Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

Parlez-Vous Francaise? Tres Bien!

Posted by Jerry on October 8, 2006

Bonjour madames, mademoiselles, et monsieurs!

Mon bon readers, you might be wondering what’s up with the French title and stuff. Well, I did learn French for 4 years while in high school–a total waste because I picked up like one French word per year. Anyway, this week–since Friday the 6th–the French Embassy in India in partnership with the Alliance Francaise de Mumbai have been hosting a six-day French movie festival that is free to the public.

The festival, billed “Rendez-vous with French Cinema,” has been making its rounds through the country and has now come to Mumbai. Frankly, I’m surprised, delightfully.

So, one of my Editor-colleagues at work–who is incredibly fluent in French and wishes to be an interpreter someday–gave me her extra set of free festival passes for all the event days. Obviously, I was so incredibly excited to get the opportunity to experience foreign cinema like I used to before. I’m a big fan of cinema from around the world–particularly, Spanish and French, though I have also seen and enjoyed an Israeli film, some Canadian films, and a Turkish film.

The only foreign cinema that I had the opportunity of watching here in India since I got here was “C.R.A.Z.Y.,” a French movie that was incredibly funny, heart-warming, and enjoyable even though it was a rather typical coming-of-age story of a young garcon brought up in a conservatively Catholic French household.

Well, anyway. So, I went yesterday with the colleague from work to the first film of the event: Peut-etre. I liked it because it was layered with irony and had an engaging, light, comical storyline. Interestingly, the movie depicts Paris in the year 2070 as being half submerged under dunes of sand, and a “scooter” in the Paris of that age is basically a donkey fitted with headlights!

The movie I watched this evening was called Faux Depart (Stand-by). It was terrible. Tres mal! Sean (whom I had dragged along with me for this movie) and I left halfway through the dreary film because it was such a contentless and meaningless character-driven film with no plot, no theme, no progression. It started out with a strong momentum and in a matter of minutes reached a point in the story that pretty much was the entire film. From that point on, there was no progression, no additional plot-driven momentum, no twists, no nothing. It wasn’t even a humorous movie, which would have at least mitigated the excruciating boredom!

Anyway, so Sean and I left the theater midway through the movie and decided to drink-and-dine at “Firangi Dhaba,” a loud (as in decor-wise), uber-Bollywoodized Indian restaurant. As we usually do, we enjoyed each other’s company and positively decided it was much better being at the restaurant having a great conversation than sitting silently stuck in a movie theater with an appaullingly dreary French film!

However, I still intend on going for the rest of the movies of the week. Pourquoi-non? It’s free, so I don’t lose anything much if I don’t like the movie and decide to walk out.

For a brief synopsis of the movies, read further below:

From France-in-India.org

May be / Peut-être :
Cast:Jean-Paul Belmondo, Romain Duris, Geraldine Pailhas, Julie Depardieu
Director:Cedric Klapisch
End of the twentieth century. On the new years eve 2000, 24-year old Arthur gets together with his girl friend, Lucie. She really wants a baby but he doesn’t feel ready to be a father yet.
During the long night of wild partying, Arthur goes through unsettling experiences. He projects seventy years ahead in time and find himself face to face with an old man who claim’s to be his son. This seventy year old son shows him his house, family, life and Arthur discovers that what Paris has become in 2070. By showing him this unexpected future his son hopes to convince Arthur to have a child. “May be” says that the is appointment should not prevent dreaming the idea of the future needs to be reinvented.
French writer and director Cedric Klapisch is known for making films that explore the ways in which individuals exist in relation to a group of people, whether that group be a family or the denizens of an urban neighborhood. Two of Klapisch’s most successful films, Chacun Cherche Son Chat and Un Air de Famille, impressed critics and audiences with their humorous, warm-hearted interpretations of this kind of relationship, and they helped establish their director as a man with considerable talent for capturing the nuances and flow of human interaction.

Stand-by / Faux départ :
Cast: Dominique Blanc, Roschdy Zem, Patrick Catalifo, Jean-luc Bideau, Georges Carraface
Director: Roch Stephanik
At the airport cafeteria, while waiting for their flight to Buenos Airesthat will take them to a new life, Gérard tells Hélène their relationship is over, he no longer loves her, that he’s going to take the plane alone, and gives her back her luggage. Hélène is completely taken aback. Panic-stricken, she tries to reason with him, but gets nowhere. So she remains at Oraly airport, distraught, paralyzed by this outburst that shut the door on eight years of their life together.
She can not bring herself to leave the airport, wandering aimlessly through the corridors, even offering her body for money to transit passengers. She waits for the day when she can live again as a new person and here begin her journey.

