More umbrellas s'il vous plait
December 30, 2014 5:47 PM   Subscribe

A recent FPP has got me hooked on the films of Jacques Demy, and I want more of the same.

Thanks to cwest, I've fallen in love with both Les Parapluies de Cherbourg and Les Demoiselles de Rochefort. (This has now officially become my Favorite Song Ever.) On deck is Une Chambre en ville, but in about an hour and twenty minutes from now something tells me I might be needing more. What should I watch next?

It should be
· in French. I understand spoken French reasonably well, but not perfectly, and I dislike subtitles (enough that I've actually been known to cover up the bottom part of the screen just to hide them), so best would be movies where the dialogue is not too dense/fast or where there's enough going on outside of spoken dialogue that it doesn't matter too much if you miss a word now and then.
· ideally a musical, or at least have a great soundtrack
· "classic" in period, as I like the aesthetics of older French movies... yet,
· fun! One reason I haven't watched more classic French cinema is the too-serious This Is High Art tone of a lot of it. Doesn't have to be just comedies, though -- the Umbrellas is a moving love story, but it manages this playfully and without taking itself too seriously.

Merci d'avance!
posted by hoist with his own pet aardvark to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Le Ballon Rouge, and anything by Jacques Tati.
posted by JimN2TAW at 5:57 PM on December 30, 2014

Oooh! I think I can help with this. I've only seen Les Parapluies but I think that's enough to get the tone.

I'm going to assume you can hunt through the rest of Demy so I won't recommend any of his.

There's Jacques Tati films, particularly Mr. Hulot's Holiday, Playtime, and Mon Oncle. They're not musicals, but they've usually got good music and are really fun. He's a major influence on the Monty Python guys, Mr. Bean, and others.

Most of Godard's work might be too "This is High Art" for you, but I'd highly recommend Une Femme est Une Femme, it's a lighter comedy as his comedies go, and it's a kind of anti-musical. There's some really cool proto-alt comedy going on here. Week End is his only other major comedy, and I haven't seen it to recommend, but the music in most of his films is top notch.

Truffaut's Day for Night (Le Nuit Americaine) is a movie about making movies, with impeccable staging, good music, and it's funny.
posted by JauntyFedora at 6:07 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh, and the films from the OSS 117 series starring Jean Dujardin are not actually classic, but they retain a lot of the 60s look and feel, and might be up your alley. I'd only recommend Cairo, Nest of Spies and Lost in Rio. It's kind of an Inspector Clouseau schtick.
posted by JauntyFedora at 6:12 PM on December 30, 2014

Other great soundtracks: "Un Homme et une Femme," and "Cousin, Cousine."
posted by JimN2TAW at 6:58 PM on December 30, 2014

I've only seen the ones you've seen, but here's a list of 53 candidates. Samples are easy to find. And I can't resist adding a shout out for the French version of the Buffy musical, which technically meets all but one of your criteria.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 9:11 PM on December 30, 2014

8 Femmes is more recent, but might fit what you're looking for
posted by timelord at 12:24 AM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

"Chansons d'Amour" (English title "Love Songs")?
posted by bfields at 6:56 AM on December 31, 2014

If you like Michel Legrand's music then you will probably also like soundtracks by Francis Lai, who composed interesting scores for Un Homme Et Une Femme (mentioned above) and Vivre Pour Vivre. (Not to be confused with the existential Goddard drama 'Vivre Sa Vie'.)
posted by ovvl at 9:41 AM on December 31, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks all! Will definitely check these out, especially Tati.

(Turns out the link I posted to Une Chambre en ville isn't actually the original movie, just for the record.)
posted by hoist with his own pet aardvark at 4:26 PM on January 1, 2015

La Cage aux Folles (the original Birdcage) is a great deal of fun.

The Hairdresser's Husband is charming, funny and sad, and kind of has music and dancing in it. Kind of. I think the dialogue would be simple enough to follow without subtitles.

Oh, here is a blurb: Twelve-year-old Antoine falls profoundly in love with a voluptuous but suicidal hairdresser, a formative experience he never forgets. Much later in life, he seeks to repeat his romance by marrying Mathilde - also voluptuous and also a hairdresser - with whom he forms an intimate and consuming relationship in an attempt to blot out the miseries of this world from their lives.
posted by glasseyes at 1:30 PM on January 2, 2015

Les Chansons d'amour (Love Songs) is close enough to matching your list that I'm going to plug it. It's French. It's musical. It is not period, it's contemporary (circa 2007), but in style and structure it rather explicitly hearkens back to a lot of the French New Wave of the 60s. (example - it has three chapters and each has the same titles as the three chapters of "Umbrellas of Cherbourg.") It deals with twists and turns of modern love & sex in surprising ways. Personally, I love it, it's the film that got me watching French movies again after a long time of feeling like they were all too pretentious.

The same writer/director (Christophe Honore) has another movie, "Les bien-aimés" (Beloved) that is also musical, and stars Catherine Deneuve along with her daughter Chiara Mastroianni (playing a mother and daughter, even). I don't think it's quite as successful as Love Songs, it's a bit too long and unfocused, but then I've only seen it once, I should try it again to see what I think.
posted by dnash at 1:51 PM on January 2, 2015

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