Cooking Up Some French Fare

There’s plenty to keep one transfixed at this year’s Cinémathèque Française at Doris Duke Theatre, but it’s a couple of simple films that shine brightest, and they’re both playing opening night – Le Chef and Mr.Hublot. The first is a comedic venture into the exclusive realm of French gastronomy. The fantastic Jean Reno is a top level but old-school chef whose epicurean expertise is on the line, what with new-fangled cuisine trends, until he stirs up some alimentary chemistry of his own with an eccentric protege.


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Jean Reno in ‘Le Chef’

May I rave about Mr. Hublot? It’s only 11 minutes long, but it’s packed with fantastical steampunk imagery, and though the creatures and landscape that inhabit this mechanical world are all metal, bolts and stacks of steam, it ticks with plenty of heart. Reminiscent of Poe’s Devil in the Belfry, Mr. Hublot lives his agoraphobic little life in the confines of a cozy home, fastidiously going about his daily routine. His ordered domain is thrown into disarray when an unexpected companion interrupts his clockwork world. Extreme attention to visual and aural detail make this 2014 Academy Award-winner in the Best Animated Short Film category so visually stimulating.

Other showings include a re-release of the classic and meandering 16th century period piece Queen Margot, with its lavish costumes, unrestrained revelry, unbridled sexuality, battle sequences, and taut religious, political and connubial relations. Isabelle Adjani, Daniel Auteuil, and the steamy Vincent Perez star.

Mood Indigo, a love story featuring French film darling Audrey Tautou and boyish Romain Duris, is mesmerizing in its blissful, psychedelic giddiness. The second-to-second creative special effects make this work by the boundless mind of Michel Gondry, director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a novel and engaging experience.

Tautou and Duris also team up in Chinese Puzzle, which finds Duris’ Xavier heading for a divorce. Sly graphic and cinematic effects add to the viewing pleasure, particularly a naughty scene where Xavier is generously donating his DNA to help a lesbian friend have a child, and his porn mag comes to life.

Meryl Streep has nothing on French counterpart Catherine Deneuve, who is as brilliant and natural as ever in On My Way. When complications with a lover leave her distraught, the former beauty queen takes to the road, encountering colorful characters and situations, including a very funny scene with a much younger man. Additional films include Picasso’s Gang, The French Minister and Bicycling with Moliere.

the TICKET stub
Cinémathèque Française

When: May 3-16
Where: Doris Duke Theatre
Cost: $10 general admission
More Info: 532-8700,

Discover This Gem

Whether it’s a tasty morsel handed out at a market or a pair of Oakley sunglasses that come floating by at Yokohama’s, these are feel-good moments because they’re unexpected and, more importantly, because they’re free. There’s not much hoopla surrounding the demurely titled This and That, a theatrical presentation by HPU drama students, but it’s especially memorable in that, not only is it thoroughly entertaining, it doesn’t cost a cent.

I attended the December production and was rewarded with buoyant student-directed and enacted scenes and some sobering monologues by student members of the military. Upcoming performances May 3-4 (at 7:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. respectively) promise equally moving one-acts, scenes and songs, with a focus on works by Tennessee Williams and Neil Simon.

Reservations are not expected. Just show up at Paul and Vi Loo Theatre at Hawaii Pacific University’s Hawaii Loa Campus (254-0853). Truly, some of the best things in life are free, particularly when obscure and unsolicited, so come and sit back as 10 talented young thespians turn their variety of acts into a revelatory, full-length program.