Fun with Films in France
January is the month to cozy up inside a warm French cinema to see the latest films from all over the world while the cold, gray weather looms outside. As an avid cinema-goer, I’ll focus my eyes on just about any screen, whether it be a TV, a laptop, a small screen on an airplane seat in front of me, or a big screen in a real cinema.
If you didn’t realize it, Hollywood has France to thank for cinema since this is its birthplace. Even digital cinema was invented and shown here first. Paris has more cinemas per capita than any other city in the world (even Los Angeles) and shows films from all over the world as “mainstream,” while in the US, most foreign films would be found in smaller “art film” theaters. France is also the most successful film industry in Europe with a record-breaking approximate 300 feature-length films produced every year. Non-American films have the largest share, as American films represent only 45 percent of total admissions and France is the second largest exporter of films in the world, after the US.
Theaters are designed differently from one another and there are those I seriously dislike and others I praise. The ones to avoid are those where the seating slants downward, with the front seats higher than those at the back, the screen posed high, so that you’re on a tilt straining your neck to see over the person in front of you and see the film. This may sound like a ridiculous set-up, because it is (!), but it seriously exists (some of the theaters at Odéon in Paris’ 6th arrondissement are designed this way). The best theaters are those where the seats are steeply stacked so that there isn’t a bad seat in the house, even if the person in front of you has monstrous hair piled up high. The UGC theaters at Les Halles are all this way — it’s just being in Les Halles itself that for me is so unpleasant. (You can’t have it all!)
If you want great cinema reviews then you’ll love Lisa Nesselson‘s cinema reports on France24.com (English). Lisa is a Chicagoan with an impressive list of cinema credentials including a bit of acting of her own in a production of “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” here in Paris (as Lucy). What’s fun about Lisa is not only her wild and wooly gray hair, but her enthusiasm about cinema, and brilliantly clear reports of what’s up and what’s not. Some of Lisa’s reviews can also be found on SBS.com.au.
This past weekend, Lisa reviewed two films I’d just seen: “Colette” and “Welcome to Marwen.” Colette was on Amazon Prime for $5.99 while comfortably relaxing in bed nursing a cold, while Welcome to Marwen was a viewing treat at the UGC Les Halles in a packed theater. Like Lisa, I recommend both films, discovering the true stories about the two very different characters: Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (aka Colette) and Mark Hogancamp (aka Hogie of Marwencol).
During the report, Lisa also mentioned current cinema-goers events of which are worth taking advantage, so I offer these up to you now…just in case you missed her report:
THE BILLY WILDER RETROSPECTIVE
On until February 8, 2019
At La Cinémathèque Française
51 Rue de Bercy, 75012 Paris
Billy Wilder directed some of Hollywood’s most famous comedies in the history of cinema and now’s your chance to see many of them here in Paris at the Cinémathèque Française between now and February 8th. Born as Samuel Wilder in 1906 in a small town in Austro-Hungarian Galicia, he fled from the Nazis in the early 1930s, first to France and then on to Hollywood, Paramount and a partnership with Charles Brackett. He died in March of 2002 in Beverly Hill, 20 years after making his last film, Buddy Buddy (1981), the last of the Jack Lemmon-Walter Matthau duo films.
The Cinémathèque Française occupies a building originally designed for the American Center in 1993 by American architect, Frank Gehry, known for the Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao and the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris.
See the upcoming screenings here.
MY FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL
From January 18 to February 18, 2019
MyFrenchFilmFestival.com is a new concept that promotes the younger generation of French filmmakers and allows Internet users from around the world to share their love of French cinema. For its 9th edition, the festival returns with 28 new films, divided into six themes: stories about family affairs, a taste of the absurd and wacky, films that shine the spotlight on women battling the world around them, punchy and provocative films, homegrown love stories and, last but not least, a selection of innovative creations in New Horizons.
Films are viewed online on the MyFrenchFilmFestival.com platform worldwide. The festival is also available on nearly 50 other partner platforms, depending on their locations, including iTunes in 97 countries. Renting a film is as inexpensive as €1.99 or €7.99 for the Festival Pack with access to all available films.
It ends January 22, 2019, so take advantage of it ASAP!
3.50€ per Film
Want to see what’s playing where in France? The best site is Allocine. Bookmark it and have fun with films.
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
(taping for House Hunters International)
P.S. Time to start making plans to attend February’s Après Midi, Tuesday the 12th. You won’t want to miss author & travel blogger, Lily Heise, talk with us about “The Trials, Tribulations and Joys of Cross-Cultural Relationships.” Put it on your calendar today! (full details on our website