THE FILM YAP » Jean-Pierre Jeunet We Never Shut Up About Movies Fri, 21 Nov 2014 19:48:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Micmacs Mon, 13 Dec 2010 08:23:14 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

Writer/director Jean-Pierre Jeunet has a gift for showing why the smallest things can be the most fantastical.  His films including Delicatessen and Amélie have dazzled audiences all around the world. After a five-year hiatus Jeaunet returns with the odd film Micmacs.

Bazil (My Best Friend’s Dany Boon) was accidently shot in the head when a fight was going on outside his store. He survives but the bullet is still lodged in his skull. He becomes homeless and moves in with a group of quirky misfits who are all living the motherly Tambouille. This includes the adorable Calculette (Marie-Julie Baup) who can instantly deduce the measurements of everything around her; daredevil Fracasse (Dominique Pinon); and the remarkable contortionist La Môme Caoutchouc (Julie Ferrier).

With their help, Bazil has decided to take revenge against the arms manufactures in the most Jeunet way possible. The film is full of these miniature cons that are unique, colorful, and imaginative. However what worked best were the small visual jokes, not the main conceit. That becomes true of the movie as a whole. All of the characters are enjoyable and the opponents are quite villainous in a fun simplified manner.

There’s something missing to make this work as a cohesive whole. Perhaps it’s not enough jokes or the team doesn’t work as a balanced whole. Many times throughout the film it really just became the La Môme show as it continuously showed off her ability to stretch in every direction and fit into the smallest of spaces. The scenes that worked better is when every gets to play along like as they worked on the cannon.

With all of its bumps, Jeunet’s innovation still shines through and it a welcome change of pace for the regular routine of comedies. His worlds are unique and inviting despite the darker elements that tend to reign. His films inspire the underdog without ever asking them to change. So when he makes a film with flaws, it’s still worth a recommendation because it shows he’s still trying new and fun things.

The extras are great. There is a 45 minute behind the scenes look of the movie which isn’t consisting of those stupid cast interviews. Instead it’s footage of Jeunet directing the cast and crew during key scenes. There’s also a Q&A with Jeunet and Ferrier, a commentary by Jeunet, and a set of animations. All of them are must sees for Jeunet fans.

Film: 3.5 Yaps

Extras: 4 Yaps

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Heroes of the Zeroes: A Very Long Engagement Thu, 18 Nov 2010 05:01:39 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“A Very Long Engagement”
Rated R

As French World War I soldiers shot their hands to escape battlefield insanity, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s “A Very Long Engagement” clearly whittled away “Amelie’s” whimsy.

Save flatulent dogs and flamboyant postmen, Jeunet’s hellish, herky-jerky combat scenes put a damper on his Jacques Tati impulses.

Jeunet’s excess occasionally ran away from him (war’s absurdity was  hammered home long before a zeppelin explosion), and a flurry of details flirted with perilous confusion.

But 2004’s “Engagement” told a dark, engaging fairytale of epic emotions and scope, thanks to Bruno Delbonnel’s cream-soda cinematography and multitudes of memories, dreams, death and love. And if not “Amelie’s” manic energy, Jeunet returned to its muse, Audrey Tautou.

She’s Mathilde, a polio-afflicted Frenchwoman on a two-decade search for her fiancé, Manech — one self-mutilating soldier left to die in no man’s land as punishment.

Jeunet spins off Mathilde’s search — fueled by her insistence he’s still alive — into transfixing literary tangents about fate and the human condition. One of the best leads to Jodie Foster’s perfect-French cameo, as a wife whose soldier husband seeks her pregnancy as his parole from purgatory.

As in any fable, there are spires, towers and moats, and it’s a spellbinding saga — a true Danse Macabre choreographed by its romance’s throbbing heart. Mathilde and Manech’s love left its mark in many places,  so why not the grungiest and war-torn?

Into breaches of love and war we continuously go, regardless of safety, and “A Very Long Engagement” struck the crucial balance between the healing and horror of both.

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Micmacs Wed, 07 Jul 2010 04:09:29 +0000 Continue reading ]]>
“Micmacs” is French for “shenanigans,” and there certainly are plenty of them in this farce about a troupe of riffraff giving the middle finger to evil corporations.

