Tuesday, July 21, 2009

CLAIRE'S KNEE: Rohmer's famous anatomy lesson closes this year's Films on the Green

For the past two weeks, Films on the Green, co-spon-
sored by the Cul-
tural Services of the French Embassy and the NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation, has presented two "premieres" of sorts by showing French comedies that re-
ceived no theatrical distribution here in the USA. This week, to close out the fest, look for a movie that needs little introduc-
tion for foreign film buffs: Eric Rohmer's international hit from 1970, CLAIRE'S KNEE. (The movie will be shown in Tompkins Square Park, between Avenues A and B and 7th and 10th Streets in Manhattan, on Friday, July 24, at 8:30 pm. Admission is free.)

Practically a primer of Mr. Rohmer's interests, Claire's Knee is full of philosophy about morals and behavior, likes and dislikes, "experienced" life vs the contemplative version and much more. As usual in the work of this director, there's a lot of talk and little action. But for those who love Rohmer's talk, the film is a feast. And even without much action, the movie's a visual feast, too -- considering its enchanting setting on a gorgeous lake amidst a French mountain range. Though Claire's Knee has existed on DVD for some time, in an earlier edition (shown above) and the more recent one from The Criterion Collection (below), Friday's al fresco performance will offer the opportunity to see it on a screen larger, at least, than that of your home TV.

In addition to watching a star turn from French matinee idol of the 60s and 70s, Jean-Claude Brialy, who is surrounded by a bevy of attractive women, alert viewers may notice an oddly familiar face among the supporting cast: the young man playing the would-be boyfriend of Béatrice Romand. Yes, it's Fabrice Luchini -- whose film The Girl from Monaco opened here only a couple of weeks ago -- in this, his second film role out of more than sixty. Mr Luchini is very good here, no surprise, but would any of us have begun to guess then that this fellow would go on to become one of France's most heralded actors and comedians? I certainly would not have, but I can attest to what a treat it is to see him here, so fresh and young and full of inquisitive intelligence. Which just whets the appetite for seeing him again soon, in one of his funniest roles, in Cédric Klapisch's upcoming Paris.

NB: The Cultural Services of the French Embassy would like to thank the generous sponsors who make this event possible: JC Decaux, BNP Paribas, Tablet Hotels, TV5 Monde, FACE (French American Cultural Exchange), UNEP (the United Nations Environment Programme), Pangea Organics, The French Mission to the United Nations, Green Drinks, and AirFrance Skyteam. For more information, click here.

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