Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Ah! Who can that be?

I took the opportunity last night to see for a second time the entertaining French film, Avenue Montaigne (or Fauteuils d'Orchestre), since it opened in general release and friend J. hadn't seen it yet. I enjoyed it a lot during the SB Film Festival in January and wanted to see it again.

I'd almost classify it as a "light, frothy springtime romp set in a chic Parisian neighborhood," but it's a bit more than that. Somewhat serious and literate, dealing with themes of death, love, life, and livelihood, but also very lighthearted. No chance of courting depression with this one. Definitely not to be confused with the films of les frères Dardenne or Michael Haneke. Seriously, The Piano Teacher is a nightmare (I did not really enjoy watching Isabelle Huppert sniffing cum-soaked Kleenex plucked off the floor of an adult bookstore booth -- yes, for reals; she was much more entertaining teasing Mark Wahlberg with "la Force" in I (Heart) Huckabees, but I digress...). I'm curious about Elfriede Jelenik since she won the Literature Nobel, but I'm not sure her work would be my cup of tea. Too bad, as I've been trying to figure out how to work more Austrian novelists into my reading list...

Anyway, Avenue Montaigne was fun, but just serious enough to make one "think about life" for about ten minutes, then go home and listen to an Edith Piaf CD (and do you doubt that I actually did that?).

In addition to starring the charming Cécile De France (who I must look for again in a closer viewing of another film I love, L'Auberge Espagnole), there were several scenes and little nuggets of dialogue that I really enjoyed:

- an elderly, widowed art collector, when explaining to his son (played by co-screenwriter Christopher Thompson, whom I find quite attractive) why he's selling his collection and has taken up with a youngish "golddigger" type of woman, says, "There comes a time in life when time passing becomes time remaining."

- A concert pianist, cracking under the pressure of an intolerable concert schedule playing to emotionally dead audiences and sufferring a sort of midlife crisis, pleads with his wife-manager to escape with him and imagine a life of "me giving piano lessons, a house by a lake... would you kill youself?", to which she replies "I don't know...".

- De France's character talks about metaphorically having found "a seat not too far back and not too close": a reference to a conversation that clarifies the film's French title, about theater audiences who are always seat hopping to get closer to the stage, until finally they're in the front row, where they can't see any of the action at all.

- Perhaps the best line, in which De France's character, Jessica, says: "There are two types of people in the world: those who, when their cellphone rings, say 'Now who the fuck is that?', and others, like me, who say, "Ah! Who can that be...?"

What can I say, I liked the bits of bubblegum philosophy tucked into this movie. I recommened seeing it if it comes to your neighborhood... or for your Netflix queue if it doesn't.


Steven said...

Joe - I also enjoy your comments on JMG. (Things get a little high and mighty over there sometimes!) I've also enjoyed reading your blog. Thanks for turning me on to Amy Winehouse. Great stuff!

Huntington said...

This post is soooo "of course you are." *grin*