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Save France, Save the World: Sneak peek at Edge of Tomorrow

I’ll be the first to admit that from seeing the trailer, I thought that “Edge of Tomorrow” was going to be stupid. But still freshly drenched in sweat from running to catch the last métro home after an avant-première in Paris, I will now admit that I enjoyed every minute of it—especially seeing Paris in post-alien-invasion mode. I’ll try to avoid spoilers, but let’s just say that the movie reinforces in the most entertaining way possible the idea that the French must always rely on external forces to save their butts in time of war, even in the future.

This morning, I was at the exhibit in the Jardin du Luxembourg that shows press photos from the journal Excelsior of WWI in France. You can see the 175 photos in exhibit on parisienimages.fr. I highly recommend it. Tom Cruise is nowhere to be seen.

You can also see “Edge of Tomorrow” soon, which has Tom Cruise in every scene, and not-so-subtle WWI references with the “Angel of Verdun”—not Rodin’s sculpture, but rather the kick-ass love-interest (thankfully, minimally so) and fighting companion of Tom Cruise, who seems to embody the good old USA saving the world. Have I said too much already?

In a year filled with WWI and WWII retrospectives (at least here in France), it’s nice that we can also honor WWIII (or IV or V or whatever number they’re up to in the future where aliens have once again shown complete disregard for the Eiffel Tower) knowing that France will be quickly overcome by alien forces as they were in WWII, and that only Top Gun Cruise can help.

I’d love nothing more than to report the cynicism of the French audience in the face of another USA-centric Hollywood blockbuster, but the fact is, they ate it up (as they do most Hollywood fare) and so did I. As I ran to catch the métro (at the Louvre station no less), I gave the still-intact Louvre a smug look of American superiority. On behalf of all pearly-white toothed Americans of all future invasions, we, the Americans of Hollywood, would like to say, “You’re Welcome.”

Be My Valentine, Fanny Ardant

FannyArdant

Just listen to Fanny Ardant talk in this interview and tell me it’s not a good thing to do on Valentine’s Day. Her voice is completely mesmerizing. What can I say? I’ve had a crush on Fanny Ardant since I was 16 and saw her in Truffaut’s homage to Hitchcock, Vivement Dimanche. Years later, I sat in the front row as she played Maria Callas in a French stage production of Master Class. “Wow!” I thought, “Fanny Ardant’s spit just fell on me!” Creepy and stalkerish, you say? Ha! That’s nothing. Check out Vincent Delerm’s rather awkward performance of “Fanny Ardant et Moi” complete with annoyingly cheesy clapping by audience members, all in the presence of Fanny Ardant herself:

Joyeuse Saint-Valentin!

5 pseudo-profound French quotes about the movies

cinema

I’ve been at the Sundance Film Festival all week, so I thought I’d find a nice quote about the movies. But hélas! I kept coming across quotes that seem profound but are in fact quite stupid. So, here are 5 of them. What do you think? Am I being too harsh?

First, from celebrated cinéaste Jean-Luc Godard:

« Quand on va au cinéma, on lève la tête. Quand on regarde la télévision, on la baisse. »

What does that even mean? What if you sit in the balcony at the movies? What if you have a TV above your fireplace or you sit on the floor while watching the télé?  What if you watch a movie on TV? I could go on, but I won’t.

Next up, a quote from René Clair:

« Réclamons pour le cinéma le droit de n’être jugé que sur ses promesses. »

The right to only be judged on one’s promises? As in, I promised this would be a good movie, but I lied? 

« Si on a du génie, on fait pas de cinéma, on écrit un grand livre. »

Maybe Michel Audiard, who was a screenwriter after all, was just attempting to be self-deprecating when he said this? Let’s move on to a quote from director/screenwriter André Téchiné about how cinéma can lapse into navel-gazing. 

« Un cinéaste, ça se demande comment va le monde. S’il ne pose pas cette question, il fait du cinéma qui se prend le pouls. »

It sounds poetic, but it’s a fairly trite statement. Basically, he’s saying that if you don’t ask what’s going on in the world, then you’re not asking what’s going on in the world. Deep.

Let’s finish things off with some American bashing from Bertrand Tavernier.

« Un film n’est pas seulement une histoire que le cinéma vend, mais aussi une culture, un pays, un autre type de consommation. Cela, les Américains l’ont pas très bien compris. »

If America isn’t selling an entire culture and a country with its movies then I don’t know who is.

 

There’s a word for that: a movie that’s so bad it’s good

Ever see a movie that’s so bad it’s good? Not Sharknado. It’s calculated to be so bad it’s good. Self-aware badness automatically disqualifies it from this category. I’m talking about a movie made in earnest that fails so spectacularly that it entertains us for all the wrong reasons. There’s a word for that in French:

nanar

There’s even a site dedicated to nanars, complete with it’s own forum and a glossary to help you become a nanar savant. The verb cabotiner (to overact)doesn’t make it into French textbooks, but it comes in handy when discussing nanars. Learn more  crucial nanar terms on Nanarland‘s site.

For your viewing pleasure, some excellent kung-fu nanar action:

And here’s another choice example of horrible doublage (dubbing). Be sure to listen to the inspiring speech about the Grand Canyon:

And finally, a gem from Hitman The Cobra:

Bad guys speak French

In the year 2154, you have a better shot of living on a pristine space station if you speak French. At least that’s what I learned when I went to see the movie Elysium last night. When we first see Jodie Foster, as the villainous Secretary Delacourt (yep. as in “of the court”), she is mingling with elite citizens of Elysium in fluent French. Meanwhile, back on earth, Max (Matt Damon) speaks just enough Spanish to let the viewer know that he is a man of the people. This isn’t a movie review, so I won’t go into the numerous problems with the script (like, if you want the miracle health care of the “med-pod 3000″, wouldn’t it be more efficient to just steal one and bring it back to earth rather than jeopardize the lives of little girls in doomed missions to breach the space station? I’m just sayin’.)

Whatever its faults, Elysium gets one thing right: people who speak French are evil.

Can you imagine a dystopian earth where the huddled masses, the lovable gang of outlaws, and the messianic badass speak French? Hollywood can’t.

If you have ambitions to be a supervillain (or even a WASPy power-hungry xenophobe with a refrigerator full of expiring Activia. And who doesn’t?), you really should brush up on your French. Sure, you may end up dead when Matt Damon comes to free the world from your despotic grasp, but as the blood pools around your impeccably tailored suit and your gracefully pursed lips prepare to exhale their final breath, you will admire your reflection in one of the many surrounding chrome surfaces with just a soupçon of a smile. Fond memories of conjugating…Je suis…tu es…il est…elle…and then nothing.

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