Monday, March 28, 2011

Paris 36 (2008)

1 Nomination, 0 Wins

Nomination: Best Song - "Loin de Paname" by Reinhardt Wagner and Frank Thomas

It was entirely coincidental that I watched 42nd Street only a few days before watching Paris 36, but it was fortuitous timing, as 42nd Street is the ancestor of Paris 36 (and hundreds of other films). Directed by the French director Christophe Barratier, the film depicts the backstage goings-on of the Chansonia, an old Parisian music hall. The film is set to the backdrop of political unrest in the years preceding World War II, but this all matters little, as the real focus is on what is happening inside the Chansonia, not outside.

Paris 36 succeeds in spite of a thin plot, mostly due to the performances. Gerard Jugnot, one of the most recognizable faces in modern French cinema, carries the film. Jugnot has the kind of face that artists live for the opportunity to paint, full of expressiveness and mischievousness. Nora Arnezeder gives what very well might be (and should be) were breakout role as the young starlet who saves the show. Arnezeder has the look and talent to be France's next international star.

The film's music is wonderful, a requirement for any successful backstage musical. The songs, including the Academy Award nominated "Loin de Paname" are sweetly evocative of 1930's Paris, and the film even includes a brief tribute to Busby Berkeley with a geometric overhead dance shot. "Loin de Paname" lost to "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart, two completely different types of songs (though my vote would have gone to "The Weary Kind").

None of the plotlines add up to much, much like 42nd Street, the but the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The film is a fun little piece with great music and charismatic performances, and is a worthy contribution to the genre of the backstage musical.

Remaining: 3159 films, 880 Oscars, 5441 nominations

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