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French films come in for a bashing in France

French film bashing has become a viral trend in France, as social media users have flocked to take aim at the most embarrassing aspects of their nation's cinema. Here are some of the best as well as a staunch defence of French cinema.

French films come in for a bashing in France
The French Film "Le Coeur des Hommes" about men going through a mid-life crisis, the type of film ridiculed on Twitter this week. Photo: AFP
The French are pretty proud of their film industry or at least that was the case until sometime on Thursday morning.
 
But then the hashtag #CommeDansUnFilmFrancais (which translates to “Like in a French film”), was created on Twitter and French people have avidly joined in the sport of French film bashing.
 
By sharing and ridiculing typical movie scenarios that they say you can only find in a French film tweeters have tapped into the common criticisms labelled at French films  – the are all set in Paris, all about men going through mid-life crisis or about couples who have fallen out of love with each other after having kids, but suddenly fallen in love with their child's best friend's dad or even that everyone gets naked… etc etc
 
The trend has gone viral in France since it began on Thursday morning, as amateur movie critics pick apart everything they consider to be wrong with French film. 
 
Let's not waste any time – here are some of the tweets that were the most popular:
 
The tweet above suggests that the only city in France is Paris, at least according to French films. The one below sarcastically questions why the film's protagonists are living in a 180 sqm apartment in Paris when they're supposed to be broke. 
Here comes one of the many mentions of French actor Gerard Depardieu, who appears to be in more than his fair share of films from France. The tweet reads: “You tell yourself that casting Gerard Depardieu will be enough to finance the film”.
 
 
Here, a tweeter wonders why there is always a parking spot in Paris directly in front of where the characters are to be meeting. 
Some users even chimed in in English, like the tweet below, or made references to American movies like the comparison pics below.
Others took aim at the fact that French cinema has no problem with nudity, or that the dialogue can be sparse at best:
 
 
Indeed, the jokes didn't seem to stop.
 

(This Topsy screengrab shows how thousands suddenly began to use the hashtag)
 
Stop bashing French cinema
 
French film expert Judith Prescott, however, said that French cinema had a lot to be proud of in just the last six months alone.
 
“It's good to the see the clichés about French cinema being trotted out by people who have probably only seen two or three French films over the past six months,” she told The Local on Friday. 

She admitted that there were indeed some “howlers” among the 258 films produced by the French film industry last year,  but that for every dud, there are young directors bringing something fresh.
 
“Think Francois Ozon and his film about a transvestite, The New Girlfriend (trailer below), or Kim Chapiron and Smart Ass, about a prostitution ring at an elite business school in France,” she said.

 
“And let's not forget the old guard of New Wave directors like Jean Luc Godard and Bertrand Tavernier who are still producing excellent, thought-provoking films even though they are well into their eighties. Godard's last film Adieu au Language was a real head-scratcher, but it was unlike anything else to hit the big screen last year.”
 
She added that the clichés pointed out by tweeters surely didn't only relate to French films. 
 
“While it's easy sit back and deride films that have unemployed people living in lavish Parisian apartments, or those showing middle-aged men in relationships with younger women, is this reserved for French films?  
 
“Unlike other national films industries, female directors are also given a fair crack of the whip in France. Many of the outstanding films I've reviewed over the last few years were directed by women, Celine Sciamma's Girlhood (trailer below) or Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar's Once in a Lifetime. to name but two. 

 
“Try coming up with more than five recent English or American films directed by a woman.  And for all the 'been there, seen that' plot lines, French films are popular outside of France. The Artist and The Intouchables were hugely successful abroad and Abderrahmane Sissako's Timbuktu has just quietly taken over one million dollars at the US box-office.
 
“Look at two of the films highly praised at this year's Cannes film festival, Standing Tall and The Measure of a Man, both hard-hitting social dramas and tell me this is not the new face of French cinema.”
 
Judith Prescott has lived and worked as a print and broadcast journalist in France for 23 years and is an avid follower of French cinema. Her blog, French Cinema Review, is aimed at fellow cinephiles around the world to keep them up-to-date with what's making news in the French movie world.
 

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FILM

French films with English subtitles to watch in November

As days get shorter and temperatures drop, November is a great month to enjoy a warm and comforting moment at the cinema. Here’s a round up of the French movies with English subtitles to see in Paris this month.

Cinema in France
Photo: Loic Venance/AFP

The cinema group Lost in Frenchlation runs regular screenings of French films in the capital, with English subtitles to help non-native speakers follow the action. The club kicks off every screening with drinks at the cinema’s bar one hour before the movie, so it’s also a fun way to meet people if you’re new to Paris.

These are the events they have coming up in November.

Friday, November 5th

Boîte Noire – What happened on board the Dubai-Paris flight before it crashed in the Alps? In this thriller Matthieu, a young and talented black box analyst played by Pierre Niney (star of Yves Saint-Laurent among other movies) is determined to solve the reason behind this deadly crash, no matter the costs. 

The screening will take place at the Club de l’étoile cinema at 8pm. But you can arrive early for drinks at the bar from 7pm. 

Tickets are €10 full price, €8 for students and all other concessions, and can be reserved here.

Sunday, November 14th

Tralala – In the mood for music? This new delightful French musical brings you into the life of Tralala (played by Mathieu Amalric), a 48 years old, homeless and worn-out street singer, who one day gets mistaken for someone else. Tralala sees an opportunity to get a better life by taking on a new personality. He now has a brother, nephews, ex-girlfriends, and maybe even a daughter. But where is the lie? Where is the truth? And who is he, deep down?

The night will start with drinks from 6pm followed by the screening at 7pm at the Luminor Hôtel de Ville cinema. There is also a two-hour cinema-themed walk where you’ll be taken on a “musicals movie tour” in the heart of Paris, which begins at 4pm.

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here. Tickets for the walking tour cost €20 and must be reserved online here.

Thursday, November 18th

Illusions Perdues – Based on the great novel series by Honoré de Balzac between 1837 and 1843, this historical drama captures the writer Lucien’s life and dilemmas who dreams about a great career of writing and moves to the city to get a job at a newspaper. As a young poet entering the field of journalism, he is constantly challenged by his desire to write dramatic and eye-catching stories for the press. But are they all true?

The evening will kick off with drinks at L’Entrepôt cinema bar at 7pm, followed by the movie screening at 8pm. Tickets are available online here, and cost €8.50 full price; €7 for students and all other concessions.

Sunday, November 21st

Eiffel – Having just finished working on the Statue of Liberty, Gustave Eiffel (played by Romain Duris) is tasked with creating a spectacular monument for the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris. It’s ultimately his love story with Adrienne Bourgès (Emma Mackey) that will inspire him to come up with the idea for the Eiffel Tower.

After a first screening last month, Lost in Frenchlation is organising a new one at the Luminor Hôtel de Ville cinema, with pre-screening drinks at the cinema bar. 

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here

Thursday, November 25th

Les Héroïques – Michel is a former junkie and overgrown child who only dreams of motorbikes and of hanging out with his 17-year-old son Léo and his friends. But at 50 years old, he now has to handle the baby he just had with his ex, and try not to make the same mistakes he has done in the past. 

The film will be followed by a Q&A with the director Maxime Roy who will discuss his very first feature. 

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here.

Full details of Lost in Frenchlation’s events can be found on their website or Facebook page. In France, a health pass is required in order to go to the cinema.

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