more difficult area than Santa Monica [where she teaches now], but I never felt at risk, even if, around 2006, we had an incident that required lock down issues. I never felt endangered. Where I teach now, there is no security, but I remember, back to this high school, there were metal detectors.

Would atmosphere in schools be any different, knowing that teachers can have a gun and start shooting at any moment?

Yes. We would never see the gun; it wouldn’t be exposed, but I think we should keep on banning them. This is not a teacher’s job to do that. This is not the job of educators. I mean, we would never arm doctors in hospitals!

Considering schools are gun-free zones, if teachers started carrying guns, it could mark the beginning of the end of gun-free zones. How do you feel about a country where there would be no gun-free zones?

It would be terrible. I would never defend a law that authorizes or asks teachers to have guns in schools, it’s just not academic. It represents a real risk. Recently, there was this story in the news. A child who went to junior school had a gun in her bag, and somehow, it went off. We don’t want things like that to happen.

Lately, I’ve been talking to a cardio-thoracic surgeon. She told me that, “once an AR’s bullet goes into your body, it starts shattering your organs. When you do an x-ray of an organ that has been shot, it looks like a melon that had been hammered.” When you see the damages an AR-15 can do, which was the type of guns the shooter in Las Vegas and in many other attacks used, there is no way a handgun would keep you safe against that. Arming teachers would not allow them to defend themselves from assault weapons.

What other alternatives would you suggest to stop gun shootings in the United States?

More security, that’s what we need.

Like in airports, for example?

Yes, or like in court, for example. We should install metal detectors that would detect weapons in a bag, as well as cameras. We had metal detectors in the high school I worked in in South Central, and every child had to pass through it every day. That’s what we need.

Donald Trump has also promoted the idea of increasing the age limit of those who can purchase semi-automatic rifles from age 18 to age 21. Do you think postponing gun-possession by three years will change anything?

It might stop younger people, yes. We should definitely raise the age limit, but it won’t change anything for those who are over 21. The shooter in Las Vegas, the one in Orlando, etc., they were all over 21.

What would be more helpful would be to install more metal detectors, to ban military-style weapons like the AR-15, and to do background checks. For example, if someone had been reported for posting a suspicious message on social media in the past, more attention should be brought to them, and they could be taken care of in mental health facilities, for example.

I remember something that happened in a school I used to work in. A girl in my class had written a disturbing paper about a girl killing people. I reported it to the counselor. He didn’t do anything about it. I’m not going to tell you the entire story but, later, this same girl stabbed a pregnant girl to death in Venice… That shouldn’t have happened.

You mentioned that there should be more background checks. The shooter in Florida, as well as the man who shot more than a dozen people in a church in Texas, about six months ago, were both declared mentally ill. But somehow, they were both able to buy a gun. Donald Trump also proposed to prevent mentally ill people from buying guns in the future. Do you think this would reduce the amount of shootings in the U.S.?

Yes, I agree with that. Because, when you think about it, none of these people violated the Second Amendment, they had a right to possess a gun. So it should be required to do background checks. It will be hard, because the NRA is attached to the Second Amendment, but Donald Trump doesn’t necessarily always agree with everything they think…

You just mentioned the Second Amendment. Many people have been saying for years that the Second Amendment, which was written in the Constitution in 1791, should be repealed. What’s your opinion on that?

Well, there’s also an article of the Declaration of Independence that states that “when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariable the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” If the government cannot keep us safe, we should defend ourselves against it.

I’m personally not proposing to repeal the Second Amendment; it is part of the Constitution, but if I had the power to go back in time and rewrite it right now, I would get rid of it. The fact that anybody can have a gun frightens me, not only as a teacher, but as a citizen.

Finally, Australia, which does not allow guns, is the developed country that has one the lowest rate of homicides by firearm (with 1.4 homicide per 1 million people in 2012). Meanwhile, the U.S. have a rate over 20 times higher. How could the U.S. reach a rate as low as Australia’s?