It’s a sweet and funny confection, with some biting satire swirled into the batter.

Dany Boon plays Bazil, who lost his father to a mine in Afghanistan in 1979. Thirty years later, he’s working at a cruddy video store when a bullet from a random drive-by shooting lodges in his skull. Doctors couldn’t pull it out safely, so now “any minute my brain could pop,” he confides.

Bazil’s not exactly the confrontational type — he’s more like a street mime perpetually out of costume, sometimes punctuating his words with intricate little hand claps and snaps, or speaking in excited gibberish. But it seems to him that the two arms manufacturers who caused (in his mind) the twin tragedies of his life ought to pay for their crimes.

Penniless and jobless after his long recuperation, Bazil is “adopted” by a group of junk collectors who live inside a fortress of scrap metal. They collect salvage and fix it up, or turn it into bits of mechanical art. This motley crew launches a series of carefully orchestrated practical jokes designed to pit the two companies’ arrogant CEOs at each other’s throat.

Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (“Amelie”), who also co-wrote the script with Guillaume Laurant, infuses the action with a puckish humor and a generous helping of slapstick. There’s an almost silent-movie quality to the high jinks, and Boon has a little bit of Buster Keaton in his mopey expression and passive-aggressive stubbornness.

Imagine a heist movie directed by Terry Gilliam in French, and you’ve got a good idea of the vibe of “Micmacs.”

(Incidentally, the entire original title is “Micmacs à Tire-Larigot,” which means “non-stop shenanigans.” I guess they had to stop for the English version.)

Bazil’s chief co-conspirator is La Môme Caoutchouc (Julie Ferrier), a contortionist who develops a crush on him — I think I felt my back crack watching her unbelievable bending and twisting.

There’s also Placard (Jean-Pierre Marielle), an elderly con man; Fracasse (Dominique Pynon), a stuntman who celebrates his many injuries; Remington (Omar Sy), an African with strange speech patterns; a mousy little woman who can calculate the dimensions of anything she sees; and a mousy little man with the strength of an elephant.

The heavies are Nicolas Thibault de Fenouillet (André Dussollier), a politically-connected arms dealer whose hobby is collecting celebrity body parts — nothing starts a party like offering to show Marilyn Monroe’s molar — and his younger upstart competitor, François Marconi (Nicolas Marié), whose voice reaches a screeching decibel when he’s upset.

“Micmacs” isn’t anything terribly original or clever, but it’s a modestly enjoyable caper. Maybe with more heart than brains — if I were Bazil, I’d be hassling the guy whose gun shot me, and not the company that made the bullet.

3.5 Yaps

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Heroes of the Zeroes: Amelie Wed, 13 Jan 2010 05:01:58 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films from 2000 to 2009.

Rated R

Mentally embalming memories feels like preservation, but that can choke off and constrict. The folly of clinging only to past moments of joy instead of also forging new ones can erode what elated us in the first place.

Being open to the beauty of ordinary things, the impact of imagination and the potential of human kindness can — to borrow a phrase from Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s film — ebb the flow of universal woe. And if the bountifully buoyant “Amelie” can’t stem the tide of a heart’s tribulations for a couple hours, nothing can.

Jeunet’s 2001 French masterpiece — a rebound from a Hollywood detour of “Alien: Resurrection” — told no less a fairytale than “Delicatessen” or “The City of Lost Children.”

This time, Jeunet shifted from the brothers Grimm to lovers’ whims — an existential “Emma” filled with beguiling mysteries of motivations and exuberant experiences plotted by the titular French pixie (Audrey Tautou). While Amelie brings happiness to others, can she do the same for herself with quixotic Nino (Matthieu Kassovitz)?

Spurred as much by mutual intentions and idiosyncrasies as attraction and emotions, Amelie and Nino’s love story burst forth in a colorful fantasia. Their wild goose chase of romance soared as high and as effortlessly as Bruno Delbonnel’s absinthe-tinged, Oscar-nominated camerawork. And their kiss made for one of The Zeroes’ most tender, quietly sensual and emotionally exploratory minutes.

“Times are hard for dreamers,” one character uttered. But Jeunet uncovered the blissfully metaphysical feeling that beautiful discoveries lie around the corner for everyone, every day.

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