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|Index||19 reviews in total|
Nora Arnezeder reminds me of movie stars of the thirties : beautiful, charming, she can sing, dance, act... Star quality ! As for the film itself, the story is rather simple, which I come to realize, is often what makes it good. It's not so much what the story is about but rather how you tell it. And in that case, you get to laugh, cry, you care about that Pigoil who looses his job, his wife and even his son and who doesn't loose hope, about Milou and Douce's love story. You'll love the great new songs, the homage to Busby Berkeley, Jacky's lousy jokes (a reprise of Kad's own TV skit) and secondary characters played by first-rate comedians like François Morel and the great Pierre Richard. What's not to like ?
This is not a great film, a masterpiece of cinema-as-art. It is,
however, a wonderful movie that will delight you while you watch it and
leave you with many happy musical memories after it has finished.
Though the director and star are the same, this movie does not resemble Les Choristes. It is, instead, an homage to French popular music of the 1930s (and 1940s). If you don't know that music and the stars who made it famous, you'll miss the many references. The movie will still be enjoyable, but it won't evoke the memories (and pleasures) that it would to French viewers over 60.
The music, most of it original, nevertheless comes very close to pastiche of popular numbers from that era. (One repeated number is very close to Messager's "Clou clou," which I think is from his Véronique.) The performances and characters also allude to stars of the past, though not necessarily in a one-on-one way. There is the music hall singer Tony Rossignol, whose light lyric tenor recalls Tino Rossi, though his Spanish get-up and music recalls Luis Mariano. Kad Merad's character starts out doing terrible impressions, of animals and Fernandel. He finally has a hit when he starts singing like Charles Trenet. Even though the music is pastiche, it is sometimes very catchy, and very much caught me up.
One of the previous reviewers said that Clovis Cornilliac was made up as Jean Gabin but couldn't reproduce the latter's charisma. I hope he was not meant to recall Gabin, because he certainly doesn't. He's pleasant in his role, as is the female lead, but the star is definitely Gerard Jugniot, who gives yet another first-rate performance.
This won't make the viewing list for any course on French cinema, nor should it. But you'll definitely enjoy it.
P.S. I watched this movie again, about a year after my first viewing of it. While I still found it enjoyable, I realize, in rereading my review, that it was the last part, with all the music, that made the strong impression on me. One of the reviews written since my first one notes that the movie might have been more memorable if there had been more music spread throughout it, and I agree. The show the company originally stages is bad vaudeville, and bad vaudeville numbers have only limited appeal. The subplot concerning Galapiat and the French fascists is somehow disconnected from the rest. Having subsequently seen that same actor, Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, in L'affaire Salengro, where he played someone on the other side of that fight, I realize how much better the issue could have been presented.
The film is definitely worth watching, and should please most viewers. Gérard Jugnot gives yet another very fine, very moving performance. I don't know how well it will repay repeated viewings, however. I don't know if I would want to watch it myself a third time.
Christophe Barratier found box office success in France in 2004 with
his cute feel-good story The Chorus/Les choristes, which was about how
a new music teacher brought humanity to a rural French reform school
just after WWII by starting a boys' chorus. This also made newcomer
Jean-Baptiste Maunier into a French teen icon. Faaubourg 36 is a
glitzier, more musical (as in song-and-dance), more nostalgic period
drama meant to evoke French films of the Thirties through its focus on
a little working class Paris music hall called Chansonia. As the film
opens, financial problems lead a mean magnate called Galapiat
(Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu) to shut Chansonia down. But it's 1936, and
in the spirit of socialist fervor (and universal labor-management
strife) signaled by the rise of Leon Blum's Popular Front, the
employees decide to take over Chansonia and run it themselves, on no
money. This effort is spearheaded by the stage manager Germain Pigoil
(Gerard Jugnot). Pigoil's life has filled with heartbreak. His dancer
wife Viviane (Elisabeth Vitali) has left him and the state has chosen
to take away his beloved accordionist son Jojo (Maxence Perrin) and
send him to live with Viviane.
Trying to create triumph out of adversity, Pigoil designates an awkward song-and-dance guy called Jacky Jacquet (Kad Merad) and a militant (and Jewish) leftist called Emile "Milou" Leibovich (Clovis Cornillac) to reopen the shuttered musical theater in uneasy cooperation with Galapiat. The show must go on! This seems a feeble prospect without financial backing, till the three men get lucky when a young newcomer nicknamed Douce (Nora Arnezedzer) turns up at tryouts. She's talented, pretty, and clearly a crowd-pleaser capable of selling tickets and keeping the place going. Her presence provides further insurance when the local boss turns out to like her.
