Le Grand Amour

Gene Siskel Film Center, siskelfilmcenter.org

Apologies to Jacqueline Stewart of Northwestern University—whose six-week series “L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema” spanned the north and south sides and brought numerous pioneering black filmmakers to Chicago—but the best retrospective of the past year was Gene Siskel Film Center’s eye-opening series on the forgotten French comedian Pierre Etaix. A professional circus clown and a filmmaking protege of Jacques Tati, Etaix wrote, directed, and starred in a series of wildly imaginative comedies—The Suitor (1962), Yoyo (1965), Le Grand Amour (1969)—that combined sight gags worthy of Buster Keaton, a hip sensibility reminiscent of his contemporary Jerry Lewis, and a decidedly mordant view of love and marriage. The five films and three shorts aren’t likely to screen here again anytime soon, but they’re all included in a recent box set from Criterion Collection.