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Getting cinematic

July 9, 2009

In Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris gushes about how he loves coming to French movie theaters to watch American movies. This passage (more than others) resonates with me because I, too, feel a guilty pleasure going to French theaters to see movies that just came out in the States. Here in Paris, most American films are shown with French subtitles rather than being dubbed (still popular in some of the smaller towns of France), but the real beauty of French cinema is that all theater auditoriums are equipped with an almost magic power to render cell phones useless. Service actually stops dead once you enter the theater, so you won’t have to hear cell phone rings (or even more annoying, the commercials before each movie telling you to turn off your cell phone). public-enemies-depp-poster-fullsize

This evening, I went to see Public Enemies, the movie about bank robber John Dillinger (Johnny Depp), and despite a completely packed auditorium, there was not a sound during the film.

Seeing these American films in Paris has its own specific set of guilty pleasures outside these obvious ones, though. For example, I love being the only person in the theater who’s not having to deal with subtitles (Confession: This is more or less untrue. Most French people know English and can probably follow the movie about as well as I can. But most of the time in real life, I’m at a disadvantage having to limp along with my half-baked French, so I  relish these little moments where I get to be the one hearing my native language). Then again, on the days that I brave a French movie, it’s two to one that I’ll come out asking myself what exactly happened about 30 minutes into the movie and whether or not I would have liked the film if I understood whatever the heck happened in that scene (or why there was so much awkwardness. I always feel that there is an unhealthy amount of awkwardness in French films).

Once and once only I got confused about what was playing and wound up watching a movie in Korean with French subtitles, which was a whole different ball of wax. Fortunately, the movie was slow with very spare dialogue. Instead, there were lots of scenes where characters looked longingly or sadly out into the landscape, thank God.

On that note, next Wednesday, the Parc de la Villette will begin its outdoor movie nights, called cinéma en plein air, on the lawn. This is one of my favorite parts of summer in Paris, especially since it combines picnics (and here, picnics mean baguettes, cheese, and lots of wine or cidre) and good movies. If you want more information, feel free to contact me or check out the Parc de la Villette Web site.

But whether you’re watching your movies in Paris on a lawn, in a movie theater seat or sitting on a couch in the States, I wish you buttery, salty popcorn and movies that make you want to buy the DVD.

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 10, 2009 4:35 pm

    I think i would have the same superior feeling if i had seen a french movie in the U.S. Too bad we didn’t see one at Ragtag….

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