I’ve been working my way through the 5 ½ hour made-for-TV epic (clearly in France, they have a very different kind of “made-for-TV”) by Olivier Assayas, starring the terrific Venezuelan actor Édgar Ramírez as the 1970s international terrorist Carlos the Jackal. I’ve got a lot to say. But because I’m racing around today, and because my thoughts need to cohere, I’m going to point out that the real Carlos (left) is a very different-looking man.

What?!? A filmmaker found a better-looking guy to play the part?? Stop the presses!

Yeah, yeah, I know. Remember at the end of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985), when they all show up to watch the Hollywood version of Pee Wee’s story — and it turns out they got James Brolin and Morgan Fairchild to play Pee Wee and Dottie, and Pee Wee himself was reduced to a hotel clerk?

But keep it in mind anyway. There are some strange things going on in Assayas’s Carlos, and they have to do with sex & gender, and I feel like saying them.

I also feel like noting that the 70s were whack. Between Carlos and the amazing documentary Man on Wire (2008) about Philippe Petit’s 1974 high-wire walk between the two World Trade Center buildings, I feel as if I have no understanding whatsoever of a decade during which I was actually alive.

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