Since September 2022, the posts published at Laugh Motel will be accessible only to paid subscribers. This is a decision I have taken coinciding with the fourth anniversary of the blog—and out of sheer necessity. What I’m doing here is no different to what many writers are doing at/with Substack: I’m just trying to earn a bit of money from my work. But I want to do it at this blog because I’m attached to it, because it is here that I’ve been publishing my most precious texts over the last four years, and because I’m a sentimental!
Who am I?
This is such a hilarious question! The first thing you should know about myself is this: I believe that whoever can answer this question too early in life, and without shivering a bit, is a strategist, a poseur, or an idiot (sometimes, all three at the same time!). Nonetheless…
At 9, I was a precocious writer reflecting on my traumas. At 14, a teenage cinephile searching for weird films. At 18, I was torn between my daily job as a waitress, the solitary pleasures provided by books and films, and the ecstatic pleasures provided by parties, sex and drugs. At 27, I became a latecomer film critic. At 42: I write mostly—but not exclusively—about films; I make audiovisual essays; occasionally, I give lectures and classes; I make little (and not so little) films; and I tinker and experiment with images. However, I feel completely out of place everywhere. I like what I do, I presume to know how to do it, and I don’t think there’s anything else that I’d feel confortable doing.
But I am at a delicate crossroads in my life: professionally, financially, and vitally. Which is why I decided to turn this blog into a subscribers-only site. Will that mean that I’m not going to have any more readers, that I’ll be just writing for myself? As they say in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s The Barefoot Contessa: what will be, will be…
I could list here the publications for which I’ve been writing during the past 15 years—but I’ve become utterly disgusted with ‘prestige credentials’. As I’ve said elsewhere, the best way to know a writer is by reading her. There are plenty of my writings scattered across the Internet: this page compiles a year by year list of them. But I consider what I publish here my most free and personal writing because it doesn’t need to conform to constraints of any kind. I’ve grown increasingly disappointed with the lack of opportunities for doing what I do in the ways I like to do it. Today, one has to produce more and more material for less and less money: you read hundreds of reviews of the same films for two weeks, and three days later nobody remembers them (understandably) because the rhythms required by this coverage of all-things-new gives birth to soulless and insubstantial stuff. It’s a ghastly panorama—for writers, for readers, and for films—and it won’t get better.
I created this blog in 2018 as my personal antidote against all this superficiality: the restriction of approaches; the opportunistic takes that feed the conversation; the nonsense with which customers are binge-stuffed; the ridiculous amounts of material one has to deliver so that people remember you exist; the unsustainable speeds at which one must work; the ad-nauseam rituals of pitching, selling, and self-promoting your work; the need to communicate in advance what you’ll write about a film as if writing were just typing a series of thoughts and opinions that reside in your head; the pre-planned calendar of releases and festivals that must be covered “at any cost” and in no time; the utter banality that bowing constantly to this chain-production of massive content-creation entails…
This blog is a space for careful, dedicated and thoughtful writing about films, feelings, and ideas that matter to me—and also, sometimes, for experiments in image-making. I’m a slow writer who takes her time thinking, sensing and pondering how to approach things—not to mention: how to structure her texts and how to craft her paragraphs. It isn’t enough for me to have an opinion (positive or negative) of a film in order to write about it. I only write about things that make a profound impression on me, that I’m trying to work out, that engage me with a special intensity, or that I feel are asking something specific of me. And I don’t write just because I like, hate, or even love those things: I write because I have something to investigate, pursue and develop that hasn’t been investigated, pursued, or developed by others. This may sound pretentious but, things as they are, it is neither pretentious nor unlikely to come up with something different, personal and distinctive to say. Yet it still requires time and effort to bring that into fruition!
I write by looking closely at the operations and effects performed by the films; and I write by threading relations between those films and other things that I watch, read, listen, remember, or experience. I’m old enough to know that, whatever your texts are about, your writing is often a way to make sense of yourself. In the past, I had a way (or a need) to keep that buried in the background; now I don’t feel there’s any point (or health) in hiding that anymore. And I believe, with Vilém Flusser, that “in the gesture of writing, the problem of style is not added on, it is the problem itself. My style is the way I write, which is to say, it is my gesture of writing.”
