Friday 29 April 2022 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 29/4/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Amazon Prime

Opinion / Chiara Rimella

Once more into the fray

Remakes always remind me of 1960s Italian versions of American songs that allowed audiences to sing along to the chorus – that’s how “I’m a Believer” became “Sono Bugiarda”. Though it might feel like a passé quirk of the entertainment industry, television remakes are still very much a thing. Yesterday an English-language version of hit French series Call My Agent! debuted on Amazon Prime.

The idea is to bring this comedy-drama about a French acting agency to a wider, Anglophone market, though given that the original ran successfully on Netflix after its debut on France 2, it’s hard to imagine that anyone who was interested in watching didn’t get a chance. The new series, titled Ten Percent (a literal translation of the original French title Dix Pour Cent), is set in London and roughly follows the same plot. As a fan of the original, I can confirm with some relief that the remake isn’t total butchery. But it’s hard to say that it’s more than just fine.

The problem is that it inevitably focuses on the agency side of the story, rather than the Frenchness of it. Dix Pour Cent is glorious because it provides a peek into the Parisian creative sector that seems both realistic and bewitching. It’s hard to muster the same enthusiasm for the sight of agents having a smoothie at a sandwich chain instead of a local brasserie.

Above all, the need for remakes seems odd at a time when streaming giants have finally discovered that dramas made outside of Hollywood and Pinewood Studios can have global appeal. The agents in Ten Percent would do well to hook their clients up with syndication deals. There’s a real fortune to be made in those.

Image: Shutterstock

Politics / EU & Hungary

Divided loyalties

The EU has escalated its feud with Hungary over rule-of-law breaches by taking the unprecedented measure of formally triggering its powers to cut funding for the nation. For years, Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán (pictured, with Vladimir Putin), has clashed with the bloc over his erosion of checks and balances, stifling of the media and apparent misuse of EU funds. The move sends a clear message to Hungary and other countries that are embroiled in similar spats, such as Poland, but it also comes at a sensitive time. Budapest has agreed to pay for Russian gas in roubles, testing the EU’s coherence on sanctions. Hungary is heavily reliant on Russian energy, receiving 75 per cent of its oil and 60 per cent of its natural gas from the country. At a time when unity between EU nations is crucial, the cracks between the nationalist members and the rest of the bloc are at risk of deepening.

For more on EU and Hungary from Politico’s Brussels correspondent Suzanne Lynch, tune in to today’s edition of ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Getty Images

Health / Global

After the storm

This week, while China continues to test and lock down portions of its population over a new outbreak of coronavirus, health officials including White House adviser Anthony Fauci cautiously declared that the “post-pandemic phase” is under way in the US and Europe. “We’re now into a phase of monitoring, of going about our business much as normal,” Chris Smith, consultant virologist at the University of Cambridge and Monocle’s health and science correspondent, told ‘The Briefing’. Vaccines have “broken the link between catching the infection and becoming severely unwell more than 90 per cent of the time.”

Yet this is not the case in China, said Smith. “They don’t have the high level of population immunity that we do in the UK. As a result, they’re seeing the repercussions of even a mild variant causing quite considerable effects.” In other words, vaccines work and the task now is to deliver them to those still vulnerable around the world.

Image: Getty Images

Society / Canada

Storm warning

Canada is braced for another takeover of its capital. A convoy of hundreds of motorcyclists and supporters is descending on Ottawa this weekend as part of a group called Rolling Thunder. It’s not quite clear what the demonstrations are about: organisers claim that they’re coming to “peacefully celebrate our freedom” but they have partnered with a motley mix of groups harbouring anti-government grievances or honouring military veterans.

Ottawa has only just recovered from the so-called “Freedom Convoy”, which started at the end of January and took over the city for nearly a month in protest against pandemic restrictions, briefly hindering Canadian-American trade. That convoy disbanded after prime minister Justin Trudeau passed a special Emergencies Act, which itself led to accusations of government overreach. Canada’s public-safety minister Marco Mendicino insists that Rolling Thunder will not be a “replay” of the Freedom Convoy but it raises the question of whether such events will become a regular pilgrimage for frustrated Canadians.

Image: India Art Fair

Art / India

Fair play

After a two-year hiatus, the India Art Fair (IAF) opened yesterday in New Delhi and runs until 1 May, pulling together the best that South Asia has to offer in modern and contemporary art. Work from more than 500 artists will be shown and 78 exhibitors will take part, including museums, private foundations and non-profit collectives. Launched in 2008, the IAF became India’s first commercially focused international art event and this year’s programme features both domestic and international artists, as well as printmaking workshops, book launches and outdoor art walks. Following the fair’s pandemic-related absence, its intention this time is to highlight the value of physical art over digital representations. Fair director Jaya Asokan, who joined the IAF last year, says that she hopes to highlight young artists and indigenous art, and hold more in-person events throughout the year, including in second- and third-tier cities, after the New Delhi event concludes on Sunday.

Image: Shutterstock

Monocle 24 / The Foreign Desk

The case for compulsory voting

Almost 30 per cent of the French electorate declined to vote last weekend, while a projected 90 per cent of voters will turn out for Australia’s federal elections later this year. The difference is compulsory voting.

Monocle Films / Husavik

Ísbíltúr: Iceland’s ice-cream road trips

We hit the road with journalist Egill Bjarnason, finding the best spots to grab a cone on a journey into the Icelandic custom of ísbíltúr. It’s one of many Nordic lifestyle concepts that can teach us a thing or two about quality of life. Discover more stories and ideas from the region with The Monocle Book of the Nordics, available now from The Monocle Shop.


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