Summer (French) Movie Nights at Napoleon

Memorial Day is behind us which means summer has finally begun!  That means LOTS of outdoors movie festivals are kicking off, in NoMa, at the Mosaic District, the Capital Riverfront, in the Heurich House Museum courtyard, on Harrison Field near U Street… pretty much all over the city 😉 But let’s face it, it’s HOT in D.C. in the summer (well, at least it usually is… we’re obviously having a pretty mild season right now…) and while outdoor movie screenings are fun, sometimes it’s nice to be inside where there’s air conditioning. Add half price champagne cocktails, crispy fried calamari, croque monsieur croquettes and hand-cut fries and you’ve got a winning  combination in my (French) books! Especially when the films shown are all French too!


Napoleon Bistro and Lounge has hosted French movie nights in the past but I love the line-up this season. The first Summer Movie Night of the season is this Thursday (May 30th 2013) with the screening in the Champagne Lounge of Poupoupidou, a thriller about a crime-fiction writer investigating the death of a local TV star who believed she was the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe. I haven’t seen this particular film, so I don’t know if it’s any good but I have seen some of the other movies that will be screened later on in the summer and there’s a little something for everyone. L’Exercise de l’Etat (Thursday, June 27th) should please politically-savvy DC audiences. D’amour et d’eau fraiche (Thursday, July 25) is a romantic drama and La Vie de Chateau (Thursday, August 30th) is a classic 1965 wartime comedy, set in occupied France, starring  Catherine Deneuve and Philipe Noiret. All films will have English subtitles and all screenings will start at 7PM (but guests can arrive as early as 6:30PM to grab a seat and mingle with other francophiles and French film aficionados). 

Napoleon Bistro and Lounge is located at 1847 Columbia Rd NW, Washington. All screenings will be in the Champagne Lounge, the last Thursday of every month starting this Thursday, May 30th, at 6:30PM (movie starts at 7PM though). In addition to happy hour specials offered throughout the screening, they have a fabulous French menu too! 


Monsieur JR Goes to… HBO

“Tell me what you stand for, and together we’ll turn the world inside out” ~ JR 

Back in October I wrote about my excitement that French street artist JR was putting up a mural right here in Washington, D.C. Since then, JR has traveled the world with his global participatory “pasting” art project “Inside Out” (if you don’t follow Inside Out on Istagram, you should!). Last month, he took over Time Square in New York City,  in an attempt to reclaim the space for the people and hosted a special Inside Out project with fellow Ted Prize winner Jamie Oliver on Food Revolution Day. Today, his work is the topic of a documentary “Inside Out: the People’s Art Project” which premieres May 20th, at 9PM on HBO (ET/PT). 



The documentary, which screened at the Tribeca Film Festival, follows JR’s career from his start as a graffiti artist in the streets of Paris to his more recent (and political) pasting works in war torn countries like Palestine or earthquake ravaged Haiti. It’s a glowing testament to the power of images, particularly those of oppressed populations. By printing their pictures on large black and white photographs and pasting them in public spaces, he aims to empower them but also show that they matter and that art can transform lives. I can’t wait to watch it! I hope you’ll tune in to HBO too…

Film Series – 50 Years French-German Friendship

Friendship Begins with the Stomach (c) Paolo Calleri

Friendship Begins with the Stomach (c) Paolo Calleri

Though it kicked off last Monday, May 8th seemed like a more appropriate day to write about a Franco-German film series happening in D.C. over the next few months…

50 years after Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle signed the Élysée Treaty, establishing the foundation for German-French friendship and cooperation, l’Alliance Française and the Goethe-Institut are celebrating this post-war reconciliation with a film festival showcasing films that were created through collaborations between filmmakers and actors in the two countries.

The series kicked off on May 6th with the screening of Truffaut’s classic Jules and Jim. Set between 1912 and 1933, it tells the story of two kindred spirits, shy Austrian Jules and extroverted Frenchman Jim, their friendship and love triangle with the beautiful Catherine. The next feature is César et Rosalie, a romantic drama starring French leading man Yves Montand and German actress Romy Schneider (who will always just be Sissy to me!) That screening takes place at the Goethe-Institut Monday May 13th, at 6:30PM. Skip to Monday, June 3rd (6:30PM at the Goethe-Institut) with Swann in love, a Franco-German film based on Proust’s novel, starring an all-European cast (Brit Jeremy Iron, French Alain Delon, Italian Ornella Muti) and directed by German Volker Schlöndorff. A true example of post-war cooperation 😉

Cesar et Rosalie

The next film is about one of my favourite topic: football! Let’s face it, the reason European soccer rivalries are so intense is partly because we have such a long history of fighting each others in national conflicts.  Refait / Real Scene Paris /Real Scene Berlin is a 15 minute short film that carefully reconstructs the last 15 minutes of the 1982 World Cup soccer match between France and Germany in Seville, Spain in all its intensity, drama etc. It will be shown Friday June 21st at 7PM at l’Alliance Française.

