Friday, February 23, 2007

10 French Films

Jonathan at Connaissances has tagged me to list my top ten French films so here they are. I'm actually quite surprised by the way this has turned out. I'm quite partial to the intimiste, tortured vibe for which French cinema is famous, but it would appear that a good number of my favourite films are comedies, albeit dark comedies for the most part.

1. 37.2 Le Matin (1986) I love this film. I love the Betty character and her madness, the Zorg character and his patience, and the desperate urgency of their story. See the long version if you can.

2. Le Grand Bleu (1988) Jean-Marc Barr, stillness, depth and that haunting music. Who needs anything more from a film?

3. Harry Un Ami Qui Vous Veut du Bien. This is a fabulous film: hilariously funny at times but also horribly menacing. Harry is played by Sergei Lopez.

4. Beau temps Mais Orgageux en Fin de Journée. (1986) One of those films where nothing very much happens but you remember that nothing for a long time afterwards.

5. Western (1997) Another funny film with Sergei Lopez and his Spanish accent. It's a sort of road movie à la Bretonne.

6. Tatie Danielle (1990) Classic French comedy from Etienne Chatiliez about a nasty old besom who comes to live with her nephew's family.

7. La Vie est un Long Fleuve Tranquille (1988) Another very funny Etienne Chatiliez film contrasting a bourgeois French family, les Duquenois, and a council-house family, les Groseilles. Their babies have been swapped at birth

8. Le Retour de Martin Guerre (1982) I'm not a great Depardieu fan, but he's good as the floppy-haired returning soldier who usurps somebody else's identity. Or does he?

9. Le Boucher (1970) This one is a haunting thriller that takes place in the Dordogne and stars Stéphane Audran. (I loved her in Babette's Feast too but apparently that's a Danish film)

10. Un Homme Et Une Femme (1966) Da da da da da, da da da. Perhaps the classic French film?

Ten films really isn't enough, here are some more than nearly made it into my list:
Le Diner de Cons : funny but also poignant.
Indochine : just for the scenery.
Le Fabuleux Destin de Amélie Poulain : although it's now fashionable to say you didn't like it.
Le Bonheur est dans le pré : favourite line: "pourtant le confit n'est pas gras".
Les Ripoux : about two corrupt cops in Paris.
Trois Hommes et un couffin : much better than the American remake.
La Lune dans le Caniveau : .another one with a young Gérard Depardieu
Les Valseuses...and another.
Tchao Pantin : starring the late great Coluche.
L'Ete Meurtrier : for fans of long hot summers and the young Isabelle Adjani.
Léon :Jean Reno before he went all Sarko on us.
Diabolo menthe :Parisian childhood in the seventies.
Le Nom de la Rose : Sean Connery may not speak French, but it is partly a French production.
La Guerre du Feu : one of a kind.
Les Invasions Barbares : much more Canadian than French, but brilliant.
La Femme d'à Côté : I like Fanny Ardant and her deep voice.


Wendz said...

I don't know one of those films...I have never willingly watched a French production, mainly because I'd only get about 50% of it. Pity.

Lesley said...

Wendz: When I look back on my first few years in France, I realise that I really didn't understand what was going on in the films I saw either. I saw "La Cage Aux Folles" and laughed but only at the visual cues (mostly drag). I was very puzzled by "Deux Heures Moins le Quart Avant Jésus Christ" which was the first film I ever saw with P. (I still don't really know what the title means). I've also suffered through several Jean-Luc Godard films without having the foggiest idea what they were about.

Deborah said...

Saw Fanny Ardant for the first time in 'Huit femmes' and agree, love her voice. Liked Un air de famille.

La Grande Vadrouille and L'ail et la cuisse were a good laugh. You'll have to make another category, the older black and white films : Les Enfants du Paradis, La Kermesse Héroique and Casque d'Or. All the 'second roles' so good. Minor parts?

I think my first incomprehensible French film was L'Année dernière à Marienbad but liked it all the same. As with everything I seem to be stuck in a time warp!

Edvard Moonke said...

Some of my favourite films are French, and one of the greatest is Les Enfants du Paradis. Love Luis Bunuel too (I know he's Spanish but had his French phase), especially Belle de Jour and Cet Obscur Objet du Desir. More recently, I really enjoyed L'Appartement and He Loves Me He Loves Me Not (not sure what it was called in French!). But there are so many more...

Jonathan said...

Way to Go Lesley!

What a great list.

I'm going to print a copy and take it with me next time I go to the DVD library.

Harry un Ami and Tatie Danielle sound particularly fun.

Lucy said...

Filled with admiration, what a mine of information you are!

Lesley said...

Deborah & Edvard: I've discussed this list with a few French people and they all mentioned Les Enfants du paradis in their top 3. I liked it, but I think you probably had to see it at a really young age for it to be part of your imaginary cinematographic landscape.

Jonathan: Glad to be of service. Your children would probably like Tatie Danielle too.

blueskyscotland said...

Always had a soft spot for The Lacemaker with Isabelle Huppert...