Mid-week Distractions 4/19/23: Transatlantic, Majoring in French, and Over-Hyped Bakeries

Lucas Englander and Gillian Jacobs in 'Transatlantic'

Today kicks off the Rialto at 25 film retrospective at MoMA in New York, which will show a variety of films, many of them French, from to Marcel Carné’s Le Quai des brumes (1938), to Luis Buñuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972). The retrospective will kick off tonight with Jean-Luc Godard’s 1965 sci-fi film, Alphaville.

For those looking to stay inside but still get a taste of French media, take a peek at my review of the Netflix limited series Transatlantic, an international co-production with dialogue in French, English, and German.

In croissant news…

I read a fascinating article in Eater this week about why New Yorkers have become accustomed to hour-long lines and sold-out stock at the city’s most branché bakeries. It puts a human face to the $7 croissants we huff and puff about (without ever getting out of that line), and tackles the labor and price inflation for baking ingredients that keep costs high and availability low. It also dives into the fact that while bakeries benefit from media attention and popularity, they also suffer from it. “Whenever something is hyped up, it’s hard to live up to people’s expectations of a product they’ve never tried before,” says L’Appartement 4’F owner Ashley Coiffard. It’s a pertinent reminder that pastries are hard to make, and that the labor they require deserves to be fairly compensated.

Just this past weekend, my cousin came to visit me in New York, and I recommended he stop into Dominique Ansel Bakery, near the hotel where he was staying. When he asked for recommendations, I told him to get the DKA, adding, as an afterthought, “Of course, they’re famous for the cronut… but I’ve never seen one in the flesh.” He sent me a photo of his pink-frosted blackberry cronut, and I marveled that after all this time, I still associated the pastry with its absence, a sold-out sign and an empty space on the shelf. I’m categorically opposed to waiting in line for anything (except, perhaps, discount Broadway tickets), so I always figured it wasn’t even worth trying to snag one of these coveted croissant Frankensteins. I suppose my allergy to hype culture hurts no one but myself.

For more on trends gone to seed, the NYT wrote about the waning influence of the French app BeReal, which encourages authenticity through timed post notifications. It’s a concept that feels remarkably French, both snubbing airbrushed American influencer culture while playing into the capitalist app-driven system it supports.

Things I found on the internet…

Learn how to gossip like a Parisian. The New Yorker imagines what a French army knife would look like. Some aspirational 1970s French student aesthetics. And what you mind find in the chip aisle at a French grocery store.

New York Magazine makes a case for majoring in French in college, and explains why calling French a useless language to learn actually has strong racist implications.

The artist Madelline has dropped a vibey bop, “Dopamine,” as well as a French version of the track.

Catherine Rickman, Managing Editor, frenchly.us

P.S. This week and next, Caitlin will be traveling to France, so there will be no Le Weekend. But rest assured, she will be back with new stories and fascinating finds.







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