It would be very difficult. I don’t think we should purge the Second Amendment to reach that point, but more background checks, and gun control, would lower the rates. It should be more difficult to buy a gun. I mean, do people really think that because they have a gun, they can be protected? The people who perpetrate the attacks, what do they really want a gun for? To kill. To me, guns and weapons in general should be used by citizens for sports only. It shouldn’t be used to kill animals, or humans. Sports should be the only reason. And we certainly shouldn’t be allowed to buy guns such as AR-15. But the NRA has an obsession with guns. I don’t really understand where they’re coming from.

For reasons like that, I don’t think we’re ever going to get rid of guns at 100%. But I’m sure neither my colleagues or me will ever carry a gun at school.

Sam Fernandez On His Experience As a Breaking News Reporter

Exercise: transcribe the previous class discussion with a guest speaker, under the form of a Q&A (7 questions minimum). February 14th, 2018.

Sam Fernandez* is a breaking news reporter for Buzzfeed News. He started his career as an intern about 12 years ago, and has been covering events such as crimes, law enforcements, and fires ever since. For over a decade, he built experience talking to police officers, firefighters and victims for different types of tragedies, going from flooding to kidnapping, as well as accidents. He accepted to share his experience.

Sam, you’ve been a reporter for breaking news, notably related to law enforcements, fires, crimes or tragedies stories, for 12 years now. What do you think make your stories unique?

Well, it depends. Once you get to a certain size, like national coverage for example, it becomes hard to differentiate your story from other reporters’ stories because it gets a lot of coverage.
Some reporters will choose an easy way to get a story. They will go to press conferences, for example, because they need a story. But all the reporters in the room will end up with the same stories since they will all get the same information. I try to avoid that.
I would say that, most of the time, if you really try, you will find a way to strike out.

You mentioned how some stories get a lot of coverage. How do you handle the competition between journalists to have the first interview?

There are different ways, it depends on the topic. It is different for me now because I cover national issues, but before, I had a scanner and my phone on my desk, and whenever there was a newsworthy event, I tried to keep up and to go there and talk to people.
When you start gaining people’s trust by showing them what you do, they just call you to say “Something happened.” People give you tips. You just have to use these tips.

Once you heard something happened and you are about to cover the event, how do you prepare to interview people?

First, I make sure I know what the actual disaster is. I make some research, to make sure I know what I’m talking about. Then, I write down some quick facts to remember, such as names, dates, etc. on my notebook.
Too often, some reporters show up unprepared. If there is an accident, they go to interview the family of a victim, but don’t know the name of the victim, for example. Not only do they sound unprepared, but it is also disrespectful for the family. So I make sure it doesn’t happen to me.

In a case of a crime, when you approach the scene, how do you pick who you interview?

I hate it! [laugh] They might yell at me… So I try to see if there is any better time to talk to them. When family members are hugging each other, I don’t want to interrupt, to kill the moment. I try to approach them later, when they are a little bit calmer.
Usually, I try to think about any way to get an introduction first. I approach a friend or a neighbor who is nearby, and ask questions like “Is there a parent around?” and it usually breaks the ice.
Then, when comes the moment of the first approach, I never bring my camera, my recorder or my notebook with me. I make sure to be human, and to respect people. If they don’t want to talk to me at this moment, I just tell them “I’ll be over there if you want to talk” or I hand them my card. I give them space.

And how do people usually react when you ask them for an interview?

To this day, I am still impressed by how much people are willing to talk, even in those kinds of situations [crimes, disasters]. People want to talk about it, and, as a reporter, it is important to give them this opportunity.

When people talk about a dramatic events and get personal, how do you not get emotionally involved? 

I try not to but it happened. Once, at the beginning of my career, I cried at a funeral I was covering. The thing in interviews like that is to only do what you feel like doing. If you feel like hugging the person you are interviewing, that’s okay. But don’t do it if you don’t feel comfortable doing it, people will feel you’re uncomfortable.
Keep in mind that your objectivity can be compromised when you get emotionally involved, but comforting victims is not necessarily a bad thing.

Finally, I can imagine that some people do hate the media, and sometimes think journalists can neglect the victims and their families. What have you learnt from your own experience, covering these events?

