Popular Movies You’ve Never Seen
There’s a gigantic gap between European films and Hollywood product. Although there are a great many popular Hollywood films I love (including ‘Avatar’), there have also been too many that just consist of boringly mindless violence – it’s a law of diminishing returns that leaves you desperate for some kind of intelligent story (I’m a writer, of course I’ll champion stories).
There have lately been a lot of articles about how the old Hollywood system is dying. It makes more money overseas than domestically, and gives an increasingly poor return on its investment. European films have lower budgets and have to try harder. They’re also very good at breaking the mould, whereas Hollywood films are targeted to tight demographic groups, which is why European remakes rarely work.
Of course not all European films are great, but I find more and more of them in my Top Twenty with each passing year. This year I loved ‘Un Prophete’, ‘Terribly Happy’ and ‘Let The Right One In’. We can find more world cinema on DVD now, but there are still huge holes in the catalogue of available movies. Most of these are not art films (those tend to come out on DVD) but just good popular entertainment. While the Spanish ones have subtitles, the French (typically awkward) don’t. Why can’t an enterprising company bring out popular European movies?
Here’s a tiny handful I’ve listed off the top of my head. There are literally hundreds more. Don’t get me started on the Korean, Chinese, Japanese and Indian ones.
‘Ah! Si j’étais riche’
A man wins a fortune and must keep it secret from the wife he’s in the middle of divorcing.
‘Stanno Tutti Bene’
The charming original version of the terrible ‘Everybody’s Fine’; a man visits his children, only to be disappointed by them.
‘Good Morning Babylon’
The story of two brothers who go from Italy to Hollywood to build sets for DW Griffith’s ”Intolerance’.
‘A La Folie…Pas Du Tout’
A romance seen from both sides – and one side is shockingly different from the other.
A boring thirty year-old still lives at home with his cool parents, so they decide to drive him out.
Two salesmen compete for the most sales in one month, leading to a body being disposed of in the store’s furnace…
The terrifying true story of France’s worst serial killer, a seemingly well-meaning doctor in WW2 who kills Jews. The image of Petiot on his tricycle, his cape flapping, haunted me for days after.
A horror film in which the beautiful victim is actually the maniac, also features brain scientists, zombies and a musical number.
A prisoner’s winning lottery ticket is in the jacket his warden’s wife has taken on a cross-country rally.
‘Erreur De La Banque En Votre Faveur’
A waiter foils a group of fat-cat bankers while making his neighbourhood rich and getting the girl. Typically of European films, this rom-com takes in issues of May-October romances, internet dating, wealth VS looks, job satisfaction, communism VS capitalism and so on – all with a light touch.