Summer is over. Officially, Fall doesn’t roll in for another two weeks, but mentally; I’m done with the heat and humidity.
Which brings me to this—Bonaparte and I love going to the movies during the Summer months. For two hours we can enter into the world of Cinematic escapism. We can “see” a story come to life. Every summer brings a new crop of films for us…
This summer was different. We saw a movie. That’s right “A” movie together. “ONE” movie. We saw “Trainwreck” which we absolutely loved. It was a comedy with heart.
The ONLY great movie this summer! It brought back so many memories of my single life. Hey! Don’t judge!!!
I saw “Pitch Perfect 2” on my own. Bonaparte would have shuddered at the girliness and singing. I thought it was cute though.
What girl didn’t want to start singing after watching any “Pitch Perfect” movie?
Unfortunately, the selection of films this summer was zero to none. We literally had a train wreck of summer movies to choose from!
This wreck basically describes this summer’s mess of movies for adults!
It makes me wonder just what happened to the standards of screenwriting in Hollywood.
But. The slim selection got me to thinking…..and so I give you a flashback in time… Are you ready??????
One of my first “dates” with Bonaparte was a movie date. This was a bit different in that he didn’t tell me what movie we were going to see.
All I knew was that “Zuh mohvee ‘ed a beet of evrazin”.
Translation: The movie had a bit of everything.
We drove to an old movie theatre in Bala Cynwyd, close to Philly. As we approached the theatre, I saw the name of the film we were to see was “A Very Long Engagement’. As I entered the theatre, I noticed that the film was a French film starting Audrey Tautou.
Unfortunately, the theatre is now closed!
I also remember thinking it funny that Bonaparte was taking me to see a French film because we never talked about the kinds of movies we liked—it was obvious he wasn’t aware of my love of French Cinema!
The movie was great. An epic about WWI and lost love. The story’s message was great—never gives up searching! The costumes were right up my alley. Plus—a surprise role by the talented and bi-lingual Jodie Foster was a treat. What could be better?
Unbeknownst to Bonaparte, this American woman happened to be a huge fan of French flicks! “A Very Long Engagement” has since won a place in my top ten favorites of all time!
I cried. I laughed. I sighed. My heartstrings were tugged. My tissues were soaked.
When the movie ended, Bonaparte mentioned to me that he was extremely happy that I enjoyed the movie. But, I detected something deeper…
I looked at him with my raccoon eyes—thanks to non-waterproof mascara, and asked him just what he meant by that remark.
His answer went something like this:
“Eez impor’an to me zhat you lik Fhranch feem.” “Ah cahnnit be whiz a woh-mahn ‘ou dohn nit like Fhranch feemz!” “Ou pazz zuh tez!” “Em so ‘eppy!”
Translation: “It is important to me that you like French film.” “I cannot be with a woman who doesn’t like French films.” “You pass the test!” “I’m so happy!”
Honestly, at that moment I didn’t know whether to slap Bonaparte or drive away. Then I stopped and realized—this is what life could be like with a Frenchman.
We’ve been watching movies “togehzahr” since!
I did go on to explain to Monsieur Bonaparte that I had been a fan of French film for a long, long time. Back when I was single and living in New York City, I would often times catch a Truffaut film at the old Thalia theatre on West 95th Street off Broadway. My old neighborhood.
The”thalia” theatre. I spent many weekend hours here whenever a French film was shown.
I was introduced to the world of Francois Truffaut:
The movie that did it for me. Truffaut’s “The 400 Blows”. The first of his feature films and the first film to introduce Truffaut’s alter ego, Antoine Doinel. Based on the delinquent adventures of Truffaut’s difficult childhood, this movie had comedy and touching drama. Making it one of the greatest films ever made. If you get the chance, please see it. You will thank me!
Another great Truffaut film, “Jules et Jim”, about a tragic love triangle.
I actually had a long, long crush on Charles Denner after seeing “The Man Who Loved Women”–a touching comedy/drama. No man will ever come close to having the sexy speaking voice that Charles Denner had. Period!
The Thalia is the place I learned to love French Films.
“Calmos” was probably the most sexist movie I had ever seen in my life–but it was funny as Hell and I still laugh when I think about these two idiot men and their war with Amazonian women. Completely politically incorrect and great!
What exactly is it about French film that I love? Well, for one, the comedies are truly, truly funny. There is no such thing as “Politically Correctness” when it comes to the comedies of the French. They will make fun of everyone—and for a good laugh and a reminder that we really need to laugh at ourselves!
Many of the French dramas are incredibly moving and just touch the heart and tug at your emotions. The French know love. They know heartbreak. They know what it’s like to have families torn apart. Bonaparte’s dad summed it up in one simple sentence. “The war destroyed families.”
I still get choked up and my stomach does flip-flops at the mere mention of the film “Monsieur Klein”. Alan Delon plays a Roman Catholic art dealer in a case of mistaken identity because of his name. Intense moments ensue during the Nazi Occupation. I recommend this to all. When the movie ended, I was literally speechless. DVD is available on Amazon and Netflix (DVD only).
Anyway, if you are or are not familiar with French film, may I give you an offering of just a few the French films that I recommend? Note—there will be some shameless plugs for some of the movies that Bonaparte’s family has made and starred in!
Here we go-go!