I have learnt something from every experience, but I would say my biggest lesson was not to assume anything. You can always get surprised by the outcome of a story.
For example, I once covered this story about a woman missing. It was a very slow news day, so I went to cover the news. I tried to talk to the neighbors, and they gave me very basic information. And just when I was about to leave, I went to talk to a woman who was taking her trash out. Her husband and her told me it was a homicide. A couple weeks later, we learnt that a couple had killed her, taken all of her papers, and left the state.
You can always get surprised.


*name has been changed

Belgian lawyer Sven Mary, who is defending Salah Abdeslam, leaves the courtroom on the second day of the trial of his client in Brussels, Belgium. © REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Belgium To Judge Only Survivor Criminal of Paris Attacks

Exercise: write a news story on a topic of your choosing [I chose this topic because the trials were breaking news at the time, and this was not something we heard about a lot in America]. February 12th, 2018.

Between 2015 and 2016, France and Belgium were the targets of multiple terrorist attacks in which 250 people were killed, and over 1,200 were injured.

Three years after the first attack, Belgium is starting the trial of Salah Abdeslam, the only terrorist who survived the Paris attacks that took place on November 13th, 2015.

On February 6th, 2018, Abdeslam was judged in Brussels for his implication in the logistics of the Brussels attacks. He refused to talk nor to answer questions during the entire trial, — like he’s been doing since his arrest two years ago, — stating that his “silence was [his] defense,” according to Le Parisien. He accused French and Belgian justices of treating Muslims in “the worst way.”

Abdeslam chose not to appear before the jury on the second day of his trial.

Arrested along with Sofien Ayari, who is being tried at the same time, Abdeslam is facing up to 20 years in jail for “attempting murders” on Belgian police officers during their capture.

On March 18th, 2016, after four months being on the loose, Abdeslam was captured in Brussels, Belgium, where he had been hiding in a squat since the day following the attacks. He used this time to help planning more attacks, but was arrested by the police before he could take part. His capture ultimately led to terrorists exploding bombs at Brussel’s airport and in one of the city’s subway stations, four days later.

A few days prior to Abdeslam’s trial, three suspected accomplices of the Paris attacks were also judged. Their trial lasted over two weeks, and were highly commented in the French press.

Jawad Bendaoud, who was suspected of providing lodging to two of the attackers during the few days prior to the attack, was found not guilty. Judge Isabelle Prévost-Desprez said the evidence was “insufficient to prove [his] guilt.” He will be released from jail, where he was held since the attacks.

Mohamed Soumah, who was accused of acting as an intermediary between Bendaoud and the terrorists, received a five-year jail sentence. Youssef Ait-Boulahcen, who was accused of “non-denunciation of a terrorist crime,” was sentenced to up to six years in jail. Both had denied the charges.

Victims of the attacks, and French and Belgian citizens, have been complaining of the “short” sentences, considering the many victims of the attacks, and the trauma they left after the events.

Justin Timberlake Performing At The Super Bowl Did Not Serve The Feminist Cause

Exercise: write an 800-word opinionated commentary on a topic of your choosing [I chose the Super Bowl’s half-time show because it was the weekend of the Super Bowl.] February 5th, 2018.


Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake at the half-time show of the Super Bowl, in 2004. © Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

This year, Justin Timberlake has been chosen to ensure the famous half-time show of the 52nd Super Bowl, opposing the New England Patriots to the Philadelphia Eagles, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

It was the pop star’s second half-time show, fourteen years after his first performance, along with Janet Jackson, which is remembered for a “wardrobe malfunction” that let millions of Americans — and part of the world — see Jackson’s nipple.

If Timberlake’s fans were happy about him performing at the event again, feminists and Jackson’s fans were definitely not as satisfied… The morning before the show, Jackson posted a message on Twitter in which she confirmed she was not going to perform with Timberlake on Sunday — and we can understand why.

Fourteen years ago, when Timberlake accidentally ripped Jackson’s outfit and revealed her nipple on national live television, during the most watched television program of the year, Jackson had to take the blame. People accused the pop star, known for her provocative songs, of having staged the stunt. Meanwhile, Timberlake, who was the one who uncovered Jackson’s breast, just had to apologize for the “wardrobe malfunction” to be left alone.

Feminists felt that Timberlake being invited back to perform at this year’s half-time show, while Jackson was never invited again since the stunt, was unfair. And they are right to think so.

