Movies
 
the linguist twist
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best
I HATE when filmmakers don't bother to put in the effort to deal convincingly with accents and foreign languages. I am posting here my list of Best & Worst... I would love to add to it, so feel free to contribute.
I'm looking forward to TIMELINE, where Americans travel back to Medieval France... I'm wincing already...
The Hunt for Red October
I love how they make the characters start out by speaking Russian; notice how the camera zooms in on Sean Connery's face and makes the movement coincide with the switch from Russian to English. They don't take us for idiots by trying to convince us that Russians speak English on their own ship. Rather, the camera movement & language switch suggests that we are simply allowed to understand the conversation in terms we can comprehend.
The 13th Warrior
Let this be clear: I did NOT like this movie at all. It is lame. This said, there's a part of it that I thought was very clever. At the beginning, when Antonio Banderas is sitting at the fire with the tribe, he's listening to the conversation, not understanding it. It sounds like gibberish, and that's how we hear it. Then, as he starts to make sense of the language, English words pop up here & there, to illustrate how he is able to gradually understand the words.
Much Ado About Nothing
I love that they allowed the actors to keep their native accents for this movie; the British kept theirs, and the same for the Americans. It's much less distracting this way. I winced enough surviving Keanu Reeve's rendition of Shakespeare to worry about his potentially bad English accent...
French Kiss
Even though they got an American actor to play the role of a Frenchman, I have to admit Kevin Kline can produce a pretty convincing French accent. I thought I could detect a flaw on a few occasions, but I couldn't be sure...
The Matrix Reloaded
I love that they made the Merovingian French. It's sort of a nice inside joke to those who actually understand all the swear words he enumerates...
The 5th Element
I love the made-up language Leeloo speaks in the movie. It sounds real to my ears, and she was very convincing in her delivery.
The Bourne Identity
Matt Damon had a really good French accent... not that he sounded like a native (or was supposed to), but I thought it was notable. He's actually saying the words, not simply repeating the sounds phonetically like so many others...
worst
The Whole Nine Yards
Rosanna Arquette was atrocious in her rendition of Quebec French. It was NOTHING like it, not even close.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (I LOVE Star Trek, but still...) grew up in France, and still is perfectly British in his speech. Also, when they make him speak French on a few occasions, it really sucks. When Data speaks a few words of French in Time's Arrow, it's also pretty bad (and the other guy too).
Movies set in a French setting
Whenever a movie is set in France but filmed in English, many filmmakers will assume that it's more believable if the actors speak with a British accent. I understand that French people are more likely to speak English with a British accent than an American one... but really, isn't it MORE likely that they'll simply have a FRENCH accent while speaking English? For instance, Drew Barrymore put on a [really bad] British accent for Ever After; why did she have to put it on in the first place? This movie is set in FRANCE!