Hi there, it’s Belette, talking to you from this little country we call France! Here, in the 90’s, we loved TV shows, movies and music that came either from the UK or the US. But some cult French movies you probably don’t know were done during this glorious period.
Maybe not the best movies you’ve ever seen, but still, if you talk to a French kid or teenager from the 90’s, you’ll probably get a few points if you have seen at least one of these. I chose 5 movies that really made my childhood, and I assume that some of them are not as good as I remember… Is it really important? They all are a capture of the 90’s’ spirit, and I assure you most of us Frenchies saw these movies more than once in our life.
La Cité de la Peur (“Fear city”) is one of my favorite movies. The creators were a group of famous French humorists called “Les Nuls” (could be translasted as “the zeros”) who are known to have a very strange sense of humor. It is a parody of well-known american movies, with a French twist. If you want to watch it, I really suggest if you don’t speak French, that you ask for a French speaker to translate the multiple play-on-words and references. It tells the story of a bad producer who wants her awful horror movie (a slasher called “Red is Dead” where a communist psychopath kills his victims with a hammer and a sickle) to be known and maybe win a prize, and suddenly, a murder occurs at the Premiere of the movie… It’s not horrific at all, but really funny and the quotes are cult.
This very popular French movie, Les Visiteurs (“the visitors”), has an american version you should not watch because it was awful. The original is not perfect and the humor is certainly not subtle, but it’s more than cult in my country. The story is about a middle-age knight and his groom who are teleported in the 90’s. They discover the future, meet their grand-grand-xxx-grand-children, help them and finally try to go back to their own time. The movie is funny, well-done with a lot of suspense, and it’s always nice to see Jean Reno in a comical role. Yes, Jean Reno, an actor you might know from Leon (which was also a 90’s French movie!).
Before it became one of the most amusing movies I’ve ever seen, Le Dîner de Cons (The Dinner Game) was an excellent theater play. Most French people have either seen the movie or the play, in which a poor nice guy is invited by a mean rich man to a dinner where each guest has to invite an “idiot” to make fun of. It’s a cruel game that will, in the end, turn against the participants, as we all are an idiot for other people. It is an incredible movie, with amazing actors and very intelligent dialogues. Le Dîner de Cons is hilarious, but as La Cité de la Peur above, it will be easier to understand the humor with the help of a French speaker.
To be honest, I’ve not seen Un Indien dans la Ville (“An Indian in the city”) since I was 12 or 13. Maybe it’s for the best, because I’m not sure it’s a good movie at all. But I’ll always remember this movie as the first one that showed me what the future would be (in this movie, shot in ’93, everybody in Paris has a cellphone!), and as all the French kids at this time, I couldn’t help but quote it all the time. It tells the story of a man who discovers that he has a son, who has lived all his life in Amazonia and doesn’t know anything of the city. He brings his son back to Paris, and as the little Indian discovers the city, a lot of funny things happen to him and his father. It’s quite similar to Crocodile Dundee, except that it’s clearly meant for a younger public. I guess. I hope. It could be funny to watch for you because some scenes are nice and you’d be able to discover Paris through the eyes of a stranger.
You know Jean-Pierre Jeunet. He has done such famous movies! But before Amelie, which is not my favorite, he worked a lot with Marc Caro and made this wonderful movie : La Cité des Enfants Perdus (The City of Lost Children). Starring Ron Perlman, the movie is strange and beautiful, frightening and enchanting, it’s kind of a modern fairy tale, set in a steampunk universe. The bad guy, Krank, tries to steal the dreams of children from the city and will be fought by the big One and the small Miette, a little clever girl. It’s smart. No, it’s brilliant! You may not like it, because it’s very dark and bizarre, but to me, it will still be a work of art, still my favorite Jeunet movie. If you really had to watch only one movie off this list? I’d say this one!
Of course, most of you also know The 5th Element and Leon, which were important for French people in the 90’s, among others. But I wanted you to discover some typically French films, and I hope you’ll be curious enough to see them. Don’t forget to tell me what you thought of them if you happen to see one of these films one day!