“Amelie”. I watch this on a regular basis. The innocence of the quirky and lovely Amelie Poulain shines through in this movie about longing for love. I cry during the Nino/Amelie scene–Ohhhhh. No spoilers! I don’t want to ruin it if you haven’t seen it! Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet created a masterpiece of a story and a visual!
If you loved “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” you will enjoy “Priceless”. Audrey Tautou and the wonderful Gad Elmaleh play a couple of con-artists in Monte Carlo. It’s a light treat!
The original version of “La Guerre des Boutons” is the best. Filmed on Bonaparte’s Aunt’s and Uncle’s estate, it shows kids as they should be. Non-precocious–just kids having a war the way kids do! Bonaparte’s half-brothers are also in the movie–and they are really good! This movie was a tremendous success in France!
“The Chorus”–This is a film that is great for families to see. It’s told in flashback about the influence that one teacher had on the students in a French boarding school for “difficult” boys. Have tissues handy!
Before he was “The Artist”, Jean Dujardin starred in many films. Among them, this take on surfer movies. It is such a ridiculously funny movie. All the surfing stereotypes are there. Word is that a sequel is in the making–I cannot wait!
…speaking of Dujardin and “The Artist”. Michael Hazanavicius, director of “The Artist”, and his actress wife, Berenice Bejo, also of the same film, teamed up for “OSS 117–Cairo, Nest of Spies”. It was one of two OSS films that were made. Dujardin gets his James Bond on only to be a fumbling, sexist, dumb and politically incorrect spy. One of the funniest scenes of any movie I’ve ever seen has him wearing a Fez while attempting to be a musician! Greatness!
More political incorrectness and laughs in a case of mistaken identity! Louis de Funes is so ridiculous in this movie. His face alone will have you falling off your seat!
Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring are two great and touching films based on the works of Marcel Pagnol. Auteuil went on to direct and star in more films based on Pagnol’s works. “The Well Digger’s Daughter”, “Fanny” “Marius” and “Cesar” . I saw all but “Cesar” and all were beautifully shot and moving stories. Honestly, if you get the chance, try to see any one or all of these. Pagnol’s stories of live in Provence at the turn of the century are heartwarming.
More Pagnol writing as film. Yves Robert’s verison of “My Father’s Glory” is a beautiful tribute to Pagnol’s memories of his family. I also recommend this as family viewing. The story follows a summer in the countryside of Marseille–and a son’s relationship with his father and family. It really is a sweet film.
A madcap adventure with two RAF bombers who fall into the hands of two innocent and not-to0-bright Frenchman during the Nazi Occupation of France. It follows their travels to the unoccupied South of France. This is one funny movie about a not-so-funny event de Funes and Bourvil make a great comedic team!
Another movie that tackles the subject of the Nazi’s in a different way The owner of a music hall is convicted of murder. His friends come up with a way to get the music hall back and running while the owner is sent away–the film is shot in flashback. It’s a drama with music–but it works!
The incredible Franco/American “Paris, Je T’Aime”. A fascinating collection of different vignettes set in and around Paris. It’s pretty much readily available. It’s such a beautiful movie too. I think I’ll watch it after I finish writing! You’ll see lots of familiar faces–including Natalie Portman!
“Welcome to the Sticks”. Danny Boon directed and start in this comedy about a “city sophisticate” who gets transferred to the French version of …well, the sticks..or what we deem the equivalent of “hillbilly country”…it’s pretty funny and was a huge success throughout France–the French can certainly laugh at themselves. And that’s a good thing!
If you want swashbuckling adventure along with laughs, “Cartouche” is for you! Thievery, adventure, love and lust, history–all bundled up in two hours of pure entertainment! THIS is a great alternative to the violent films of today! Honestly, I know it’s outdated but “Cartouche” is just so much fun!
The first “Angelique” movie had me hooked! Michele Mercier stars as the brave and adventurous “Angelique”. Follow her search for Jeoffrey, the man to whom she is to marry. Her adventures include being captured by a Sultan, her travels to Versailles and her never-ending search for her love. The funny part is that in every one of the five movies, Angelique is seen partially disrobed. It’s a total “WTF?”–but it’s just so…..so….FRENCH!! I think I shall be Angelique for Halloween!
More French “Girl Power”! Romy Schneider plays “Sissi”. The young Empress Elizabeth of Austria. The three films about The Empress are a fun way to learn some history about the Hapsburg era. These films are also great for young girls to see as well. Sissi is shown as a feisty and spirited girl–which is positive!
Before the version with Leslie Caron, there was the ORIGINAL “Gigi”–starring Bonaparte’s aunt, Daniele Delorme. TMC shows this movie every so often–and includes the English subtitles. If you ever get the chance…… Click on the link below to see a clip!
Here’s a fun short that Bonaparte’s cousin Hugo Gelin made some years ago. It takes place from the “eyes” of an ATM. Watch the link below and spot some familiar faces!
Not every French film is a winner. I’ve seen some that are just wayyyyy too “talky”..and some that are just annoying. But the ones that I like and love and treasure outnumber the ones that are lousy. There are so many more films I would like to share with you–but I think I will make that yet another post!
Au Revour for today…and I’ll leave you with this…Yann Tiersen’s “La Valse Des Montres” from the film “Amelie”! Ohlalalalalalal!!!!! XOXOXO!