Showing posts with the label French

Les Parapluies de Cherbourg [The Umbrellas of Cherbourg] (1964)

There aren't a lot of definitions of "Christmas movies" that would include this, and I'm not about to claim otherwise. Despite that, I wanted to share a few thoughts for a couple reasons. First, this is an incredibly important and influential movie, which naturally makes me inclined to loosen my criteria. It's also a foreign film (French, if it wasn't clear from the title), which means it's providing us with at least a little insight into how another culture views the holiday season. Most importantly, while it only contains two relatively brief holiday sequences, one of those uses Christmas in a fairly unusual way, which - unless I miss my guess - reflects back on American Christmas movies. More on that later. The film is a colorful musical drama about a couple torn apart by a combination of forces beyond their control and their own decisions. It's notable for its operatic approach - although the music is fairly modern (or modern for 1964 musicals), ev

La Bûche [Season's Beatings/The Log] (1999)

I somewhat jokingly referred to this as the anti-Love Actually after watching it, and think that would probably be a good selling line to convince American audiences to give this French dramedy a shot. In a sense, that seems accurate - like Love Actually, this follows an ensemble of characters navigating a web of relationships and emotions, but the movie is unambiguous in its assessment of long-term monogamy. Virtually every character over the age of eighteen has been unfaithful to a partner; quite literally, every romantic relationship in the film has an expiration date. However, I now think my immediate reaction was incorrect. Despite La Bûche's pessimistic view of coupling - the movie ultimately embraces love in all its forms and does so enthusiastically. In this sense, it might be better described as a companion to Love Actually (albeit one likely to please that movie's detractors). Regardless, La Bûche is either the most cynically sweet or sweetly cynical Christmas movie I

Douce [Love Story] (1943)

The first thing that jumped out about this 1943 French Christmas film was that it's a movie released in France in 1943. History was never my best subject, but even I know France was occupied by Nazi Germany during that time, which raised a substantial number of questions, some of which I've found answers for and some I haven't. The first and most relevant is confirmation that this is, in fact, a French film, as opposed to a Nazi film made in France. The director, Claude Autant-Lara, seems to have hated the occupation, and his work at the time is seen as fairly progressive. I should pause to highlight the significance of the phrase "at that time," because it doesn't take much time on Wikipedia to find that in later years Autant-Lara's politics mutated into something disturbingly similar to Nazis, complete with right-wing nationalism and antisemitism. He was actually elected to Parliament in the late '80s, though he didn't stick around long - some p

Ma nuit chez Maud [My Night at Maud's] (1969)

I'm going to be upfront about this: I'm a little out of my element here. French New Wave isn't a genre I'm familiar with, so if you stumbled across this review searching for any kind of informed analysis of this classic film, you might want to look elsewhere. That being said, this is absolutely a Christmas movie, so our quest to watch and discuss literally every important holiday movie in existence wouldn't be complete without it. So whether it's a good idea or not, I'll dust off my philosophy degree and try to describe the 1969 French film, Ma nuit chez Maud  or My Night at Maud's, as the subtitles helpfully explain. The movie is... well, let's start with this: it's good. It's very good, very well made, and - if you're used to literally any other kind of movie - very slow. I wouldn't personally use the word "boring," but I suspect it's an adjective commonly invoked in reference to this film. Stylistically, the movie is

3615 code Père Noël (1989)

Occasionally, I have the rare privilege of watching a movie that not only widens my appreciation for the scope of the grander Christmas canon, but potentially explains lingering questions about existing holiday classics. Not only is this one of those movies, it is an absolutely fantastic film in its own right, a horror/action/comedy/adventure in the vein of Rare Exports and Krampus made decades before either of those films. But for the purposes of history, it's more significant that it was made one year after Die Hard and two years before Home Alone. A lot of people have joked about similarities between those films - I've done so myself. But deep down, I always assumed those similarities were ultimately due to similar holiday tropes being used in initially divergent ways that became similar due to the movies' premises. Convergent cinematic yuletide evolution, if you will. After watching 3615 code Père Noël, however, I'm less certain. This 1989 French masterpiece (so, ye