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Monday, May 4th, 2009

Time Event
1:13p
Paris 36
On Sunday the 3rd, Georgie and I went to the Downer Theatre for a matinee showing of the French film, "Paris 36" (French title, "Faubourg 36").

The multithreaded slice-of-life plot is too complex to synopsize here, but centers around a down-on-its-luck music hall, the Chansonia, which goes out of business at the stoke of midnight, January 1, 1936, and the people whose lives are affected by the closure. These include Pigoil (Gérard Jugnot) the everyman/working man who is stage manager for the Chansonia; Milou (Clovis Cornillac), a Communist labor organizer/agitator; Douce (Nora Arnezeder), a singer trying to start a career; Jackie (Kad Merad), the hall's questionably talented comedian; and local gang boss Galiapat (Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu), who is seeking respectability and political influence by hitching his wagon to the French Fascist Party. Pigoil and Jackie try to reopen the Chansonia, but the effort does not immediately meet with magical "let's put on a show" success. Meanwhile, political and criminal violence haunt the streets, and love, sex, and jealousy upset the character's lives.
1936 is a turbulent time in Paris, which is dealing with the remnants of the Great Depression, labor unrest culminating in a general strike, and political unrest concomitant to the election of the leftist Popular Front party government and an ethnically Jewish President, Leon Blum.
Some critics are dismissing the film as phony sentimentality, but we found it honest, enjoyable and bittersweet with sufficient grit to be satisfying.
In French, with English subtitles. Some violence, some arty nudity in the scenes at Galiapat's nightclub.

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