Last week was MOVIE WEEK! for us in Grenoble. Prior to last week, I had seen four movies since we’ve been here: one at Le Club (A Dangerous Method) with Abby, two at La Nef (The Hunger Games and We Bought a Zoo) with Mark and Abby, respectively, and one at Pathé (The Descendents) with Mark. These theaters have Version Originale (VO), which means the movie is in its original version with French subtitles added. This is a good thing, since I understand English very well and French, not so much. But with subtitles I’m learning more! Or at least reinforcing words I do know, like tous (all), avec (with), et tu (and you)…. you know, stuff like that. Meaningless stuff like that that doesn’t help to advance a conversation, it just helps me focus on the words I do know… and miss tous the rest. My favorite was super (great)!
I love turning the corner and seeing Le Club at the end of this street!
One thing to note of French cinemas: there are no concession stands. At least not in the smaller venues. People can openly bring in food and drink. Or at least, I think they can. There were people waiting to go in to the theater that were holding water bottles. Once inside, I heard people opening bags of candy, but I don’t know if they smuggled them in or not.
Last week, during MOVIE WEEK! here is what we saw, all at Le Club: Dark Shadows, On the Road, and Moonrise Kingdom. We also went to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at La Nef. Dark Shadows I saw alone, the others I saw with Mark. One I wish I hadn’t seen at all, but the rest I loved.
When Abby and I went to see A Dangerous Method, during the previews the sound was off. It sounded like we were underwater, listening to someone’s nightmare. I thought it was no big deal, since it was just the previews and they would get it right for the movie. Wrong. When the movie started, there was Kiera Knightly, voice slowed down to sound like a 78 record being played at 44 speed, all slow and low, not matching up with either the fact that she’s a woman nor the speed of the action happening. Now, if I were French (or even if I understood French), this might not bother me, since I would have the subtitles to rely on. However, the subtitles did nothing for me…. and now I can’t understand the spoken language, either, because it’s at a pitch and tempo that makes no sense to me. So I went to the ticket counter and indicated (both with English words and with tugging at my ears while shaking my head), that something was off with the sound. Abby, who had just moments before begged me not to leave my seat and embarrass her (that’s not exactly what she said, but that’s what I inferred from her action… although she did beg me not to leave my seat) thanked me for whatever I did to make the sound work properly. (“HEY GUYS! The window’s open! C’mon, let’s make a break for it….” You know from my last post what I’m watching out the window right now.) Overall, an interesting movie, albeit disturbing (the director directed Dangerous Liaisons, which had a similar theme)… and I have to say I was actually impressed with Kiera Knightly in this one. I have never been able to say that before (sorry, fans…. I am not).
When Mark and I went to see The Descendents, we had another unusual experience (is it just us?? Or is it French cinemas?? Or a combination?). Right during a very dramatic part of the movie, an alarm went off, followed by a voice coming over a loudspeaker (in French, of course). Now, since we don’t speak the language, neither Mark nor I understood – at all – what was being said (although if we had to guess, we would have guessed that they were asking us to leave the theater). We were sitting in the front row of the theater because we arrived just before the movie began, so we looked around the theater – of which, I might add, every single seat was occupied – and no one moved. It’s like the announcement hadn’t even happened. Had we imagined it? Alarm again, except this time, the announcement that came over the loudspeaker was in English (I KNOW THAT!): “Ladies and Gentlemen, please exit the theater as quickly and as quietly as possible”… We looked around again, and this time we saw 3-4 guys stand up. One of them said something – in French – which we took to mean that they would go check it out, since no one else moved. A short time later they came back and said something – in French – which got a little laugh (very little. The French aren’t very demonstrative, at least not at the movies, we’ve noticed… not like sitting at Mama Mia and singing along with everyone in the theater to Dancing Queen, like we did at home…), and to which everyone stayed in their seats. We guessed they said something like “false alarm.”
The fact that Mark and I were in the very front row because we got there late reminded me that when Mom and I were visiting Larry in Hong Kong, we thought we would go see a movie there. The one we were planning to see was Avatar (I still have not seen it. Can you tell we didn’t go in Hong Kong? It was sold out for the entire week we were there.). One thing Larry told us about movie theaters in Hong Kong is that, just like at a concert, you purchase the actual seat where you’ll be sitting; it’s not General Admission. At first, Larry didn’t think he would like it, but then he went once. And he didn’t have to show up 30 minutes early to get in line for a good seat. He just had to show up at the time listed because he already had his ticket for *his* seat. BRILLIANT! That’s all it took – just once – for him to be hooked! I bet it’s tough being back in the States, hey, Lar?
Experience number three was with Abby at We Bought a Zoo. Fun movie! My story at this movie has nothing to do with the actual movie (see it! Although it is predictable in a lot of ways, it is based on a true story and it also has some great lines that I would like to remember… but I won’t post them here to ruin it for you…), the story here is just with the experience before the movie. When we were waiting to go in, there was a couple there who said something in French to us, only we didn’t know what they were saying because (you got it) I don’t speak French. Maybe it was because they don’t speak French, either, that we (or at least Abby) didn’t understand them! I used my standard “Je ne comprende pas,” and they began speaking English. It turns out that they are from Massachusetts (Arlington) and he is on a sabbatical from Northeastern’s Math Department, and his wife took a leave of absence from her job to join him (sound familiar?). They arrived in March and were going to be here till the end of May, after which time they were going to Italy for a couple of weeks prior to heading home. It was fun to talk with them and compare experiences. They told me which street they live on, only I don’t know the names of any of the streets here, or at least not the REAL names of streets. They pulled out their map and showed me where they’re staying, and where they had stayed the first month they were here. She has been spending her time painting, which sounds like it has been delightful for her. She and I exchanged email addresses and planned to have tea one day in between our company visits… which we did. It was nice to be able to speak in English with someone experiencing the city much like I am.