The ups and downs of the plot include depiction of the pervasive anti-Semitism of the extreme Right and the exacerbated hostilities between labor and ownership. There are little tragedies, but everything is softened and ends happily. Seekers of cinematic edge should look elsewhere. I found it hard to engage with the story, because it's too derivative, stereotypical, and diffuse. Production values are excellent and the music hall performances, if sometimes borderline cringe-worthy, carry through the period flavor. And there are some catchy tunes and sprightly stage turns as well.
I saw this film when it was screened last summer at Saul Zaentz Studios in Berkeley by Tom Luddy, Co-Director of the Telluride Film Festival and the consensus of those then present seemed to be that 'Paris 36' (which has been picked up by Sony Pictures Classics) wasn't interesting or unusual enough to show at Telluride.
But 'Paris 36' seems likely to do well with the more general US subtitles-film audience, and makes perfect sense as the "gala opening film" for the FSLC-UniFrance co-sponsored Rendez-Vous with French Cinema--though in my opinion last year's first night presentation, Claude Lelouch's 'Roman de Gare,' made a much more interesting opener.
I loved it! Boz Luhrmann meets Cinema Paradiso in numerous ways. The plot is simple, as others here have already described. But it retains an abundance of charm. The undercurrents of antisemitism and fascism that were persistent in 1936 France are themes rarely seen on screen. Ditto for the Communist workers' movement during the same time. The clashes between these two groups were inevitable, and this film depicts that struggle brilliantly, without preaching to us or hitting us over the head with it. All the acting, singing and dancing are extremely well-done, and the cinematography, while Luhrmann-esquire is engaging. Best of all perhaps is the music. This film is destined to be a classic, and will always be on my favorites list. The only thing I would change is that I would retain the original title. The audience for this film is sophisticated enough to handle it.
Pigoil (Gerard Jugnot) runs a small vaudeville like theater, the Chansonia, in the Faubourg section of Paris. His wife is a "star" of the theater and the rest of the performers are a tight-knit group. Perhaps, too close, for Pigoil is given a double whammy one day. First, his wife has been sleeping with not one, but, two of the other troupe members and, even more sadly, the owner of the building can not pay his debts (it is the depression everywhere) and commits suicide. Soon, Pigoil and his young, idolized son Jojo are barely scraping by. But, then, Pigoil makes a deal with the Fascist like gentleman who truly runs the neighborhood. Can his show group have one month to make the theater profitable again? The ruthless man agrees to give them a chance, for he has his eye on one of their newest performers, a beautiful young singer named Douce. Will the Chansonia become successful once more? This is an unusual look at life in the depression, for it has a French setting, where fascism was brewing in neighboring Germany and in France. There are many subplots to the main one, including one of an agoraphobic music teacher, residing across from the Chansonia, who was once a leading song writer and who has an unlikely connection to Douce. Needless to say, the recreation of the former theater district is very fine, as are the costumes, the cast, the story, and the direction. Therefore, if you like foreign films and unusual tales, put this on your list for future viewing. It is a fine example of quality French cinematic achievements.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a beautiful film which captures much of the feel of great French films of the 1930's. It's also a love poem to Paris. It helps that Nora Arnzeder is so gorgeous and all the actors give strong performances. The story is really a fairy story with a political twist. A small music hall in Paris is forced to close down in 1936. Because this is is the year of the Popular front in France, when factory occupations spread across the country, the performers decide to take over the theatre and run it themselves. They get an extraordinary stroke of luck when a young girl, Douce, turns up hoping to get a break in the theatre. Double luck because not only is she a brilliant performer but the local boss fancies her and allows the theatre to stay open. There are some serious themes touched on, including the pervasive anti-Semitism of the extreme Right at this period but the film is overwhelmingly joyous, which is as it should be. The Popular Front didn't happily, which was a tragedy for France, but this film does, as do all good fairy tales.
Pasto,Colombia...Via: L.A. CA., CALI, COLOMBIA and ORLANDO, FL
Go to the IMDb.com Search-Window and enter the title: "Paris 36" and what do you get?...VOILA! "Faubourg 36"! Therein lies the problem: Apparently, someone set out to make ONE movie...and ended up making a completely DIFFERENT one! This bizarre Paris/Faubourg dichotomy plagues the movie throughout, but particularly during the last half!
