Richard J. Moir selects his Five Essential Films of Jean-Pierre Jeunet...
5. The City of Lost Children (1995)
Dark, stylish and quirky as anything you've ever seen before, this is a truly original film. In a futuristic city, a scientist named Krank uses the help of his clones to kidnap children and steal their dreams, therefore not allowing himself to age. It's a weird story, but beautifully told by Jeunet and his partner Marc Caro. Dominique Pinon (who features in all 5 movies on this list) is wonderfully brilliant, playing the clones of Krank. Ron Pearlman also stars as the hero of the story. Even though the whole film is stunning, the best bit is shown through one single scene, where Jeunet shows that one slight incident can cause a complete catastrophe in a series of humourous events.
4. Foutaises (Things I Like, Things I Don't Like, 1989)
Jeunet won the Cesar award for this short film and it's easy to see why. This short is clever, funny and wonderfully made and was an inspiration for moments used in Jeunet's later film Amelie. It's a short film that cannot be made better in any other medium, it's just a pure cinema film. This is the sort of film that cinema was invented for.
3. Delicatessen (1991)
Sometimes I sit back after watching this film and wish I had written it, or at least come up with the storyline. A lonely clown moves apartments to start a new life, only to soon find out that the owner kills the people living there to feed other tenants. The clown (played by Dominic Pinon) falls in love with the owner's daughter, naturally, and dark comedy hilarity ensues. Wonderfully shot with a great scenery, brilliantly acted by every member of the cast and some memorable scenes.
2. A Very Long Engagement (2004)
This is the second film in which Jeunet and the gorgeous Audrey Tautou team up, and it makes people want more. Tautou is given news that her fiance is still alive after a battle in World War One, and goes in search to find him. The film is full of quirky moments which give it an edge, and it brings in the idea of fate, for example when Tautou runs down a hill to determine to herself if her husband is really alive. The war scenes are extremely well done and the scripts very well written. But there's only one other Jeunet film that could beat it.
1. Amelie (2001)
One of my all time favourite films, only tied at the top spot with Misery, Amelie is superb in every single sense. It was the first Jeunet film I saw which made me want to see the others. It was his first film going solo (without Marc Caro) and he made a good choice, turning away from the dark, surreal storylines and giving his audience a brighter and happier romantic comedy. It's not just any rom-com though, as the film is dotted with distinctive Jeunet touches, used in previous films. The cinematography and direction is what got me. The colours are used to fantastic effect, and some of the odd camera angles and movements just fully work in the film's favour. Brilliant acting and a warm storyline makes this Jean-Pierre Jeunet's greatest film.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet was the director of the fourth Alien film, Alien:Resurrection in 1997. He has made other well received short films that are well worth a look if you can get hold of them. These include:
The Bunker of the Last Gunshots (1981)
No Rest for Billy Brakko (1984)
The Escape (1978)
In October of this year, his new film, Micmacs a tire-larigot, will be released.
Richard J. Moir