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FILM

French cinema: 7 Jean-Luc Godard films to watch

The iconic French film director, best known for his works of the Nouvelle Vague cinema, has died at the age of 91 - if you're not familiar with his work here are the 5 films to watch to appreciate Jean-Luc Godard.

French cinema: 7 Jean-Luc Godard films to watch
Swiss film director Jean-Luc Godard, pictured at a press conference in 1971. (Photo by AFP)

Godard never stopped experimenting, from early celebrations of Hollywood pizazz to 1970s political tracts before diving into digital and 3D.

Here is a selection of his best-known work;

A bout de souffle  (Breathless) 1960

Godard’s first film catapulted him to fame as one of the leading members of the French New Wave movement led by young critics-cum-directors seeking to break the cinematic mould.

In the doomed romance between petty criminal Jean-Paul Belmondo and young American Jean Seberg, he combined many of his, and the New Wave’s, first loves: Hollywood B-movies and film noir.

Le Mépris (Contempt) 1963

Set on the sun-drenched Italian island of Capri, Godard intersperses scenes from a film shoot of Homer’s “The Odyssey” into the contemporary tale of a beautiful young Brigitte Bardot who falls quietly out of love with her husband after what she perceives as an act of disloyalty.

Pierrot le Fou (1965) 

Seen as his most autobiographical film, it has Belmondo as an unhappily married man going on a madcap crime spree with his ex-girlfriend (played by Godard’s first wife Anna Karina, who he had just divorced). He ends up shooting her and then trying to blow himself up.

Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (1965)

Starring the B-movie cult hero Eddy Constantine and Karina, this futuristic dystopian tale is set in a city ruled by a tyrant demanding faithful adherence to the laws of science and logic.

It heralded the bleaker outlook Godard would explore in his later works.

Ici et ailleurs (1976) 

Made during his collective film-making period as part of the Dziga Vertov group, named after the Russian avant garde director, Godard intercut footage from his 1969 documentary of a Palestinian refugee camp with shots of people in the West watching the images on their television screens — the “here and elsewhere” of the title.

As well as offering a sharp critique of the media age, Godard questioned himself as he constructed — and manipulated — documentary footage.

Sauve qui peut (Every Man for Himself) 1980 

Winner of a Cesar, a French Oscar, this plunge into the power dynamics between men and women saw Godard return to more mainstream film-making, with big stars including Gerard Depardieu and Alain Delon.

Adieu au langage  (Goodbye to Language) 2014 

Working virtually alone in his home in Switzerland, the films from Godard’s late period still pushed narrative conventions and innovated with the latest technology.

Shot in 3D, “Goodbye to Language” partly followed the point of view of Godard’s dog Roxy, using the silent star to explore our failure to communicate with each other.

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CULTURE

A guide for how to survive fall in France for homesick Americans

Looking to recreate American autumn festivities while living in France? Here are some of The Local's tips for how to avoid the seasonal homesickness this year.

A guide for how to survive fall in France for homesick Americans

For many, fall or autumn is a sacred time in the United States, marked by spooky cobwebs, weekends filled with visits to pumpkin patches, jugs of apple cider, and searching for the perfect Halloween costume. 

It is an easy time of year to feel homesick for Americans living in France, especially when it feels like you are missing out on holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving with friends and family at home.

READ MORE: Readers’ tips: How to create an authentic Thanksgiving in France

While it might never be the same as a New England fall, here are some tips on how to make autumn in France feel a bit more like home:

For when you miss pumpkin patches:

Yes this is possible in France! Pumpkins grow in fields across central France, and they are available in most supermarkets once the fall season has begun. However, if you are looking for a traditional pumpkin patch experience, that might be a bit trickier to find. If you devote yourself to a bit of research, then you will likely be able to find a ‘Fête de la Citrouille‘ or ‘Foire à la citrouille‘ (Pumpkin festivals) near you. These are more like fall fairs, complete with ‘heaviest pumpkin’ competitions and food stands.

While these might be a bit different from what you are used to, they are a great way to enjoy pumpkins (in a French way).

Many of these events will be announced on Facebook, so you can start by searching there. 

If you live in the Paris region there are a few pumpkin patches not too far outside of the city. The ‘Fermes de Gally‘ host a yearly pumpkin picking and carving festival. You could also visit “Ferme du Logis” or the “Vergers de Champlain.”

For when you want to celebrate Halloween:

You have a few options for trick-or-treating, if that’s your thing. You can always organise a private event with some other Halloween enthusiasts. Though, keep in mind that in France people say “des bonbons ou un sort” instead of ‘trick-or-treat’ in English. The other option is to see whether your local mairie is hosting an event. While Halloween is definitely not as popular in France as it is in the United States, it is becoming more common. 

If you are looking for a more official, organised event, you might consider going to the “Disney Halloween Festival.” During the festivities, the ‘villains’ take over the park, which is fully decorated for Halloween. When you enter the park, you’ll be greeted by smiling scarecrows with pumpkins on their heads, lanterns lighting up the park, and characters in ‘scary’ (kid-friendly) costumes.

During the actual Halloween weekend, the park hosts dedicated soirées. Tickets usually go for 79€ to 89€ per person.

Another option, particularly if you have older kids looking for a scarier Halloween, might be Parc Asterix. Each year, usually for the entirety of the month of October, the park is decked out in autumn colours with pumpkins, corn, and even straw bales. If you want to take younger children, you can go to the ‘Petit frisson’ (small scare) section. 

For when you miss pumpkin flavoured everything:

You do not have to give up pumpkin spice if you stay in France this fall! Starbucks (with locations across the country) sells pumpkin spice lattes.

If you want to make your own PSL, you can find ‘pumpkin spice’ in France (with a bit of effort). Carrefour reportedly sells the seasoning (see HERE). For the truly determined, you can find pumpkin spice on French Amazon too. 

The best bet for finding pumpkin spice – for all your baking and coffee needs – is to see if there is a local American épicerie or store near you. You might try the “Brooklyn Fizz” store in Lyon; “The Great McCoy” market in Paris; or the “Épicerie Americaine” in Bordeaux.

If there are not any, you can always try the online store “My American Market.”

For pumpkin scented candles, you can either replace with another fall scent (search: “bougie parfumées automne“) or you can order a Bath and Body Works candle online – see HERE

Finally, if you are looking to make a homemade pumpkin pie, consider doing so with an actual pumpkin. Pumpkin purée is hard to come by in France, but chopping up the pumpkin yourself is certainly one way to satisfy the craving.

For when you miss apple picking and cider:

In France, Normandy and Brittany are known for apple production, with their own apple cider traditions. Take a trip to Normandy and enjoy apple and cider festivals – learn more HERE.  

READ MORE: French figures: The drink that sparked a regional crockery battle

While the festivals might be lacking in apple cider donuts, you can always try your hand in making some homemade. Most of the ingredients should be accessible, though you might struggle a bit early in the season with locating nutmeg (muscade en français). As the fall season goes on, most large grocery store chains ought to stock up.

For apple pie cravings, consider trying the French equivalent: tarte aux pommes. Though it might be exactly the same as American apple pie with vanilla ice cream on top, it is still delicious and available in most boulangeries. 

If you live in the Paris area, or you are visiting, you can check out Boneshaker Donuts. The owners combine French and American traditions, and always have a full fall assortment. 

For when you miss American football:

Another source of homesickness for many Americans is the lack of American football on television in France. 

If you have a VPN on your computer, you might not run into this issue as much, but for those looking to simply watch football on cable TV, you have some options as well.

Comparitech recommends France’s two official NFL broadcasters: L’Equipe and beIN Sports. L’Equipe reportedly airs every Sunday game and playoff live, including the Super Bowl. It is free to use, so you do not need to purchase a premium subscription to view NFL games. 

Another tip might be to visit Irish, British or Scottish pubs in your area. Oftentimes, they will have access to sports channels that air NFL games too. 

For college football, Hulu’s live TV option should allow you to stream most games. 

Unfortunately, the ESPN + subscription will locate your IP address, so this is not possible without a VPN. However, you can purchase the NFL Game Pass and use it from France. You can choose between watching the Redzone or simply a single, specific game. This also allows you to split your screen, so you can watch multiple games at once.

For when you are just generally homesick:

While this might not be the perfect antidote, it might be an opportunity to make the most out of France’s fall traditions. You can start creating new hobbies and pastimes that might just become your craving this time next year. Visit a spooky French cemetery, go to your local market and buy fresh squash and Brussels sprouts, sip mulled wine, or even go out foraging for mushrooms.

The Local put together a full guide to autumn in France HERE.

READ MORE: 11 ways to make the most of autumn in France

If you are missing the foliage, consider going for a hike or weekend trip to any of these French locations that are known for stunning fall views. 

At the end of the day, if you really cannot handle being far from home during autumn, consider simply visiting the US. While flights to the US are always going to be pricey, the trip is usually cheaper in autumn than during peak times, such as summer vacation or Christmas. This off-season trip might be what you (and your wallet) needs.

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