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Tribeca 2011: Cédric Klapisch Shares His “Piece of the Pie”

Tribeca 2011: Cédric Klapisch Shares His “Piece of the Pie” (photo)

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In the past two decades, Cédric Klapisch has become one of the most internationally renowned French directors due in large part by making the entire world part of his films, even if they take place in a single location. In his wildly successful “L’Auberge Espagnole,” he traveled to a Barcelona apartment building where a group of students from around the globe shared the same wild life of being young and in love, and in his last film “Paris,” he encapsulated the diversity of his native city with the stories of people from different ends of the earth all grappling with more somber aspects of the human condition.

Much of Klapisch’s work has spanned the gamut of countries and emotions, but his latest film “My Piece of the Pie” is at once a smaller film in scale and a bigger one in scope as he shows the fallout from the global financial crisis of 2008 through the eyes of a callous day trader (Gilles Lellouche) and the woman he hires to clean his apartment (Karin Viard), a relationship that should teach him to have greater sensitivity to the stocks – and the people – he short sells on a daily basis and allows her to get a glimpse of the high life. For Lellouche’s Steve, a pristine view of the Eiffel Tower from his apartment is referred to as merely part of the decor and the inauspiciously named France, as played by Viard, gets an education in the market whims that led to the layoffs that shut down the factory that employs nearly all her friends and family.

Though he’s long brought social issues to the fore, “My Piece of the Pie” is Klapisch’s first since his 1992 feature debut “Riens du tout” to deal with institutions, which in turn resounds with an unfamiliar feeling in the writer/director’s films to date — of frustration and rage — that happens to be particularly appropriate to create such a wicked farce. During the Tribeca Film Festival, Klapisch sat down to describe the alternate reality he encountered while making a film about the out-of-touch moneyed men on whose shoulders so many of our fortunes rise and fall, how reality mirrored what he depicted on screen and the “sum of desires” that led him to make “My Piece of the Pie.”

How did this film come about?

This was really a reaction to what was happening after the financial crisis where I realized there were two things in the newspaper and on TV –factories [were] closing down and [executive] bonuses were going up. Everyone said there’s no connection where it’s just obvious there is between industry and finance, so it was strange that everyone was denying that. And I [researched] a lot about traders, brokers, financial worth and about factories and workers and I realized it was too much – I needed to talk about that. I think it’s not [documented] enough in the movies. After 1929, it created movies and novels about the result of that and I think we have to face the reality of something that’s really important to everyone on the planet.

MyPieceofThePie_05022011.jpgThat was also a period of some of the greatest escapist cinema. How necessary was it to make the film feel light on its feet even if it was dealing with such heavy subject matter?

It was complicated to manage that story because there were many traps. The first one was I thought it was a movie about rich and poor, which it’s not. I realized it’s more about people who live in virtuality [versus] people who live in reality — the opposition [between the two characters] is more about that. It’s also very complex to talk about finances in a movie because it’s very easily boring and un-understandable, so at one point, I said, why do I want to make a movie because it’s so complicated?

I think what was interesting for me was what’s happening at the end. I saw Patti Smith yesterday in the streets, so I’ve been thinking about the song “People Have the Power.” This sentence, “People Have the Power,” is very true — the fact that we believe that people have the power with democracy. [But] you say, okay, people have the power, but they don’t because [the financial] professionals deal for the others. When Obama wants to moralize the [financial sector], he can’t do it and then all the problems that everyone sees, he’s not able to solve them. No one is able to solve them and I think that we have to give back the power to the people. It’s really important right now. So the ending of the movie is really about the fact we feel the crowd has something to say.

There’s some irony that you’re dealing with subject matter that is more practically complex than many of your previous films, but this isn’t an ensemble piece like you’ve been making in recent years. Was that intentional for a more specific focus?

