Ever since the Lumiere brothers screened their 46 seconds of footage of Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory in December 1895, Paris and film have been romantically (what else) entwined. It’s both the city of lights and the city of love – so let’s raise a big class of Bordeaux to Paris.
1. Les Chansons D’Amour (2007)
A real favourite of mine when it came out – an intimate film from Christophe Honore which depicts the fallout of a menage-a-trois – this film could not be more French. Everyone’s sexuality is totally fluid, everyone reads books between threesomes, everyone smokes and everyone’s hot. Plus – in a flamboyant nod to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg – it’s a musical.
2. Angel A (2005)
This little known gem from LEON director Luc Besson – Angel A is pure cinema. Oddly enough, Paris looks most vital when in black and white; this film literally looks like a moving a picture, as in, a photograph that moves. It’s magical, serene, very, very funny and will have you grabbing your beret and blonde bob wig and rushing to St Pancras Intl as fast as you can.
3. Man At Bath (2010)
In this film, another from Parisian Christophe Honore, Paris’s beauty is arguably eclipsed by porn-star Francois Sagat’s bum. A film about accepting that a relationship is over, however painful that may be, but also very much about a hot naked guy in a flat, Man at Bath reinvigorates Gay Paris as something relentlessly hard-core. And I’m ok with that.
4. Ratatouille (2007)
No film captures the magic of Paris better than – ironically – this animation. The scene where Remi the Rat chases that little bit of paper around with the chef that looks like Ronnie Corbett is unforgettable, and I really feel sorry for anyone who watches this film and goes to Paris expecting to get what they watched in Ratatouille. As much as I love Paris, Ratatoiulle quite rightfully omits the stampede of tourists, the drunk men who try and beat you up with a baguette (literally once happened to me) and the pigeons.
5. Eastern Boys (2014)
Political. Sexy. Edge-of-your seat thrilling. The story of Eastern Boys is pure Paris, taking in all the complications that come with this world capital. Dealing with the clash between the middle class, homosexuality, and immigrants from the banlieue, this is an unforgettable cinematic experiences that captures Paris with all its problems, sex and brutality.
Since the days of the French Revolution, Paris has always been a city of extremes. The first and best exposure we had to this in English was unquestionably through Dickens’s Tale of Two Cities, where Dickens added the necessary final clause to the englightened French dictum: ‘Liberty, equality, fraternity – or death.’ Vive la Paris.
– by Will C-H
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