Chocolate-lined shortbread cones filled with almond pastry cream

Almond cone cookies with almond pastry cream

Almond cone cookies with almond pastry cream

My second feature was about a girl who needs glasses and (spoiler alert) she gets glasses. Yes, it’s an edge-of-your-seat thriller. I can’t imagine why it was never picked up for distribution! Of course it was about more than that. It was about the way girls are seen, about accepting the power to see. It was about the discomfort and joy of growing up. It was about eccentricity and art and sex and advertising and myth. Yeah. When I was dreaming it up, I spoke to the cinematographer about Godard’s Masculin Feminine, because I loved it, and I wanted my film to look like that and to feel like that. Godard’s film seemed so revolutionary, such a new way of looking at the characters and actors, so honest and self-aware. “Yeah,” said the cinematographer, “But Godard really just put the babes up on the screen.” And of course he was right. The women in Masculin Feminine are gorgeous and fairly stupid, as Godard relentlessly drills home in one uncomfortable interview after another. Of course, this is Godard, so it’s impossible to say if he sees the girls in a certain way, or he’s showing us that we do, or if it’s all the point of view of his conflicted and lovelorn hero. I’ve been thinking about Masculin Feminine so much lately. So much of our lives in America today reminds me of this oddly prescient film, made in Paris forty-seven years ago. The film tells the story of Paul, a moody would-be philosopher just out of the army, played by Jean-Pierre Leaud, and Madeleine, a model who wants to be a singer, played by model-turned-singer Chantal Goya. More than that, it’s about the culture of youth, the sincere, foolish, self-absorbed search for meaning and identity. Godard, who was thirty-five when the film was shot, approaches the subject as an outsider, a documentarian, at once fascinated, amused, and dismayed by all that he sees. The film shows a clash between passionate revolutionary spirit, actual world events, day-to-day realities and celebrity pop culture. The characters are famously described as the children of Marx and Coca Cola. The dialogue is a manic combination of poetry, pop songs and advertising slogans. The world is full of violence, from the first scene, everywhere the kids go random strangers around them are shot or stabbed (and I doubt 1960s Paris was like that, but if you read the news it often feels as though 21st century America is). The intertitles shoot onto the screen with the sound of gunshots, the very words are violent and powerful. And the film is full of words, and the words are muddled and beautiful. Paul is searching for some way to understand the world and his place in it, some way to describe it that he can hold onto, but he realizes as he speaks that this isn’t possible. The world is changing as he watches, he himself changes every moment, and though he’s an insufferably pretentious poser at times, there’s something endearing about his struggle. He decides that to be honest is to act as though time didn’t exist, and it’s strangely discombobulating to hear him say this in the context of a movie about youth and time passing, to think about Leaud, the actor, as we’ve seen him grow and age on film, to think about how little has changed–we’re still at war, we still reward shallowness over talent, we’re still constantly bombarded by a world for sale. Amidst all the chaos of words and gunshots and advertising jingles, Godard shows us quiet moments of connection and poetry, fleeting but hopeful. Godard has created an eccentric messy portrait of the world around him, it’s complicated, discouraging and ambiguous, but in capturing it he has made it beautiful.

French cone cookie molds

French cone cookie molds

I mentioned last week that we met a nice French couple at the flea market, and that they had a veritable treasure trove of old French pots and pans and other cooking devices. Including these little metal cones. They’re not for bowling, as the boys surmised, but for making cone-shaped cookies. I couldn’t find a recipe, so I made one up! I made a sort of almond shortbread, and then I melted some chocolate and spread that inside and let it set. And then I made an almond pastry cream to fill the cones. These were really good! The pastry cream was a little thinner than I intended, but once chilled it firmed up quite nicely. If you don’t have little metal cones, you could make fan shaped cookies, dip them in chocolate, and serve them alongside the pastry cream.pastry-cones

Here’s Chantal Goya with Tu M’as Trop Menti
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