Cahiers du Cinema

Criterion Files

Much of Jean-Luc Godard’s cinematic output is inaccessible to American audiences. His most prolific period, the 1960s (in which he made 18 feature films) is almost entirely available, due in no small part to the Criterion Collection’s well-justified infatuation with the cineaste’s important and influential work. The output of much of his later career, however, isn’t commercially accessible in the US including much-lauded work like Nouvelle Vague (1990) and the Histoire(s) du Cinema entries (1988-98). In fact, Tout va Bien (1972 – his most recent title included in the Collection) is to my knowledge the only film he made in the 1970s that’s available on Region 1 DVD. This is all to say that here in the US, what we know of Godard we know mostly the first decade of his career. While it’s unfortunate that cinephiles have minimal access to his later work, this complaint is not meant to undervalue the importance of the work he did in the 1960s. Godard made an unbelievable amount of brilliant and challenging work in an astoundingly short amount of time, and by 1970 he had emerged as a different kind of filmmaker altogether. Godard’s 1960s work is, in a sense, the only logical starting point in order to approach an understanding of this later work. Godard’s films are an ongoing exercise in personal growth, aesthetic experimentation, and political criticism. Each work builds off of what came before. With this weekend’s US release of Godard’s most recent work, Film Socialisme, the gaps in […]

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Culture Warrior

Yesterday the Twittersphere (a place where topics are only discussed in rational proportions) was abuzz with the news that Terrence Malick’s long-awaited magnum opus Tree of Life was booed at its Cannes premiere. While the reaction to Malick’s latest will no doubt continue to be at least as divisive and polarized as his previous work has been, for many Malick fans the news of the boos only perpetuated more interest in the film, and for many Malick non-fans the boos signaled an affirmation of what they’ve long-seen as lacking in his work. (Just to clarify, there was also reported applause, counter-applause, and counter-booing at the screening.) Booing at Cannes has a long history, and can even be considered a tradition. It seems that every year some title is booed, and such a event often only creates more buzz around the film. There’s no formula for what happens to a booed film at Cannes: sometimes history proves that the booed film was ahead of its time, sometimes booing either precedes negative critical reactions that follow or reflect the film’s divisiveness during its commercial release. Booed films often win awards. If there is one aspect connecting almost all booed films at Cannes, it’s that the films are challenging. I mean challenging as a descriptor that gives no indication of quality (much like I consider the term “slow”), but films that receive boos at the festival challenge their audiences or the parameters of the medium in one way or another, for better or […]

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Veteran French filmmaker and New Wave-co-founder Claude Chabrol passed away in Paris this morning at the age of 80. Chabrol, like Éric Rohmer who died this past January, wrote for the Cahiers du cinéma film journal in the 1950s before making his own feature films later that decade alongside New Wave contemporaries Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, and Jacques Rivette. But while Rohmer’s late career slowed down a great deal and Godard’s oscillated between experimentation and obscurity, Chabrol continued to prove himself a particularly prolific filmmaker well after the New Wave’s late 1950s and 1960s heyday.

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Auteurs: Martin Scorsese

Last month as I sat down to watch Scorsese’s Shutter Island with the rest of the Austin-based Reject crew, Lost Club’s David Gunn and I had a rather enlightening discussion about the applicability of the auteur theory in today’s cinematic landscape. It got me thinking about the contemporary negotiations between the theory’s shortcomings, contradictions, and pragmatic applicability to how we perceive and view cinema on a regular basis in the 21st century.

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Eric Rohmer (1920-2010) was a truly modern cinematic artist with a unique voice, possessing a style that distinguished him from his New Wave contemporaries.

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