Monday, June 7, 2010

(Some of) The Cinemas of Paris

"I'm French. We respect directors in our country"

On my trip to Paris and Italy I brought along my digital camera, as is a tourist's wont, and filled up its memory card with such pictorial wonders as my wife in front of the Trevi fountain, myself in front of the Trevi fountain, both of us in front of the Trevi fountain and last but not least, the always intriguing Trevi fountain by itself. Since this is a cinema related blog I will not bore you with those pictures here, but never fear eventually they will be placed on Facebook and/or Flckr, where I have zero qualms about boring you (and if you're on Facebook, there's pretty much a 99.7% chance you are bored, it's a scientific fact), and focus instead on the pictures I took of the cinemas I ran across in my travels.

This post are from Paris, Italy will follow.

La Pagode
Rue de Babylone

When I asked my French friend Pierre for any historical or interesting Parisian cinema suggestions, his first (and only) reply was La Pagode, a turn of the century (20th century, that is) Japan themed first run two screen theatre. Unfortunately I didn't efficiently capture the splendor of this French institution in better detail, but hopefully these pictures, however poor in quality, give you a sense of the design, similar to the Grauman erected Chinese, Egyptian and Mayan theatres that were built in the late 1920's in America. La Pagode was used as a ballroom and did not start showing films until the 1930's.

Even more unfortunate, I did not actually go to see a film there. We went by twice, once at the beginning of our trip and then again on our last full day in Paris, but even though both screens had changed films over the course of time, neither of the film offerings were in English, and unless the films consisted of only seven words (some combination of: Hello, Goodbye, Thank You, Yes, Coffee, One and Shit) I would have difficulties following along.

The films that were playing were the latest film from director Luc Besson, Les Aventures Extraoardinaires d'Adele Blanc-Sec (The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec), L'Arnacoeur (Heartbreaker) starring Roman Duris (The Beat That My Heart Skipped) and Johnny Depp's baby's mama, Vanessa Paradis, this year's Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Language film (Argentina), El Secreto de sus Ojos and Imogene McCarthery, which according to IMDB is a French spy spoof.

And here your humble blogger stands in front of the Studio Galande, which was close to the apartment we were staying at in the Latin Quarter. The exterior wall promoted a wide array of different cinematic offerings (A Prophet, A Single Man, Invictus, White Ribbon, and some classic French films (titles of which I cannot remember) and one Italian giallo (sorry...bad memory). It appeared from their schedule that the offerings change daily. Additionally, they had midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show on the weekends. Nice to see that that tradition crossed over the Atlantic.

Pay close attention during Before Sunset, and you will see Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy walk past this theatre early in the film.

Mouffetard is my wife's favorite neighborhood in Paris (she lived there for a little under a year in her late teens) so we spent a lot of time in the area. I found this little cinema (and little is apropos as it only seats 75) there, like the Galande it had several different movies playing on their schedule including French films and English language fare such as The Ghost Writer, Precious and The Princess and the Frog.

And now, the one theatre we did actually patronize, twice, the Action Ecoles. It's a two screen repertory theatre that was in the midst of a British Hitchcock festival the first week we were there. We caught The 39 Steps which was in a double bill with Young and Innocent, while The Lady Vanishes was playing on the second screen. On the second week we caught John Huston's The Misfits (the films were shown in their original language with French subtitles). As much as I love our New Beverly here in Los Angeles, it's only open nights, while the Action Ecoles has showings all day, beginning at 2pm, everyday.

After doing some research I discovered the Action Cinemas is actually a small chain of repertory houses (dear me, what a wonderful thought) with two other theatres. Here's the link to their website:

The second picture is from within the small, but very comfortable theatre, which is actually underground!

Sometime American movies that fail to find distribution in their home country end up premiering in Europe. That is the case with Todd Solondz's thematic sequel to Happiness, Life During Wartime, which had just opened the week we were in town. Sadly, I couldn't quite convince the wife to endure the latest Solondz squirmfest (or myself either I guess, it was a vacation after all). It looks like it will finally will hit American screens at the end of July.

I have to say that like Times Square in New York and Hollywood between Highland and Vine in Los Angeles, Champs-Elysees was my least favorite part of the city: indistinct, overcrowded, full of slow walking tourist and chain stores you can find anywhere else. Though, I went to the best pay toilet ever there, so it's got that going for it (and I guess the Arc de Triomphe was okay too).

The next five photos are from cinemas on or along the famous avenue. It's interesting to note that while some American films like Iron Man 2 (which opened nine days earlier in Europe than America), Kick-Ass, Greenberg and Green Zone were released with their English language titles in tact, others like Robin Hood (Robin du Bois), the Nightmare on Elm Street reboot and Brooklyn's Finest all had titles altered and/or translated into French. The funniest of all though is that apparently the not as sexually oppressed Europeans have no concept of what a Date Night is, so the title of the Steve Carrell/Tina Fey vehicle was changed to Crazy Night for French audiences (it's Italian language title translated to Folly Night in Manhattan).

The final few photos were snapped on our last day in Europe, so far less attention was paid to the locations, architecture or film selection, but I thought I'd share them anyway, so here you go:

Coming soon: Part II-Italy

1 comment:

Mummbles said...

Thanks for sharing your pictures and stories. It is always interesting to see cinema in other countries and languages. I hope to see more soon!

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