Jackson’s career has never faded since she started singing in the early 70’s. The youngest of ten talented children created hit after hit, and kept on gaining popularity, until she performed at the 38th Super Bowl, in 2004.

If the controversy threatened Jackson’s career, keeping her away from award shows for a while, it had the opposite effect on Timberlake. The solo pop star, who had just left his boys band, N Sync, kept on gaining popularity. He released many albums and hits since the incident, starred in dozens of movies, and became a music producer. Today, Timberlake has become a significant pop star — one of the few who survived the early 2000’s wave of new pop artists.

In an era where feminists try to make their voices heard, and where they unit forces to face the powerful men of the music and film industries who abused them, it just doesn’t sound right.

Over the last few months, many actresses, singers and athletes finally spoke out one after another to denounce powerful abusive men such as Harvey Weinstein, Larry Nassar and Kevin Spacey. Those women fought for respect and recognition in the industry — and, more importantly, to be considered as men’s equals.

How can we expect men’s and women’s rights to be equal if, when an incident like the 2004 Super Bowl’s stunt happens, it seems like the woman — who is the only real victim in this situation— is the only one being punished?

A few months ago, as Timberlake had just been announced as this year’s Super Bowl performer, the hashtag #JusticeForJanet raised. People were denouncing the injustice Jackson was facing, as she had never been approached again for the event, despite a longer career than Timberlake’s and five Grammy awards.

However, when asked on Beats 1 Radio’s microphone’s about the relationship between the two artists, fourteen years later, Timberlake told Zane Lowe that Jackson and he “absolutely” made peace about the incident. Jackson made no comment about the statement.

On Sunday, thousands of people tweeted with the hashtag #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay to protest against Timberlake’s performance, and to pay tribute to Jackson’s career, including Chance The Rapper, actress Laverne Cox, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter. Even the music platform Spotify took part of the Jackson-appreciation movement. Yet, Justin Timberlake didn’t even think about paying tribute to her career — instead, he actually paid tribute to Prince, for the almost two-year anniversary of the death of the artist from Minneapolis.

In a context like this one, gender equity is still questionable. How much longer must women accept, and feel the consequences of actions where they have been the victims? When will they finally be treated as men’s equals, in the music and film industries as in everyday life?

One thing is certain: with this year’s half-time show, the National Football League and Justin Timberlake did not serve the feminist cause, by leaving Jackson on the bench.

Not Every Critic Is Biased Or “Fake News”

Exercise: write an 800-word editorial on the importance of media literacy to better enable news consumers to distinguish between “fake news” items, blatantly partisan and biased news sources, and mainstream news stories that still must be critically examined and analyzed rather than taken merely at face value. January 28th, 2018.

Since Donald Trump’s election and the popularization of the term “fake news,” trust in the press has been significantly eroded in the United States. If Democrats seem to trust the media more than ever before, only 19% of Republicans revealed that they have “’a fair amount’ of confidence in the press,” according to a recent Poynter Media Trust Survey.

In those circumstances, media literacy is more important than ever to help the audience distinguish “fake news” and partisan articles, from criticism and analysis in mainstream news stories.

“Fake news” should be confined to describing made up stories and rumors, such as fictional articles from satiric sources like The Onion. These stories are fake by definition, since they deliberately spread false information, most of the time from illegitimate or non-news sources.

Why, then, is the term used to describe numerous opinion or fact-based articles as well?

When Trump counselor Kellyane Conway talked about “alternative facts,” last January, she was accusing mainstream media, such as The New York Times, of misrepresenting Trump’s inauguration’s attendance. She was standing by Trump, affirming that the Capitol was crowded, when the press had published pictures of a half empty place, comparing it to Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009.

Ever since, Trump has been using and abusing the term “fake news” to refer to every news outlet publishing or airing “biased” stories that do not serve his cause. CNN, The New York Times, and other well known media organizations with great reputations worldwide were temporarily blacklisted by the President, while Fox News, which has supported him, has been praised by Trump’s administration — creating a debate about the freedom of the press and the First Amendment.

Where is the boundary between “fake news” and partisan news then?

