In Jean-Luc Godard’s Film Socialisme, French is translated into “Navajo” English subtitles, in which bare concepts stand in for verbal syntax. It made me wish my French were better. Anne-James Chaton’s Événements 09, by looping and splicing spoken French headlines, does a similar thing. Except I’m glad to not completely understand it, as the foreignness keeps banality at bay momentarily. But banal it eventually becomes, especially by the final third, when the magician reveals his tricks – i.e. his samples pre-adulteration. As the title indicates, the headlines are vintage 2009, so Obama, Tehren, and Michael Jackson figure highly. Chaton’s canny chopping makes an ersatz beatbox of his baritone, which is hard not to admire, but it gets numbing real fast; Steve Reich he ain’t. The mercilessly overprinted headline “the King of Pop is dead” is the only English, and when cut up, it becomes “pop is dead.” See what he did there?
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