I’d love nothing better than to board a plane to France for a month-long escape. Exploring the streets of Paris for a week or two and then relaxing in the South of France, this extended vacation is a dream of mine. I’m saving for this trip but in the meantime I enjoy a virtual escape to France with Francophile films.
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Escape for a couple of hours and dream of France!
I may not be able to go to France right now but I can set aside a couple of hours now and then to escape via a film. There are countless possibilities but here are a dozen or so to get you started.
And why not take the experience up a notch? Enjoy your film with a rich cup of café au lait, a French cocktail or a glass of champagne!
This is one of my all-time favorites and it makes me happy to watch it every time.
Via Rotten Tomatoes:
“Amélie” is a fanciful comedy about a young woman who discretely orchestrates the lives of the people around her, creating a world exclusively of her own making. Shot in over 80 Parisian locations, acclaimed director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (“Delicatessen”; “The City of Lost Children”) invokes his incomparable visionary style to capture the exquisite charm and mystery of modern-day Paris through the eyes of a beautiful ingenue.
I got to see this one for the first time in a small, independent theater in Southern California. I had been eagerly awaiting it when I was called to California to help take care of my uncle. My aunt arranged for a couple of her friends to take me to see it during my time there. I loved it. And still do.
Kate Hudson (Almost Famous) lights up the screen as Isabel, a film school dropout who jets off to Paris when her pregant step-sister Roxy (Naomi Watts, Mulholland Drive) is abandoned by her husband. Soon, Isabel has a scandal of her own when she falls for an older man who’s related to Roxy’s cheating husband!
I can’t explain why but I always tear up, in a happy way, when I watch Midnight in Paris. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that in addition to being a Francophile, I also majored in English literature. It manages to touch on my greatest loves.
Paris is a city that lends itself to daydreaming, to walking the streets and imagining all sorts of magic, a quality that Woody Allen understands perfectly. Midnight in Paris is Allen’s charming reverie about just that quality, with a screenwriter hero named Gil (Owen Wilson) who strolls the lanes of Paris with his head in the clouds and walks right into his own best fantasy. Gil is there with his materialistic fiancée (Rachel McAdams) and her unpleasant parents, taking a break from his financially rewarding but spiritually unfulfilling Hollywood career–and he can’t stop thinking that all he wants to do is quit the movies, move to Paris, and write that novel he’s been meaning to finish. You know, be like his heroes in the bohemian Paris of the 1920s. Sure enough, a midnight encounter draws him into the jazzy world of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Picasso and Dali, and an intense Ernest Hemingway, who promises to bring Gil’s manuscript to Gertrude Stein for review. Gil wakes up every morning back in the real world, but returning to his enchanted Paris proves fairly easy. In the execution of this marvelous fantasia, Allen pursues the idea that people of every generation have always romanticized a previous age as golden (this is in fact explained to us by Michael Sheen’s pedantic art expert), but he also honors Gil’s need to find out certain truths for himself. The movie’s on the side of gentle fantasy, and it has some literary/cinematic in-jokes that call back to the kind of goofy humor Allen created in Love and Death.The film is guilty of the slackness that Allen’s latter-day directing has sometimes shown, and the underwritten roles for McAdams and Marion Cotillard are better acted than written. But the city glows with Allen’s romantic sense of it, and Owen Wilson has just the right nice-guy melancholy to put the idea over. A worthy entry in the Cinema of the Daydream. –Robert Horton (via Amazon)
While this isn’t one of Audrey’s better films, it DOES have William Holden and Paris. Good enough for me to set aside an afternoon to watch it.
In this irresistible romantic comedy, William Holden and Audrey Hepburn reunite 10 years after SABRINA. Holden plays Richard Benson, a screenwriter pressured by a movie producer (Noël Coward) to finish his script. Richard hires a live-in secretary, Gabrielle Simpson (Audrey Hepburn) to help him, and soon they’re falling in love, enacting scenes from an unwritten screenplay. Unfortunately, the deadline to deliver a script is fast approaching.
This is on my summer “must watch” list!
A sudden job loss sets a life crisis in motion for a middle-aged bourbon salesman. On his journey across the French countryside, a possible new romance blooms with a charming vineyard owner.
Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn plus Paris…how could you go wrong?
She plays the cello. He plays the field She’s coltishly young. He’s worldly and mature Lovestruck conservatory student Ariane knows she’s not like millionaire American playboy Frank Flanagan. But if she pretends to be just as much a cosmopolitan lover as he is, maybe the magic of I’amour will take hold May-December romance is in bloom when Billy Wilder directs and Audrey Hepburn and Gary Cooper meet for Love in the Afternoon. Laughs, Parisian settings, champagne elegance – Wilder, in his first collaboration with longtime cowriter I.A.L. Diamond, delivers them all in a souffle-light homage to his filmmaking idol Ernst Lubitsch, punctuating it by casting Lubitsch alumnus Maurice Chevalier, the cinema’s ambassador of Gallic charm, who smoothly plays Ariane’s detective father
This is such a fun movie and another one I plan to watch again soon!
En route to Paris to win back her ex-fiance, a neurotic woman becomes involved with a French thief.
If you love 50s-era musicals you’ll enjoy this one. Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron in Paris!
Via Rotten Tomatoes:
Jerry Mulligan (Gene Kelly) is an American ex-GI who stays in post-war Paris to become a painter, and falls for the gamine charms of Lise Bouvier (Leslie Caron). However, his paintings come to the attention of Milo Roberts, a rich American heiress, who is interested in more than just art.
Why not include an animated movie in our collection?
One key point: if you can get over the natural gag reflex of seeing hundreds of rodents swarming over a restaurant kitchen, you will be free to enjoy the glory of Ratatouille, a delectable Pixar hit. Our hero is Remy, a French rat (voiced by Patton Oswalt) with a cultivated palate, who rises from his humble beginnings to become head chef at a Paris restaurant. How this happens is the stuff of Pixar magic, that ineffable blend of headlong comedy, seamless technology, and wonder (in the latter department, this movie’s views of nighttime Paris are on a par with French cinema at its most lyrical). Director Brad Bird (The Incredibles) doesn’t quite keep all his spinning plates in the air, but the gags are great and the animation amazingly expressive–Remy’s shrugs and nods are nimbler than many flesh-and-blood actors can manage. Refreshingly, the movie’s characters aren’t celebrity-reliant, with the most recognizable voice coming from Peter O’Toole’s snide food critic. (This fellow provides the film’s sole sour note–an oddly pointed slap at critics, those craven souls who have done nothing but rave about Pixar’s movies over the years.) Brad Bird’s style is more quick-hit and less resonant than the approach of Pixar honcho John Lasseter, but it’s hard to complain about a movie that cooks up such bountiful pleasure. —Robert Horton
Via Rotten Tomatoes:
A collection has 18 vignettes set in Paris. In “Bastille,” a man (Sergio Castellitto) considers leaving his wife (Miranda Richardson) for his mistress (Leonor Watling). A cowboy (Willem Dafoe) rides at midnight to comfort a woman (Juliette Binoche) who lost her son in “Place des Victoires.” In “Fauborg Saint-Denis,” an American actress (Natalie Portman) wants to break off her romance with a blind student.
She was known as “the Little Sparrow.” But behind Edith Piaf’s tiny stature was a larger-than-life voice that captivated a generation. Featuring a powerhouse, Oscar(R)-winning lead performance by Marion Cotillard, this sensational film unveils the story of the French songbird whose road to international fame became suffused with poverty, illness, heartbreak, tragedy and addiction. “Four stars…one of the best biopics I’ve seen” (Roger Ebert). Winner of two Academy Awards(R), for Best Actress (Cotillard) and Best Makeup. Co-starring Emmanuelle Seigner, Jean-Paul Rouve, Gerard Depardieu and Clotilde Courau. Directed by Olivier Dahan; adaptation and dialogues by Olivier and Isabelle Sobelman, screenplay by Olivier Dahan.
I first watched these lovely films when my kids were teens. We homeschooled and I would select a couple of films a week for us to watch together. I wanted them to see a lot of classics as well as some foreign films. These were the first French films we watched we loved them. They take place in rural Provence where two local farmers try to trick a newcomer out of his inherited property.
How many of these films have you seen? Which are your favorites? Do you have another favorite to share? Leave me a comment!
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