Partisan media are more subjective. By definition, they support one specific point of view over another. Fox News and CNN are very likely to cover the same political event a different way, for example, but it does not mean that one channel is right, and that the other one is wrong. They just give more coverage to points of view that share their ownership’s, management, or audiences’ values than to competing opinions. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they lie. But they do take sides, and promote and defend their own arguments.

Today, objective journalism is rarely objective anymore. Even “neutral” media entities must choose how to cover an event. Otherwise, why would there be so many different media outlets if they all told the same stories the same way?

It seems there are almost as many media outlets, and as many journalists as there are opinions. For this reason, news consumers should not stick to only one medium or news source. They should read the same news topics from several different sources for an opportunity to see different sides of a story, and develop their own opinion. A news organization could reveal relatively important information in a story that another outlet may have missed or minimize. Reading only one point of view would be like burying your head in the sand. It is always interesting to hear refuting arguments, even if you disagree with them.

Why is it important to remind people of this? Because the media exist to inform their audiences. To tell them stories. To let people know about what is happening in the world. And critically examining or analyzing an event, such as a new law voted by the Congress, does not mean that the media brainwash or lie to their audiences.

Critics and analysts are here to compare. To show the evolution of a country — or of the world — through different period of history and different perspectives. To try to find explanations. Journalists who compare President Obama’s and President Trump’s projects regarding health insurance may be implying that one is making better decisions than the other, but they are mainly showing contrasting political views and how the country’s perspective evolves over time.

News consumers must be able to see the difference between “fake news” and opinionated news from critics and analysts. But how can they possibly do so in an era in which everybody can spread rumors through social media within seconds?

Media consumers need to be guided, and taught how to trust the press. To help with this, Facebook and Google announced, in 2016, that they would curtail “fake news” from being spread by “restricting their ability to make ad revenue,” according to FactCheck.org. This may not solve people’s trust issue in the mainstream media, but it would at least limit somewhat news consumers from reading so much false information and so easily spreading it further.

Meanwhile, the audience should keep in mind than not every critic or analyst is biased or “fake news.”

The French Entertainment Industry Is Americanizing, And French People Are Not So Happy About It

Exercise: write a story related to the Entertainment industry. December 8th, 2017.

Over the last four decades, French movies, TV shows, and music have been increasingly influenced by American references and English language. If some French musicians and directors still produce French art, most of them are turning to American-like content.

For many Americans, the idea of “French art” evokes accordionists, Edith Piaf, poetry, and black and white movies. Sorry to disappoint, but French artists have tackled those clichés a while ago, and would now rather create American-like art.  

Nowadays, French actors and directors are less likely to dream about attending the Cannes Film Festival or winning the Cesar — the equivalent of the Oscars in France — than winning at the Oscars. Some have even accomplished this dream, like Marion Cotillard, who won Best Actress for 2007’s La Vie En Rose, Jean Dujardin, who won Best Actor for 2011’s The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius, who won Best Director for 2011’s The Artist, or Thomas Langmann, who won Best Picture for 2011’s The Artist.

Since actor Maurice Chevalier became the first French person to ever be nominated at the Oscars in 1929, French people have been nominated in every possible Academy Awards category. In the first half of the 20th century, these nominations were still pretty rare, with a nomination about every 10 years in the main categories. Since 2000, however, there have been 92 Oscar nominations for French people, including four actresses in the Best Actress category —  Juliette Binoche (for 2000’s Chocolat), Cotillard (for 2007’s La Vie En Rose and 2014’s Two Days, One Night), Emmanuelle Riva (for 2012’s Amour), and Isabelle Huppert (for 2016’s Elle).

American recognition has now become the goal. Actors want to be featured in American movies — like Omar Sy in Jurassic World (2015) and X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014); Cotillard in Inception (2010) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012); or Vincent Cassel in Black Swan (2010), Ocean’s 12 (2004) and Ocean’s 13 (2007). Success in France is measured by success abroad. If you didn’t make it to Hollywood, you’re considered less successful.

