COL•COA welcomes Blier for ‘The Clink of Ice’ premiere

Guests mingle at a COL•COA reception before the film.

The Clink of Ice/2011/87 min.

In film noir, Fate bides its time and waits patiently for opportunity. In acclaimed writer/director Bertrand Blier’s new black comedy, Fate — in the form of cancer — barges in, bosses characters around and jumps into bed with them.

“The Clink of Ice” made its West Coast premiere on Thursday night at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles, as part of the COL•COA film festival.

“I have good news for you,” Blier told the audience before the film started. “My film is funny. It is about cancer.”

His deadpan preface was apt for this wry, contemplative movie.

FNB at the pre-film reception.

Dour, binge-drinking writer Charles Faulque (Jean Dujardin) has distanced himself from the people closest to him (his wife and son, for instance) and lives alone with his maid Louisa (Anne Alvaro). Her employer’s cranky demeanor is a draw and she fantasizes about sleeping with him.

Charles’ discontent morphs into full-on angst when a malignant doppelganger (Albert Dupontel) shows up and inserts himself into Charles’ life. Not long after, Louisa finds that she too has cancer that’s represented by a random interloper (Myriam Boyer). Nothing like evil twins to bring two people together, right?

But Blier’s upbeat, good-looking film, with its spare script and arresting mix of music, doesn’t dwell on prognoses or potential farewells. Instead, the disease takes a backseat to the characters’ inner lives and evolving relationships, before Charles and Louisa concoct a brilliant plan to banish it once and for all.

From left: Director Jon Amiel talks with Bertrand Blier and his interpreter Thursday at the DGA.

After the film, Blier was interviewed on stage by another director, Jon Amiel, who described Blier’s film as “a beautiful, profound, funny and ultimately deeply optimistic.” Blier revealed a bit about his process, explaining that there are no rehearsals before shooting in order to heighten spontaneity (he just asks actors to learn their lines). “I like to discover the story at the same time the actors do,” he said, also acknowledging that he wants them to hold precisely to the script.

The son of veteran French character actor Bernard Blier, auteur filmmaker Bertrand Blier has consistently elicited powerful performances from his actors, particularly in his 1974 box-office hit, “Going Places,” which helped launch the careers of Gérard Depardieu and Isabelle Huppert.

Guests sipped St-Germain cocktails.

Blier, who had the idea for “Clink of Ice” 25 years ago, said he still thinks of Depardieu when he’s writing any character, man, woman or animal. Blier also praised American actors, such as Robert DeNiro and Jack Nicholson, adding that Nicholson plays more like an Italian or French actor, with an air of, “I’m Jack Nicholson and you’re still going to believe what I’m telling you.”

Before seeing “Clink of Ice,” I attended a lovely reception in the DGA atrium. Guests sipped St-Germain cocktails and nibbled on delicious savory fare from caterer WCEP (West Coast Event Productions, 323-930-6785) and, for dessert, authentic French macarons, which were all-natural, handmade and gluten-free, from Les Macarons Duverger.

Authentic macarons for dessert.

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COL•COA Festival offers first-rate lineup, mais oui!

Tickets are going fast for the 15th annual City of Lights, City of Angels (COL•COA) Film Festival that runs today through April 18 in Los Angeles.
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In addition to 26 shorts, the festival will present 34 features, including several premieres. “The relationship between COL•COA and our audiences has evolved into a genuine love story over the last 15 years,” says Director and Programmer François Truffart. “We are thrilled that for this 15th anniversary year, we will bring an equally exclusive and high-profile lineup, keeping the passion for French cinema alive.”
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And Friday, April 15, is the film noir series featuring:
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At 5:45 p.m.: In “The Night Clerk” Vincent Rottiers plays Frédéric, a young man trying to return to society after his release from prison. He finds work in a mountain hotel owned by the bad-tempered Jacques (Jean-Pierre Bacri). Though Frédéric suspects Jacques may be involved in the mysterious disappearance of a hotel client, he remains silent to protect him. But police inspector Sylvie Poncet (Sylvie Testud) makes it harder and harder for Frédéric to keep quiet. Directed by Raphaël Jacoulot.

Romain Duris and Marina Foïs star in "The Big Picture."

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At 7:45 p.m.: “The Big Picture” stars Romain Duris as a successful lawyer who seems to lead an enviable life. When he learns his wife is having an affair, he accidentally kills her lover. His orderly life now in ruins, he assumes the dead man’s identity and flees to the former Yugoslavia. Supporting actors include Catherine Deneuve, Branka Katic and Niels Arestrup. Based on a novel by Douglas Kennedy; directed by Eric Lartigau.

At 10:15 p.m.: “The Long Falling” tells the story of a battered woman (Yolande Moreau) who kills her husband of 30 years, tries to reunite with her estranged son and ends up on the run. Based on a novel by Keith Ridgway; directed by Martin Provost.
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Other highlights include the following; see the site for details:
*CLASSIC REVIVAL: “Cold Cuts” (Bertrand Blier, 1977) With Gerard Depardieu, Bernard Blier, Jean Carmet. Classic black comedy about three inept murderers. Cast member Bernard Blier, a famous French actor, is director Bertrand Blier’s father.
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*CLASSIC REVIVAL: “Les Bonnes Femmes” (Claude Chabrol, 1960). With Bernadette Lafont, Stephane Audran and Claude Berri. Noir master Chabrol’s classic New Wave tale of four Parisian shopgirls and their lives and dreams.

Catherine Deneuve

*“His Mother’s Eyes,” a drama starring Catherine Deneuve as a celebrity news anchor and Nicolas Duvauchelle as a troubled young author who wants to write her unauthorized biography and seduces her estranged daughter (Géraldine Pailhas) as a means of gathering information. Directed by Thierry Klifa.
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*“The Clink of Ice,” Bertrand Blier’s new film; Blier will appear for discussion.
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*Also be sure to check out: New films by well-known French directors Claude Lelouch, Guillaume Cantet, Catherine Breillat, Cedric Klapisch, Nicole Garcia, Jean Becker and Benoit Jacquot.
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*To celebrate the announcement and recipients of the 2011 COL•COA awards, two of the winning films will be re-screened for free on Monday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m.
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All films are screened at the Directors Guild Theater Complex, 7920 Sunset Blvd., in Los Angeles (half a block west of Fairfax Avenue and two blocks east of Crescent Heights). Free parking is available at the Directors Guild. Enter on Hayworth Avenue.
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“The Big Picture” image from www.indiewire.com; Catherine Deneuve photo by Brigitte Lacombe, from www.altfg.com.
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