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avril 2008

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cezanne

Apres avoir vu caché, or, why I'm glad I have Netflix again

So I just finished watching Michael Haneke's Caché, a film that literally made me gasp in horror. I turned to my cat (in absence of anyone else) and said, "Goddamn, well, that's French cinema for you." To wit, the Top 5 Reasons I am a Franco-cinephile:

1) Les français never fail to pack a punch when you least expect it. It shouldn't be a compliment to say that I almost always feel a little nauseous after watching a French film, but there you have it.

2) There's no such thing as a romantic comedy in France. Okay, this isn't really true, but anything beyond the uber-mainstream fare (of which there is unfortunately plenty) tends to imbue even the most personal story with a healthy dose of realism (screaming fights, affairs, underage sex, you name it), or a political message, which brings me to 

3) The French love their anti-bourgeois messages.  I love how French directors seem to get off on totally unsubtle critiques of their own society- while there's a bit more francophone cinema to present the minority perspective these days, you can always count on the white, middle-upper class filmmaker to have the mistreated Algerian, or postal worker, or maid exact bloody revenge on "The Man" (or should I say, "l'homme?").

4) They do the best ambiguous endings, and tonight's film was no exception- actually the whole film functioned around ambiguity.  I love feeling that bit of frustration when I realize I'm not going to be given all the answers, and the subsequent feeling that a film has earned its open-endedness.  There's keeping things unresolved just to be "different," and then there's doing so because you're trying to evoke the messiness of the real world, which can't be tied up into neat, cinematic bows. I'd say the majority of the French flicks I've seen fall into the latter category.

5) They don't shy away from the totally bizarre. From (spoiler!), Isabelle Huppert stabbing herself in the shoulder with a knife at the end of The Piano Teacher (fucked up! But you should totally, totally see this one- it's also by Haneke), to the titular Triplets of Belleville (so cute!), I always get a kick out of recognizing that patented French "what the fuck?" moments.

This is probably one of those entries that my handful of readers will skip over with a hearty yawn, but in case any of you are intrigued and want to check out some truly awesome, twisted, French cinema, I recommend (in addition to the film that got me on this rant):

Delicatessan
La Cérémonie
Mon Oncle
La Pianiste (
mentioned above, not to be confused with The Pianist. One is about the Holocaust, the other is about secret bdsm fantasies. Brace yourself before watching this one...)
Bleu, Blanc, and Rouge
De Battre, Mon Coeur S'est Arreté
La Cité des Enfants Perdus
Manon des Sources
(perhaps one of the most classic "what the fuck" films ever. yay for inappropriate and masochistic infatuation!)
Ma Vie en Rose

So, mes chères, take or leave my suggestions, but if you check out even one of these flicks, you won't regret it.  In short: French movies rock.

Comments

Yup, I remember cute Manon dancing around naked with her goats
Dude, but Daniel Auteuil with the RIBBON SEWN INTO HIS CHEST?!?! I was scarred for life. The french are some fucked up bastards, and I love them.

PS. when can we hang out and be tolkien nerds together?