Wednesday, January 07, 2009

French film, in review

Dear Faithful Readers*,

I apologize for my long absence. I have been busy enjoying some European travels during my excessively long vacations and doing my best to get out of my current living situation with the crazy French family. But those are stories for another day. Or, you know, another night when I don't have to work tomorrow morning at the unheard-of hour of 9am. Ridiculous.

For the moment, I would like to simply dispel a rumor that has been circulating for (what must be) ages, and this is it: that French cinema is good. Okay, so we Americans see Amélie and we're like, 'Oh the french are so quirky and imaginative!' Okay, so maybe Jeunet is quirky and imaginative, and maybe that's what we think of as 'typically French,' but that so isn't even his best film. (Plus he does way better with Caro at his side.)

So, anyway, blah blah blah, one or two well-known and French directors†, and that's what we think of as French cinema. Only it's not. French cinema is pretty much just like so much Hollywood crap only more (overtly) racist and sexist.

Case(s) in point:

1. Agathe Cléry

"She is white. She is racist. She is going to become black."

This film was wrong in so many ways. The woman on the poster is in blackface! Not just blackface, black body! The movie is supposed to be a commentary on racism in France. This racist woman delevops some rare 'skin disorder' and slowly starts to become black. She then begins to suffer all of the disadvantages that a black woman in France would (she loses her job, which was basically marketing cosmetics to white ladies, and almost loses her apartment), and that's about as far as the so-called commentary goes. Luckily, a young black female doctor (did you even know they had those?!?) takes her under her wing and shows her how to dress, talk and walk more 'black,' complete with hair salon muscial number. Oh, and did I mention it's a musical? It's a musical.

Other highlights: an hommage-to-Michael-Jackson dance number in which the actress most definitely has a body double and that body double is most probably a man; second solo dance number (post-full-black transformation) in a dance club where Agathe (as a black woman) finally lets loose and it turns out (now that she's black) she's a really great dancer (further use of body double)!

So then guess what? She (after loosing her old job) finally gets a job at this office where they only hire people who aren't white, and her boss is this black man, and they immediately start sleeping together! Because they're both black and so obvs they're totally going to be into each other. Does anybody seem to notice that he's her boss and that their affair might cause some kind of, like, business vs. pleasure conflict? No. Because it's France. They take their business with their pleasure here.

Anyhow, blah blah blah, harmony, blah blah blah, she becomes white again, conflict ensues (will her black boyfriend dump her? will she lose her nonwhite job?), resolution: they get married and have an improbable amount of children as she is in her 40s (but this is probably made possible by his virility).

So, basically, a racist movie about racism.

2. De l'autre côté du lit (From the other side of the bed)

"Give me your place and take mine."

Um, did you see the poster? So, she's a busy mom and he's a workaholic and he's all, Why hasn't the worker finished renovating this room yet! You have one thing to do and you don't do it! And she's all, What?? One thing!! Let's trade places! And there is some hesitation and fighting, but then they do it. Also she punches him in the face.

So guess what, she just takes over his job! It doesn't matter that she doesn't have any training, she just shows up in a low-cut business suit and doesn't even have to give an interview or anything! And guess what else, she's really bad at it and it makes her cry! And he can't cook! Or do their daughter's hair! What a disaster!

But then they both kind of get better at it (You mean a woman can open it?), but of course she cracks under the pressure first, because women are all emotional and shit. Also, for some reason they both have to cheat on each other in really predictable and traceable ways (he takes pictures with a polaroid camera), but you know, they're French, so it doesn't seem to bother anyone for too long.

Anyway, she tries to sabatoge his homemaking (conniving womenfolk), but then he kicks her out for cheating on him with someone at the office, but then he wants her back, but then she finds the polaroids (no doy). Resolution: he is arrested over accusations relating to a program she launched in his place (but he's still technically the boss), he takes the blame, and she comandeers a police car whose radio is conveniantly broadcast in all the rooms of the police station; she professes her love/apologies while driving into/over half a dozen police officers who are trying to force her exit from the vehicle. She wraps it up, gets out of the car, and no one even tries to arrest her.

Okay, so maybe those are the only two movies I've seen in theaters since I've been here (besides Madagascar 2, but that doesn't count), and maybe the posters should have been enough to put me off, but I'm bored, okay? I don't have a lot to do, and at least the poor quality of the French cinema inspired me to take up the keyboard once again.

*Um, I mean, Mom

†My knowledge of French directors is clearly so vast.

1 comment:

  1. It's funny because I'm in a French and Italian cinema class. But I'm pretty sure we won't be seeing these classics. Also, thought of this movie: