Midnight in Paris (2011)

Cameos are fun; even more so when they’re by historic figures, who shaped the world’s Art and Culture. The City of Lights shines brightly in this whimsical tale of a screenwriter, who’s struggling to find inspiration for his first novel. He mysteriously finds himself transported back to the 1920s at midnight throughout the duration of his vacation with his fiance, who doesn’t share his nostalgia. Though heavily romanticized, there’s great fun to be had in recognizing the various icons along with the main character, who’s just as surprised by who he runs into along the way.

The Imposter (2012)

How does a foreign man suddenly end up a U.S. citizen, welcomed into the family of a long- missing child? While it’s impossible to fully understand the grief of those keeping vigil by the window, waiting for a phone call that may never come, it is curious that every expert agrees there are many loose ends. Is it merely that hindsight is 20/20 (as the old saying goes) or is there a more sinister explanation? Though the testimony of an identity thief certainly isn’t everything, it seems to corroborate the suspicion of at least one specialist…

Masterfully crafted, the details of this publicly documented incident are recounted chronologically by a rotation of several family members, some government employees, a smattering of friends/ neighbors and one relentless private investigator. During the lengthier portions of each person’s story, voiceover serves as narration for actors’ portrayals of the events being described. By the end of the film you have about as much information as everyone involved to decide for yourself what you think happened.

Spy (2015)

Though there are both stunts and humor galore, this is no James Bond spoof; comedic actors were actually taught fighting techniques to do most of their own stunts and action stars ad libbed many of the best lines. The result stands on its own two feet (and is perhaps overqualified) as a contender in its […]

Persepolis (2007)

I’m so glad the author of the autobiographical comic– the basis of this movie– was involved in making this version of her story. An Iranian expat, who came- of- age during the Islamic Revolution/ reign of the Shah describes her historical experiences– personal, cultural and political– in black and white. The bold stylistic choice serves […]

Look at me/ Comme une image (2004)

Despite the French title being a book around which one of the main stories is centered, all the meta occurs outside the film; American critics have absolutely no idea what it’s about, which is precisely the plot! The snarkiness that runs throughout is the symptom of a larger problem. It’s easy to give advice about a particular situation but why not follow it yourself? Likely because you hear—yes, someone is talking, blah, blah, blah—but you don’t take the time to listen to what is—or isn’t—being said. I find it ironic that some people describe the script as “too wordy.” Everyone’s talking but never really saying what they mean or how they feel. Moreover, no one is paying any attention to what’s not being said: the eye roll, the shoulder slump, the sigh, the deliberate nudge given to a supposed stranger. Yet they all desperately want to be heard. Don’t we all? In an era of information overload, the best way to know someone is to see them—not merely look at them through a media lens; to watch them in their element. Try it. You’ll be surprised. The characters certainly were.

Paris, je t’aime (2006)

Multiple accomplished filmmakers and actors lend their talents to a compilation of shorts that each pay tribute to a different section of Paris. You needn’t be familiar with the historic City of Love to enjoy the performances in each well-crafted story. Spanning a variety of styles and genres, this clever project (the original of its kind) depicts a diverse and complex city in way that feels timeless.

The Triplets of Belleville (2003)

This cartoon is unusual because, while it has the capability to exaggerate what/ whenever it wants, it’s not particularly fantastical. In typical comic fashion, the story is told through music that complements gestures and facial expressions rather than dialogue but not to accommodate talking animals or people bouncing around like a rubber balls. All the elements of design that would enhance any other kind of film are expertly utilized in this charming tour de force about a competitive French cyclist, who gets kidnapped and taken to New York City. His grandmother, who raised him sets out in search with her trusty dog in tow. The pair is taken in by an eccentric old trio of jazz musicians, who’ve been performing together since Vaudeville. The minimalist—and at times slightly abstract—style is a stark contrast to modern computer rendering but serves as the perfect medium for this story’s setting.

The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014)

For once a cooking movie that’s not solely about an underdog (either a chef or a restaurant) pitted against some big bad meanies! When an Indian family moves to France after a series of misfortunes and are pleasantly surprised to learn about property for sale that includes an abandoned restaurant, they open a family-style diner that serves all their favorites from home. Salt-of-the Earth, Papa is a thorn in the side of food snob, Madame Mallory when he opens right across the street from her Michelin-starred fine dining establishment. The two couldn’t be more opposite; they also couldn’t be more passionate about food. Thoughtful consideration about pride in one’s craftsmanship and how food is more than just physically nourishing.