I had a very close call at the movie theater the other evening, too close. After their summer break the little cinema on my corner is back in business again. This week they are showing a double feature of two fairly recent French films dubbed into Spanish. The first film is called Le Code A Changé (The Code Changed) or Cena de Amigos (Dinner with Friends) in Spanish. The other movie is Les Petits Mouchoirs or Pequeñas Mentiras sin Importancia (White Lies). As much as I criticize Hollywood I have always said that Europeans make a lot, a lot of lousy films. I don’t know which is worse: a formulaic Hollywood paint-by-numbers film or a histrionic French piece of crap.
Seeing that most of their films are about infidelity, and if I am getting their message correctly, French film directors are saying that French people don’t like to get married and then have sex with the same person the rest of their lives. Got it. Message received. Enough said. So please stop making movies about this subject, just like Woody Allen can stop making movies about the neurotic relationships of rich people. The only thing that has changed in Allen’s work is that he has been forced to film outside of New York because of rising costs. He still makes the same story about the same messed-up people but now they live in Europe.
As I have said before, I go to this cinema just to sit in the dark and listen to Spanish for a few hours. I could have never made it through Cena de Amigos had I watched it on TV. There was truly nothing the least bit interesting about this film. Even the original French title was completely corny and contrived. It’s like they were beating a square peg into a round hole just because they thought they were being clever. The code that changed was literally the door code for their apartment block but the code that had really changed was the code to their lives. Get it? To my credit I made it through this tedious film. I walked outside to stretch my legs during the intermission and then sat down again for the second feature.
Pequeñas Mentiras sin Importancia, like the first film, is an ensemble piece in which a group of friends unite to share their lives and loves and blah, blah, blah. I had to get the hell out of the theater at about the 20 minute mark when it looked like I was dangerously close to being subjected a French version of The Big Chill dubbed into Spanish. Even the music copied the American crap-classic. Does free speech protect someone who screams “shit” in a crowded movie theater?
So what is worse: the American formulaic romantic comedy with a title like My Best Friend’s Late Term Abortion or the pretentious and staggeringly boring French film, with both choices lacking even the faintest shred of originality? Answer: they are both horrible.