Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Printemps du Cinema

Le printemps du Cinema celebrated its 15th edition this year, offering theater-goers a lowered, unique price of 3,50€ per ticket during three days (Sunday 16th - Tuesday 18th).

This initiative allows lovers of cinema to discover all the movies out, both French and foreign, with 24 films releasing two weeks before this event, the options are endless. Spending the first days of Spring at the cinema is a hit, as 2,6 million tickets were sold during the three days last year, accumulating 35 million tickets sold since its conception in 2000.

Unfortunately, there is no equivalent in Miami, with small theaters being even more expensive than grand, mainstream ones. The closest you can get is matinée viewing times, loved by the older cinéphiles and myself.

While sites like Netflix, making thousands of movies available to you with just a click, will never be as enjoyable as the experience of discovering a film on the big screen (unless you're very anti-social, I don't know), it is an alternative.

I have thus compiled a list of a few French films available on Netflix in a few different genres that I would recommend, so that you too can have a sunny Sunday of cinema, without having to find parking at the mall (win-win!).

Intouchables (2011)
Based on a true story, a quadriplegic aristocrat's world is turned upside down when he hires a good-humored ex-con as his caretaker.

I watched this movie is a small theater twice before buying it and then watching it countless of times. It is touching, hilarious, eye-opening, and charming. It was nominated to 8 Césars, winning Omar Sy the César for Best Actor and launching him to an international career, as you will probably see him soon on X-Men Days of Future Past.

Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain (2001)
When impish Amélie finds a long-hidden trove of toys behind a baseboard in her apartment, she's inspired to return the items to their original owner.

I still run into people today that have never watched Amélie in their lives... or worse, they don't like it. If I said how many times I have seen this film, this will quickly turn into a cry for help, so I will keep that number to myself.

This is the typical film you recommend to someone who is not familiar with French cinema. Jean-Pierre Jeunet shows the whimsical neighborhood of Montmartre with all its charming characters, without being as cliché as a Midnight in Paris, for example.

La vie d'Adèle (2013)
Determined to fall in love, 15-year-old Adele is focused on boys. But it's a blue-haired girl she meets on the street who really piques her interest.

I was introduced to this film during the Cannes Film Festival, where for the first time in its history, the Director and two main actresses won La Palme d'Or. With feuds between the actresses and the director, the release of the film was surrounded by as much drama as the one displayed in it. Not to mention it won la palme at the moment where the gay marriage laws were being passed in France, reality does surpass fiction sometimes.

All background stories aside, this film is beautiful and you should watch it. (I have a feeling I should warn you about its rating but this is whole other story).

2 Days in Paris (2007)
On their way home from an ill-fated Venice vacation, Marion and Jack stop in Paris to visit Marion's parents on an equally disastrous excursion.

There are no words to express my love for Julie Delpy. If her name sounds familiar, maybe you are a fan of the Before trilogy with Ethan Hawke that she's a part of.

Jack is the typical obnoxious tourist that we all fear. He always wants to find a cab, red wine gives him headaches, he doesn't speak French, and he's afraid of a little Parisian mold. But it's really not Jack's fault, this film depicts cultural differences in a hilarious way.

Elles (2001)
A middle-aged French journalist befriends two prostitutes whose strong personalities cause her to reevaluate her own bourgeois life.

This is not the first French film I have watched that talks about student prostitution in France. One of my favorite aspects about it is how Juliette Binoche's character changes her attitude and her opinion of the young women she interviews, at first she's quite judgmental, warming up to the girls later and looking at her own life and her relationship.

Polisse (2011)
This portrait of the juvenile protection division of the Paris courts documents the department employees and the children under its authority.

The theme of child abuse is omnipresent in Maïwenn's films. While this is a tough film to watch, it is an eye-opening depiction of the kind of work officers within the juvenile protection division do. With this kind of work, it is impossible to leave work at the office and have a life completely untouched by the cases they see everything, providing us with a full circle view on how strongly influenced their personal lives are by their work.

Polisse won the Prix du jury at the Cannes Festival in 2011.

Swimming Pool (2003)
Writer Sarah uses her publisher's vacation home for a breather. But when the publisher's promiscuous daughter arrives, Sarah is swept into her world.

This film is classic François Ozon. Charlotte Rampling plays Sarah, a writer of mainstream books who wishes to write something more special but is refused by her publisher who wishes for her to continue her book series. The entire film seems like a murder mystery leaving you questioning everything that is happening from beginning to end.

Le Caire nid d'espions (2006)
This parody of the "OSS 117" series of the mid-20th century follows OSS agent 117 as he is sent to investigate the disappearance of a fellow agent.

Before Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo were talked about by everyone around you due to the five Academy Awards for The Artist (also on Netflix), there was OSS 117. It is of course a parody of the James Bond movies. This film is to be taken very very very... not seriously at all. Agent 117 is not intelligent, fast, superhuman James Bond embodies. Instead, he is ignorant of the culture around him, completely aloof, and often in danger by his own ineptitude and ego.

If you watch any of these, or if you have some suggestions of your own, let me know!