sarko for supper: the dinner game

Nicolas Sarkozy and the Dinner Games. Though in some respects Sarkozy does recall Louis de Funes and the comic posturing, the ideal context in which to place the French leader would be Francois Weber’s Le Diner des Cons. Sarkozy is such an exasperating figure and clash of contradictions that he likely possesses the rare talent to play both central roles in the film. That of the jackass of the week invitee and the arshole loser of a bourgeoise.That is, Sarkozy is not quite as smart as he would smugly like us to believe, and not quite as ridiculous as the government bureaucrat in the movie. But with Sarko, you never know…

---PARIS (Reuters) - In trademark showman style, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has unveiled a slew of proposals aimed at driving panic-sellers away from the euro zone, but some look poorly thought through or even unviable....As markets slammed the revived idea of taxing financial transactions and analysts forecast a long and difficult road to harmonizing taxes or budget rules, there was a sense that Sarkozy's love of headline-grabbing may have run ahead of examining the feasibility of, and support for, some of the proposals....Read More: image:

In the film, the lead Pierre Brochant (Thierry Lhermitte) is a jaded and arrogant publishing executive who tries to shake the boredom from his wealthempty existence  by participating in “idiot dinners” hosted by his friends. Its the art of the narcissistic insult. In these evenings,  each attendee is required to bring a fresh guest , a victim who will incarnate some form of less than flattering personality traits, and who are physically less “chic and swell” than the organizers.

The oblivious guests, the selected “idiot” does not comprehend they are the source of the private joke  of a private joke, and feel kind of honored to be invited by the upper strata. The participants seem to cruelly enjoy hunting this type of prey and playing the alpha male on easy targets. So, each tries to outdo the other by finding increasingly vulnerable and fragile individuals. Although the film is comedic, one can see that pushed further the scenario could wander into some dark places.  One day, Pierre meets François Pignon played by Jacques Villeret,a civil servant working for the “fisc” in the tax evasion department.  His pastime is  constructing  models of known landmarks with matchsticks that are quite complex. It’s kind of sad really to see this Eleanor Rigby figure trying to pass through his existence as best he can and suffer as little as possible . In fact, his tormenters are the jackasses who flaunt all the vulgarities in the complete inventory of white male privilege. In François, Pierre has faith he has found the perfect idiot for the next dinner. As bad luck would have it, on the night of the dinner, Pierre throws out his back and is unable to attend.

---For Franz-Oliver Giesbert - who edits Le Point news magazine and is one of the most distinguished observers of the French political scene - the Italian singer-cum-model is the best thing that ever happened to the president. “ Carla definitely pushed him at the start, but then she took the stabilisers off the bike, and now I think Sarkozy is quite happy pedalling by himself” Not only has she "taught him good manners" and generally "calmed him down", she has also opened his eyes to culture. Nowadays, the presidential couple apparently spend their evenings watching films and reading. Where the old Sarkozy once boasted that his favourite film was Saving Private Ryan, today he can discourse at length on the Danish classic film director Carl Theodor Dreyer or the German Ernst Lubitsch....Read More: image:

Unfortunately, the  newfound and disposable friend,  insists on staying around to help  him, which turns into a series  disasters which leave Pierre’s comfortable life in tatters. Call it the idiot’s revenge. So, Sarkozy can play both roles; the jerky, ignorant and selfish person with a relish for the low political blow, marked by an absence of any compassion and caring. But he is also the perfect idiot who can arouse some sympathy by a natural awkwardness, an inflated and transparent sense of self, and perhaps a hint of the inept.

---Pierre Brochant doesn’t burn down his bosses house and completely change his life through generic melodramatic means. He stops and realises that he’s not a particularly nice man, and it hurts. He doesn’t turn Scrooge and start throwing money at people and being overly jovial, he just stops and take stock of himself and you can tell that it will hopefully have a profound effect on his future. No more is needed, all of this can be told by a look in his eyes and that is what makes the film so great.--- Read More: image:

Vebers film is a play on Moliere’s seventeenth-century tradition of the fable on how humans treat each other , though its hard to match Moliere’s acute depth of the tragic. As Moliere says in the Misanthrope: I will fly from an abyss where vice is triumphant; and seek out some small secluded nook on earth;where one may enjoy the freedom of being an honest man.And Veber has Marlène say in Dinner:I am going to go back to India. Personally, I can’t live here anymore; the people are too nasty. Do you see what I’m saying? There are similarities. Finally, perhaps humans shouldn’t improve themselves — what then would playwrights write about? Read More:

---Timothy Carlson:The historians’ starting point is the irony of soft-focus commemorations of "May 68" serving as a backdrop to the beginning of the dismantlement of what many once thought to be significant steps toward a more just society. But a hyperactive president, daily announcements of deconstructing "reforms", noisy coverage by a complicit media of all the glitz and gaffes of the person in power, Socialist Party impotence as political discourse is dragged to the right and it finds itself in an indefensible center, all conspire further to wear down what social resistance is left, paving the way for what our two historians see as the "new contract between society, State, and capital". All the collateral damage occasioned by Sarkozy’s thrashings about is in fact useful; the new contract seeks a new setting, and it doesn’t really matter when a building is pulled down whether the architect was on the left or the right. Is the new regime in France constituted largely by brash acts of mayhem? Undoubtedly. Does that mean it is all sound and fury, going nowhere and serving no purpose nor interest? This is far less sure.---Read More: image:


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