Paris did, however, get off to a relatively good start...Showing a lot of promise, in a number of different areas: The interaction between lead characters seemed brisk and focused; the sets had a very authentic mid-30's Paris look and feel; Music that had just the right mix of melancholy, nostalgia and pre-war glibness and sung with just the right inflection and ring; plus, different engaging back stories.
...But it all starts sputtering about half way through. Paris spins out of control and becomes a total mess. Absolutely nothing works! I can't imagine what was going though Writer/Director Christophe Barratier's mind, as he pressed on with this project! As "Paris" progresses, the characters' actions became constantly more erratic, unpredictable and demonstrate a continually escalating degree of incongruity with the personality and motives of each character. Protagonists capriciously waltzed in and out of the movie, with little or no explanation or raison d'etre.
Because of this, the last half of "Paris" takes on a deus ex machina tainted storyline much more akin to a fairy tale or the romantic daydreams of a 13 year-old Parisian girl. Maybe Paris would have been much easier to follow in the original French. The sub-titles are shamelessly below par. Only about 50% of the dialog actually appears on screen! Thusly, you end up missing HALF of the film! First Half = 8*, Last Half = 2*...OVERALL: 5*....ENJOY/DISFRUTELA?!?!?
Any comments, questions or observations, in English or Español, are most welcome!
I may have seen one of the last musical hall revivals in London a few
years ago on The Strandit was full of tinny song and dance that made
you tap your feet and long for the good old days of vaudeville and
innocence. The telly has pretty much killed that simple pleasure, but
Paris 36, a melodramatic story of the revival of a Chansonia in
northern Paris, 1936, revives the joy of ensemble acting and dancing,
original music, and the intrigue so much a part of the lively arts when
they become business and pleasure.
Three Parisians undertake saving a music hall in their section of Paris called Faubourg using the talents of a star-crossed couple supplying the on and off stage romance. The intrigue is much less than Cabaret's; the nostalgia is more than Cinema Paradiso's; it's all more Moulin Rouge than Amelie. The songs are fetching, made especially for the film, and the plot is pure cliché right down to the lecherous businessman and cute ingénue.
The background is unmistakably fascist versus socialist, owners battling workers for a depression-era slim slice of the economic pie and soul. Paris 36 risks it all with formulaic intrigue and predictable denouement. Yet throughout is a good cheer, a bel canto breeziness that draws you in to song, dance, history, and politics, never too heavy, light enough to make you wish that music hall still stood on The Strand.
If this film had been produced 60 to 70 years ago,it probably would have been directed by Jean Renoir and starred Jean Gabin as one of the central figures. 'Faubourg 36' (or as it is being distributed in English speaking countries as 'Paris 36')is a film that takes place in Paris, just before world war 2,when political tensions were at a boiling point between left leaning French & their ultra conservative right wing counterpoint (which would eventually embrace the Nazi party in Germany,especially when Hitler marched into Paris in the 1940's). A (failing)theatrical troupe,bent on preserving their beloved theater tries to pull things back together,they get support from some of the locals (including an alleged Communist,who claims he was in the Red Brigade in Russia),a young lass trying to break into the singing profession,a (mostly)unfunny comic & enough well meaning persons to try and bring things together. A corrupt local political figure,who wants to do little more than bring the ruination of the theater also looms. The film is complimented by a cracker jack cast of French professionals who turn in a splendid job of acting. The screenplay, although something of an overstuffed sandwich of sorts,is still well played out. The film features several songs,most of which are performed by the cast,themselves. At times,this film has a Busby Berkley feel to it (which is not a bad thing). In French with English subtitles. Rated PG-13 by the MPAA,this film contains a bit of rude language,some suggestive material that parents of very young children may not appreciate,and some violence (but nothing too gory that could disturb some sensitive audiences). Well worth a look.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
All of the professional media to which I have access panned PAR1S 36, ostensibly because it was not as glitzy as director Baz Luhrmann's 2001 musical, MOULIN ROUGE! (More likely these critics were too lazy to read subtitles, especially during a musical.) A more apt comparison would pair PAR1S 36 with the 1999 Tim Robbins musical, CRADLE WILL ROCK. After all, both movies feature the development of a production during the story (from which the movies take their titles), both stories are set in the 1930s, and both feature large casts of theater socialists fighting against a few powerful fascists (which, in the case of CRADLE WILL ROCK, included a young Nelson Rockefeller personally taking a sledgehammer to a Diego Rivera mural in the newly-finished Rockefeller Center, circa 1933). Though I rated CRADLE WILL ROCK and MOULIN ROUGE with "10's," as far as musicals go, I think PAR1S 36 is involving enough to merit a solid "8" rating.
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