Paris in genres. It's finally here! To make a long story short, a few weeks ago I asked film fans to choose a movie to their liking and write a few sentences about it, tying it to a genre that it belongs to (either major or minor one) and in this way recommending the chosen picture for those who might be interested in cinema that encapsulates the monumental beauty of Paris.
I would like to thank each and every participant for getting interested and spending their time on writing those wonderful contributions.
Unfortunately, we couldn't cover all the genres, although I joined in this venture and recommended a few films as well. However, I don't see it as a problem. We still have got an incredible post, crafted by film-loving community and I would like …In Genres to be a continuing tradition at Eternity of Dream, so please tell me what you think of this feature. Let me know if you are interested in taking part in the future. It's crucial because even if there are just a couple of people interested, we still can make the post happen because I'll try to deal with non-taken genres. You can also see the poll at the right. Vote please if you haven't.
Here go the film recommendations. Once again, writers, thanks for taking part!
*All the credit goes to this or that contributor as stated.
Alan from The Great Movie Project recommends From Paris with Love (2010):
What this movie creates is a fun Bond-style espionage movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but still manages to get its point across. John Travolta’s over-the-top performance is the highlight, although Jonathan Rhys-Meyers’ American accent and tradecraft aren’t great. In terms of Paris, this movie showcases both the tourist sections of the city and those everyday areas that you might not see if you don’t live there.
I recommend Hugo (2011):
Released only last year, this Martin Scorsese's work has already gained many admirers, including me. Although it was advertized as a movie for kids, it has more depths to explore because of its many-sided nature. It glorifies the pioneer film wizard Georges Méliès, every person's youthful longing for adventurous and exciting life, and the picturesque views of snow-covered Paris.
Josh from DiverseFilm Blog recommends Ratatouille (2008):
This quirky, rat-run caper is one of Pixar Studio's best offerings. And part of its success comes from director Brad Bird's excellent use of his Parisian location. Sure, it's very much a tourist's view of Paris, the Eiffel Tower is on show as often as possible, but this isn't what makes the movie's use of the city effective; instead it's the detail. Yes, the famous landmarks are all there, but then so is the equally recognisable (yet harder to cinematically represent) feel of the surrounding area.
Marcelline Block aka @MarcellineBlock, editor of World Film Locations: Paris and host of Twitter’s Movie Talk on Sunday, “Paris in Film”, recommends Diva (1981):
© Marcelline Block, all rights reserved
Winner of the César for Best Debut, Diva (Jean-Jacques Beineix, 1981) is the narrative of young mailman Jules’ (Frédéric Andrei) obsessive passion for an American opera icon, Cynthia Hawkins (real life opera singer Wilhelmina Wiggins Fernandez), the film’s titular “Diva.” Hawkins categorically refuses to allow recordings of her singing, but Jules has managed to record her latest concert in Paris. He stole her voice—and later that night, the shimmering evening gown in which she performed. The plot thickens when Jules unwittingly obtains the audiotape of a dead woman, the victim of a horrendous crime, testifying against a drug smuggling and human trafficking ring. The film’s intrigue revolves around Jules’ possession of these two tapes: his illegal recording of the Diva and the testimony of Nadia Kalinski (Chantal Deruaz). Jules is pursued by not only the criminals who murdered Nadia but also two businessmen who are aware of the existence of the illegal recording of the precious Diva’s voice, which they seek to market for a great profit.
Paris’ culturescape and artistic glory are displayed throughout Diva, as is its romantic appeal. One of the film’s most unforgettable sequences is when Jules and Cynthia stroll through the city’s nearly empty streets, awash in misty blue pre-dawn light. Set to the extradiegetic music of Vladimir Cosma’s pastiche of Erik Satie’s Gymnopédies, Jules and Cynthia encounter Parisian landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe during their late night/early morning perambulation, which culminates under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. The moody, hushed atmosphere of this musical interlude—collapsing Paris’ legacies of beauty, music, and love into romantic fantasy—does not negate the city’s criminal aspects at work in Diva. Along with the thugs who execute their victims in broad daylight at the Gare Saint-Lazare, the police tail Jules through the Paris metro—Jules on his moped; a police officer on foot—a chase that ends up at the Opera stop, thus overdetermining Diva’s twinned preoccupations with music and crime, elements integral not only to the film’s diegesis but also to the city.
