Wednesday, 17 October 2012

French Touch

 Crêpes and Cinema
When: 21st September 2012
Where: The Kensington Crêperie
           Ciné lumière at the Institut français
Once upon a time I was going to start a blog called "Dinner and a Movie" to celebrate two of my favourite things.  Although it never came into being it is the inspiration for a number of my posts as when done just right there is no better thing than a great meal out followed by an even better film.  After an unintended break it was time to return to one of our favourite spots,  Ciné lumière at the Institut français , but before then it was time for some French food to go with a French film and what could be more appropriate than a  crêperie.

Like the film this evening crêpes are a simple premise that can be deliciously filled with endless possibilities from savoury to sweet.  However, in the wrong hands they can also easily burn, the filling could be uncooked, or they  can be too sweet or too salty.  Thankfully like the film we saw, this place had it nailed!  Service was quick and efficient, our crêpes were cooked perfectly and the cider was nicely chilled.  My dessert wasn't bad either, waffles and chocolate sauce washed down with a nice double espresso.  A great  follow up visit to the  Kensington Crêperie.  With our main course over it was now time for the real dessert, the film.

Untouchable (Olivier Nakache & Eric Toledano, 2011)       There are a number of reasons why I really enjoyed Untouchable, the first was going in to the film with no expectations of what it would be about, a rare luxury these days.  This helped me really enjoy the film thanks to the way it introduces our two lead characters.  The film's opening scene takes place around 3/4 of the way into the plot of the film.  We hear the upbeat and happy melodies of Earth, Wind and Fire, a blue Maserati is speeding along at night.  Bright blue police lights and blazing sirens are not far behind.  We hear our characters discuss placing a bet on the likelyhood of a police escort.  The driver is young and black, dressed in a tracksuit.  His passenger is a scruffy old man with a beard.  You wonder what kind of crime they have committed and how they intend to escape from the police.  They certainly don't look like they belong in that car.  

The police officer asks them both to get out of the car, the black man says his passenger can't and to "check in the boot".  We are expecting something bad, in fact it is just a wheelchair.  Do they have the perfect scam going on?  The old man starts frothing at the mouth and coughing, he needs to go to the hospital.  

We still don't know the truth, after all if you've watched your fair share of Coen brothers films you'll know to be particularly wary when the words "Based on a true story" flash up at the beginning of a film.  Either way, forcing us to judge the characters upfront to expose our prejudices is a great move in my book.

We soon find out about who these two characters really are and the heart warming story of a rich, upper middle class man with a life changing disability who meets someone from outside of his social circle to take care of him and give him a life again.  

Coming out of this film, that opening scene stuck in my head and it made me think just for fun of a probably already green lit Hollywood remake of Untouchable.  I mean Hollywood aren't afraid to ruin the odd French classic here and there!  Why not something like Meet the Parents meets Dumb and Dumber.  The possibilities are endless.  My favourite would be Robert De Niro as the man in the wheelchair and perhaps Chris Rock as the man from the ghetto pushing him around, it could be a laugh a minute gross out joke fest with just the  Earth Wind and Fire track left in to stay true to the original.  I'm sure this re-making of the film would more than make back its money but something would be missing, my crêpe would have been overcooked on the outside but left the cold in the middle.

The thing that makes Untouchable the perfectly cooked crêpe is the balance that is found in the film.  Both the characters judge each other horribly, much like we judge them in the opening sequence.  Phillipe (Francois Cluzet) thinks poor old Driss (Omar Sy) should be taught the lesson that an honest days work means an honest days pay.  Driss thinks I might as well just turn up to the interview, get them to sign my papers so I can keep claiming unemployment benefit, it's not as if he's going to hire me.  These initial assumptions of both characters backgrounds are regularly and evenly played off against each other without too much judgement as to which is better.  They both laugh at each others hang ups in equal measure and both help each other get their lives back on track.   In all such balance makes for a great bit of entertainment that anyone can enjoy and identify with, whatever side of the tracks you come from you see yourself somewhere in Untouchable, you can really identify and bond with the situation however far from day to day reality it seems and apart from the Earth Wind and Fire you don't need a classic Hollywood score to tell you how you feel.  Please go and see this film as perhaps then they would make more like this rather than the kind of remake that leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

The Kensington Crêperie 2-6 Exhibition Road, London SW7 2HF
Cine Lumiere 17 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2DT

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