TV Cream

Films: L is for...

Legend of 1900, The

Regular readers will know the problem we have with the cinematic genre most usually known as The Sort of Foreign Films You Can Safely Watch With Your Mum. You know the deal. Babette’s Feast. The Chorus. Life is Beautiful. The Quince Tree Sun. And so on. No dirty muckiness, no existential unrest and nothing to frighten the horses, just the sort of bucolic whimsy that goes down well with a glass of Pinot Grigio (or maybe a Stella, seeing as how those very beer ads faultlessly replicate the relentlessly cheery continental quirkiness of the genre). We can’t stand ’em as a rule – boil-washed, ironed-out dullness with hospital corners, mostly. We make an honourable exception for Cinema Paradiso, but even then we’re not quite sure why. But lest a reactionary gut dislike be in danger of watering down, the director of said film-based cute-in really blows the sickometer with this appalling, appalling confection in which Tim Roth grows up on an Atlantic cruise ship, plays the piano as it rolls around the ballroom, and generally acts the twit while overblown sets and Guinness advert-standard camerawork choke the screen with their pointless expense. Peter Vaughan’s in it at the start for a bit, but otherwise this is pure glutinous, congealed quaintness of the foulest stamp.

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  1. Stu

    August 3, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    I was having a pretty good day. Got to work early. Weather was good during my lunch hour. Managed to get home at a reasonable hour. Did all the writing I needed to do. Watched Man on Wire. Then I heard The Observer is closing and now that TV Cream hates one of my favourite films. (hold fist in the air) Why, fate, why?

  2. Applemask

    August 4, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    It’s not that bad, it has its moments. But those moments sort of float around a hollow centre.

  3. Applemask

    August 4, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Also, Jean de Florette/Manon des Sources, like the book, is brilliant, and if you think it’s whimsy (and free of existential angst) you aren’t paying attention.

    • TV Cream

      August 4, 2009 at 1:53 pm

      Controversy! Well, we stand by our assessment of the ‘PG foreign films after 1989’ genre as a whole – we’re not against foreign films, or whimsy (perish the thought!), but there’s a strand of this sort of stuff that rubs us up the wrong way in a manner we might be able to articulate more clearly if we had but the wit to do so.

      You’re right about Jean de Florette, though. We’re not mad about that either, but it doesn’t fit in with this genre at all, so out it goes.

  4. Stu

    August 4, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    I get you don’t like Amelie either. Or anything by Cedric Klapisch.

  5. David Pascoe

    August 5, 2009 at 12:07 am

    Glad to hear you like Cinema Paradiso, which is a lovely film. You say you don’t know why you like it though. Perhaps it appeals to a childhood desire you might have had to say, help Chris Serle pick out appropriate clips for “Windmill.”

    I can just see Graham and Ian watching clips that didn’t get broadcast in the original series and weeping joyously as “Two Tribes” plays over the top of the clips.

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