Analyzing Contemporary French Cinema
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: Wesleyan University Press
Series: Wesleyan Film
As I was writing this book, many people cleared my path and helped me find my way. Thank you first of all to the people who agreed to be interviewed, for giving up their time so generously. I am especially grateful to Marina de Van, Lola Doillon, and Julie Lopes-Curval. Thanks to Matthieu-David Cournot for our conversations in person and via...
Introduction: The Contemporary French Film Ecosystem
The December 2007 European edition of Time magazine, prompted by Marcel Marceau’s death that September, used for its cover a sorrowful mime staring tearfully at the ground. The accompanying headline proclaimed: “The Death of French Culture.” Unsurprisingly, in the light of recent Franco- American relations, this incident quickly...
Chapter One: 5 x 1 Young Cinema and First-Timers
Among critics and filmmakers, the expression le jeune cinéma français is often used to refer to any striking or especially creative surge in contemporary French filmmaking. It translates literally as young French cinema, a useful way of considering what Réné Prédal calls the film industry’s “incessant renewal,”1 its velocity and forward momentum. Young cinema: the term suggests...
Chapter Two: The Cin
As an art form and a professional practice, cinema thrives on its ability to induce vivid sensations—a tendency that some readily take to extremes. Yet while the majority of world film engages its viewers to convey satisfaction or gratification, an opposite tendency occasionally emerges, abrasive forms of cinema that seek more confrontational experiences. In this context we can start to...
Chapter Three: Popular Cinema, Pop-Art Cinema
Most accounts of recent French cinema gloss over or disparage its popular sector;1 they also assume that the mainstream is completely disconnected from the more artistically respectable, hence widely studied, realms of auteur filmmaking. This chapter engages with these inherited notions, disputing both. In the first place, of course, France’s film mainstream is the fulcrum of its industry’s battle to retain its domestic market share, combating...
Chapter Four: Feminine Cinema
Concerning the rights of its female citizens, France has often lagged behind its Western neighbors. Reflecting this, a catalog of France’s belated efforts to enfranchise women is usually cited by both Anglo- American and French feminists. There was the so-called “first wave” of feminist intervention, symbolized by the 1949 publication of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, coinciding with women finally getting the right to vote in 1944, then having their equal status with men written...
Conclusion: Instructive Cinephilia: Film Literacy and la F
This book’s interrelated strands, our conceptual survey of contemporary French cinema, reveal a cluster of textual and professional issues. Central among these, this conclusion iterates, is France’s abiding cinephilia, a passion for film in all its forms. This contemporary cinephilia exists, though, not only as a staple of French critical reception, the traditional model, but also emerges...
Appendix: “The 156 Films That You Must Have Seen”: The List