Newly gracing our ever-expanding (and collapsing) shelves:
Les bronzes (1978) – Leconte’s second feature film was this highly successful comedy which centres around a group of holidaymakers in a Club Med-style resort, where sun, sea and sex (and especially sex) is the order of the day.
One of the France’s most well-respected and versatile directors, Patrice Leconte, turned 65 last week. He is one of the elite few to have a Video City shelf dedicated to him – come and make use of this genius system of ours, and have a rifle through some of his other films:
Monsieur Hire (1989) – nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes – Based on the book by Belgian author, Georges Simenon, Monsieur Hire is a psychological drama of sexual obsession, guilt and deceit shot with supreme beauty and elegance. Starring Michel Blanc (Girl on the Train) and Sandrine Bonaire (Jeanne la Pucelle).
The Hairdresser’s Husband (1990) – nominated for 7 Cesar awards. Roger Ebert said of this film that it was sexier than a dozen Basic Instincts (which, given that the Basic Instinct franchise was already unwatchable at number 2, perhaps isn’t such a huge compliment). A story of strange attractions in which history repeats itself. As a young boy Antoine falls for his suicidal hairdresser and becomes obsessed with having her cut his hair. As a grown man he meets Mathilde who is also a beautiful hairdresser and the two form an intimate – and erotic – bond which ends in tragedy… Starring Jean Rochefort (Tell No-one).
Ridicule (1996) – nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and also for a Palme d’Or. Ridicule is a costume comedy-drama set at the court of Versailles where all must play at games of wit in order to gain the favour of the aristocracy. A fantastic critique of the pomp and callous corruption of the landed gentry to whose amusement all had to pander in order that more pressing concerns be met. Starring Fanny Ardant (Finally, Sunday!) and Jean Rochefort (Man on the Train).
Girl on the Bridge (1999) – romantic drama about two strangers who meet on a bridge when both are at the end of their proverbial rope. Daniel Auteuil (Every French Film You’ve Ever Seen) plays a a down and out knifethrower who sees in Vanessa Paradis (Heartbreaker) the possibility of a new professional partnership which will get him out of a financial fix. Naturally, the professional nature of their relationship bends as an attraction between them develops into a love that neither are prepared for.
The Widow of Saint-Pierre (2000) – Serbian director, Emir Kusturica (Black Cat White Cat, Underground etc), plays a man imprisoned on the island of Saint-Pierre, awaiting execution for murder. Whilst the guillotine is being shipped over, the wife (played by Juliette Binoche) of the Captain in command (played by Daniel Auteuil) takes an interest in the man and tries to redeem him.
Man on the Train (2002) – Jean Rochefort and Johnny Hallyday star as two strangers who meet on a train – one is a criminal, the other a teacher. The pair form an unlikely bond, each growing to envy aspects of the others’ life, until eventually they decide to trade places.
My Best Friend (2006) – hugely successful comedy starring Daniel Auteuil and Dany Boon. A successful business man is challenged one evening to produce his ‘best friend’, as all who know him can see he has no true friends at all. In a desperate bid to track down past acquaintances, old school mates etc, he unwittingly befriends the unassuming taxi driver who has so tirelessly been ferrying him around.
“Irresistably winning” is an apt description, if by ‘winning’ you mean trite and irritating. But nevermind. Immensely successful; hugely popular.