It’s true. What I’m talking about is really organization, about rich and poor, about people who have the power and people who are submissive. And I tried to take a very simple example about a cleaning lady and her employer and if you put those two characters in an apartment, you have an image of the whole world in the scenes. That was interesting for me because as you said, I made a lot of movies with a lot of characters and it was a good training for me to focus more on the story and the amount of characters.

MyPieceofThePie2_05022011.jpgThere’s a wonderful sequence early on in the film where Steve takes a supermodel (Marine Vacth) to Italy to wine and dine her with the end goal of sleeping with her, only to never see her again. It’s a great demonstration of his attitude towards anyone he thinks of as inferior, but would likely be cut from most films for time. Was that a challenge to keep?

Definitely. It’s probably the same thing in France as in America about digression and the fact that in a storyline you need to be illogical and to follow just the narration. That scene was important since the beginning and I think it’s got the right rhythm now because I couldn’t just shrink everything to a very small thing because otherwise it’s just fucking. [laughs] But for me, it’s a very good example [of] the whole film about the fact that he thinks that he can buy everything and the money gives you both the power and the ability to do almost everything, but it’s that almost which is interesting. He gets what he wants, but he doesn’t get what he [really] wants. Okay, when you’re rich, it’s easier, but there’s still something that’s lacking.

You’ve long made a point of portraying France in an unadorned way at an urban level, but when you’re making this film showing a glamorous life that’s real for very few, was that something different for you to present?

Yeah, and very often people don’t believe that. For example, when I [researched] traders and I went to London [and] Wall Street, some people, especially in London, when they’re between 30 and 40, they’re very rich, they’re traders, they’re bachelors – I had to lie about the reality because reality is too dark, ugly and awful. So I had to smooth things out with the character, otherwise it’s too dislikable. It was strange to [do the research] and to know the reality and then to adapt that reality so that it’s acceptable for the audience because what I saw in real life was too hard to convey and to talk about.

It was complicated to deal with because as you said, in my other films, people are more normal, I would say. For this film, I’m not a worker, I don’t know the life in factories and I don’t know the life on trading floors, so I had to [research] in the two directions and in a sense, I needed to do a documentary of the two things for the audience, so that’s why there’s a kind of financial class in the movie to begin the story to understand what he’s talking about.

MyPieceofthePie3_05022011.jpgYou were apparently considering an American film at the same time when you decided to make “My Piece of the Pie.” Was this more pressing?

I think so. And I needed to do [a film with] a smaller budget, I needed to do something that mixed actors and non-actors, in a sense, documentary and fiction. You never know why, but when you make a movie, it’s always a sum of desires that you have, so it was a desire to shoot with Karin Viard, a desire to shoot outside of Paris, to have less characters, so you put that in a pot. Also, it may be because of what’s happening in the French government. I think the period is very cynical because of that government, which is lying all the time and it’s a new period for politics where politicians deal more with media than with politics. This is tiring, this is revolting. I made this movie also because of that.

Once you’re filming, you’re in a bubble, but does the meaning of the film change for you as you’re shooting when you’re dealing with a subject that’s evolving right outside your shoot?

You can’t really have ideas beforehand. For example, when I went to Dunkerque, it was pretty normal, the industrial life, and then when we got there, the exact same thing happened as what I described in the movie — the whole company, they kicked out 400 workers at a refinery. So the extras in the movie were the real workers and it was a strange combination of dealing with reality and what was really happening at that time.

I think it’s something about our period, maybe because we’re dealing with the Internet and the fact that we’re getting information online in a second.. For example, I thought it was great — “Social Network” was the first biopic that happened seven years ago and the idea’s just crazy that you can tell the story of someone who’s not dead, he’s just 30 years old. I think that sticking to the reality and to the instant is very much our times.

What kind of things are you interested in making films about?

I know I’d like to make a movie about wine, so I’m writing something that would take place in France about people who make wine. And I would like to make a movie in New York. I studied two years in New York, and there’s something about the city I’d like to do. I don’t know exactly what, but I’d like to make a movie here.

“My Piece of the Pie” does not yet have U.S. distribution.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar

via GIPHY

IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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