BABY, I’M DEBORD. This was the message — black type on yellow — that, back in the day, a great-great nephew of Oscar Wilde displayed in the rear window of his Impala. It was a wonderful gag, but maybe you had to be there. I was reminded of Mr Wilde’s visual riff as I watched Olivier Assayas’s gorgeous pitcher “Something in the Air” (“Après Mai” 2012) last night.
Having been sent to Paris that year, 1971, to get clear of a bunch of family deaths, I can attest to the astonishing veracity of Assayas’s depiction, right down to the creamy pallor of the Kodak 5254 that he somehow re-created both here and for his brilliant television series “Carlos.” His story, essentially autobiographical, is lovingly self-critical of the inanity of a revolutionary fervor (spray cans and molotov cocktails and the word “comrade” virtually slobbered with excitement) that eventually gives way to consumerist lethargy. Or not lethargy so much as the lowered expectations of a real life in which one — or Assayas, anyway — moves on to B-movies about prehistoric lizards attacking Nazi U-Boat crews. Ten thumbs up.