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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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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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