Everyone loves Paris in the Springtime… and the rest of France for that matter! So, while we’ve been thinking about Jean-Pierre Jeunet in advance of our screening of ‘A Very Long Engagement‘ at the Redoubt, Eastbourne (see below for details), we thought we’d have a think about a few films to give your springtime a distinctively Gallic flavour…
1. French Cancan 
Jean Renoir‘s colourful and nostalgic celebration of fin-de-siècle Paris, stars Jean Gabin as the impresario Danglard who decides to launch his new club, the ‘Moulin Rouge’ by reviving the French Cancan. A musical full of memorable characters and joie de vivre, Renoir’s film is a tribute to the Paris painted by his father and the impressionists.
2. Les Demoiselles du Rochefort (Young Girls of Rochefort) 
Another musical, but with a very different feel. Jacques Demy’s follow up to the highly acclaimed ‘Umbrellas of Cherbourg’ is fun, colourful and breezy, and includes some wonderful musical numbers. It stars Catherine Deneuve with her real-life sister, Françoise Dorléac as a pair of twins who work as a ballet teacher and a music teacher, respectively. Set over a weekend in Rochefort, when the fair comes to town, they film follows the girls and their search for romance.
3. Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (The Lovers on the Bridge) 
Leos Carax’s ‘Les Amants du Pont-Neuf’ is a simple love story between two homeless people who meet on the oldest bridge in Paris, the ‘Pont-Neuf’. Alex (Denis Lavant) is a street performer who is struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, and Michele (Juliette Binoche) is a painter who is gradually loosing her sight. Not exactly a ‘feel-good’ romance, it feels very un-Hollywood, and is certainly all the better for it.
4. The Red Balloon 
You can watch this enchanting evocation of childhood in its entirety on YouTube. We would definitely recommend it. Written and directed by Albert Lamorisse, and starring the Director’s son, the beauty of this short film is its simplicity. It depicts a friendship between a young boy and a helium balloon, which has a mind of its own. With almost no dialogue, the charming score is far more effective than any kind of script could be.
5. Micmacs 
Finally, to give a final plug to our filmmaker of choice for April – Jean-Pierre Jeunet – with his most recent feature. Uplifting, but not as saccharine as ‘Amelie’, ‘Micmacs’ has all the classic Jeunet hallmarks – many of his favourite collaborating actors pop up (for example, Dominique Pinon and Yolande Moreau), the eccentric characters and steampunk-eque gadgetry. Although not the quite the ‘satire on the world arms trade’ that the film bills itself as, its charm, wit and warmth make it delightful viewing.
We’re looking forward to presenting another of Jeunet’s films, the soaringly romantic ‘A Very Long Engagement’, at Eastbourne Redoubt on 21st April. See http://www.eastbournemuseums.co.uk/Events.htm for full details, and contact Eastbourne Redoubt for tickets on 01323 410300.