Starting with an opera enthusiast’s stolen recording of a singer’s voice, Diva progresses along an unexpected course, navigating enmeshed diegetic strands about eccentric characters: music lovers, hired assassins, international gangsters, Zen philosophers. The film’s dream-like visuals and surreal situations contrast with its authentic observations of quotidian Parisian life in the early 80s. At the film’s core is Paris in 1981, long before the digital era, when sound and voices were still recorded on audiocassettes, when music was still preserved on vinyl records. Perhaps the film is a nostalgic throwback to a not-too-distant past that pre-dates the digital “revolution” in music and filmmaking—although the film’s condemnation of music pirating certainly resonates with a 21st century audience—but Diva never ceases to amaze, captivate, and haunt the imaginations of its viewers. The further one moves away from the time of its creation to the current perspective of the second decade of the 21st century, Diva, a cult film for many, takes its place among the best exemplars of French cinema; as its temporal context recedes further into the distance, the film grows more relevant still and intrigues more generations of cinema viewers. Diva is truly in a category of its own.
I recommend La vie en rose (La môme, 2007):
Although set not entirely in Paris, the film follows the tragic life of Edith Piaf, stunningly embodied by Marion Cotillard. This Oscar-winning performance brought her fame and a place in Hollywood, and it also opened a door for the audience to glimpse through to find out more about the celebrated singer, who started off among the poor in Paris and lived her life out to the heights of the illustrious French icon. This movie must be seen by more people. It's really good.
Directed by Shakti Samantha and staring Shammi Kapoor, known as 'Elvis Presley of India' for his unique dance moves and Sharmila Tagore, one of the most beautiful actresses at the time, An Evening in Paris is typical Bollywood film with everything you hope for in a Hindi movie - love story, quite a few plot twists, happy ending and some of most memorable songs with an added incentive of lovely Paris on the backdrop. It also has a rather controversial distinction of having a first bikini shot in an Indian movie.
Directed by the famed Ernst Lubitsch, Ninotchka stars Greta Garbo as the titular character. Ninotchka is sent to Paris from Soviet Russia to supervise a business transaction. That is, she and her comrades are tasked with selling the jewels of the former Grand Duchess (who now so happens to reside in Paris). Ninotchka is everything a good Russian is meant to be - stern, practical and no nonsense about her. While in Paris, she meets Count Leon (Melvyn Douglas) who is fascinated by her, and he slowly breaks down her cold, emotionless front. The only problem is, Leon has been involved, for a long time, with the Grand Duchess, who is none too thrilled with Leon's attachment....
Like many Lubitsch films, this is a charming, often hilarious romance, and Garbo does not fail to delight!
Evi from Sexta-Feira recommends The Intouchables (2011):
"After he becomes a quadriplegic from a paragliding accident, an aristocrat hires a young man from the projects to be his caretaker." I would never have thought that a movie with this imdb description would be the best comedy I've seen in years!
The combination of sharp intelligent humor (that does not come off as insulting or tasteless) and exquisite performances by both Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy make this movie a must-watch. It goes beyond funny; I laughed so much that by the end I felt as if a weight had been lifted off me. It's a wonderful story, based on true events, that shows how two people coming from such different worlds (the most affluent and the poorest areas in Paris) can form such a special bond. Movies like that make me fall in love with cinema (and Paris) (and French) all over again! Don't miss it!
Here in the UK we seem to be currently being bombarded with a number of inner city gang movies, featuring foul mouthed angry London youths who typically give you the impression that they couldn’t fight their way out of a wet paper bag, much less a fight against another person. “La Haine” however is the film to show the wannabes how you truly make a great urban crime drama. Following three friends Vinz (Vincent Cassel), Hubert (Hubert Koundé) and Saïd (Saïd Taghmaoui) who live in a multi-ethnic Parisian housing project, with the film set over the course of 19 hours after one of their friends is beaten into a coma by a cop, sparking a riot amongst the local youths which causes him to loose his gun which soon makes it way into the hands of Vinz, who is already harboring revenge fantasies against the police.
Shot on a handheld camera in black and white, the film has a real gritty quality as it follows the three friends through their aimless and frequently lawless daily routine, aswell as run in’s with sadistic police officers and psychotic skinheads, as the young cast give believable performances, with Cassel in particular giving a performance reminiscent of a young De Niro and only all the more fitting that he is shown re-enacting scenes from “Taxi Driver”. However despite the personal fantasies and tough guy delusions, it is still a film ground in gritty realism. In fact the film garnered so much of a response to its sober world view that The French Prime Minister, Alain Juppe, responded by commissioning a special screening of the film, now could you see David Cameron doing the same for the likes of “Kidulthood”??
