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Brutal Intimacy

Analyzing Contemporary French Cinema

Tim Palmer

Publication Year: 2011

Brutal Intimacy is the first book to explore the fascinating films of contemporary France, ranging from mainstream genre spectaculars to arthouse experiments, and from wildly popular hits to films that deliberately alienate the viewer. Twenty-first-century France is a major source of international cinema--diverse and dynamic, embattled yet prosperous--a national cinema offering something for everyone. Tim Palmer investigates France's growing population of women filmmakers, its buoyant vanguard of first-time filmmakers, the rise of the controversial cinema du corps, and France's cinema icons: auteurs like Olivier Assayas, Claire Denis, Bruno Dumont, Gaspar Noe, and stars such as Vincent Cassel and Jean Dujardin. Analyzing dozens of breakthrough films, Brutal Intimacy situates infamous titles alongside many yet to be studied in the English language. Drawing on interviews and the testimony of leading film artists, Brutal Intimacy promises to be an influential treatment of French cinema today, its evolving rivalry with Hollywood, and its ambitious pursuits of audiences in Europe, North America, and around the world.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press

Series: Wesleyan Film

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pp. ix-xii

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...

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Introduction: The Contemporary French Film Ecosystem

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pp. 1-14

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...

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Chapter One: 5 x 1 Young Cinema and First-Timers

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pp. 15-56

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...

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Chapter Two: The Cin

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pp. 57-94

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...

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Chapter Three: Popular Cinema, Pop-Art Cinema

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pp. 95-150

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...

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Chapter Four: Feminine Cinema

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pp. 151-194

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...

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Conclusion: Instructive Cinephilia: Film Literacy and la F

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pp. 195-216

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

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pp. 217-222


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pp. 223-244

Select Filmography

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pp. 245-258

Select Bibliography

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pp. 259-264


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pp. 265-290

E-ISBN-13: 9780819570000
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819568267

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Wesleyan Film