Paris Can Wait
I know this is technically not a post about Paris. I could give an extensive list of movies and shows set in the city, but just this once I’m going to do something a bit different, and stray from the subject of Paris.
I realize this is probably one of my weird quirks but I like to binge movies with a running theme. It can be actor, city, type, whatever sticks out to me I then seek movies pertaining to it. So it is with little wonder that I have seen my fair share of movies set in the ‘South of France’.
I’m a movie (and TV) junkie. I watch everything, and actively feel bad if I’ve missed movies, which unfortunately happened a lot in France. Before I left I would go to the cinema or catch up with all of the releases at Redbox, but in France it’s much harder. I remember my friend Henley and I once spent a whole week inside her apartment one Ski Vacances and binged all of the Oscars contenders before watching the ceremony because we hadn’t seen most of them, and wanted to be culturally aware. Most people would probably think that’s madness but that’s my idea of a good time. We binged movies together often.
Movies were a big part of my childhood and have since stayed a big part of my life. They’re like books. You get to see into the human condition, and learn from all of the character’s mistakes, to experience, to learn new feelings, to travel to new lands, to become something you could never dream of, or see something you may never see otherwise. They’re new worlds to discover and explore. They’re thousands of trial and error that could take you lifetimes to learn. As a humanist they’re more than just “mindless entertainment”, they’re incredibly valuable tools.
I’ve seen everything, and I do mean everything, thanks to TCM, which I used to be obsessed with when I was younger. Movies from the 30’s, 40’s, 80’s and 90’s are my jam because Childhood. The only thing I refuse to watch are Westerns because I hate them for some reason (except The Quick and the Dead and Tombstone), I just can’t get into them.
I had just finished Outlander, and I needed something to watch. I had paid for a month of Starz on Amazon Prime (to watch Season 5 of Outlander because Netflix only goes up to 4), and while usually Starz as a premium channel sucks, I actually saw a few movies on their channel I hadn’t seen. I figured I might as well watch a few before I cancel it.
I love Diane Lane, she’s a goddess who seems to never age, truly #goals, and I noticed that a movie of her’s, that I had never heard of, was available on Starz. I figured Amazon had barfed it up because it was called “Paris Can Wait” and machine learning probably realizes the word Paris comes up a lot in my life (and in my tech). Suffice to say it’s a story about a woman traveling through the south of France. Like Under the Tuscan Sun inspired many to want to own a home in Italy, this will make you want to spend some time roadtripping through France.
My only gripe was the food. You always see this in movies; courses and courses of food, but unless you go to a Michelin French restaurant you’re not going to eat like that. I don’t know many people who have 100€+ to eat like that every day, multiple times a day (which is probably why he kept using the rich American’s credit card). You will find that most restaurants in Paris do not feature dining like that, and most French people do not eat like that. My only experience of eating like that was in Italy. It’s an overused cliché in Anglo cinema.
That movie got me thinking of other movies set in the South of France, and a theme was woven. As most people are stuck at home, and some even stuck in winter weather, I thought I’d make a little list to satisfy that wanderlust most people are feeling. Some of these I haven’t seen in years, but the gist is there. If you’d like to transport yourself to France you might enjoy these. I’m going to include both Provence and the Cote d’ Azur in my list as technically it’s ‘south’ (of Paris).
By far the reigning champion of Provence films, A Good Year starring Russell Crowe makes us all wish we had a rich family member who would leave us à château when they die. There are few movies that I watch more than once (once I know how something plays out I don’t need to see it again), but this is a movie I can watch every few years because I can never remember it (until I start watching it). It’s directed by Ridley Scott and certainly looks like it was filmed by an A list director, although it’s a departure from his usual action films. I vaguely reminds me of Patrick Melrose in that it switches between the past and the present, and is about a man at a point in his life who needs to confront his demons.
An 80’s classic. There isn’t much to be said other than I’m not talking about that god awful remake. Steve Martin was also a huge part of my childhood and he really plays the buffoon here. Not my favorite of his, but I like Michael Caine too so you can’t go wrong.