Mithil from Films The Most Beautiful Art recommends My Life to Live (Vivre sa vie, 1962):
Vivre Sa Vie (My Life to live) is Controversial french Director Jean-Luc Godard's 1962 film. The film takes place in a black-and-white Paris, where a broke woman, Nana, lives a life in prostitution. The film is presented in a very artistic and Godard's own signature style. Nana's life is presented in a series of 12 episodes depicting how one event leads to the other. The film's presentation is quite similar to a documentary, each episode preceded by a title that names the characters involved, it's location and a brief summary of the action. This is a classic film filled with rich ideas including the unique camera work for modern film-makers to steal from.
I recommend The AristoCats (1970):
Being a big fan of Walt Disney company animation of any kind, I can't write this cartoon off, when I think about family entertainment. Living in opulent surroundings in a Parisian mansion, a few homebred cats find themselves tossed out at the country and as they are willing to find the way back home they have to set their paws on the scary streets of Paris. I am truly fascinated by the way Disney professionals used to draw animals for the films and this one is particular is not short of cuteness because of gorgeous felines that are the center of this animated story.
Modern-day Paris has never looked so alluring in writer/director Woody Allen’s love letter to La Ville-Lumière, Midnight in Paris. Capturing the romance of the city, with the fantastical adventures of one inspiration-stricken writer, Gil (Owen Wilson), the audience is taken on wondrous journey from their world all the way to their most beautiful fantasies nestled in the corner of their minds. Midnight in Paris is like a dream sequence in the guise of a film from which you never want to wake up.
Buffalo Chuck (his Blogger profile) recommends Quay of the Goldsmiths (Quai des Orfèvres, 1947):
Often listed among the very best of France's Film Noir entries, and a terrific, atmospheric crime drama. Stay with the French, absorb the tones, read along with the subtitles (they're not terrible translations).
Stevee aka @SteveeTaylor from Cinematic Paradox recommends Three Colours: Blue (Trois couleurs: Bleu, 1993):
Krzysztof Kieslowki's final gift to the cinematic world was a trilogy of films each focusing on the ideas behind the colours of the French flag: liberty, equality and fraternity. 1993's Blue was the first of the trilogy, looking at liberty in the form of Juliette Binoche playing a widow dealing the loss of her husband and child. As with any Kieslowski film, it is breath-takingly beautiful and the score is just as powerful. A strong start to a wonderful trilogy.
Lydia from Veidt Club recommends Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939):
By far my favorite adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic tale, this benefits from the best that Hollywood's Studio Era has to offer. Having a great cast helps: Charles Laughton, in some truly impressive make-up, is a wonderful Quasimodo, by turns pathetic and inspiring (Just try not to cheer along with his cries of "Sanctuary!"); the beautiful Maureen O'Hara is a strongheaded Esmerelda, managing to radiate goodness without being coy; Cedric Hardwicke is a threatening and creepy but very human Frollo...frankly, to list the others would take far too much time and space. Medieval Paris is conjured up with loving and lively detail, at times frightening or celestial (depending on the always gorgoeus lighting and cinematography). Add to it Alfred Newman's soaring and sensitive score and you get a beautiful piece of work, not unlike Notre Dame itself.
I don’t have alot of experience with the work of Wes Anderson beyond the wonderful The Royal Tenenbaums (which have forever changed my perspective on the versatility of active wear and the casual nature of fur coasts), however, in my recent reintroduction to the quirky, maddened creativity of writer/director Anderson, I discovered the short film Hotel Chevalier which serves as a companion opening film to his 2007 film The Darjeeling Limited. Set the in fictitious Parisian Hotel Chevalier, featuring the pair of Jason Schwartzman and Natalie Portman, it tell the story of a brief encounter between American exs who just can’t seem to let each other go. The film showcases the Paris-inspired song “Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)?” by Peter Sarstedt which we hear as we are introduced to Portman’s character, a women who tracks down her former lover and intrudes on his solace emotionally and physically. The song parallels what is implied in the film; this is a woman who possess enviable loveliness but is sadly trapped in a continued search to find contentment, ultimately bringing her to Paris. If you are so inclined, watch the entire 13-minute film here.
