Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Film Lover's Companion to Anna and the French Kiss

Pretty early on in my first reading of Anna and the French Kiss, I decided I had to do a Film Lover's Companion for it. Like Anna, I love film and I thought it would be fun to share a little bit about each of the movies mentioned in the novel.

It Happened One Night  (1934)
Directed by Frank Capra

Ok, let’s start with a confession – shockingly, I have not seen this film! Unfortunately I wasn’t able to track down a copy before writing this piece (but it is right at the top of my to-see list). Now seriously Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert – of course it’s going to be brilliant and if this clip is anything to go by, funny! (I do love a good screwball comedy).  
If you’ve seen It Happened One Night, please share your thoughts in the comments, and when I’ve seen it, I’ll add my own two cents here.

Mr Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Directed by Frank Capra

I think I’ve said it before, but I absolutely love Jimmy Stewart. Love him! And there’s no denying that Mr Smith Goes to Washington is one of his best performances. Paired with queen of the screwball comedy, Jean Arthur, the film is all about patriotism and the power of the everyman. (Though I must admit I disagree with the tagline on the poster, because everyone knows that It’s A Wonderful Life is the greatest Frank Capra film of all time haha).

Roman Holiday (1953)
Directed by William Wyler

A Cinderella story in reverse, Roman Holiday follows a young European princess (Audrey Hepburn) who escapes from her royal duties to spend a day as a ‘commoner’ in Rome with an American journalist (Gregory Peck). Hepburn and Peck are both so charming and funny and share a brilliant chemistry. Roman Holiday was the first American film to be made entirely in Italy (thanks IMDB) and director William Wyler captures the beauty and excitement of Rome.  This film is so lovely and shows us how romantic comedies should be done!

A Hard Day's Night (1964)
Directed by Richard Lester

Viewer warning – if you are sensitive to high-pitched noises, there is a lot of fangirl squeals in A Hard Day’s Night, a comedy starring The Beatles. Made during the height of Beatlemania, the film follows the band on a trip from Liverpool to London for a TV show appearance. A Hard Day’s Night is full of brilliant comic moments, great one-liners, visual gags and of course, fantastic music (some of my all-time favourite Beatles’ songs are featured in this film). Not much more to say about this except check it out as The Beatles are amazing (and so funny - especially my favourite, Ringo!) and that Paul's evil grandfather creeps me out.

Sixteen Candles (1984)
Directed by John Hughes

Sixteen Candles is a brilliant coming-of-age story, that certainly holds a special place in my heart. Before the whole My Super Sweet 16 MTV phenomenon, Samantha Baker is just wishing her family would remember her sixteenth birthday, and her crush, the very-lush Jake Ryan (where, oh where are you now Michael Schoeffling?), to notice her. There’s also major family dysfunction with her older sister’s impending wedding and unwanted affections from Farmer Ted (Anthony Michael Hall) who is so clingy and yet so endearing. What still amazed me about this film is how well John Hughes writes teenagers (especially teen girls) and the way he captures teen concerns, interests and vernacular with affection and respect.

Rushmore (1998)
Directed by Wes Anderson

Oh Wes! His films are so fun to watch (he has the most incredible eye for detail and the aesthetics of all his films are just amazing). Rushmore is the story of an unlikely friendship between an eccentric teenager on scholarship at a prestigious boarding school (Jason Schwartzman) and a local billionaire (Bill Murray). The relationship sours when both realise they are in love with the same woman, and their feud escalates into a war of revenge. The film is full of quirky details (like all of Anderson’s work and every shot is so precise and styled, which I know sounds odd but looks fantastic on the big screen) and has a brilliant soundtrack.

Lost in Translation (2003)
Directed by Sofia Coppola

I feel like Sofia Coppola’s work tends to divide people (most I know feel really strongly one way about her films). I’m somewhere in the middle-leaning-towards-love side, as I think her films are beautiful and just stunning to look at, but I always feel a little bit disheartened at the end. Anyway, Lost in Translation is probably Sofia’s best-known film, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director (at the time, Sofia was only the third female director to even be nominated) and won for Best Original Screenplay. The film explores the lives of two lonely Americans (Bill Murray and Scarlett Johnansson) whilst staying at a Tokyo Hotel. I can definitely see how Anna related to the film during the early months of her time in Paris (feeling alone and isolated in a huge city of people and dealing with the cultural differences between Paris and Atlanta). It’s a sweet-yet-sad film (as I think all of Coppola’s are) and is just stunning to look at.
Loved Anna and the French Kiss? Try watching:

Before Sunrise (1995)
Directed by Richard Linklater

Like Anna and Etienne, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) have this brilliant, ongoing banter about everything from love and first kisses, to travelling, to travel, politics and religion. The film takes place over 24 hours and is romantic without being schmultzy (which is always one of my biggest worries with romance, and me having a cold and cynical heart haha. The screenplay for Before Sunrise is really fresh and original and is one of my favourites. (PS. If you watch and enjoy Before Sunrise, it's definitely worth checking out Before Sunset, to see how Jesse and Celine are doing ten years later!)
You might also like:

Films set in Paris: An American in Paris (1951), Funny Face (1957), How to Steal A Million (1966), Prêt-à-Porter (1994), Everyone Says I Love You (1996), Two Days in Paris (2007)

I'd like to think that once Anna got a bit more comfortable in Paris that she started watching more local films, as French cinema is amazing. French films I'd recommend (though excuse my limited selection - it's an area I'd love to explore more - so feel free to recommend me some more French films in the comments) are:
Rififi (1955),  Mon Oncle (1958), Le Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels, 1963), Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain  (2001), Paris Je T'aime (2006).


kate.o.d said...

oh i do love a french film!

i loved "Prete-moi ta main" ("I Do" in english) and "La doublure" aka "The Valet" for modern movies and "400 Blows" for an oldie. i just saw a great doco at the french film festival about truffaut and godard, definitely well worth a viewing.

oh and are you a mod or a rocker?

Miss Friday said...

Ohhh thanks Kate! I'll have to check some of those out. And I'm definitely a mocker :D

Missie said...

Brilliant idea here Steph. This companion guide is certainly very well thought out. Before Sunrise is one of my favorite movies! :)

Now I have a mad craving to watch it again.

Miss Friday said...

Thanks Missie! I love Before Sunrise too (Etham Hawke mmmmmm)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this list. I was looking for a list of the movies and books. I hope to find many of these movies.

If you care, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is also included at Halloween.

Post a Comment