America can make charming and romantic comedies; unfortunately they tend to invest in violent action movies because they are the world’s masters at that genre. I say that this is unfortunate, as the world needs more romance and comedy; we need it a lot more than we need, like other types of junkies, an action fix. So be sure to see some romantic comedies. Kate and Leopold is a good example of what Hollywood can do when they try. Although this is not a profound film, it is well done and worth your time. Plus it has some nice messages in it about the importance of honest behavior and how marketing people are willing to do anything to get you to buy a product. But, when you compare it with a masterfully designed film such as Amelie, you see how we are misdirecting our talent.
Amelie is a wonderful French film, and for us who are not fluent in French, yes, the subtitles are a distraction. However, the distraction is worth the effort because the film is a wondrous one.
It is a story about Amelie, a Paris waitress. She has led a fairly solitary life but not an unhappy one. She finds a box of childhood treasures behind a wall in her apartment one day and this changes her life. She sets out to return the items to the original owne4r and then this gets her into the habit of intervene in the lives of others. She helps some find romance, others it is a matter of retribution for past wrongs. In the process she meets a strange young man and these two unusual persons begin a strange relationship.
The acting is excellent, the direction is marvelous, and some of the clever tricks that are cinematically produced are wondrous. The director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who also is the co-writer, is very talented. The film came out in 2001 and deservedly won a number of prizes in Europe.
However, you don’t want to watch all French films. The film Irreversible is another award winning film, however, this is one you may want to avoid. The acting is outstanding, however, the director of this one goes over the top and down into the depths of degrading sexual exploitation. The scenes in gay “bars” are not pleasant and the rape scene goes on and on to an almost sickening degree. The beginning scenes are cinematically boring without a context. Naturally, the director and some critics will praise the film for the very reasons that it is unpleasant. All of the unpleasantness does have a point. The title of the film is how it is structured. You keep moving back in time and thus you see how certain earlier actions led to the later ones. You can’t quite understand why a person is doing something they are doing. Why are they so outrageously angry and violent? Then you see the earlier events that led to that violence and you begin to understand. This is done quite effectively. It helps you see how your actions set into motion later unanticipated events. Your behavior NOW creates Irreversible and often disastrous results down the road. The message is clear: You had better do your best to make sure you do things right NOW so that the irreversible future is the best one possible.