This is one of my all time favorites. My mother’s favorite actress was Meg Ryan so I’ve always had a place in my heart for her because I grew up watching her films. It’s a cute little rom-com about a woman who goes all the way to France to win back the man she loves (such an Americanism, French people think it’s crazy to do something like that). Because Meg Ryan’s character is afraid of flying it has scenes in Paris, the countryside, and the coast.
This is set in Nice. I adore this movie. Audrey Tatou plays this golddigger who is only out for money and falls for a waiter. It’s surprisingly adorable for a French film. I kind of have this weird crush on Gad Elmaleh because he sort of vaguely resembles an ex of mine even though Gad Elmaleh is less attractive. I guess it’s because he’s a comedian, and Michael was the only funny Frenchmen I’ve ever met. I haven’t seen it in years so I can’t elaborate more, but I remember really liking it.
This is actually a series, and I have a hard time recommending it because of the subject matter. It deals with abuse, and the sexual abuse of a child, so be warned if you are sensitive to those subjects. Patrick is alive in 80’s London, a trust fund kid who does drugs all day (lots of drugs in the first episode), spiraling out of control, but a few episodes take place in the 60’s when he’s a boy and staying at his family home in Provence. It also forwards to older Patrick spending time there as an adult.
This one made me sad. It’s a coming of age film about a young girl who learns about life from her cousin one summer in Cannes. It might be too serious for those looking for something lighthearted.
I was a big Woody Allen fan in my teens. What’s more teen than getting into philosophy and ethics? I love his films, with a few exceptions to some of the newer ones. I’ve seen all of them. I’ve read his books. I know we’re not supposed to say that because of his personal life. I guess it’s easy for me to separate the man from his work because I grew up a huge fan of his. It is hard because he does have amazing films. I won’t spoil it but it reminds me of Scoop.
This isn’t one of my favorite 80’s movies. Another SNL alum I grew up watching (John Candy. I still remember the day he died), and a host of other American stars, play strangers brought together by a wealthy Madame van Dougan and her dog. It has all the 80’s clichés but somehow fails to land itself in “classic” territory. The movie mostly takes place in Monaco.
A divorced couple scheme to make their money back from an evil hedge funder. Starts off in the UK, before moving to Paris, and then to the setting of one of my favorite memories Antibes. Suspend your belief because it is absurd to the extreme, but not the worst way to pass some time while you’re multitasking.
An absolute classic. I don’t even really need to explain the reasons for that. Alfred Hitchcock. Cary Grant. You don’t even need to see this for the setting, you need to see this because it’s a classic.
A French thriller. A British author travels to the French countryside to finish her book in the home of her publisher. While there she meet's the publisher's daughter...
A French romcom about a guy who breaks up couples for a living. Featuring famous French actress Vanessa Paradis. Set in Monte Carlo.
A film about a couple who examine their 12 year relationship on a road trip to the South of France. One of the many Audrey Hepburn/Stanley Donen collaborations. Sometimes I hate watching these types of movies, but then sometimes the whole “love conquers all” gives me hope that I’ll find that one day. I’m probably still sour because the only time I’ve had strong feelings for someone it ended in disaster, but a girl can dream to one day have that best friend you fight with, but always come home to. Perhaps I'm too forgiving, loyal, and stubborn. Or too much of a romantic.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. These are films I thought of off the top of my head. I’m sure there are so many more, and there are definitely more in French. I actually have a few on my list but I just haven’t been in the mood to watch things Sud related as it brought up a lot of memories and feelings of depression. Wouldn’t it be great if Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind actually existed? I’d Kate Winslet those Christian Kinnersley memories so fast you wouldn’t have to ask me twice. Apparently there is some kind of mind control therapy you can do to get rid of an ex from your memories but I can’t find the TedTalk of the woman who did it.
If you have any recommendations (or a link to that TedTalk), give a shout out. I’m always interested in films I haven’t heard of.