Hierarchy, bureaucracy and paperwork

Video-based ELT class on bureaucracy featuring clips from Terry Gilliam’s Brazil and the Coens’ Hudsucker Proxy

France is a country that suffers somewhat from bureaucracy, excess paperwork and a rigidly hierarchical work culture. These issues are not unrelated. As a fonctionnaire in the Education Nationale I have suffered some absurd bureaucy to prove who I am to my own employer, processes which involve sending paperwork up the chain to be signed by those authorized to do so (i.e., the top brass). The fact that senior members of, say, the Human Resources department do not themselves have the authority to approve such documents is quite revealing: we are talking about a “top-down” culture here. Continue reading

Escaping the gridlock

Communicative English class about traffic and congestion, featuring cinema, rock videos, adverts and more

My last post about Michael Patterson’s work and portals to other dimensions put me in mind of one of cinema’s mindblowingly strange opening scenes, namely that of Fellini’s 8 1/2 (1963). The sequence shares much of the urban claustrophobia and anxiety that characterizes Patterson’s Commuter, as well as its framing of that unease within the context of travel and transport. Continue reading