Nothing of note to tell about Hunger Games, except we thought that for the most part they captured the book pretty well for a two-hour movie. I thought the cornucopia could have been cooler than it was; it seemed to lack imagination, but other than that, nothing to talk about here. I just didn’t want you to think that I had unintentionally skipped it.
Now on to MOVIE WEEK! I had wanted to see Dark Shadows since I started to see the movie posters for it the past couple of months. I couldn’t convince Mark to join me, since he hadn’t watch the soap opera as I had growing up. It’s a Tim Burton movie, and actually had some funny moments in it (I especially liked Barnabus’ reaction to McDonald’s). I think Mark would have enjoyed it as the light and entertaining movie that it was.
I let Mark pick the next movie and that was my first mistake. The second mistake was that I went with him to see it. He wanted to see On the Road. He had read the Jack Kerouac book that the movie was based on and had wanted to see how they did the movie. The only redeeming factor that I could find was that we actually watched it on the same day it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival (May 23rd); it hasn’t come out in the States yet. It’s probably a movie that the critics will love; I tend to not like movies that the critics rave about (think: Chariots of Fire, Unforgiven, and Out of Africa…). But because On the Road isn’t out in the States yet, and wasn’t out anywhere, actually, I didn’t have any reviews to go on (or to disagree with). So I went. Mark says I was seething during the movie. I don’t think I was seething, but I wasn’t happy. Nothing happens! *Not* nothing good happens, just NOTHING HAPPENS. If you’ve read the book, maybe you’d be interested. Mark is glad he saw it, even though he cannot say that he *liked* it. I dunno… read the book maybe. Or not. Or see the movie if you want, but just know that I didn’t like it. Kristin Stewart (Mary Lou) has a very flat affect and the main characters (Sal and Dean) didn’t draw me to them. In fact, during one scene towards the end of the movie I remember thinking that I wish Dean would just die! Then I could go home. Maybe I shouldn’t admit that, but that’s what I was thinking.
Which brings me to Moonrise Kingdom. Another one from Cannes; in fact, it opened the festival on May 16th (we saw it on the 25th). What a quirky, fun movie! Like Little Miss Sunshine quirky. Campy, funny, great music (GREAT MUSIC!)… I LOVED this movie! Just don’t watch the trailer. They give too much away in the trailer (why do they DO that?). I had seen the trailer, Mark hadn’t, and I was glad he hadn’t. When we came home, we watched the trailer (isn’t that how everyone watches trailers??) and he agreed that it gave too much away. Forgive me if I’ve written about this already (or perhaps I wrote about it on my mom’s CaringBridge site…), but it reminded me of my first memory, or at least my first vivid memory: I was about 4-years-old and I was hiding behind the green chair in our living room with a portable record player. Lynn and Larry were at school, so I had the house to myself (I liked it even then!). I kept playing over and over and over again the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. This movie brought me back to behind that green chair as a 4-year-old. Here’s these kids, playing records on their little portable record player. Theirs was battery operated; mine was plugged in. Theirs was blue; mine was green. And instead of listening to Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus over and over again, they were listening to the Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra by Leonard Bernstein. Boom. I’m right back there, behind that green chair. In fact, while I’m writing this post, I’m listening to the Hallelujah Chorus. Still gives me chills.
Now for the other memory with that movie: we walked to Le Club, which is a whole five blocks or so from our apartment. It was a warm, sunny day when we arrived at the movie (around 5). When we got out of the movie, it was raining. Hard. And because it had been sunny when we arrived, we didn’t have umbrellas with us (we didn’t think we needed our insurance because there hadn’t been a cloud in the sky! Have you ever noticed that if you bring an umbrella you never get rained on? But if you don’t bring it, you do? Thus the reason we call it our insurance…). So we waited until it seemed to start clearing and started to walk home. Only then it REALLY started to rain! And thunder and lightning! The video I took captured the rain better than the still shots… only I haven’t uploaded them anywhere, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Our neighbors waiting out the storm, who had their insurance… guess it didn’t work out so well for them. Hmmm……
This is the lovely house, just to the left of Le Club, that Mark told all our company we put an offer on. The day we got caught in the rain he said, “If we had bought that house, we’d be home by now!”
When we got back and watched the trailer, we also read up about the movie, too. The director was the same one who had done Fantastic Mr. Fox a few years ago. We had seen this in the theater one Thanksgiving when Dan and Cara (who were engaged) and Hannah and Seth (who were newlyweds) were home, so 2009. Anyway, that movie didn’t do anything for me. So I was surprised this was the same director.
And this brings us to our final movie of MOVIE WEEK! In France, this movie is known as Indian Palace, but in the States it’s known as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. FUN movie! I laughed, I cried, I tried to remember a bunch of great lines because it was so well-written. I tried not to think of my mom (impossible), I thought, “Mom would have loved this movie…” and I didn’t want it to end. When we came back to watch that trailer, we both thought that (although they did include some of the funniest parts of the movie) the trailer didn’t give away the entire story like some other movies’ trailers (think Moonrise Kingdom) do. Good writing, good ensemble cast… but don’t take MY word for it! Go see for yourself.