One of my favourite sayings in Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge is about belief in “Truth, Beauty, Freedom and above all things, Love.” When a film is about all of that, where else could it have been set but Paris? It’s a love story of a man falling in love with a courtesan, doomed as we are told right at the start, but with its assortment of “jukebox” songs which are all taken from popular 20th century tracks, it sweeps us away into this whirlwind, magical world and we become as much a part of this Moulin Rouge as any of its eccentric inhabitants. I love the story and the acting, but what really sets this film apart for me are two things. The first is its look-Moulin Rouge! is set in a really vibrant, romantic and often unreal-looking Montmarte district of Paris that just shows how such places are impossible to find anymore. The second are the songs and how they are used in the film, from Bowie’s “Nature Boy” describing the protagonist Christian to Satine’s introduction with “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend”, to the Elephent Medley and of course that awe-inspiring El Tango De Roxanne. It is my favourite film and musical, and if anyone is in the mood for some romance, can-can and Paris, Moulin Rouge! is just the film for you :)
Buffalo Chuck (his Blogger profile) recommends Le Samourai (1967):
Mob hitman tale when things go wrong, and keep going wrong. But perhaps the best comments are: "Don't say a thing about this film. Force some crime-drama fan to see it." An Alain Delon classic.
In 1963 premiered Charade, the first and only collaboration between Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. The giants meet under the direction of Stanley Donen at two very different points in their careers: she was reaching new heights, and he was willingly stepping down. Often called the best Hitchcock film that Hitchcock never made, Charade mixes suspense with comedy, grace with foolishness, as cheeky chic Regina Lambert (Hepburn) is chased through the streets of Paris by a group of men who are after her dead husband’s stolen money – the problem is, she has no idea where it’s hidden. She also meets the older and charming Peter Joshua (Grant), and the two get involved in a sleek and deliciously hilarious affair. But that safe port starts to shake when suspicion arrives, as she and we begin to doubt his true intentions. Building an irresistible uncertainty until the very end, this classic is impeccably performed by two of the greatest actors in film history. And if one may think that Bogart was too old to play her romantic partner in Sabrina, the same can’t be said for Grant: perhaps it’s his playful spirit that graces him with eternal youth, or maybe Hepburn had matured by then, but the truth of the matter is that they made a fresh, fun, witty couple -- and boy, does Paris sparkle behind them.
The city of love has been represented well in cinema. Sure even the hunchback can find romance. While Parisian films have been perfected by the likes of Goddard and the Golden age of Hollywood; director Bertolucci knows this all too well and makes a romantic film with a twist. That twist being incest, naturally. An alien American exchange student, Matthew, meets fellow film enthusiasts, a Frenchwoman, Isabelle, and her brother, Théo. They all soon fall in love with each other and drop out of reality with the help of re-enacting iconic classic film scenes (like Bande-á-Part's run through the Louvre), and are all sucked into the blind romanticism found in previous Parisian films. While the 1968 student rebellions happening outside of their world slips in and forces them to face the harsh morning light of their situation. A beautiful film, showing the city's unimaginable power over love, ignorant of social and moral ideologies.
I recommend The Red Balloon (La ballon rouge, 1956):
A mesmerizing little film about the friendship between a schoolboy and a red balloon, as they wander around the streets of the French capital. It's a sweet tiny story that might resonate with some people, making them reminisce of their childhood.
Brittani aka @ramblingfilm from Rambling Film recommends Water Lilies (Naissance des pieuvres, 2007):
Ok, I admit that calling it a sport film is stretching it a little bit, while it's more of a coming of age film, the catalyst to that is all of our main characters come together through sychronized swimming. The young leads in Water Lillies pack a powerful punch. Not to mention the last scene of Marie and Anne jumping into the pool fully clothed, floating deep in thought, with the scene going to black as soon as Marie opens her eyes has got to be one of the most beautiful endings I've ever seen.
Buffalo Chuck (his Blogger profile) recommends The Day of the Jackal (1973):
This can get my vote for Favorite Political Assassin movie because it rotates between a good Thriller with tension ("Who's gonna get there first?!!") and a methodical, step-by-step tale of setting up the plot, getting its funding, carrying out the steps, and then tracking down the killer-to-be. Edward Fox and Michael Lonsdale star.
Buffalo Chuck (his Blogger profile) recommends Is Paris Burning? (Paris brûle-t-il?, 1966):
A thin, almost forced tale of the final days of German occupation in Paris, and German generals and a few of their underlings who refused to carry out their orders to destroy 'everything'.
Are there your favorite films among the ones that were recommended? What other movies set in Paris do you love? Did you get interested in a film that you haven't seen yet?