French Cinemas


I love movies. However, I have no discriminating taste. Of course I acknowledge the classics – nothing can compete with Gone With the Wind, Casablanca or Rear Window – but I can always be talked into movie night, no matter whether it’s a chick flick, the latest blockbuster or the new Pixar extravaganza (that was this weekend – I cried – twice). Case in point, I once owned Mortal Kombat. Worst. Movie. Ever. Moreover, I have a personal rule that, no matter how bad the film, flaming arrows will redeem almost anything.
I was a little worried when I arrived – without much French under my belt, how would I feed my cinema addiction? I just hoped to find a good video rental store once I arrived to catch US films as they were released to DVD. Imagine my surprise that most every theater in the Paris metropolitan area offers first-run Hollywood films, most with their original voice tracks (VO), supplemented with French subtitles. Fantastic.

I know that the French also have a somewhat sordid, melancholic cinematic tradition. With the exception of the bumbling, slapstick comedic summer fluff that is the same, no matter what the language, the previews I’ve seen for the up-and-coming French films have looked intriguing and definitely worth seeing. The only problem is that, being in France, I have yet to find these films being shown with English subtitles. Somehow I doubt this will be as easy.


I have also been impressed seeing how easily these mulitplex movie theaters integrate into the urban environment. Not all movie theaters need to show 20 concurrent films and be book-ended by parking structures. A last-minute dinner and movie date is actually possible when the theater itself is part of a bustling city square, surrounded by 4 or 5 tasty restaurants, accessible by metro, and does not waste 30 additional minutes of your time with advertisements before the show. The only drawback that I have noticed is the distinct lack of matinee showings and corresponding discounts. I am hoping that this may be a summer artifact and besides, when my fidelity card finally arrives (um, have to order it first), I’ll be free to go anytime!
Speaking of which (and not an advertisement – I just found out and am excited): The most common theater chain in Paris is UGC. From their Wiki, it appears that they are Europe-wide and have 37 cinemas in France, which include 357 screens. Impressive. Better yet, they offer the UGC illimité pass.  For a flat rate of approximately 20 euro per month (one show will set you back €10.50), you can go to as many films as you would like at any UGC theater. These are the theaters that most often run the VO films that I want to see. Signing up for this as the days (already!) start to get shorter is at the top of my to-do list. Maybe tomorrow?


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