Friday, June 3, 2011

Tonight -- Free French films hit NYC parks! Delon & Schneider star in SWIMMING POOL

That's right, French film fans (or fans of films al fresco): tonight marks the beginning of the fourth annual series FILMS ON THE GREEN -- that popular and FREE series of French films which begin each Friday evening at dusk (outdoors on spacious lawns where you can bring your own food and drink) starting June 3 through July 15, with a final film to be shown on Thursday evening September 8, in various parks (and one additional venue) all around Manhattan. This year, expanding to eight evenings and eight different films, the series' theme is Summer Holidays, and the film's locations range from the French Riviera to seaside villages of Brittany and the rocky hills of southern Provence.

Tonight's movie THE SWIMMING POOL (La piscine), a low-key character study with a bit of mystery, was a huge popular French success in its day (1969). This film once again pairs Alain Delon, (shown at top and one of the most beautiful faces to ever grace the movies) with Maurice Ronet, his Purple Noon co-star. Also on board are the gorgeous, cat-eyed Romy Schneider (above) and a very young Jane Birkin (two photos below) and so this film hardly lacks for requisite glamour. But it remains one of those faux-decadent, haute-bourgeoisie outings that were popular in the 60s but say very little (and take two hours to do it).

Directed by journeyman Jacques Deray (Borsalino, Flic Story) and written by the talented writer/adapter Jean-Claude Carrièrre, the film is not uninteresting, but wears out its welcome around the halfway mark and never gets any stronger as it grows longer. The people on view are shallow indeed, and if the title had anything to do with the characters, they'd have called it The Wading Pool. The fashions are fun, however, and while the movie takes place around the Côte d'Azur, it does not take all that much advantage of the scenery. I guess there was no need -- not with Delon, Ronet, Schneider & Birkin dressed in bathing suits a good deal of the time.

Next week's film -- THOSE HAPPY DAYS (Nos jours heureux) -- is infinitely more fun. At least the first 16 minutes proved so.  The screener I was sent defaulted at that point and no amount of diddling could get me any further into the movie. But within those minutes I had laughed a good deal and was growing more and more interested in the summer camp counselors, their varied charges and the parents of those kids. This one seems to be a comedy that shows us the vagaries of these three sets of people, while possessing a lot of charm and love (rather than detestation) of humanity. So don't expect a dark satire but rather a light one -- in both meanings of that term. I was so taken with those first 16 minutes that I think I shall have to hie these old bones to the park in order to finish the film. (The still below features one of the talented stars Marliou Berry, center -- who plays the camp "nurse," but who does not, unfortunately, possess her official medical credentials, a point which I'm sure will surface later in the movie....)

Also on the menu are Rohmer, Godard and Tati, along with a French version of an Agatha Christie story (see still below), one half of a very popular nostalgic duo from the 1990s, and the first film from actress-turned-filmmaker Julie Delpy. You can see the complete schedule below and connect to the event's official web site here.

June 3 ~ 8:30pm Central Park – Cedar Hill (79th St & 5th Ave) The Swimming Pool

June 10 ~ 8:30pm Washington Square Park Those Happy Days

June 17 ~ 8:30pm Washington Square Park A Summer’s Tale

June 24 ~ 8:30pm Tompkins Square Park Contempt

July 1 ~ 8:30pm Tompkins Square Park Mr. Hulot’s Holiday

July 8 ~ 8:30pm Riverside Park – Pier 1 (at 70th St) Towards Zero

July 15 ~ 8:30pm Riverside Park – Pier 1(at 70th St) My Father’s Glory

Sept. 8 ~ 7:30pm Columbia University – Low Library Steps Two Days in Paris 
(Note time and date: This final film begins at 7:30 and on a Thursday evening!)

All events are free and open to the general public, and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation would like to thank the series' official sponsors: BNP PARIBAS and TV5 MONDE.

No comments: