Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures


9 Comments

The greatest thing about Paris

Everybody loves Paris for different reasons. I’d guess most people like the art or the food or the fashion. Some might opt for the light or the architecture or the general ambiance of romance or loucheness. What I really love about the city is the movie theaters.

If you’ve ever lived in a Real City, you might have experienced something like this.* Every week, there are dozens of old movies playing all over the city. (To be fair, they are mostly playing near la Sorbonne in the 5è and 6è, an area filled with students and expats, but not exclusively.) You can check out the list of only English language movies and see what you’re missing out on, but if you love all kinds of movies, there are too many wonderful places to sit and worship at the celluloid altar, though the cathedral of cinéma is a good place to start.

Some of my favorite moments from the past year include:

→ Seeing FIGHT CLUB on the big screen again and hearing French people love the idea of space monkeys too.
→ Watching GOODFELLAS and hearing a young couple gasp and poke each other as actors they recognized from THE SOPRANOS came onscreen.
→ Hearing people titter during VERTIGO, highlighting both how old-fashioned and how sexually perverted it was.
The time I saw BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID and you could hear people smiling practically during the whole thing.

But the best moment for me (so far), a highlight of the last five years of my life really, was seeing GREMLINS on the big screen for the first time in my life at the end of December. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen it, you may need reminding that, along with DIE HARD and LETHAL WEAPON, GREMLINS is one of the great Christmas movies of all time.

Probably the only time I will ever take my phone out during a movie.

Probably the only time I will ever take my phone out during a movie.

He deserved what he got for being a bigot.

He deserved what he got for being a bigot.

It’s another one of those movies that I’ve seen a million times and I quote it all the time but seeing it projected bigger than I ever had made it so much funnier and scarier and more impressive. The effects, which were mostly practical / in-camera ones (not computer-generated) still looked great and were convincing as hell.

But the best part of this best moment was an older French guy who was guffawing at all the xenophobic comments Mr. Futterman (Dick Miller), the hero’s grumpy old neighbor, makes. I’ve always been a big fan of Mr. Futterman’s character but it was so great to hear the very people he was railing against laugh at him. It made me crazy happy to see that we, the foreigners Futterman hated so much, got to have the last laugh.

And that’s what Christmas is all about.

* The only Real Cities of my connaisance are New York and London. Not even Boston counts, as much as I love it, since the only good old movie houses were all by Harvard which is in Cambridge. I was a member of the Brattle Theatre (the cult of Humphrey Bogart was born there), so I still went over the Charles, but I didn’t like it.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

EXT. RUE CHAMPOLLION – DAY

I derive a lot of pleasure from writing my Spanish screenplay, but I realized that so much negativity should be countered by something positive, so here’s my French screenplay about real things that happen to me which make me love France.

La_Filmothèque_Quartier_Latin

GIRL arrives at the Filmothèque du Quartier Latin an hour before the screening of BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID. She is the only person outside the closed cinema and pulls out her ebook to wait for the box office to open.

Three-quarters of an hour later, GIRL‘s still at the front of the line, now with ticket firmly in hand. There is a GAGGLE OF PEOPLE behind her, including one very distinctive OLD LADY, shoulders hunched, wearing a long teal wool coat. GIRL is still reading.

OLD LADY

What I like about Westerns is that the men are so handsome.

GIRL looks around to see who the woman is addressing and, seeing no possible candidates, thinks it might be her.

GIRL

Excuse me?

OLD LADY

The men, the men! There’s something about these men in Westerns that’s so… evocative of… men.

GIRL

Uh, yes. The men in Westerns are men.

OLD LADY

It’s not that other men aren’t available.

OLD LADY juts her jaw in the direction of the other line that’s formed, one for THE SOUND OF MUSIC. OLD LADY rolls her eyes.

OLD LADY

But some kinds of men just can’t be in a Western. I don’t have any use for those kinds.

GIRL

Well, you can’t do much better than the two in this movie. Newman and Redford were better looking in other pictures, maybe, but they’re almost perfect in this one. And it’s funny.

OLD LADY

Comedy! pftt! It’s THE MEN I’m talking about. The men!

GIRL

Well, I am not disagreeing. I agree with you. The men are something special.

The OLD LADY finally relaxes her shoulders and directly addresses GIRL for the first time.

OLD LADY

Yes! I’m glad you agree.

The matter settled, the OLD LADY smiles and gazes off into the distance. GIRL looks down and smiles too, but this time it’s the OLD LADY she’s appreciating, not the men.


5 Comments

More movie / translation fun

Part of being an expat cinefile is figuring out how English movie titles are translated. As I mentioned yesterday, I am pretty good at this, partly because I have a vast amount of movie trivia in my head but also because I have a pretty firm grasp on translation. Sometimes, neither of these things are any good to me because the foreign title is way off the original. Here are some that have tripped me up (or amused me) over the years.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

TWO MEN ONE DESTINY is not a title I would ever give to this movie. Only for starters (because I don’t want to be here all day), I don’t think either man would have said they believed in destiny. They were train robbers who were always figuring out their next move just moments before they needed to make it. Grade: F

The Sound of Music

The Sound of Music

This is where I admit that I’m one of those people who doesn’t like THE SOUND OF MUSIC. I never saw it as a kid, so it didn’t imprint and, without the nostalgia factor, this film is empirically bad. Now that that’s out there, I will say that at least the original title is pulled from the lyrics of the opening song and SMILES AND TEARS doesn’t factor in any lyrics. Or make any sense, really. Grade: C (‘cause I don’t care)

Goodfellas

Goodfellas

This translation, ONE OF US, at least comes from the narration: “He’s one of us, you understand? We were good fellas. Wiseguys.” Weirdly, the title of the book is Wiseguy so this line encapsulates all versions of the title. Grade: B+

And finally, a perfect translation.

The Long Kiss Goodnight

The Long Kiss Goodnight

This is my favorite bad movie of all time. It’s got everything you’d ever want in a good movie, but amped up 1000 times and made all the more awesome for it. The French title reflects this, as it’s 1000 times more awesome than the movie. “Au revoir” means “goodbye” as everyone knows, but its original sense was “until we re-see each other” so this title is basically UNTIL WE SEE EACH OTHER AGAIN, WHICH’LL BE NEVER. The movie is saying F-you to everyone and I love it. Grade: A++


2 Comments

They’re out to get me!

Finding a cute enough place mat to replace the one (which I’ve used as a backdrop to many pics) I bought in Barcelona many years ago had been one of my goals for this soldes season. C’est pas evident to get the right level of cute without tipping over into annoying or twee, but my search concluded with this découverte in the gift shop of the Pompidou Centre.

By PetitJourParis

Trop cute! (By PetitJourParis.)

The only issue I have with it is that it prominently features both a slug and a rabbit right in the middle of the scene. The coincidence is too great to not be part of a conspiracy against me.

Why are you tormenting me so?

Why are you tormenting me so?

Other “they’re after you?” scenes

→ Arya and Gendry in GAME OF THRONES S2E02

→ ALADDIN, a movie I watched every day after school for a year

→ When BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID are being chased by the Pinkertons.

This better be the last I hear about either of these creatures for a long time because I seriously don’t like them and am starting to take this personally.