When asked recently via Facebook if the French entertainment industry is slowly fading away, most French people say it is. Like Julia, 24, a journalism student who wants to specialize in cinema, a lot of French people find it “unfortunate” that French art is losing its identity. Some people, like Yoren, 23, a 3D conception and realization student, explain this by the fact that French cinema is more likely “home-art cinema,” which doesn’t seem to be accessible to everybody. French cinema tends to be either affiliated to the upper-class and having a lot of culture, or to cheesy and poor storylines, to which some people don’t identify. As Yoren said, “People tend to prefer American movies because they’re ‘cooler,’ and ‘less intellectual’ than French cinema.”

Some people also criticize the Americanization of French cinema because, for some, American cinema is all about blockbusters and profit. For English literature student Lucile, 24, “The influence is inevitable considering the place of the American cinema industry on history, and its impact on the world. The mercantile aspect compels French cinema to internationalize itself — English being the international language.”

The saddest part is that, until recently, cinema appeared to be the part of the French entertainment industry that did the best. For a while now, French people have preferred to watch American and British TV shows to French ones. A study from the European Audiovisual Observatory revealed that, in 2012, 62% of the cinema-goers in the European Union went to the movie theater to see U.S. productions. Most of them consumed American TV shows as well.

Since the launching of Netflix France in 2014, American TV shows have become more accessible to French viewers, — the country compels French TV channels to broadcast at least 40% of French productions — and a major topic of conversation.

When asked about their favorite shows, French people mostly give the same answers: Game of Thrones, Friends, The Walking Dead, Grey’s Anatomy, and other English or British shows. Older generations were already highly more interested in American shows; kids from the 60’s were crazy about Dallas, and the following generation grew up watching Baywatch. French TV shows just appeared to be bad remakes of American soap operas.

In this way, French TV shows’ situation has been even worse than the one of the cinema industry: They never actually interested French people. Lately, however, recent series from Canal + — a private French channel — like The Returned, The Bureau, and Versailles seem to have caught people’s attention, in France and abroad. For the first time, audiences are not only discussing new episodes of American popular shows, they are also showing enthusiasm for French productions. One of the reasons of these shows’ success might be that, contrary to cinema, which is denying French culture, those shows took advantage of the particularities of French culture to create content that actually applies to France. The Returned — which won Best Drama Series in the 2013’s International Emmy Awards — stuck to a classic French genre, — horror — and takes place in French villages in the mountains. The Bureau revolves around the daily life of the agents of General Directorate of External Security, who ensure France’s security, which particularly resonates in a period during which terrorism has aimed France a few times over the last two years. And if Versailles had taken place in any other place that is not as famous as King Louis XIV’s majestic castle, the show would have probably not even have caught the eyes of the audience.

However, the same thing cannot be said about the music industry. Since the loss of French legends Edith Piaf, Gainsbourg, Alain Bashung, and Johnny Hallyday, and after the dissolution of the mythic rock band Telephone in 1986 ­— they came back under the name Les Insus (short for “The Unbearables”) for a two-year tour between 2015 and 2017, before returning to their solo careers, — French music seem to have been slowly dying.

A lot of current French musicians and artists either draw inspiration from American pop artist­­s and American hip hop artists — and it sounds terrible — or sing in English. French artists have been trying to follow an American model: Make commercial music for everybody, so you can sell more and make more money. But it appears to be a disaster for those who try. American culture grew naturally with hip hop culture and pop artists, that has been their trademarks for years, and it works well — most of the time. But French culture has grown with radically different inspirations, so it just doesn’t sound right.

A lot of artists simply — and perhaps understandably — chose to sing in English to reach a larger audience. But even the former First Lady of France, Carla Bruni, who has traditionally sung in French, just launched the album French Touch, in which she covers English songs.

Today, the most successful French music artists have kept the essence of French modern music: electronic music. But unfortunately, those artists — like David Guetta, Daft Punk, or Justice — have all chosen to release tracks in English,  and most of them left the country. Since becoming successful, Guetta has been living on the Spanish island of Ibiza, where he plays most of the time. And Daft Punk — who have been refusing nominations to the Victoires de la Musique (i.e. the French Grammy Awards) — live in Los Angeles. The duo have always showed the firm intention to succeed internationally. And they barely perform in France anymore.

Talk about “the French Touch…”