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Julie Delpy on “2 Days in Paris”

Julie Delpy on “2 Days in Paris” (photo)

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French writer-actress-songbird Julie Delpy has probably been associated most with American film, and not only for her “Before Sunset” Oscar nomination in 2005 (for co-screenwriting!). Still, she is French, so it could be argued that having a bicultural identity has allowed her a more objective view of how both countries and their citizens can misbehave and act cruel. Adding to her list of hyphenates, Delpy the feature director and editor also co-stars in “2 Days in Paris,” a self-described “mean-spirited” relationship comedy that addresses said observations on modern-day culture clashes of the social, political, age and gender varieties. Adam Goldberg ever-neurotically stars as jaded New York designer Jack, who has just had a lousy Venice getaway with his photog girlfriend Marion (Delpy). On the way home, they’re stopping off in the titular city for said duration, an attempted vacation corrective and couples rekindling that invariably makes them crazier, crankier and more jealous. It’s not as “Before Sunset” as the title might seem, since language barriers, overbearing folks, flirty ex-beaus and other annoyances turn what might’ve been “Meet the Fockers” into a biting bicker-fest of the Woody Allen variety. And of course, it’s political. Considering that two of Delpy’s early screen roles were in Jean-Luc Godard’s “Détective” and “King Lear,” it’s not surprising that her first narrative feature would be filled with thinly disguised references to her personal beliefs.

Before the interview, you seemed surprised that all of your film’s publicists were women. Are there major differences in how a film is promoted in America compared to Europe?

It’s actually quite similar in France, though when you do a TV show, you’re terrified because the host might insult you. It’s in fashion right now that the host, to make the show cool, will trash you to the ground. I go to shows in France literally shaking in terror, and I’m never scared of anything like that because people are usually civilized, even if they don’t like the film. I’m not even scared of criticism, but when they lash at you, it’s terrifying. I’m always lucky somehow, but it’s happened to a lot of other artists. It’s publicity for their work, so I guess it’s worth it. But if I knew someone was going to say horrible things to me, I wouldn’t go. I have to say that in America, journalists are nicer and more respectful. They can be in France, but some are not always nice. Like the French, they’re not very nice people in general. [laughs] I actually love France. It is my country of birth, it’s a lot of fun, and even when people are grumpy, it makes me laugh.

Certainly nobody is safe from being ridiculed in your film.

No! Men, women, Americans, French — they all get it. I don’t hate the French or Americans or men or women. I’m not really angry at people, but I think it’s funny when people are mean to one another. [laughs] I think the beginning of the film sets the tone. [Jack is] an American sending other Americans to the suburbs just to get ahead of the taxi line. It doesn’t mean they’re bad because, in the end, I still like the people that I’m describing, even though they’re not very nice. Marion is crazy, hysterical, lashing at people. And Jack is neurotic and obnoxious in so many ways. The parents are obnoxious, too. The sister is a bitch, but I love her. I’m just describing them in all their flaws.

Where were you living when anti-French sentiments were in the air, circa 2003?

I was in California, so “freedom fries” were not a big hit. California has a lot of liberal people and most Americans I knew were embarrassed: “Oh my god, this is horrifying!” But it’s not one America or France. It’s important to be reminded of that all the time. I wasn’t embarrassed or shocked, more amused.

You express some of that amusement by making political jabs throughout the film. Not to oversimplify, but is it twice as hard to get your film out there in a polarized sociopolitical climate?

I can’t help it. For me, it’s important because I have [personal beliefs] in my life. So why not put them in the movie? Right away, I’m pretty clear where I stand. I face the same problems in France. The French distributors were horrified by the racist taxi driver scene and the ex-boyfriend pedophile; [it was] ex-colonial mentality. They wanted me to cut it out because it’s too offensive to the French, “it’ll never work here,” people will get upset, blah blah. Some journalists were offended, but most people didn’t mind because it’s a reality. It’s not a lie. If you don’t want to show the truth, that’s problematic if you can’t express that in movies.

For a lot of films here, you have to respect all demographics and you don’t want to offend anyone. You just want to get as many people as you can to go to the movies, but I think that’s bullshit. For example, 9/11 movies. Some people will not like those films and will not go see them. So what? 50 million people could still potentially see these films. Mine is the same. It’s liberal-friendly, though I know Republicans who saw the film and liked it. They’re conservative, but they think Bush has made huge mistakes throughout his entire time in power. So it depends, but I don’t think it’s [for] hardcore Bush supporters. And it’s not even a liberal movie because it makes fun of everyone, you know what I mean? I tried to make a movie [in which] I was free to express whatever I wanted. Because it was such a small budget, I was allowed to talk about subject matters that I don’t see in other films. I want to say things in a way that can be kind of crude. “It is a blowjob that brought down America’s last chance at a healthy democracy” is a crude line, but it might be true.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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