To the Movies!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Starting this summer I wanted to jump back into learning French again for a few reasons. Being able to speak another language is freeing and beautiful in itself and I definitely plan to take another trip back to France in the coming years. Plus, practicing something consistently every day builds a discipline that I need since working from home for myself can mean a schedule that pulls you in twelve different directions at once :)

The best way I've found to learn anything is total immersion. One of my best girlfriends, who is an incredible tap dancer, always recommends just going out to a salsa club and dancing with someone as opposed to taking salsa lessons. There is a rigidity to learning in a structured way as opposed to just jumping in the environment. 

So I've taken to watching videos without subtitles just to hear the fluidity of the words and phrases, and reading books in french to see how things are spelled in context. I'm currently reading 'L'etranger' (The Stranger) by Albert Camus! My dictionary always right beside me. But my favorite technique has definitely been to watch French movies. Taking a cue from the lovely Bri Emery of DesignLoveFest, I wanted to compile a list of my favorite French films, some of which are available via Netflix and others I rented.

A pretty stellar cast of actors deliver the right dose of humor and sadness in this drama about a group of friends who come to discover one another's secrets during their yearly vacation after a dear friend suffers a motorcycle accident. Directed by Marion's partner in real life, Guillame Canet. Highly recommend.

 
Such a classic. Need we say anything at all?

 
 
Perhaps my favorite French film I've seen this year so far. Beautiful, understated cinematography and acting. This is one of those films whose approach of stripping away grand gestures of love only magnifies how powerful and vast it really is. The story centers on a young woman named Camille experiencing the undulations of a first romance. When her first love leaves her to pursue his own adventures, we see Camille's life proceed through college, working, and entering a new relationship with a much older gentleman: her professor. It's melancholy and beautiful and hopeful all at once. The interesting thing about this film is that there are no beginnings. Only middles, the ebb and flow of relationships. The director doesn't waste time showing how or when two people first met or when they reconciled or how.  He's interested in the meat of a relationship that allows it to grown, change, and sometimes end.

 This movie was one of the first posts I ever had on the Chestnut Orange in 2008 :) Cannot express how I adore this film. Here's a link back to that post' review because it pretty much captures the emotions I had when I initially watched it. Hope you like!

 At my previous job we had an annual event called The Movies or Grownups awards, and this year I chose to be on the Foreign Film committee. All Together was one several films we had to watch and then vouch for or against. I wasn't sure of the premise before I started the film, but quickly became enraptured by the easy chemistry among the actors. And Jane Fonda is in it speaking like a natural francophile! She's absolutely radiant in this film. The movie itself deals with a group of friends who decide to move in together as a sort of alternative retirement living when the inevitable signs of aging start to show their hands. It's funny and reflective all at once.
Another classic film that should be in any francophile's movie collection :)
It maybe has about 10 words in this short film, but will leave your heart with the warmest sensation. 
A genuine feel good movie about the power of imagination and friendship. Not to mention the cutest little French boy who is pretty independent considering he runs around the city of Paris by himself at all of 7 or 8.


These last two are wonderful films that focus on the classroom, and deal with two very different subjects: getting through to kids who come from troubled neighborhoods, and kids reeling from the suicide of a beloved teacher. The latter, Monsieur Lazhar, has a theme that has been getting lots of attention in the media in recent years: how a teacher can be comforting to a child without it being construed as inappropriate? 

Hope you'll enjoy the films above, and if you have any recommendations for me please feel free to send them my way! Always interested in checking out new films :)

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