Nor is the option presented in veteran auteur Bertrand Blier's THE CLINK OF ICE (2010; July 17 @ 5:10 pm) much to look forward to. In it, Charles (Jean Dujardin), a divorced, washed-up writer seeking solace in the wine he carries around in a ubiquitous ice bucket, learns he has terminal cancer. He finds out when the disease, anthropomorphized into an annoying presence played by Albert Dupontel, rings his doorbell, says, "I'm your cancer!" and moves in like the dumb half of a buddy movie. Only then does Charles notice that his faithful housekeeper Louisa (Anne Alvaro), who's being hounded by her own carcinogenic doppelganger (Myriam Boyer), carries a torch for him. Blier's conceit metastasizes before the tumors do, and his message that noisome old cranks can seek redemption from their pliant female counterparts hasn't aged well either.
It's funny how men can take on traditionally female roles, like the male nurse in Fred Cavayé's crackling if dumb thriller POINT BLANK (2010; July 15 @ 8:20 + July 16 @ 5:20 pm), and still be a real man and kick ass, but if you're a woman and take on a traditionally male role, it will cost you. As is the case in Alain Corneau's icily effective last film, LOVE CRIME (2010; July 22 @ 8 pm), which is reminiscent of the work of two other recently deceased filmmakers, Claude Chabrol and the Sidney Lumet of Before the Devil Knows You're Dead.
Sweet and self-deprecating Isabelle (played by Ludivine Sagnier, who, in this movie, is a kind of Gallic Kate Hudson) seems out of place in the ruthless world of finance, but she has a formidable role model in her cutthroat boss Christine (a waspish Kristin Scott Thomas). Christine courts Isabelle with gifts and quasi-lesbian overtures as she steals her brilliant ideas and claims them for herself. Until, that is, Isabelle shows a little bit of gumption, and pays dearly for it. Does her consequent humiliation turn Isabelle into a basket case, or does something else lurk beneath her haplessness? Love Crime deconstructs the genre by showing how to put together a mystery in order to deceive and manipulate those who would try to take it apart.
Jean-Pierre Améris takes a similar premise in a different direction in the lightweight but amusing ROMANTICS ANONYMOUS (2010; July 24 @ 7:30 pm). Here Angélique (Isabelle Carré) is the shrinking violet, an expert chocolate maker with no self-esteem who refuses to accept recognition for her genius. Her mentor and would-be suitor is the equally inept Jean-René (Benoît Poelvoorde), the owner of a chocolate factory whose product is described as "good but obsolete," not unlike the film itself.
The striptease in ON TOUR (2010; July 9 @ 8 pm + July 10 @ 3 pm) is also an obsolete product, though its blowsy practitioners, American expatriates in France, try to reinvent it as a pseudo-feminist "New Burlesque." Some of their routines partake of the subversive sado-masochism of Annie Sprinkle; others have a naive poetry of their own. And none is very sexy, though the provincial French audiences in the musty harbor-town theaters they tour eat it up. Joachim (Mathieu Amalric, who also directs) is a seedy, rueful impresario who also loves his girls, though they seem a desperate consolation prize for a once-successful TV career.