where we've been and where we're going

Monday, July 13, 2009

Parisian Cinema

During my last week in residence in Paris I was able to take in a few films as part of the Parisian experience. First I saw Woody Allen’s new movie, Whatever Works (not Parisian), at La Pagode (very Parisian). La Pagode is a movie theatre that was built by the owner of La Bon Marche for his wife over a hundred years ago. It resembles, surprise!, a pagoda, with Japanese style roofing and a lovely outdoor terrace, where movie-goers can have tea before showtime (we would have, if they had served us). The window detailing looks art nouveau to me, but it certainly fits the theme. The theatre itself is also lovely, with gold detailing and a celebratory atmosphere.

The movie was in the original English with French subtitles, of course, though it seemed that most of the audience didn’t need the subtitles. There were little cracks at the expense of the French, at which they laughed louder than we did. It was an okay movie, better than I expected, but still way down on my list of Woody Allen films, but the experience was worth the show. At the end, not a single person rose to leave the theatre until the credits were almost entirely through. It was a very respectful engagement of the entertainment and appreciation of the art. I love seeing films in this manner.

I was also able to attend a show that was part of the Paris Film Festival, called Sell Out! that was introduced by the director himself. It’s a Malaysian comedy about the choice between making high art versus commercial art. And a musical! It was extremely witty and well written, and the director’s choices were very elegant and insightful. It was very poorly acted, but highly enjoyable despite this. Here’s the trailer, which is very representative of the movie. It also has my favorite song, Money.

Not only did the director introduce the film, but he also stayed to answer questions we might have after the movie. It didn’t seem like the audience was full of critics asking incisive questions, but no one there seemed to be a movie novice, either. It was really interesting to hear about his thought process and choices, pointing me to things I hadn’t noticed while watching it. Cinema feels more cultural here. Like it did when I lived in St. Louis, and like I miss desperately in Atlanta.
Photos of the theatres and the festival, as well as the Canal St. Martin, Amelie’s canal that I wandered along on a lazy Friday:

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