Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Jean-Pierre Jeunet's template for defining all the characters in his film, Micmacs, was Toy Story!    

In honor of the Dallas Film Festival (and a reoccurring accounting error by my assistant, Allan Tam), the Film & Art Study held a screening at the Reel FX Film Festival on May 16, 2012, with a special presentation of the (2009) French film, Micmacs a’ Tire-larigot, by renown director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

Micmacs is a 2009 French comedy film by French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Its original French title is MicMacs à tire-larigot, ('Non-stop shenanigans'). The film is billed as a "satire on the world arms trade". It premiered on 15 September 2009 at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. 

Micmacs is the story of an avid movie-watcher and video store clerk, Bazil, who has had his life all but ruined by weapons of war. His father was killed by a landmine in Morocco and one fateful night a stray bullet from a nearby shootout embeds itself in his skull, leaving him on the verge of instantaneous death. Losing his job and his home, Bazil wanders the streets, homeless, until he meets Slammer, a pardoned convict who introduces him to a band of eccentric junkyard dealers including Calculator, a math expert and statistician, Buster, a record-holder in human cannonball feats, Tiny Pete, an artistic craftsman of automatons, and Elastic Girl, a sassy contortionist. When chance reveals to Bazil the two weapons manufacturers responsible for building the instruments of his destruction, he constructs a complex scheme for revenge that his newfound family is all too happy to help set in motion. 

Micmacs is Jean-Pierre Jeunet's comeback after a five year break since A Very Long Engagement.    

Jean-Pierre Jeunet has cited Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Toy Story  and the Mission: Impossible  TV series as influences on his film.  The director himself describes this film as a cross between Delicatessen and Amélie.    

Jean-Pierre Jeunet first came up with the idea for the film by visiting a local restaurant where some of the regulars were known arms dealers. Jeunet was intrigued by their "nice-looking faces".   

The film shot in several locations in and around Paris including the exterior of the Musee D'Orsay and the Crimée bridge on the Canal de l'Ourcq, where the Marcel Carné's 1946 film Gates of the Night was shot. Jeunet also filmed in several train stations, including Gare de Lyon, Gare Saint-Lazare, and the Charles De Gaulle airport train station.

Though the film contains no obvious special effects sequences, digital color manipulation is used throughout, and specific digital manipulations were used on about 350 shots. These manipulations often involved removing people and objects in backgrounds of scenes shot on Paris streets. The closeup of Dany Boon's face during Marconi's speech was out of focus when shot, but his performance was so good that Jeunet decided to digitally focus the face rather than reshooting. De Fenouillet's first appearance in his office was constructed entirely in post production from footage filmed for a different scene. Bazil, Buster, and Slammer were digitally removed from the frame, and De Fenouillet was given dialogue whose audio would synchronize exactly with the original lines filmed.

The character of Elastic Girl performs several contortions on screen which were not digital effects. Julie Ferrier, who played the character, is fairly flexible and did some of the movement herself. The difficult contortions were performed by Julia Gunthel, also known as Zlata.  Jeunet and cinematographer Tetsuo Nagata discovered Gunthel doing an erotic show in Germany.

Tiny Pete's moving sculptures were designed and built by sculptor Gilbert Peyre. 

The film contains five appearances of the film's poster, usually hidden in quick shots.

The film opens with the final sequence of The Big Sleep, with the original score by Max Steiner. Steiner's score is used throughout the film, but Jeunet also required original music. The music which appears is by Raphaël Beau, an unknown school teacher with no prior professional recording or scoring experience. Beau composed music cues for various scenes. Jeunet loved his music but always moved the songs to different scenes in the final version of the film.

Jeunet also decided to reference his earlier film Amélie in the shot when Bazil first lowers his microphone into a chimney. The planned scene would show Amelie and Nino in a small apartment with several crying children. Amélie star Audrey Tautou was shooting Coco Before Chanel, and was unavailable to shoot the scene. The shot was replaced by an homage to Jeunet's Delicatessen. In the final scene, Dominique Pinon sits with a woman and plays a musical saw.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet was born in Roanne, Loire, France. He bought his first camera at the age of 17 and made short films while studying animation at Cinémation Studios. He befriended Marc Caro, a designer and comic book artist who became his longtime collaborator and co-director.

Together, Jeunet and Caro directed award-winning animations. Their first live action film was The Bunker of the Last Gunshots (1981), a short film about soldiers in a bleak futuristic world. Jeunet also directed numerous advertisements and music videos, such as Jean Michel Jarre's Zoolook (together with Caro).

Jeunet and Caro's first feature film was Delicatessen (1991), a black comedy set in a famine-plagued post-apocalyptic world, in which an apartment building above a delicatessen is ruled by a butcher who kills people in order to feed his tenants.

They next made The City of Lost Children (1995), a dark, multi-layered fantasy film about a mad scientist who kidnaps children in order to steal their dreams thus preventing him from aging prematurely.

The success of The City of Lost Children led to an invitation to direct the fourth movie in the Alien series–Alien Resurrection (1997). Like his subsequent films, this one is credited only to Jeunet, although Caro did some work on the art design.

In 2006 Jeunet rejected an offer to direct Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix. After his terrible experience with Alien Resurrection, he vowed never to make another American film again!

Dominique Pinon is the only actor to play in all six Jean-Pierre Jeunet films: Delicatessen, The City of Lost Children, Alien Resurrection, Amelie, A Very Long Engagement and Micmacs. 

According to the official site for Jeunet, financing is in place for his next project: TS Spivet, the adaptation of Reif Larsen’s book: The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet. The film is to be shot in English on location in Canada and the US- in 3D for a release in 2013.

Micmacs was written by Guillaume Laurant and Jean-Pierre Jeunet and directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. 

Rated R, 105 min, Dolby Digital, Color, 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio.


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