Patrice Leconte on “My Best Friend”

Patrice Leconte on “My Best Friend” (photo)

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On American shores, Patrice Leconte is known for sumptuous period films like the Oscar-nominated “Ridicule” (2004) or sophisticated, talky arthouse dramas like “Intimate Strangers” (2004). In his native France, however, the director has moved fluidly between serious fare and crowd-pleasers like his beloved 70s “Les Bronzés” vacation comedies, which he recently revisited with a third installment, “Friends Forever.” His latest film, “My Best Friend,” isn’t such a change of pace, then — the lighthearted comedy finds gratingly self-centered Parisian antiques dealer François (Daniel Auteuil) challenged by his exasperated business partner to produce a best friend by the end of the month. François accepts the bet, only to discover that not only does he not have friends, but most of his day-to-day acquaintances barely tolerate him. It’s not until he stumbles upon a cheery, trivia-loving cab driver named Bruno (Dany Boon) that he begins to comprehend what friendship actually is.

In the press notes you say that you are no longer interested in making serious films. What brought that about?

I have never taken myself very seriously, but I have always taken my work seriously. And more and more I have come to believe that it’s possible to tell profound and serious things with an appearance of lightness. Lightness is always or often considered a defect — we say this person is light or this work is light. As far as I’m concerned, I’d really like people to refer to my body of work as light. I think that would be a compliment, because the time we are living in is quite heavy. It’s weighing on us so we might as well create light works. I just prefer uplifting people rather than weighing them down.

You’ve been a proponent of films being enjoyable as well as having artistic weight. Have you ever come up against resistance to that? As you say, it can be looked down upon when a film is entertaining.

You know, a few years ago, I did have a little tug of war with the critics who said my work was light, but I don’t want to go there anymore. It’s true that having the ambition of being popular or an artist that has a wide audience appeal is a very bad position from the point of view of criticism, but I really don’t care. My sole ambition, and it is an ambitious one, is to make films that I like and that I am proud of and that fill the cinema up and that people enjoy. It’s impossible to have any more satisfying ambition than this, in my opinion.

With this film and your last two you’ve focused on the idea of two strangers meeting by chance and making a deep connection. Why does this scenario hold such an appeal to you?

I don’t do it on purpose, but I do really love the notion of meeting and the word “meeting.” It’s really something that’s close to me. It’s a magical word because to be open to meeting someone and interested in them and so forth means that you’re open to the world, and that is something that is very common to all three of these films.

There’s a sense in the film that you surround yourself with a circle of acquaintances, and it becomes very difficult to break out and meet someone new. Do you see that a particular aspect of modern living?

Yes, it is a characteristic of modern life, but it’s also a characteristic of living in an urban setting. I think that more and more in this time we are living in, people are communicating with each other in all forms and possible ways, but are really falling back on themselves and in the end care only about themselves — it’s really terrible. And I think this factor of no longer having or creating basic communication in our daily activities is something that’s picking up speed and it really frightens me — it chills me. So I try to communicate ideas, emotions, notions that are simple but try to uplift towards the positive rather than the negative.

You’ve set this search for a best friend in very sophisticated urban crowd — it’s a source of the comedy that someone in this very Parisian circle is on the lookout for a best friend. One rarely talks about having a best friend as an adult.

When I was writing the script I was afraid that the notion of Paris might not work because it sort of seemed almost absurd. I was afraid, for such a realistic film as this, that François’ naiveté when he says “I am going to find a best friend in ten days” wouldn’t work. We couldn’t say that to one another — “I am going to show you my best friend in ten days” — it wouldn’t work, in the same way you can’t say “How much do you bet that I will fall in love by the end of the day?” I think it works because of Daniel Auteuil’s talent, this teetering on the limits of credibility, [in portraying] François’ as convinced that he has so many friends, that he takes this crazy bet.

In the film you play with the conventions of a romance in portraying the friendship of Bruno and François. Was that your inspiration, a platonic romance between these two men?

I have thought for a long time that friendships and love stories have a lot of common points. It’s true that their discovery of this friendship which they have between them goes through all these different emotions and does come close to feelings of love. [laughs] But I don’t think they get together.

“My Best Friend” opens in limited release on July 13th (official site).


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.