BERTRAND BLIER's 1980 "Buffet Froid" ("Cold Cuts") has taken a few years to get here. Frankly, you can fire the caterer.
Chronologically, "Buffet" was served up straight after Blier's "Get Out Your Handkerchiefs," a lousy film about a menage a` trois, which won the 1979 foreign film Oscar. Blier was riding high; finally, he could make the film he wanted.
This is the film he wanted?
Meant to be absurdist a` la Eugene Ionesco with the moral indifference of "A Clockwork Orange," Blier's film is a comic-episodic unreeling of dispassionate killings in modern-day Paris, with an all-star French cast -- Ge'rard "If You've Got a Camera I'll Do It" Depardieu, Bernard Blier (Papa to director), Michel Serrault, Jean Carmet, Genevieve Page and Carole Bouquet. Which makes this lame, pointless moviemaking all the more regrettable.
Alphonse Tram (Depardieu) is an unemployed, doubting, sensitive fella. He has nightmares about cops. He has no friends. He tries unsuccessfully to make friends with an accountant in the subway. Later, he finds that accountant inexplicably stabbed with Alphonse's own knife. The absurdity compounds. Talking about the murder to his sullen, frigid wife (who'll later be killed) or the police inspector upstairs (Papa Blier), he gets no reaction. They're completely uninterested. Alphonse wonders if he killed the accountant. More characters enter and exit his high-rise apartment. They will either rape or be raped, shoot someone or be shot. He who lives by the phallic symbol . . .
Blier seems to be presenting the highly original statement that we are morally anesthetized by modern life and modern media. So anesthetized in fact, that Bertrand Blier thinks films like this make valid statements.
Is there something beyond Blier's absurdism-for-absurdism's sake, perhaps? Sure -- misogyny! Blier never met a female character he couldn't rape, hate or murder -- from "Going Places" to the gratuitously gynecological "Femmes Fatales." The men, of course, are excused all this abuse, because they don't understand women.
Cold cuts, anyone?
BUFFET FROID (Unrated) -- In French with subtitles at the Key.