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2nd Major 'Repair of the Week'

photo: resto saint merri

A restaurant near the Centre Pompidou.

Movie of the Week

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 22. March 2004:– This page two of this week's Café column might be considered a one–time bonus, or a relief from reading all of the usual fluff that clutters a normal Café page. In either case, it is not intended to become a regular feature unless the primary Café page is dropped entirely.

2nd Major 'Repair of the Week'

As regular readers may recall, the acquisition of a second Kazoo was mentioned here recently with some fanfare. But it turned out that its membrane was broken, which explained its ultra–fair price of 1€.

A reader and Café Metropole Club member wrote from Texas to suggest replacing the defective membrane with wax cooking paper. I would have never though of this, even though I have some wax paper here for some other reason.

But I am not afraid of making repairs at home so long as they do not require special tools or any skill. If you have a Kazoo that needs repairing you should note the following carefully.

First, unscrew the roundy thing on top. This should reveal a washer–thing that holds the membrane. If it isphoto: cinema st germain sandwiched inside washer layers, use something like a breadknife to pry the layers apart. Do it carefully – you are going to need the washer again and they don't grow on bushes.

The film 'Triple Agent' opened in Paris last Wednesday.

Then take some small scissors and try to cut out small circles the same size as the defective one. My new Kazoo's original membrane seemed to be made of plastic shopping bag material, so this was tried first as a replacement.

The same procedure was tried with wax paper, and with some tissue wrapping paper I found lying around here. All three of the cut–out membranes were slipped between washer sections, screwed into place and then tested for musical quality.

Don't ask me why, but the plastic shopping bag material seemed to give the richest timbre, most Kazoo–like sound. These shopping bags are thin plastic, in a variety of designer colors, and can be had for nothing if you buy some fruit or chive shoots from the fruit and veg stand in the Rue Daguerre, directly across from the fish place.

Obviously, if your musical inclinations are serious, you will want to try other membrane materials – such as burlap, bits of fabric salvaged from old teddybears, and other common household items, as unlikely as some may seem.

Movie of the Week

Any movie can get this award because the last one mentioned here was Agnés Varda's 'Daguerréotypes,' which some of us saw on a dreary Sunday late last October. None of us were in the movie, but it was fine – being about a Rue Daguerre that has pretty much disappeared since the film was made in 1975.

This being behind–the–times has not held any neo–Daguerréotypistas back. Last year Dimitri was fitted for costumes and spent some time being an extra in Eric Rohmer's new film, 'Triple Agent.'

This had its debut in Paris last Wednesday. It may have debuted earlier in Berlin – so apt! – butphoto: cine ticket, triple agent Berlin critics only gave it two stars, while the French at the festival heaped four stars on it. Sadly, it won no 'Bears.'

But as the Daguerréotypistas gathered in the Café Bonaparte late in the afternoon across from the Saint–Germain church, our main concern was to see Dimitri in the new film and not see him lying on the cutting–room floor.

Dimitri even wore his White Russian lapel–badge – a souvenir from his film costume. In case of a worst–case cutting–room floor scenario.

Luckily, debut or no, the cinema 'Le Saint–Germain–des–Prés,' has reduced prices for the handicapped, the unemployed, the elevated–aged and children under 12. Dimitri's 'Triple Agent' film actor reduced–rate card did him no good. Fitting all categories except the one for kids, we got in for 6€ each, because it is the only price on Wednesdays.

"I want to sit in the centre of the third row," Dimitri said. On entering the cinema's 'salle,' we had a choice of the centre seats of about 25 rows, so we sat in the third one for one hour and 55 minutes. The seats were comfortable.

Well–known director Eric Rohmer's new film 'Triple Agent' is described as a spy 'thriller.' If you are a spy you are not supposed to tell anyone, and if you are a triple agent, you are not supposed to tell anyone and especially not your wife.

In a film that had few exterior shots and no exciting chases, gas taker explosions or shoot–outs, with a wordy script that dictated fibbing to everybody, there were a lot of close–ups. These were relieved occasionally by real newsreel sequences shot in Europe from 1936 to 1939.

We were never shown Fiodor, played by Serge Renko, being a spy, triple or otherwise. In true 'spy' fashion, all spying happened off–screen.

Fiodor was a White Russian who had emigrated to Paris, and his wife, played by Katerina Didaskalou, was supposed to be Greek. She sympathized with their bourgeois neighbors, who were Communist sympathizers. She didn't tell them her husband was a clever triple agent because she didn't know.

It was, in 1936, the time of the 'Front Populaire' in France – Club Med holidays for all! – thephoto: waiting in line, pompidou time of the Spanish Civil War, and the time of Hitler. By the film's end in 1939, there was the Germano–Soviet pact, so the whole deck of spy cards got scrambled, as it did in real life.

Art fans waiting patiently to see the Joan Miró exhibition at Beaubourg.

It was not the time of the White Russians. So who was Fiodor working for, really? If nothing was being shown but dialogues in close–up, we had only Fiodor's fibs to go by. What could we contrast them with? Finally, Fiodor merely seemed like a big fibber, and the movie's viewers learned no more than his wife.

The good news is that Dimitri is in the film, and in two scenes manages to be a major background figure. He doesn't say anything, but he used two different gestures to great theatrical effect. The ballroom scene with the dancing was cut, so we didn't see Dimitri as a dancing White Russian.

Former theatrical producer and full–time movie viewer, Uncle Den–Den, gave Dimitri great praise for his key rôle in the film. After the movie, we all went around the corner to the no–star Petit Saint–Benoît where we had meat and potatoes in a Quartier Latin setting of antique chaos.

According to 'Pariscope,' the film's story is based on the real Toukhatchevski affair, which remains as mysterious as the film's version of it. Le Parisien's preview gave 'Triple Agent' three stars. The film opened in the Paris area in 13 cinemas, and sold 345 tickets on Wednesday, six of them to Daguerréotypistas.

As poster critic for Metropole Paris, I give the poster for 'Triple Agent' the maximum four stars. It's the best I've seen in weeks – no, months! It'll be a classic. Stylish enough so that you'll think it is for a movie made in 1936, not 2004. If you can find one for 6€, snap it up.

PhotoFactory of the Week

While walking aimlessly around last –photo: photofactory what day was that? It hardly matters. In the Rue du Renard I passed a shop window full of big photo prints, and one had a sign on it saying don't take a photo of it. Inside the Photofactory shop it became clear that the photo prints were for sale, and I could buy one instead of photographing it.

I would do this because the photos are real prints, real big, in real black and white, and many of them are of Paris. Gilles Dubourg, the manager of the 'showroom,' told me that the shop owns the negatives and makes the prints. As such, it is not the only shop in Paris selling photo prints, but one of the few with its own archive.

For example, its 'Cafés, Brasseries – Restaurants' selection has many examples of Paris in another time, before all the good corners were taken over by clothing emporiums. Even if you have nothing particular in mind, the 'showroom' is like an interesting gallery and is worth a browse. At 21. Rue du Renard, Paris 4. Métro: Hôtel de Ville.
signature, regards, ric

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