Some people have said nice things about me (no kidding): that I am a lucid, lively, and vibrant writer; that I have a knack for detail, nuance, and unconventional ideas; that I combine physical writing and material thinking; that I am able to both honour and disentangle the hidden secrets of cinema; that I am, in fact, a poet disguised as an analyst, and an artist disguised as a critic. But, well, other people have said about me that I’m weird, a narcissistic bitch, and a presumptuous jerk.
Most of the time, I struggle with life. According to a dozen personality tests, I’m a INFJ-T (a highly unusual type!). My birth chart shows that I have both my Sun and my Moon in Virgo, in the Ninth House. And I’m a lady with a very limited set of interests and a highly conflictive set of contrasts. I hope this gives you immense insight into myself. But if it doesn’t, don’t feel bad about it: my writing is still the best gateway to that.
What can you access if you subscribe to this blog?
There are two types of subscription: monthly or yearly. Both subscriptions give you access to the same material for as long as you keep them active (but the yearly subscrption is more economic for you in the long term and it gives me an instant boost of energy and confidence). With any of the subscriptions, you’ll be able to access:
—The entire archive of this blog, which means: everything I’ve published here during the past four years (currently comprising almost 70 posts).
—All new posts written beginning in September 2022. From now on, I’ll be publishing twice at month: this is my promise to subscribers. It could be more often (if I ever get a decent amount of subscribers), but it won’t be less often (because I am known to stick to my word).
The subscription process is very simple and fast. If you don’t have a WordPress account yet, one will be automatically created when you subscribe. And you’ll need to be logged into that WordPress account to see my posts. You can also receive an email at the end of the month with links to the two most recently published posts.
What will I be publishing from now on?
More or less the same kind of things I’ve been publishing already, only now they’ll be more precious and exclusive (and perhaps more intimate) because only subscribers will have access to them!
If you are already a regular reader of this blog, there’s not much point in me trying to sell myself to you: I hope to have done that job already over the past four years. Your subscription would be, of course, very much appreciated.
If you are new to this blog, you can visit the Open Access section where you can get a taste of my writing and decide if it rings true to you. This category is intended to provide a sample of the different kinds of work I publish here: it assembles a brief selection of posts that will remain accessible to non-subscribers.
Another way of getting a little acquainted with this blog is to scroll through the home page (where you’ll find brief excerpts of each post and tags associated with them) or to browse the six categories under which I file my posts:
—Long-form essays and short-form essays are the main bulk of this blog. Mostly I write about cinema, but sometimes I do incursions, excursions (and even whole trips!) into the autobiographical and/or other disciplines of interest. This blog’s tagline is “on, with, around film” for a reason.
—In a series entitled Notes on Film Criticism I explore the personal and collective practice of such a foolish activity; in Notes on Audiovisual Essays I present, reflect, or expand on this type of videographic criticism (sometimes I discuss pieces made by me, sometimes by others).
—There are two far more occasional categories: in Quotes & Collages, I gather quotes that have had an impact on me (accompanied by short reflections) or I make collages of quotes (where I put into relation words and images that speak to each other); in My Films and Photographs I present collections of my own pictures (mostly overlays) and of my own films. Over the last years, I’ve made about twenty little films that, for the moment, will remain available on Vimeo. But, from now on, I’m thinking of making my new films (that are turning less and less little) available only to subscribers of the blog.
—Maybe I’ll give myself permission to explore other formats (such as a podcast) because the future is uncertain, and I’ve been told by my dreams that I need to listen to myself…
Will I be publishing any more open access posts?
I’m considering whether this is a viable strategy to attract new readers. But it’s quite unlikely: I think I have already done my share of writing for free. If I haven’t attracted you yet, I probably never will. So, if you want it, you’ll have to support me.
Sometimes, people tell me that I should write a book. Well, consider this blog as my collection of books. The archives alone, put together, are equivalent to several books already: written, aural, and image books. I like the multimedia approach and I express myself better in a combination of word, sound, and image.
So, without further ado, here we go again: