Dec 05

I’ve decided to make this post to write down the little things that happen in class that make me smile. My professors are all just the slightest bit eccentric (I would know) and I love them, I really do, and I love being in class. Weird, huh. I said this before but it’s a few things: no pressure of class participation, barely any assignments until the end of the semester, the fact that I’m so excited to understand what they’re saying, in French, and the fact that I’m genuinely interested in the topics so I feel like I’m learning something new every day whether I have assignments or not.

I’m pretty sure most of this stuff will only be funny to me… not even because it’s a “you had to be there” moment, but because I find the most random things funny. I’ll keep adding to it until the end of the semester and then I’ll have a nice little collection of bizarre, only-funny-to-me anecdotes. Oh golly gee, what fun! (By the way, please don’t think I’m making fun of anyone, especially when it comes to the English stuff. If we’re being honest what I’ve written in this post says a lot more about me than it does about any of them.)


There was that time my Hollywood Economics professor looked down at his wrist to check the time and he wasn’t wearing a watch.

There’s a platform in front of the class where his desk is, and he likes to walk around the class so he steps off and on it a lot. That time when he seemingly couldn’t decide whether he wanted to get on the platform or stay off and he almost fell backwards and kept talking like nothing happened.

That time he took off his cardigan to reveal a black t-shirt with white type, all caps: “I STILL HATE THATCHER”. (I should probably mention that this guy is 60ish.)

That day he wore a Groucho Marx T-shirt. With Groucho Marx’s face on it and everything. His website is Groucho themed too.

All the pronunciations. Wahr-ner. Para-moont. Vain shtayn. Vah-ree eh-ty. Groo-cho, for that matter.

When he wrote “Bubble” on the board but spelled it “Buble”.

That day when the guy sitting next to me asked to see my notes in the middle of class and I couldn’t tell him that my notes were, shall we say, not the greatest and also half English half French (I only do this when the prof speaks too fast for me to write in French, honest!), so I just sort of embarrassedly slid them over… and after class he was like, “Oh, you’re American!” and I laughed and he laughed and we chatted for the first time in the entire semester.

When the prof kept saying “dans scala…” and I thought to myself, Scala? What’s scala? and he kept repeating it and then I realized that he was actually saying “dans ce cas la” which means “in such a case.”

Last class of the semester, he talks to us about our final exam: “You can bring your notes. That doesn’t mean it’ll be easy, I’ll expect much more from you in that case. But bring your dictionaries, French-foreign language, French-French, bring your Bescherelles [that’s the classic grammar book], whatever… the only thing you can’t do is have a friend on Skype telling you the answers.”

That Monday we had a makeup class for the one our Korean Cinema professor had missed and I was so scared that I would miss it, but I didn’t, and he’d booked the tiniest classroom I’d ever seen (I swear it was a repurposed janitor’s closet) and only like 8 people showed up, and it took a half hour aaactually a half hour to set up the DVD, and then we just watched this sort of boring documentary about the history of a Korean production company and yet I was still happy I hadn’t missed it.

When we were watching Madame Freedom and the music over the credits was an orchestral version of “Les Feuilles Mortes”, and he pointed this out and started singing along.

Later in the film there was this sequence in a dance hall with Korean musicians playing the mambo and this scantily clad dancer comes out and does a little routine, and he got so excited about it. “Wait for this… you’ve got to see this… oh I love this… this is great… she’s great isn’t she?”

When he was reading us some stats about the Top 10 at the Korean box office for 2011 and he read “Harry Potter 2”, and someone said, “It can’t have been Harry Potter 2, that came out ages ago,” and prof looked back in the book while someone else said, “It must be Harry Potter 7 Part 2, so, the 8th film,” and the prof looked up and sort of smiled while being all “Well excuuuuse me” (the French equivalent that is) and I just smiled thinking about how we’re the Harry Potter generation and whatnot, and then he delightedly goes, “Well it makes sense, because the first Harry Potter film came out while I was still at the Cahiers 10 years ago!” Oh snap.

