Not to be confused with the Texas town of the same name, Paris is known around the world as the City of Light. And why shouldn’t it? The capital of France is the cultural nexus for many of the arts, including painting, music, food, dance, fashion, and romance. As such, it is a light that influences the entire world in terms of artistic culture. So often, it is used as an anchor to orient where people are and where they are going in this world. Much like New York City, people will travel to this bustling town to make or break their careers. As one who has an interest in the arts, I know I would love to visit this metropolis at some point, even if it happens when I’m retired from my day job. This week’s two movies are set in this beautiful city and highlight some of its cultural strengths.
Length: 111 minutes / 1.85 hours
Chefs who are trained in Paris tend to be some of the best in the world. The rigor and determination needed to make it in a French culinary school help to give a foundation to anyone who wants to cook fancy food for a living. It’s no wonder Julia Child is now a household name when it comes to French cooking, considering she wrote the book on how to master it. Even she had to learn from the best while she lived in Paris. Considering that French cuisine is its own special challenge, those who are good at it don’t need long to prove themselves. Even though anyone can cook, doesn’t mean that everyone should. And yet, even in this town filled with underdogs, the surprise talent is always something that takes a while to get used to. Nevertheless, they are still given as much a chance as the next.
Even though Gusteau (Brad Garrett) was a famous cook who wanted to bring his vision of culinary inclusion to the world (a bit like the aforementioned Julia Child), his death has unfortunately spoiled his good name. Now that his likeness is being used to push frozen foods, his legacy remains to be found. Enter Remy (Patton Oswalt). Remy is a faithful disciple of Gusteau’s who also just so happens to be a rat. When Remy is shown mercy at the hands of Linguini (Lou Romano), he stumbles across a way to show everyone that he can cook. Since Linguini works at Gusteau’s restaurant, it’s the perfect place to rise up the culinary ranks, even if Linguini is Remy’s front. Unfortunately, Remy’s ratty past comes back to haunt him and jeopardizes the whole plan to bring Gusteau’s back into culinary relevance.
An American in Paris
Rating: Not Rated
Length: 113 minutes / 1.88 hours
What could be more romantic than falling in love in Paris? After all, even if it doesn’t work out, the memories will still be there (as we were reminded in Casablanca (1942)). Of course, very few people head to Paris with that endgame in mind. It seems that most who decide to move there are there to find their dream job. Apartment complexes are full of such dreamers who are low on income, but high on hopes that they’ll somehow make it big. Many artists will take this gamble with the expectations that their talent will help them stand out among the rest, but not everyone will be this lucky. Painters and pianists are a dime a dozen in this artistically-cultural hub, so what can an American do to keep from losing to the rest of the crowd? And why did he jump straight to Paris instead of going through New York first?
Two friends share an apartment in Paris as they try to obtain their dreams. Jerry (Gene Kelly) is the eponymous American who has joined forces with his pianist friend Adam (Oscar Levant), or at least joined insomuch as they have to pay the rent together. Adam is working with the singer Henri Baurel (Georges Guétary), who in turn is in a relationship with Lise (Lesli Caron), a French girl who Jerry has so conveniently fallen in love with at a local restaurant. Of course, Jerry’s patron, Milo Roberts (Nina Foch) is smitten with him, which leads us to the crazy intersection of a masked ball. At the ball, these people sort out who loves who, even if their situations cannot change to make it happen. Still, this doesn’t prevent Jerry from daydreaming about what might happen if he and Lise could actually be together.
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 pictures of Paris