Some Good French Films

elle-paul-verhoeven-isabelle-huppert

It’s been a weird weekend. And it’s only Saturday. Hopefully grocery shopping is uneventful tomorrow.  One minute you’re sitting on the train and the next you’re disembarking and for some reason your right hip isn’t letting you walk?
Weird stuff.
Pretty sure I’m too young for hip replacement.

SO I was talking to some friends yesterday and said I would send along a list of recommended French films. And SO I figured I would post it since it’s a list.

That said, full disclosure: I haven’t seen every French film ever so this is a superbly and spectacularly incomplete list.

Let’s Start with animated:

  • Ernest and Celestine: Bears and mice and based on a lovely children’s book series that I want to buy for my potential offspring.
  • Nocturna: Amazing world building. So much imagination. Cats.
  • The Boy with the Cuckoo Clock Heart: I walked in on dad playing music from this. He’s never seen it.
  • A Monster in Paris: There’s a giant bug and it’s a beautiful heartwarming story. Also beautiful music.

Also kid-focused but not animated:

  • Le Petit Nicolas: This is what being a child is like. But kind of more so.

I’ struggling with categorizing all the rest so I’m just going to throw them at you in one big lump:

  • Belle de Jour: Catherine Deneuve is bored and fantasizes about BDSM so she decides to be a prostitute. Also her name is Severine, which is an excellent name.
  • La Vie en Rose: Marion Cotillard is Edith Piaf and it’s as amazing as it sounds.
  • Les Trois Couleurs: Three movies which you can kind of trace from the Nouvelle Vague style. Loosely connected, all individually perfect as stand-alones. I think Blue was my favorite.
  • La Double Vie de Veronique: For some reason this hangs out with Les Trois Couleurs in my mind. Some lovely music.
  • Huit Femmes: A Christmas musical murder mystery with a who’s who cast of great French actresses.
  • Les Choristes: A teacher positively affects students lives through music. But it’s actually a good film.
  • Bonjour, Tristesse: The book is better but this is nice and light and summery. Still not a huge Jean Seberg fan.
  • The Intouchables: I always confuse this with The Untouchables, a film about taking down Al Capone. This is great too.
  • Elle: Isabelle Huppert is bae and this Oscar nominee (did it win? I don’t remember) from last year is fantastic.
  • Tous Les Matins du Monde: Music again. But also period drama stuff and sex.
  • La Pianiste: Isabelle Huppert being sexy again. But this time even more mentally off-kilter.
  • La Piscine: Romy Schneider and Jane Birkin and Alain Delon are all fabulously attractive people.  And the film is suitably sexy.
  • Les Enfants du Paradis: A long film that flew by. It’s actually a work of art and quite possibly one of the best films I watched last year. It is inspiring me to fall in love with a mime.
  • Eyes Without a Face: French New Wave does Hitchcock. I am obviously a fan.
  • Diabolique: More Hitchcockian stuff. A wife and mistress conspire to kill the guy. Then come strange events.

Weird stuff that I’m not sure I can recommend:

  • Last Year at Marienbad: I will never forget the word ‘couloir’.
  • Triplets of Belleville: What…?
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New to Me: Best Movies Watched in 2017

Most of my movie watching is not new releases, so much as catching up on films that were once new releases but haven’t been from somewhere between a year to a century.
And they’re none the worse for that.

To be eligible for this list, the film must be one of my favorites that I watched in 2017 but NOT released this year.

  • Shall We Dance (1937)
    I can’t say enough about this film- one of the most beautiful Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers vehicles that I’ve ever seen.  Highlights: Slap That Bass and Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off (roller-skates!)
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)
    I’ve already talked tons about Kingsman so I’ll keep this short. You’ll never think of Free Bird the same way again.
  • 3:10 to Yuma (1957)
    While the more recent version is good (particularly for a modern remake, that most justly maligned of categories) it still doesn’t really hold a candle to the absolutely masterful original- the frustrating but heroic town drunk (completely cut from the modern version), Van Heflin’s scrappy portrayal of Dan Evans, and above all Glenn Ford’s suave outlaw Ben Wade. Plus the song.
  • Django Unchained (2012)
    Tarantino’s films are very hit or miss for me, but Django Unchained was very much a hit.  The cast is excellent, the plot is fun and exciting. Tarantino does his fun soundtrack thing.
  • The Piano Teacher/ La Pianiste (2001)
    This movie is beautifully repulsive. Basically a piano teacher (Heyyy Isabelle Huppert) conducts and affair with one of her students who believes that she is falling in love with him, essentially misreading the symptoms of her rapidly deteriorating sanity as signs of romantic obsession.
  • The Hurt Locker (2008)
    I had pretty much decided not to watch this because it looked a bit testosterone-heavy for me, but a confluence of circumstances led to me watching it and discovering that it is in fact a thoughtful and well-paced film with interesting characters and developments.
  • La Piscine/ The Swimming Pool (1969)
    Alain Delon is beautiful. So is Romy Schneider. So is Jane Birkin. So is summer.
  • Les Enfants du Paradis/ Children of Paradise (1945)
    This film had me absolutely spellbound for all 3+ hours of runtime.  A theater mime is in love with a courtesan who is also beloved by three other, very different men- a pretentious actor, a conniving thief, and a rich count.
  • Contracorriente/ Undertow (2009)
    Contracorriente is my most recent addition to this list, having just watched it I think the day before yesterday. It’s a surreal and poignant ghost story in which a married fisherman has to find a way to reconcile two aspects of his life: his more conventional family life with his pregnant wife and his devotion to his male lover, a painter and town outcast.

Here’s to another year of good films!