When my Korean Cinema professor mentioned Gangnam Style in reference to the young generation of moviegoers in Korea and proceeded to draw a really, really crude map of Seoul on the whiteboard to show us where exactly Gangnam is… He draws the Han river, the mountains to the north, the “Maison Bleu” (seems to be the Korean equivalent to the White House. Except it’s blue.), the quarter where American soldiers used to hang out which is, he says, “chaud”, and you can take the metro there and you should totally go, and now the city is expanding and you have the universities here, and in the south on the Left Bank you’ve got Gangnam which is a rather young and wealthy new neighborhood, you’ve got your Starbucks and your Louis Vuitton, and all the new movie theatres are there… and then he actually goes, “Why was I telling you this again?” and he laughs and we all laugh and move on.

When we watched this documentary about the current state of the Korean film industry and he kept pausing it to tell us that about the times he’d met the people being interviewed.

This one comes to me from a friend who has my prof for a different class. “Oh I would show you this DVD but I lent it to Wes Anderson’s wife and I can’t exactly ask for it back yet…” Oh man, he actually talks like this…

When he came into class late and went, “It’s hard, with the rain and the cold, isn’t it?”

When he came into class late and went, “I’m sorry I’m late and a little stressed, I just got back from Tel Aviv and there were missiles falling…” and of course I knew all about it and I just smiled the biggest smile, because he’d just been to Israel, how nice! and then realized that smiling in that situation was probably not the most appropriate thing to do…

How he has yet to be on time for any class ever… how he becomes a living stereotype of a professor every time he pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose…

When we learned about leitmotifs and themes in film scores in my Sound in Cinema class and our professor spent a good amount of time whistling Wagner operas and the theme from Citizen Kane.

How he comes into class with stacks of VHS tapes that he recorded himself from TV showings of films and shows us clips off them and I imagine his place is just floor to ceiling VHS tapes.

How the scene we had to analyse for my first Sound in Cinema exam was from Hitchcock’s The Birds, and we watched it 4 times and of course the effects were very cheesy, and yet after the exam a bunch of pigeons flew at me and I actually got quite scared.

How my History of Contemporary Cinema professor has to constantly silence the class of around 250 people. “Taisez-vous!” “Silence!” Again and again.

That time he actually moved one student to the front of the class to get him to stop talking to his friend. Are we in grade school?

The time this one student walked into the class an hour late and went to sit down in my row but first decided to say hi to all his friend sitting in the row behind. The prof called him out and asked him nicely to sit down, and said that he can say hi to his friend later. The guy answers back, “I just got here and you’re already being so aggressive to me!” and I just literally put my head in my hands because, really, how old are you? And the prof actually answers all calmly, “I’m not being aggressive…” I guess he’s used to it.

How he shows us all these documentaries and interviews with filmmakers like Truffaut and John Cassavetes and I just can’t help falling in love with them and their passion for cinema.

How he decided that a film called “On the Bowery” should actually be called “On the Bovvery”.

When we were learning about New American Cinema in the 50’s and he started talking about the “Beat Generation”, only “beat” in French, spelled “bite”, actually means dick, so a good part of the class giggled. And then when he started talking about “beatnicks,” a girl in back of me said, very seriously, “Mais c’est trop deja!” and I realized later that “niquer” means “to f**k” and the combination of the two innocuous syllables in English was actually very very bad in French.

When I’m sitting in my British Cinema class and the girl sitting in front of me is on her MacBook Air, clearly on LiveJournal, clearly reading fanfiction, and I try to make out the names to figure out what she’s reading and… it’s One Direction fanfic.

And when this happens again except now it’s about the actors from Supernatural.

When I’m in my British Cinema class and the poor prof asks if anyone has anything to say about the clip we’ve just seen and it’s just deathly silence.

When my British Cinema prof mentions every other class how she organized a retrospective about Humphrey Jennings at the Cinematheque and she invited Stephen Frears and he showed up because Humphrey Jennings was a huge influence on him, and that’s how we know that Humphrey Jennings is super influential.

More to follow. Night night.

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Gabrielle in Paris