August in Paris is pretty blah. I know some people love it because the Parisians clear out, it's much quieter and easier to get around. The problem is that there really isn't anything to do here other than the touristy-y stuff that remains open and crowded. Now, I'm always up for an exhibit, but I have not yet been able to transmit my museum-love to my children. And dragging two jet-lagged kids to see art against their will is just beyond me at the moment, since I'm in my usual post-US-visit funk. So what to do with them when it's raining out and all their friends are gone? The movies, of course!
So last week, when Pierre took Alexander to visit his Mamie, I decided Julia and I should do a mother-daughter movie day. Unfortunately, France's movie release schedule does not mirror America's. Summer is blockbuster time in the US with new family-friendly movies opening every weekend, whereas prevailing wisdom here is that the French do not go to the movies in the summer. I have no idea if this is really true in terms of box office, but the result is that there aren't a lot of movies opening that are kid-appropriate.
I was expressing this frustration to Julia when she reminded me that she isn't really a kid anymore. She's 12. And I'm old. Too old apparently to remember what kinds of movies I was watching at 12. How much sex & violence was I exposed to? Rating recommendations differ in the US and France so I'm not sure I can even trust them.
Of course, Julia assured me she was old enough to see movies like "Wolverine" and "Pacific Rim". As a matter of fact, she told me, she had just finished watching Christopher Nolan's "Batman" trilogy with her father after I passed out at night from jet-lag. Now I was simultaneously horrified and delighted by this news. Horrified because Nolan's Batman films are pretty intense. Delighted because if Julia isn't traumatized, that means I can start taking her to real movies with me. No more Smurfs or Chipmunks! (although I did kind of enjoy David Cross and Jenny Slate in the last one).
So after a bit of research (thanks very much to commonsensemedia.com), I decided Julia was mature enough to see "Pacific Rim" (okay, I was dying to see it too). Since it wasn't playing anywhere near us, it was also a great opportunity to go back to the Max Linder Panorama, my favorite movie theater when I first moved to Paris almost 20 years ago.
The Max Linder is one of the few independent cinemas left in Paris. Originally founded in 1919, it has been renovated a few times, most recently in 2004. When we went, the art-deco-ish lobby was looking a little worse-for-wear, but the theater itself still boasts comfortable seats and excellent visual/sound quality. The Max Linder is built on three levels and features a panoramic screen (the reallywide, slightly curved kind). The best place to watch has always been from the middle-level balcony as the screen is at eye-level. And here's where seeing in movies in Paris in August works its magic because while the balcony is usually packed, Julia and I were able to get perfect front-row center seats.
I don't have much to say about "Pacific Rim." It's Monsters vs Robots. It's cartoonish and predictable. But it knows what it is and has fun with it. And it's the perfect movie to watch on an honest-to-goodness Big Screen in the middle of summer. Best of all, I got to share a bit of cinéphilia with my daughter, who I hope will continue to value the nature of a good neighborhood movie theater.
Now can someone tell me at what age kids start drinking coffee? Because Julia is asking...