I can see myself in the not-too-distant future, reminiscing to the youngsters about the old days. How exciting it was, I will tell them, pretending not to notice as their eyes glaze over, to go and see the latest picture on the big screen, in technicolor no less! I will explain about the projectionist in his booth, the hot anticipation in the hushed movie theatre as we crinkled candy wrappers and munched popcorn. No doubt it will be as meaningful to them as looking up information in the library or making a call from a phone booth.
Perhaps they’ll pay attention when I tell them about the first time I went to see a movie in Paris. About how the screen was so small, the tickets so expensive and they had no popcorn but ice cream. Before the film started we checked under the seats for bombs.
In France, of course, we don’t have movies, we have cinéma. I am no fan of the French film; life is too short to be taken that seriously. I do enjoy a certain genre of popular comedy that the French do very well. The one that has inspired this post is the latest release from the French actress and cinematographer I admire most: Julie Delpy.
Delpy’s combination of acerbic wit and character-driven comedy drama is just my cup of cappuccino. She is best known for the trilogy of films directed by Richard Linklater – Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight – in which she co-starred with Ethan Hawke, as well as 2 Days in Paris and 2 Days in New York. Delpy is often compared to Woody Allen. Her writing and direction is as good but her characters less annoyingly neurotic.
I love how she navigates so naturally in that space between romanticized ideals and real life. She is a queen of the fast-paced repartée. Her ability to do this equally well in English and French has my total admiration.
‘Lolo’ is her latest film and first attempt to seduce a mainstream French audience. It is about a single mother’s attempt to find romance against the odds of her sociopath adult son. The reviews have been mixed but given the bande d’annonce (trailer in English), I will be making the effort to go out and see it at the movie theatre. One day soon I’ll tell my grandchildren all about it.
Do you still go to the cinema? What’s your fondest memory of the movies?
Oh, boy. Count me in – I’ll bring the popcorn! There are some of my favourite actors in there.
There are those philosophical, moralizing and depressing French films during which I simply can’t sit still… I remember my first French film in a French cinema: Claude Lelouche’s “Il y a des Jours et des Lunes”. It did my head in, I couldn’t sleep all night for thinking.
There is however a specific French black humour that I love and find in Etienne Chatiliez’ s films – you’ve no doubt already watched “Tatie Danielle” and “La vie est un longue fleuve tranquille”. There is also the silly and lushly inappropriate humour of “La Cité de la Peur”, which I have watched countless times. With my children. There’s hope yet.
I’ve been most remiss in watching French films – seems I, like you, got turned off in the early years by a few deeply depressing ones and stopped bothering. But I’m so glad you shared some of your favorites! Will try and catch up with Tatie Danielle next time I get a chance. Like most things French, when they are good, they are very good. 😉
“… and when they are bad, they are horrid”. You just reminded me of ‘There was a little girl…” Great poem, that.
First cinema memory?
Weeping hysterically during “Bambi” and having to be removed by my embarrassed mother,
Not long after I had to be removed from a showing of” Pinocchio” in hysterics when the Blue Fairy dies. I remember that
Oh, yes! I remember the heartbreak of Bambi and many other Disney greats of the day. Amazing how those early emotions stay with us. Thanks for sharing!
Ah, Julie Delpy and movies are both gorgeous. We went to see The Dressmaker last week; a sad, strange, funny and poignant Australian movie starring Kate Winslet. Nothing quite like sitting in front of that big screen. I hope it never dies.
Will add that one to my list. Kate Winslet is wonderful in everything she does, and Australian films have a wonderfully off-beat humor and perspective. The thing about the movie theatre is the sense of being entirely in the moment while you’re watching. Precious!
How about drive-ins Mel! My folks packed five little kids in a station wagon to see “Mary Poppins.” All that beautiful singing coming from the scratchy speaker suspended from the roll-down window and each of us vying for the best “seat” to see through the windshield–it was cinematic nirvana!
Drive-ins! My parents refused to take us, but I do remember packing in the backseat with the neighbors a couple of times. Mary Poppins was one of my all-time childhood favorites. ‘A spoonful of sugar’ is in my head now – thanks!
We seems to go to the cinema less and less. We went a few times while in Paris as we had a nice theatre not far from our apartment but here we would have to trek almost to the suburbs to find a theatre that is worth it so we don’t do it. Also I get annoyed with all of the American Blockbusters which aren’t very good movies. I am with you about the French cinema – they often produces quantity over quality and some of them are way too slow and I can’t see the points…(Suzanne)
We have a small ‘salle de cinéma’ in the neighbouring town that is nice – they only have a selected lineup and a few showings a week but I like the feeling of being in a real cinema. As for the blockbusters – I agree they are too predictable and formulaic to my taste. Rare is the major release that I actually see. Much more inclined to go for the smaller, indie pictures, of which there are lots but you have to find them!
