French Films and the American Dream
By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft
The 72nd Cannes Film Festival is underway (May 14 to 25) on the French Riviera. I always wanted to be there, to soak up the stories in film, the stories on the runway, the stories of creative process and how a film miraculously came together in a series of serendipities.
I was in Nice, France, with my sister, daughter, and son-in-law a few years ago. Our plan was to drive west from Nice, on the coast road along the Cote d'Azur, and drive through Cannes. They had no particular interest in it; they were humoring me.
See a map of the Cote d'Azur here.
The festival had concluded days before, but I wanted to see this world-famous destination, the world-famous film festival that carries more weight than any other. I wanted to feed off the creative energy that would be lingering among the palm fronds waving in the Mediterranean breeze. I wanted to take the buzz back to Paris with me so that, after my family left, I could apply it to The Paris Writers Circle.
The road cooperated for a nice drive with views of the sea, through one coast town after another. I was looking forward to being in Cannes and paying homage to film, storytelling, glamour.
In Search of the American Dream
It's part of my American dream to see a movie of one of my stories made. If it ever happens, I'll be on the set, with gray hair, telling the 20-year-old actress to button her blouse up because that's not how I wrote this character. And telling the director I believe in sexual tension in stories rather than explicit sexual scenes. And they'll be, like, yeah, yeah, she's so old, and ignore my wisdom. Sigh.
Back to my story. The road suddenly veered inland, up a hill. We anxiously kept putting "Cannes" in the GPS, but it simply refused to take us there. Traffic was heavy -- and scary. And we had to make it back to Paris that day for flights the following day. We couldn't afford to backtrack.
So my homage was never paid. I've never been to Cannes and really hate having to say that.
We drove north to Lyon, which we'd heard is the culinary center of France. Arrived just as the restaurants were closing for the afternoon break. Another disappointment.
But what are we but resilient?
Resilience, dogged perseverance, butt in chair, and serendipities. That's my creative process.
So I have no photos of Cannes for you. But I have a link to the official festival site, here, and to images by Newsweek from the 2018 festival, here. And I have a list of my Paris housemate Daphne's most highly recommended French films, below.
Daphne is a great source for film recommendations. She works in show business in France, managing shows for various artists.
Here's my dear friend Daphne, standing in a driveway in France. I will see her here in Brooklyn on June 4 when she comes to stay with me for a week! She understands showmanship, so you'll enjoy the movies she listed for me (below)
You'll see the French name of the film, her zany comments in parens, and then my notes on where I found (or didn't find) the film. In my case, "library" means the New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library systems. Most town libraries are connected to a bigger system -- persevere and you may find these movies no matter where you live.
I have been delighted with all the movies on this list that I've seen. The comedies are truly laugh out loud funny. The dramas are moving, emotional. There are no special effects. They are all about humanity, life, longing. They are excellent storytelling.
- Ensemble c'est tout (cheerfully french !)
- Le placard (nice) buy $2
- L'auberge espagnol / Les poupées russes / Casse-tête chinois (it's a trilogy)
- La doublure (nicely funny)
- Les Visiteurs ( a MUST see! One of the classics!) buy on Am. $$$$ not on Netflix.
- La Grande Vadrouille (THE absolute classic)
- Les bronzés font du ski (a double must-see!) $8 on Am. Not on Netflix apparently.
- La vérité si je mens 1, 2 and 3 (crazyly funny^^) buy $4 on Am.
- Ma vie en l'air (quite great actually) $10 to buy on Am.
- La chèvre (hahahahahahaha!!!) rent on Amazon
- Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis (incroyable!)
- Rien à déclarer (a proof of the belgian inferior race ! Joking XD) rent $3.49
- Le gendarme de St Tropez (old but nice saga) no rent on Am. Not on Netflix stream or DVD either.
- La vache et le prisonnier (old cute movie). Not on netflix
- Hors de prix =)
- Un indien dans la ville (a big classic too^^)
- Jeux interdits (even if difficult, the cutest movie I've ever seen)
- Comme un avion (like my father said: only french people can make a movie like that lol) get from library
- Le concert (beautiful sound)
- Jeux d'enfants (Glory of french surrealism)
- Le Grand Bleu (if you liked dolphins.. Luc Besson's movie) not on Amazon
- Dialogue avec mon jardinier (friendship is all) book only at library. Not on either Netflix
- Intouchable (a wonder...)
- La Populaire! It's a really enchanting movie :D not on netflix
Le Coeur des Hommes! (it's like a french Sex and the city version with men)
- Je vais bien ne t'en fais pas (Frenchly bothering)
- La Môme (Édith Piaf biography)
- Deux jours à tuer (every detail is important in that movie). Not on Netflix
- Mommy (Canadian movie in French Canadian... just admired the work!)
- Suite Française (it's in English but I loved it!!), not on netflix
- Ne le dis à personne (well done!) yes, well done.
- Les rivière pourpres (Grrrrr)
- Cash (french suspens :P)
- 36 Quai des Orfèvres (good good good!) not Amazon. Not Netflix. Not NYPL library.
- MR73 (veeeeeeery good... but you'll need company to watch it I think)
- Léon (in English but french director Luc Besson... Natalie Portman is just incredible in that film)