Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oui, c'est ca, Paris

Some days are just like this. Dim. Gray. Gray. Gray. Damp. Ugly. Everyone is tired. Listless. No one seems grumpy, just blah. The city looks like a moldy black-and-white postcard. There's dirty water in street gutters. To avoid the blowing rain at the bus stop I decide to take the nearest métro instead. I duck into the smelly, grimy Chatelet station, which on a good day would depress Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Gray. Blah. Fatigue. Spleen de Paris.

February, quoi.

So I indulged in a little afternoon cinematherapy at La Pagode and went to see Paris for the second time this week. I'll certainly go a third time. A fourth. Not that it's an uplifting movie, and there is no award-winning plot. But for me, a movie to watch again and again: it captures the heart and soul of Paris. In some ways in the spirit of Balzac's La Comédie humaine, it's a kaleidoscope of images and lives, both hopeful and wistful, criss-crossing in Paris. At the end of the film, as the Satie theme music plays, Romain Duris gazes longingly out the window of the taxi as it winds through the city. "Oui, c'est ça, Paris," he says. "No one is ever happy. Everyone complains. They don't know how lucky they are, to walk, to eat, to be, to be alive -- just like that. In Paris."


Unknown said...

Funny thing: Growing up and looking at dismal post-war photographs of a gray and dingy Paris, I expected a "damp, gray...smelly, grimy" city (which of course did not deter me). How fortunate for me that my first introduction was a balmy April afternoon. I have since come to know and love Paris' dank and gritty side.

Yes, just to be alive in Paris.

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Thanks, Mimi, for a nice recollection. Even in the dismal gray, Paris is poetic, it's true. And on incandescent days it is glorious and words don't do it justice!

Actually, I love the fact that Paris has "bad hair days" just like any place. Far from being a perfect-postcard-image locale, it's very very real, and lovable (kind of) even when it's dreary.

Jay Livingston said...

I clicked on the link to the film. It offered "bande-annonce," "casting," "sur le tournage." And "Goodies." Goodies? Qu'est-ce que ca veut dire?

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Excellent question. When I watch French DVDs the "goodies" are ususally extra things, like outtakes and interviews, I think. In this case the goodies seem to be stills, official poster and computer screensaver/wallpaper.

Anonymous said...

Polly -
I'm so glad you suggested this. It's playing right now in NY for the "Rendez-Vous with French Cinema" festival. I'll definitely check it out!

For any New Yorkers out there -- here's the link to the 15 films playing now:


Polly-Vous Francais said...

Thanks so much for the link to the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema. I haven't seen many of those films yet; it seems that if you miss them they're gone in a couple of weeks here.

But I do recommend "Shall We Kiss?" (Un Baiser s'il Vous Plait). I never finished the post I was writing on that. It's thoughtful and funny -- and it would be a great date movie, by the way.

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