Thursday, May 14, 2009

Films: New York in Paris

For those who have lived in (or at least visited) both New York and Paris, the aura that these two cities exert is well known.

The French of course claim that Paris is not like the rest of France (or vice-versa) and Americans say the same about New York (City, and vice versa of course).

I am watching, for the second time in a few months, "2 Days in Paris", a film starring Julie Delpy and Adam Goldberg, as a New York couple (she is French living in the US, as in real life) that visits Europe and spends 2 days in her "hometown", Paris.

For many of us, Paris is synonymous with good memories; romance, art, that certain Parisian je n'est sais quoi that mesmerizes. Are those 2 days in Paris gonna be "good" or "bad" for their relationship (they are not married)? Well, for one, he does not speak French. Plus she runs into lots of ex-BFs, it seems (and her mother and father were very liberal children of the French sixties especially "the" May 1968, ie Euro-hippies, her mother even slept with a major legend of the 60s, menages a trois, etc etc etc). A clash of cultures or worlds or mindsets of many types or different levels indeed.

At some point he shouts out "We're not in Paris, we're in Hell"! Why? Because of teh culture shock, which in the case of the plot of this film, it is quite a heavy one, with a major contribution by the character Deply plays, because apparently being back in Paris, she is quite different than yhe woman he knows/knew in the US. And he, being away from home, in Europe, for a few weeks already, in Italy and in France, he is, let's say "like a fish out of its waters".

The movie is in my opinion good, especially for those of us who have lived on both sides of the Atlantic, especially NYC and Paris. It deals with not only the issue of cultural clashes but also issues related to women and men in 2007, on both sides of the Atlantic.

I of course have embedded in my memory "Jack Ryan" Harrison Ford in Paris, Matt "Jason Borne" Damon in Paris and of course "Larry Darrel", the post WWI American living in Paris played by Bill Murray in the 1984 film based on Somerset Maugham's "The Razor's Edge" novel. There are many American movies about Paris, especially Americans in Paris (or France in general, eg the one with Meg Ryan or the one with Naomi Watts and Kate Hudson ("Le Divorce", 2003)). And of course Mr. Bean, oh wait, he is British! lol

Cannot recall at the moment a film about Parisians in New York though (oh wait, "The Green Card", with Gerard Depardieu, does that count?). But a few French actresses and actors are doing well in Hollywood and/or the Oscars in recent years! Trivia: Monica Belucci is not French, her husband is and she has played in many French films, including "Irreversible" (not for the faint hearted). And American ones, including brief but high impact part in I think 2 of "The Matrix" trilogy.

I do miss the Saint Michel area in Paris, especially summer, or the coffee shop of a certain well known Parisian department store, or avenue Kleber (very classy for a consultant to have an office there), etc etc etc. And of course, New York! Especially The Village and that ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center, near Xmas!


PS (trivial): NYC is the "City that never sleeps" and Paris "the city of Light". Plus: New York City used to be called New Amsterdam by its first, Dutch, settlers.

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Nick

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