Save me / Sauve-moi:
Cast :Roschdy Zem, Rona Hartner, Jean-Roger Milo, Olivier Gourmet, Pierre Berriau
Director:Christian Vincent
Roubaix, a city ravaged by the hidden war waged by unemployment. Here Agatha meets Mehdi. Agatha has come from far away from the heart of Romania . She is traversed all of Europe to come to France , to the north, terminus Roubaix station. Their encounter is like a bolt of lightening. Mehdi is burned. “Take me with you”, he says to her. “save me”. Mehdi, born and bred in Roubaix , has never set foot outside the parcel! But for her, so that they can leave, go far away, he’ll at last dare to do things, take destiny into
his own hands….

The village is quiet / La ville est tranquille :
Cast: Ariane Ascaride, Véronique Balme, Pierre Banderet, Gérard Meylan, Jean-Pierre Darroussin
Director: Robert Guédiguian
It’s the story of Michèle the fishmonger whose only goal in life is to save her daughter from drug addiction….of Paul who betrays his striking Dockers friends to become a taxi driver….of Viviane, a musician, who can no longer stand the realistic Left Wing epitomized by her husband. of Abdermane, transformed by time in jail, who wants to help his brothers….of Claude who can’t get the Extreme Right to listen to him….of Gérard whose attitude toward death (his own and others’) is a mystery….of Paul’s parents who are retired and will never vote again….of Ameline, whose body gives off a sense of good health that she wants to pass onto others by reminding them of their pre-monotheist origin.
These individual, overlapping stories occur at the same time and in the same
place.

Strayed / Les égarés :
Cast: Emmanuelle Béart, Gaspard Ulliel, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet, Jean Fornerod…
Director: André Téchiné
The Germans are at Paris ‘s door… Odile gets caught up in the widespread panic and flees with her two children, Philippe, 13, and her daughter Cathy, 7.
Like everyone else, they head south. They drive without stopping on the overcrowded roads, slowed down by the masses traveling by foot. Hunger and thirst begin to overtake them. On the second day of their journey, German Stuka planes machine gun the column of refugees. The car bursts into flame. Odile and her children lose everything. A teenage boy leads them into a neighboring forest to protect them from the aerial bombardment. They spend the night in the forest, sleeping outdoors. Early in the morning, they wander through the empty countryside. It’s like being on a deserted island. They’re cut off from the world, far from the war and maybe even from the march of time…

Nickel and Dine / A la petite semaine :
Cast: Gérard Lanvin, Jacques Gamblin, Clovis Cornillac, Julie Durand, Jean-Pierre Lazzerini…
Director: Sam Karmann
It’s a story of friendship. A story of a neighbourhood. A story of a milieu. A story of culture. It’s also a story about “men,” where women are never far away… At the forefront, we find Jacques, Francis and Didier, whose dreams interweave but whose destinies differ. It’s the story of a “little week” whose action takes place in the bar-restaurant “Chez Roger,” and which revolves around a multitude of characters living in the Parisian neighbourhood of Saint-Ouen today.

The role of her life / Le rôle de sa vie :
Cast: Agnès Jaoui, Karin Viard, Jonathan Zaccaï, Marcial Di Fonzo Bo, Claude Crétient, Annie Mercier, Laurent Lafitte, Denis Sebbah
Director: François Favrat
A freelance journalist for a fashion magazine, Claire Rocher meets Elisabeth Becker, a film star. They have nothing in common: their personalities, relationships with men are completely different, not to mention their income and the question of fame.
Elisabeth employs Claire as her PA, spinning Claire’s life on its axis. Little by little, the two women become friends, or at least Claire thinks so…

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2 Responses to “Parlez-Vous Francaise? Tres Bien!”

  1. Innommable said

    I’m so glad to read posts like this one. Your excitement is palpable, and transmits through the text, as if you were right here telling me about it.

  2. Ergo said

    Innommable,

    I’m also very glad to get opportunities to write posts like this one that give me reason to be excited, or pleased, or elated.

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