3 Best Movies to Watch From Renn Productions

Staff & contributors

If you enjoy wondering aloud to yourself how filmmakers were able to make a movie at all, 1988's almost wordless tale of two bears trying to survive the Canadian mountains was somehow shot with real, expressive bear "actors," despite the film being a work of fiction. A cross between a stunningly photographed nature documentary and a brutal folktale, The Bear gets right to the uncompromising conditions out in the wild, where human beings are portrayed as just as savage—and just as merciful—as the beasts they hunt. Clever editing and Jean-Jacques Annaud's directorial vision hide all the seams in the movie's magic tricks, allowing us to fall in love quickly with these majestic bears and the all-too-human emotions they seem to be expressing.

Genre: Adventure, Drama, Family

Actor: André Lacombe, Bart The Bear, Jack Wallace, Tchéky Karyo, Youk the Bear

Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud

Before Games of Thrones delivered court intrigues, shocking murders, and adulterous affairs, Queen Margot delivered all these nearly two decades earlier, depicting the dramatized, real life events of the French Wars of Religion. While it doesn’t have dragons, it has style, with some of the most stunning scenes intercut with some of the most gruesome, pushing the envelope with a freedom only possible due to none of their descendants still holding the French throne. It’s also one of the most expensive French films ever made, but every franc was put to good use, with luxurious sound, sets, costumes, and camerawork excellently supporting the cast’s performances. Initially released to mixed reception in America with 20 minutes cut from the runtime, La Reine Margot has thankfully been restored and re-released in full for its 20th anniversary in 2014.

Genre: Drama, History, Romance

Actor: Asia Argento, Barbet Schroeder, Bernard Nissile, Bernard Verley, Bruno Todeschini, Charlie Nelson, Claudio Amendola, Daniel Auteuil, Daniel Breton, Dominique Blanc, Dörte Lyssewski, Emmanuel Salinger, Grégoire Colin, Isabelle Adjani, Jean Douchet, Jean-Claude Brialy, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Jean-Marc Stehlé, Jean-Philippe Écoffey, Johan Leysen, Julie-Anne Roth, Julien Rassam, Laure Marsac, Luís Gaspar, Marc Citti, Marina Golovine, Miguel Bosé, Nicolas Vaude, Orazio Massaro, Otto Tausig, Pascal Greggory, Philippe Duclos, Thomas Kretschmann, Tolsty, Ulrich Wildgruber, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Vincent Perez, Virna Lisi

Director: Patrice Chéreau

Manon des Sources (Manon of the Springs), directed by Claude Berri, follows a young woman named Manon living reclusively in the rural countryside. This film is the sequel to Jean de Florette, during which a young Manon watched her father fall victim to the greedy manipulation of two men. Now, a decade later, Manon is older and more cunning—and when she sees the opportunity to gently avenger her father, she exacts tragic revenge.

Perhaps the greatest strength of Manon of the Springs lies in its actors. Emmanuelle Béart is captivating as Manon, quiet and observant, while Yves Montand and Daniel Auteuil are fittingly terrible as César Soubeyran and Ugolin. Manon and the springs she must protect are worthy heroes of this epic saga.

Genre: Drama

Actor: André Dupon, Armand Meffre, Daniel Auteuil, Didier Pain, Elisabeth Depardieu, Emmanuelle Béart, Fransined, Gabriel Bacquier, Hippolyte Girardot, Jean Bouchaud, Jean Maurel, Marc Betton, Margarita Lozano, Pierre Nougaro, Roger Souza, Ticky Holgado, Yves Montand, Yvonne Gamy

Director: Claude Berri

Rating: PG