The next two screenings are two of my favourite French films: Au Revoir les Enfants (Monday, June 24th, 6:30PM, Goethe-Institut) and Merry Christmas (Monday, July 1, 6:30PM, Goethe-Institut). The first takes place during World War 2 and the second during World War 1. Both deal with individual putting themselves at risk to help another human being or their fellow men. In Louis Malle’s deeply moving, semi autobiographical masterpiece Au Revoir les Enfants, it’s a catholic school headmaster who shelters and hides a Jewish boy. In Joyeux Noel, it’s French, German and British soldiers, enemies locked into a miserable stalemate against one another, who put aside their differences just long enough to celebrate Christmas together on the trenches, December 24, 1914.


The last film is a documentary, France-Allemagne: une histoire presque commune, that trace the chronology of friendship between France and German from the early 60s, when the Élysée Treaty was signed to today through a series of vignettes. They focus on the various heads of state, working together over the years: De Gaulle and Adenauer (“Reconciliation”), d’Estain and Schmidt (“They Both Loved”), Mitterand and Kohl (“The Sense of History”), Chirac and Schröder (“The Sense of History”) and Sarkozy and Merkel (“Dead Ringers”). The documentary will be shown at l’Alliance Française July 12, at 7PM. 

Tickets for the screenings cost between $4-$8 and can be bought in advance (here for screenings at the Goethe-Institut, I’ll update the post once I have information about tickets for the screenings at l’Alliance Française.)

French Films at FilmFest DC 2013

Filmfest DC, the DMV’s International Film Festival, is back for its 27th edition. Last year, the festival had a huge “French touch,” opening and closing with two French language comedies, Quebec’s Starbuck (which you can currently see at E Street) and France’s Les Intouchables (available on Netflix.) This year, between April 11 and April 21, Washingtonians will be treated to some 80 films and shorts, from over 35 countries, at some of the area’s best venues and many of its embassies. There’s fewer French language movies showing in 2013, but there’s still a good number of interesting offerings. I personally have only seen a few of them myself, but here is a quick recap of French finds at Filmfest DC 2013.

I’ll start with the two I have seen: Thérèse Desqueyroux and In the HouseThérèse is an adaptation of a classic French novel about a young aristocratic woman in the 1920s. She finds herself very unhappy in her arranged marriage to a plain man and tries to escape but ends up trapping herself even more. It’s a beautifully conceived drama, though it’s slow like the country-life that oppresses Thérèse (played by Audrey Tautou). It’s very French in that it doesn’t have a proper ending. I don’t know what it is about French screenwriters and directors, but they just don’t know how to provide closure at the end of their films! In the House, on the other hand, does have a decent (and witty) ending, at least for a French film. The main reason to see it is Fabrice Luchini who is brilliant as always. He plays a cynical and jaded creative writing high school teacher whose curiosity is peaked by the stories of one of his students, Claude. He writes about his desires to infiltrate the house of a bourgeois classmate of his and as the teacher encourages the literary efforts of his pupil, he soon becomes so wrapped up and entangled in the story that he ends up losing control of his own life. I recommend! [Thérèse is showing at the FrenchEmbassy on April 19th and at the Avalon Theater on the 20th. In the House is also showing at the French Embassy on April 19th, at 9PM following the screening of Thérèse, and at the Avalon Theater on the 12th.]

Other French offerings include:

Laurence Anyways – Photo courtesy of Breaking Glass Pictures

Of course, there’s plenty of other films in all sorts of different languages besides French showing during Filmfest DC 2013 and I encourage you to go through the schedule online (you can sort by venue, date, language and country… it’s super convenient!) to see what awesome international films are showing in D.C. over the next 10 days! 

Les Misérables Official First Teaser

The first teaser trailer for Tom Hooper’s “Les Misérables” is short but gives me hope that for once there might be a movie adaptation of Hugo’s masterpiece that I don’t hate.

