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Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Big Bug – Jean-Pierre Jeunet (2022)

Jeunet made another weird and wonderful film, this time for Netflix. As more often with Jeunet, “Big Bug” plays in the future. Not a dark and bleak future, but a bright and colourful future this time.

Contrary to most of his previous films, there are but a few of his go-to actors in this Jeunet. Dominque Pinon is only on screen a split second and François Levantal has a big part, but he only appears in one other Jeunet.

In a not too far future, mankind makes greater use of technology as it does today. Jeunet came up with some amusing concepts. Some sort of little drone that can locate things that have been misplaced, a flying Citroen DS, a talking vacuum cleaner and a robot housemaid. Of course all if very secure.

For different reasons, a group of people are in the villa of the sensual Alice when the robots apparently decided to take over. They cripple mankind by creating a massive traffic jam and then local systems lock people inside their houses because the level of danger is too high outside.

In Alice’s house are some ‘vintage’ robots not connected to the main Yonyx system so not robots are immediately hostile. They are of not much help either, since they do have protocols to follow. The robots have meetings to try to find a way for the people to like them better, so they start to read books, download humour and compassion. You get it, Jeunet has stuffed his film with hilarious situations and odd findings. Laughing robots, a vacuum cleaner trying to seduce his mistress. All things you can safely to Jeunet.

The result is very amusing. “Big Bug” may not be Jeunet’s best, but it certainly is a great watch and much better than most (any?) Netflix-original that I saw so far.

The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet * Jean-Pierre Jeunet (2013)

The latest Jeunet is a sweet film about the brilliant nine-year-old from the title. T.S. lives on the American countryside with his weird mother (Helena Bonham Carter) and his cowboy father. Obsessed by science he makes a brilliant discovery that grants him an award at the Smithsonian. Trying to not be too much of a burdon to his family, T.S. decides to get to Washington by himself, turning the film some into sort of roadmovie. Of course there needs to be a part for Dominique Pinon along the way!
The film is, as we are used to of Jeunet, ‘magic-realistic’, humoristic and slightly absurd. The atmosphere reminds of Tim Burton’s “Big Fish“. I like Jeunet’s darker, early work better, but his latest film is surely another nice watch. Bright colours, great camera work and good humour.

Un Long Dimanche De Fiançailles * Jean-Pierre Jeunet (2004)

Apparently I missed a Jeunet, his forlast one. “A Very Long Engagement” is not an absurd comedy such as his last film. In fact, it is mostly a drama, but with a few of the typical Jeunet weird humorous elements. Also there is this slightly surreastic atmosphere, just as in “Amélie”. Of course the presence of Audrey Tatou as main character adds to the comparison with Jeunet’s previous film. Mathilde either or not lost her fiancee in Word War I and she starts looking for him. “Un Long Dimanche…” has a lot of war-scenes, dreamy Jeunet-scenes of Mathilde’s time and a stack of actors that Jeunet always seems to call when he wants to make a film. Recognisable but different, “Un Long Dimanche…” is a very good film with great camera-work and colours, subtle humour and great findings in the story-line.

Micmacs à Tire-Larigot * Jean-Pierre Jeunet (2009)

Just over a week ago I saw a preview of this film in a New York cinema. Excited by the idea to see a Jeunet on the big screen we now pull a DVD off the rental shelve. So far the happy prospect…
Jeunet created another weird film with absurd characters and situations and great findings, but the setting is more realistic (relatively of course) as in “Delicatessen” or “City Of Lost Children”. An employer of a videostore’s life goes down when he accidentally gets a bullit in his head. With the help of new found friends he decides to take revenge on the owner of the factory of that bullit. If you saw a Jeunet film before, you will understand that this thin plot will be worked out into all kinds of crazy extremes. “Micmacs” is good and funny, but does not reach the level of the previously mentioned masterpieces. Still a much better comedy than the usual Hollywood stuff though and if you like Jeunet’s film, I suggest you just see this one too. Not as sweet as “Amélie”, not as dark as “Delicatessen”, Jeunet somewhere in between.

La Cité Des Enfants Perdus * Jean-Pierre Jeunet * 1995

City Of Lost ChildrenIt had been far too many years that I saw this film and then I run into it for only 9 euros. Apparently I saw this film before I started making filmreviews. “City Of Lost Children” is just as the brilliant “Delicatessen” a cooperation between Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. This film is in many ways quite alike “Delicatessen”, it has the same absurd characters, scenery and story and that weird sense of humour. “City Of Lost Children” isn’t as funny as “Delicatessen” though. The story is about an imaginary (future?) city in which children are abducted because some scientist cannot dream. If you know “Delicatessen” you will recognise several actors, the dark atmosphere and the great sense of humour. If you do not know “Delicatessen”, this film is hard to describe; dark, funny, absurd and pretty damn good. I hope that helps!

Delicatessen * Jean-Pierre Jeunet (1991)

It had been far too long since I saw this brilliant comedy! Jeunet didn’t make a whole lot of films, but his “La Cité Des Enfents Perdus” (city of lost children) (1995) and his highly acclaimed “Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulin” (Amelie) (2001) definately belong to the highlights of the comedy genre (a genre I am not too fond off). Two years after Amélie there seems to be a new film coming up with the title “Un Long Dimanche De Fiançailles”.

But to “Delicatessen”. The story is about a post-apocalyptic France in which everybody does everything to get food. In one building lives the gruesome butcher Clapet (Jean-Claude Dreyfus) who hires young men to kill and eat and sell their meat after a few weeks of them doing small jobs around the house. His new worker is Louison (Dominique Pinon) used to be a clown in the circus and is as inventive as naive. I won’t tell you too much of the magnificent story. The film is full of contrasts. The atmosphere is always very grim caused by the idiotic characters, the colours and the stages. There are some extremely silly scenes and the humour is so subtle and brilliant that this is a funny film that doesn’t loose it’s grim atmosphere. The characters are berzerk, some scenes insane (a woman trying to kill herself in different ways, a girl that is almost blind, etc.), this is really a masterpiece.

Also great are the Lost Children that I really need to see again some time soon, another dark comedy of Jeunet. Amélie is much lighter (but no less funny) , so I don’t know what to expect from the upcoming film.

Amelie * Jean-Pierre Jeunet * 2001

“Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain” is one of these ‘alternative’ films that reached a large audience. It used to play in filmhouses, but it seems that everyone has seen it. It is a comedy, so there was no priority for me to see it, “maybe when it is on tv”. But, my girlfriend wanted to see it, and when entering a ‘normal’ videostore there were six copies of it on dvd and several on video!

But to the film. “Amelie” opens with a brilliant and hilaric scene with strange events and a funny voice-over, a bit like “Magnolia”. It quickly tells about the main-characters in the film, their likes and not-like and the opening is the absolute highlight of the film, in one word: brilliant.
But no worries, the rest is also very enjoyable. Amelie (Audrey Tautuo) is a beautiful young woman who has been a bit neglected in her youth. This led to her living almost completely solitary and in and our her fantasy-world. She tries to help people using peculiar methods, while other people she drives insane with bizare jokes. Then when the times comes that she can help herself to her first love, she keeps playing the jokes she does with other people. In the end all comes well.

“Amelie” is not just a comedy, but more a drama with funny touches. Not always to laugh, but often it is. A very witty script, great story, good acting and you will hardly notice that it lasts over two hours.

This is the film that you want to see when you are in the mood for a comedy, but not one a the cheap kind.