My Favorite French Film Finds: Write/off Farewell, Well Sort Of!Jul 14, 2006 Write an essay on this topic.
The Bottom Line Each one of these films has something special to offer the viewer, from the classics to noir. My favorites..
Those of you who know me know I am the most fervent Francophile why? I really wish I knew, but the fact remains that I am so why fight it? During the past two months Ive hosted a Write/Off with the intent of reading about what others have to say that is favorable to All Things French There has been quite a bit a French bashing these past 2 years so my idea was to put a positive spin on France with my Fabulous French Finds Party The results have exceeded all my expectations with reviews posted on a range of subjects. Many of these fantastic reviews have been movies and Ive been in a movie watching frenzy.
So I thought I should write my own list of my 10 Favorite French films Some of these movies are films Ive had the extreme pleasure of watching in years past, others just recently, thanks to the wonderful writers here on epinions so on this day of celebration in the city of lights, Bastille Day 2006, I hereby offer my ten favorites.
(In no particular order)
Plein Soleil Purple Noon.
This movie is a diabolical murder mystery in the style of Hitchcock Starring Alain Delon as Ripley, he steals every scene with his icy blue eyes and tres handsome looks as he completely mesmerizes those he meets and deceives in this thrilling story When he decides he would like to live the life of a rich bon vivant he looks for and finds the opportunity to kill his best friend, take over his life and style of living He goes about it in the most chilling way but when he has to keep up this act, life does get a bit complicated as events spin out of control This movie is one that is a delight to watch, the scenery is just gorgeous, taking place under the hot Mediterranean sun, I believe in Southern Italy... Though filmed in 1960 I felt it was a far better movie than the more recent remake, The Talented Mr. Ripley, but then of course maybe its because Alain Delon just takes over the screen in every movie Ive seen him in.
Another Alain Delon film, this one with a much more ominous tone and theme then the previous . The time is during the Nazi occupation in France Delon is Mr. Klein, an art dealer who takes advantage of those who are Jewish and who have somehow managed hold on to some of their wealth Fearful for their lives they sell him their prized art pieces at a fraction of their value in hope that they can use the money to survive the horrific events they know are coming But, something strange happens, Klein suddenly is mistaken for a Jew. He has been set up by someone he wronged in the past and though he attempts to prove to the authorities that it is a mistake, that he is Catholic, he has a hard time doing so..he tries to track down the other Mr. Klein to prove he is not the Jewish one, but to no avail ... Eventually, when his proof does arrive, it seems to have come too late. The last and final scene was chilling, and if you look closely you will see the real Mr. Klein standing just a few feet behind him This movie was a complete departure for Delon and though he is quite older in this role, he still displays the brilliant talent he is known for.
Ok, what is this, you might be asking? Three out of three Alain Delon movies? Well, I have to thank my friend Stephen Murray for turning me on to these Noir films in the first place..This film is one I first read about in one of his reviews and since Delon was the leading actor I decided to give it a try...I was, still am, completely new to this genre of films at the time but now Im a big fan A hearty Merci Beaucoup, Stephen
This film is about a mysterious man, Jeff Costello, Alain, a classic gangster-murderer for hire. It doesnt take long before we realize he lives on the dark side of the law, when we watch him steal a car in one of the opening scenes using a key from one of many he owns The story focuses on the people he comes across during his latest assignment, the love interest, the betrayals, the police, and the revenge . The movie is filled with those long dark shadows, smoke filled rooms and nightclubs, all necessary to tell this particular kind of story. Alain is simply thrilling to watch and as always his talent and versatility for whatever role hes playing is outstanding. If youve never watched a European Film Noir then this is the one to start with. The winner of the French Academy of Cinema for Best Director, Best Production Design and drum roll please, Best Movie-1976
Jean de Florette
Onto another style of French film making This movie, starring three more of the French filmdoms most noted stars, Gerard Depardieu, Yves Montand, and Daniel Auteuil.
Jean, a hunchback, brings his family to a small village in Provence to start a new life as a farmer he has inherited some land and though he has had no previous knowledge or experience as a farmer he is determined, in one way or another, to succeed and doesnt in the least way let his deformity stop him But, the well on this property has dried up and, without water, he can not grow anything What he doesnt know is that Montand and Auteuil have plugged up his water supply in the hope that he will fail and they will be able to buy him out since they need that land for their own plans.. The tragic end result is featured in the continuation of this saga.
Manon of the Spring
In this sequel Manon, Jeans daughter, played by Emanualle Beart, decides to take revenge on those two who were indirectly responsible for her fathers death when she learns just what they did to him in their quest for the land. She has grown into a beautiful young woman who roams the hills as a goat herder Auteuil has fallen hopelessly in love with her but she can not stand the grotesque sight of him These stories intertwine with a twist at the end which Montand cant live with when he finds out the truth It is a moving, surprising story with spectacular scenery, photographed entirely in Provence and based on the novels by the famed director and writer Marcel Pagnol.
My Fathers Glory
This is another movie based on a Pagnol story. This one autobiographical. It is a charming story of Pagnols childhood in his beloved Provence at the turn of century. Told by Marcel himself, it is a tribute to the father he so dearly adored His father, Joseph, Phillippe Caubere, a school teacher, soon learns that his son has some very special talents when he takes the boy to school one day when he has to take care of him. He is much younger than the boys in the class but surprise, can Marcel actually read as such an early age? His parents arent to sure if that is a good thing or not.
When Marcel was just 11 years old his father takes the family on a vacation for the summer to the countryside..there, in the rugged foothills of Provence, he finds a world very special, filled with the wonders of nature and the people who live there, their unique lives as well as the world in this very special place Everyday is an adventure, a joy with something or someone new to learn or meet The film also shows the bonds of family, especially those of a father and son during the days of his youth and the discovery of his Fathers Glory. This was one of the first French films I fell in love with and couldnt wait to see the sequel
My Mothers Castle
Marcels delightful and, oh so charming, story continues in this film when he just does not want to leave his vacation home in the French countryside of Provence. But, leave he must, and it is with a heavy heart that he does so. But the best of surprises comes his way when his parents decide to go back for Christmas. It is during this holiday that his love for this rugged terrain grows and he finds his mother, Augustine, Nathalie Roussel, a different person than he had ever thought she was. Each time they have to leave after another holiday he does so with a heavy heart. But soon Augustine decides they should go to their little cottage on weekends from Marseilles, where they have moved after fathers better job opportunity came along. This is not an easy task since it is in the period before cars and they must walk more than 5 miles carrying their possessions but Marcel doesnt mind as long as he can get back to the world he so loves and the adventures awaiting that arent possible in the big city. When a short cut is discovered their walk is markedly shortened and life continues to be good. But, soon trouble shows its ugly head and Joseph is afraid he can lose his job when it is found out they have been trespassing using the short cut they have been taking Does a cloud hang on the horizon or will those wonderful, carefree days continue? His understanding of his dear mother grows and is carried into his adult life especially when he revisits his Mothers Castle This is an extremely heartwarming, touching story and one I relish each time I see it .
This is a much darker tale, the one that started my idea for this write/off. What would you do if your loved one suddenly disappeared from a very public place? Well, that is the premise for this movie and a very frightening one at that. Do you continue your search; will you do anything to find that person? And, for how long? Watch this movie and find out what transpires, it will be sure to send chills down your spine.
On a lighter side, this delightful and thought provoking comedy is one Ive enjoyed so much the two times Ive seen it Basically it is a story about a man, Francois, Daniel Auteuil, who lives a rather dull life and is practically ignored by those around him at work he fears that he will soon be fired from his job at a condom factory His neighbor has the idea that he should pretend he is gay since employers shy away from firing gay people, afraid that it will be thought of as discrimination and the reason for the firing Felix, Gerard Depardieu, who has always harassed Francois, is told by his boss to treat him better..Hilarity ensues as this little lie grows into something completely out of hand, leading Francois on a whirlwind journey which teaches a bigger lesson of intolerance and what it can lead to, in of course, an outrageous way.
Side note Talk about intolerance, when I first went to Blockbuster to rent this movie after it first came out on video, I was told they werent going to have it in stock, why I asked? Well, apparently it didnt live up to family values Now of course it is on the shelves, what changed Id like to know? Whatever it is, it is a good change.
The Return of Martin Guerre
When I first saw this movie years ago I just couldnt forget it The images stayed with me for the longest time The image of the what might be the best French Medieval Village reproduced on film and those peasant villagers, reminiscent of a Bruegel painting. The images of Gerard Depardieu in the lead role of Martin Guerre, his expressive eyes and winsome smile, then the fear he portrays in the final scene. The image of Bertande, his wife, brilliantly portrayed by Nathalie Baye, her range of emotion in such a subtle way. The story, set in the 16th century, is basically the mystery of one man who suddenly leaves his family and village behind during the 100 Years War when he was just married and very young Years later when he returns from the war, he is recognized by the family and most of the village even if there were a few who werent too sure. But he knows everyone and all the secrets Bertande, after getting over her first qualms, soon is happy as any woman can be in those times when life was harsh and brutal. He has come back a more loving and tender man, why shouldnt she be happy? Eventually troubles arise when he is accused of not really being Martin Then another mysterious stranger appears Just who is he and which is the real Martin Guerre?
I just watched this movie again tonight and still feel as strongly about the near perfection of this film as I did the first time I just adore the way the sets and costumes are luxuriously Medieval.. I should probably write a more detailed review now that I think of it but I did want to include The Return of Martin Guerre on this list since its got to be at the top of my 10 Favorite French Film Finds
So, there you have it Ive got about another 10 or 20 I could write about, some newer releases and of course more classics, but they will have to wait for my next list since its almost midnight now, Bastille Day and the official end of my write/off I also want to extend my deepest thanks to all who have attended this party as writers or readers Its been Tres Bien, and unofficially, I will be happy to receive late visitors LOL...Just visit here, to read all the fascinating entry's or to leave me a message if you would like to add one of your own..Better late than never I always say..
A la Prochaine, until the next time. Happy Bastile Day!
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