Une bande-annonce, not d’annonce .
Oops! I stand corrected, merci.
Haven’t gone to a movie theatre in years .Titantic was the last one that Peg insisted we go to .Who wants to pay $15 and sit in a sticky seat with popcorn on the floor to watch childish comic books that are badly written and the only redeeming feature is the CG work . I can sit at home and watch for $7 for the movie ,not each or $9 a month from Netflix .I am sitting in a comfortable chair ,a drink in my hand and no hassle of going out .Agree with you about independent movies ,but good ones are hard to find. TV here is going the same route as movies ,comic books ,comic books , comic books.
Best memories of movies are my early ones , like Snow White and the Seven Drawrfs ,the first movie of my life in Montreal when I was 8 .A serious fire that killed a large number of children earlier in the 30’s resulted in the Government over reacting a banning young children from movies
Amazing that you remember that. I agree with you on the comfortable chair, and you have the ‘home cinema’ set up that makes it enjoyable to watch while at home. Still, there is something about being distraction-free, if the movie theatre is not too crowded, hot or popcorn invaded, that I enjoy. But that said, my average attendance is about once a year!
I’m familiar with the Before Sunrise trilogy. But I didn’t know all that about Julie Delpy. I’m going to do some looking up!
She is an interesting individual. Apparently she played on ER back in the day as the gorgeous Croatian’s girlfriend – could not find any clips though. I did find a YouTube of her very first casting call at 14: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fhqr9Caqhvo
I love Julie Delpy! Can’t wait to watch this film. Thank you!
Glad to have been the bearer of good tidings. Thanks for commenting!
I haven’t been to the cinema since 1972 when I saw a double bill of Lady Sings the Blues and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. The first starred Diana Ross who did a wonderful job and the second starred Bob Dylan with some of his best songs. Back then the seats seemed to be getting smaller and my knees longer. Sitting for any length of time wasn’t comfortable.
Of course you could still smoke in the cinema back then which meant you could concentrate and weren’t distracted because you wanted a smoke.
I’m glad you’ve got a new film lined up to see and enjoy.
xxx Massive Hugs xxx
1972! Wow! I still remember smoking on airplanes but not sure about movie theaters. If you thought the seats were small then, I can only imagine they would be impossibly cramped now – although some of the old-fashioned places still keep the big plush seats. Lady Sings the Blues – that was one worth watching on big screen. Hope it brought back happy memories! Bises xo
Not quite a movie memory but my first date with my first husband was in a hastily converted primatarium near Kings X station in London then a very seedy area. We sat through an all-night showing of every episode of ‘The Prisoner’ (a 1960s cult thriller starring Patrick McGoohan). The seats were concrete and the air still vaguely reeked of Baboon wee. Happy days … strange but happy 😉
As first dates go, certainly iconic! There must have been something romantic in the air beyond the odour of primates if that date led to marriage. Had not heard of “The Prisoner” but it sounds like a fascinating piece of television. Thanks for sharing your memory!
We have this wonderful “moonlight” cinema in the park which only airs in the summer. It is located in the beautiful kings park – you can pack a picnic, drink wine, rent bean bags and enjoy the latest release on a wide screen out in the fresh air (no cars). It’s truly awesome. I’ve been with friends an hour early to enjoy a nice conversation on the grass and enjoy the sunset before the film starts. It’s truly a joy. I also love going into an actual cinema to enjoy a new film – though oddly I always end up very chilled to the bone by the end of it. Movie popcorn is also a must.
Also – if you do get a change check out Black Mass. It’s a new film (mafioso kind of theme) which normally I would never recommend however this one was very well done.
Will definitely check it out. Thanks! 🙂
Open-air movie theatres are a thing here too, although I’ve never had the chance to try it out. Your experience makes it sound like something I will definitely try. Cheers!
I have so many good memories of French cinema..jean Seberg, Belmondo, Anna Karina, Truffaut, Godard, Jeanne Moreau, Jules et Jim, A bout de Souffle, Rififi, Jacques Tati, L’Atalante, …..endless…it’s why I went to do film making at art school…why I became a photographer….probably why I moved to France…and I love the fact that they have a film industry that gives the finger to Hollywood….FIN
Some very inspiring references – you have a bon coup d’oeil. I can’t claim to have seen them all but I do have an overriding memory of Jean Seberg. It was listening to her charming accent in French that made me realize just how sexy the English accent was in that language. Unfortunately I was never able to emulate anything more than her haircut!
Thinking of you in France at this tragic time. Hope all is well.
Thanks so much Jackie. It is comforting to feel close to our our friends from afar.