Of course, that’s probably because the film, rather than start from scratch the novel, is actually an adaptation of the excellent musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil (the two Frenchies who are also behind the musical Miss Saigon.) This first teaser features footage from the movie musical, accompanied by Anne Hathaway singing Fantine’s heart-wrenching “I dreamed a dream.” One can only hope that more character specific trailer teasers are coming our way while we patiently wait for December 14… maybe a “Who am I?” one with Hugh Jackman’s Jean Valjean, a “Stars” teaser with Russell Crowe’s Inpecteur Jalvert and a “A heart Full of Life” trailer with Amanda Siegfried’s Cosette, Samantha Braks’ Eponine and Eddie Redmayne’s Marius. Though let’s not kid ourselves… the one character-centric teaser I would *love* to see would obviously be the “Master of the House” duet between Monsieur et Madame Thénardier: Sascha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter.

“Les Miserables” will open in theaters (in the US) on December 14. In the meantime, consider me teased 😉

Alice in Paris… I mean… Wonderland

My special correspondent in Paris and enabler of macarons obsession (also known as my dad) reports that Paris is currently “émerveillé” with Alice au Pays des Merveilles. That would be French for Alice in Wonderland 😉
Tim Burton‘s adaptation of Lewis Caroll’s tale only comes out on March 24th in France, but Alice’s whimsical world has already taken Paris by storm. The Arludik Gallery, for example, is hosting an exhibit of artists selected by Tim Burton himself to define the artistic and graphic universe of the film (March 4-7, 12-14 rue St Louis en L’Ile, 4eme). Paul & Joe imagined a make-up line inspired by the fairy tale and Stella McCartney collaborated with Disney to create a special edition of necklaces and bracelets. Speaking of Disney, my former place of employment, Disneyland® Resort Paris, is also celebrating with special Alice in Wonderland characters meet and greets as well as a special edition Alice t-shirt sold exclusively at the resort.

But the most exciting celebration is happening at Le Printemps. Since February 1st, the department store’s windows are displaying select designers’ interpretation of Alice’s famous dress. Chloe or Alexander McQueen, among others, were given free reigns to fashion Alice, for the enjoyment of passers-by. Meanwhile inside Le Printemps, Paris’ most renowned pâtisserie La Durée has transformed the ground store into a re-creation of Mad Hater’s tea party with a special salon de thé. In another tribute to the enchanting world down the rabbit-hole, La Durée imagined a special green apple macaron, sold in a limited edition musical box to satisfy children and grownups alike. I wish I could tumble down a rabbit-hole and emerge in the middle of the Printemps right now…

Screen on the Green – line up announced!

The complete line-up for Screen on the Green was announced yesterday:

July 20: “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”
July 27: “Dog Day Afternoon”
Aug. 3: “On the Waterfront”
Aug. 10: “Rebel Without a Cause”

Now in its 10th year, Screen on the Green has become synonymous with summer in Washington, D.C. The event is hugely popular, so plan on arriving early to get a good spot, particularly if you are going with a big group of people. The screen is located on the National Mall off Constitution Avenue, between 4th and 7th Streets. Don’t forget to bring mosquito repellant, blankets, snacks and drinks.

Screen on the Green

Washingtonians came dangerously close to losing one of their most random summer tradition: doing the the HBO Dance on the National Mall before the start of a classic movie during Screen on the Green. Well, put on your dancing shoes, Screen on the Green returns on July 20th, with a shorter line up of movies, a new funder but the same enthusiasm from DC residents.

Earlier this year, it was announced that there would not be a 10th year of Screen on the Green and HBO dance on the National Mall as funding for the showings had fallen through. After a large outcry from Washingtonians, the Trust for the National Mall has come forward to support Screen on the Green along with HBO and Comcast. Their hope is that they can use the event to unite Americans in a grassroots effort to help restore the National Mall. Before each movie, the Trust will air public service announcements about how viewers can help preserve and protect the National Mall for future generations.

Screen on the Green, which attracts thousands of people to the Mall every summer, will begin July 20 with Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and continue on Mondays at dusk and last four weeks instead of the usual five. The complete line-up has not been confirmed yet but rumours are that it will include the movies already slotted for Screen on the Green in Bryant Park (“Dog Day Afternoon” or “Rebel Without a Cause.”)

Whatever the line-up is, get your bug-repellent ready and start planning your strategies for sneaking in wine… Screen on the Green is back!!