Comedy is notoriously difficult to predict, create and, even when successful, to keep maintaining that success. (Remember Adam Sandler?) And that goes for both the general public and us critics. Everyone's so fickle: audiences often seem primed for the same-old-same-old, while we snobbish reviewers insist on "new and original." Comedy is also perhaps the most difficult genre about which to agree: One man or woman's laugh-a-minute romp leaves the next person cold. And French comedy? That's a whole different kettle of fish. The French, in their continuing blend of philosophy and perversity, coupled often enough to genuine and humane good humor (note the current reappearance of Maurice Pagnol's Marseille Trilogy), are past and present masters at this genre. Even if, as often happens, American audiences are not quite up to the level it takes to fully appreciate their gift. And I don't just mean mainstream audiences; the arthouse crowd often misses the boat, too.
Those of you who live in the northeast tri-state area will have the opportunity to view and appreciate the French comedic gift anew this January and February, as FIAF's CinéSalon offers up seven very different examples of French comedy to whet, sate or perhaps even diminish one's appetite. You could hardly ask for a more varied array of "funny" films, and if one or two of these prove less to your liking, you can bet that the rest will probably serve you well.
DELICATESSEN, which brought to the fore the filmmaking team of Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Their unique combination of the post-apocalyptic/dystopian and the absurd, the dark and the comic remains pretty much their own, despite a number of films that have tried to duplicate this oddball success. If you've never seen this particular clouded gem, now's your chance -- in a spanking new digital format. It plays Tuesday, January 10, at 4pm and 7:30pm.
The City of Lost Children, before going their separate ways. For me, the darkness always transcends the humor, while the amazing visuals on display trump all else. I would not have wanted to miss either of their films, however. Nor, I think, would you, so if you have never seen it, give Delicatessen a try. If you're already a fan, you'll want to take a gander at the new digital restoration.
The rest of the schedule -- this unusually diverse series has been curated by Delphine Selles-Alvarez and Léonore Chastagner -- can be found below.
Me, Myself and Mum (Les garçons et Guillaume, à table !), directed by. Guillaume Gallienne, Tuesday, January 17 at 4 & 7 :30pm ·
One Man and His Cow (La Vache), directed by. Mohamed Hamidi, Tuesday, January 24 at 4 & 7:30pm ·
La Crise, directed by. Coline Serreau, Tuesday, January 31 at 4 & 7:30pm. Q&A with actor and comedian Patrick Timsit after the 7:30pm screening. ·
OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies, directed by Michel Hazanivicius, Tuesday, February 7 at 4 & 7:30pm ·
Special Valentine’s Day Screening & U.S. Premiere!
Apnée, directed by Jean-Christophe Meurisse, Tuesday, February 14 at 4 & 7:30pm ·
Reality, directed by Quentin Dupieux, Tuesday, February 21 at 4 & 7:30pm