Thursday, 26 February 2004

On Monday night I went with Jacques and his fiancé Sophie to see Cold Mountain. Despite geographical synchronisation issues stemming from the surplus of university restaurants on campus, we arrived early and went for a drink at a place I'd walked past previously. Jacques speaks fairly broken English, but is very willing and will learn very quickly. Sophie speaks better English, but was shy of exercising it, and as a result I tended to speak in French with Sophie and in English with Jacques.

This is something I have noticed in France. The statement that I have heard is "people in France don't speak very good English", which is a self-propagating half-truth. In my experience, people are able to speak English fairly well, given the difficulty of it, and the only problem is that many choose not to, for fear that they won't be understood. Jacques, and perhaps Philippe, are the only people I've met since arriving who seem to realise that speaking English badly but often is the shortest path to speaking it well. (Caveat: Those who choose not to speak English because they want to preserve French are a different case, and significantly more justified, I think).

Anyway, we talked about film afterwards, and they posed the obvious question of "What kind of films do you like?". Obvious though it may be, I had and still have no answer for it. "Good films"? As Roger Ebert says, its not what a movie is about, its how it is about it that counts. I think this becomes more and more apparent as one digs further into cinema.

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