Jean Renoir

April 7, 2011

Jean Renoir

His pappy is the Renoir you read about in your art history books. Uncle Orson loved him.

Boudu Saved from Drowning – Remember that huge 80’s hit, Down and Out in Beverly Hills? Well that’s a remake of this one, with Nick Nolte as Boudu (probably the last amusing thing Paul Mazursky did. He should stick with acting). This one has some pretty saucy innuendo for 1936. Kind of reminds me of the stuff Tashlin got away with in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter.

The Lower Depths – The opening camera work in this had me so distracted, I forgot to read the subtitles. I was wondering why Louis Jouvet kept looking at the lens as an off-camera voice addressed him. As the camera moved around him, I realized the camera was the point of view of the person talking to the Baron. At one point in the camera’s position there is a mirror in the background and you see the man (camera/us) who’s talking, reflected. Very clever. There’s other camera work in here that’s reminiscent of Scorsese (or should I say there’s Scorsese camera work that is reminiscent of Renoir?). I also think Louis Jouvet stole the show a little from Jean Gabin (who sorta looks like Kenneth Branagh, but with actual screen presence).

The Grand Illusion – No, it’s not the inspiration for the Styx album of the same name. I got to see this projected in Santa Monica in 2000. Capt. Von Rauffenstein is personally acted by the Man You Love to Hate (that’s a Greed reference for you film school kids).

The Rules of the Game – This one is always in a tug-of-war with Citizen Kane as the greatest film in the history of everything. You should see it several times so you can pick up on everything. Just don’t space your viewings every 20 years like me.

The River – I saw this years ago on a crappy VHS. This was shot by Renoir’s nephew Claude, who went on to lens The Spy Who Loved Me.

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