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Author: Will Higbee

The book begins with a consideration of the origins and influences that have shaped Mathieu Kassovitz's development as a director, but also the cultural context within which he emerges as a filmmaker. It argues new realism, the banlieue. The book examines the American influences evident in all of Kassovitz's films to date as a director and explores the continuity and difference between his films as actor and director. The first phase of Mathieu Kassovitz's career comprises his short films and feature films up to and including Assassin(s), engages in an often provocative way with socio-political debates in contemporary France through an aesthetic mode of address designed to appeal primarily to a youth audience. The second phase, post-Assassin(s), appears to be marked by a conscious shift towards bigger-budget, more unashamedly commercial, genre productions. The book explores the cultural context within which Mathieu Kassovitz emerged to direct his first three short films, concentrating in the second half on key transformations relating to that have taken place in relation to French popular culture. What Kassovitz offers is not social realism, but rather what might be termed 'postmodern social fables'. Assassins, Les Rivières pourpres, Fierrot le pou and Cauchemar blanc, Métisse, La Haine are some films discussed extensively. In a national cinema that has made strategic use of the auteur's cultural cachet in order to mark its difference from Hollywood, Kassovitz is seen by many to side more closely with the American 'invaders' than the defenders of French cultural exception.

Carrie Tarr

Critics and historians of French cinema have marked out 1995 as the year of the banlieue film, the most significant of which was La Haine , directed by Mathieu Kassovitz. 2 La Haine won 27-year-old Kassovitz the Best Director Award at Cannes, was a major box-office success in France, was screened for Prime Minister Alain Juppe, and played to enthusiastic audiences in London, showing that there is an international market for French films which

in Reframing difference
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The actor/auteur
Will Higbee

otherwise disparaging review of the film in Télérama (Murat 1998 : 35): ‘Consolation: Mathieu Kassovitz. Réalisateur contesté (par certains), c’est un acteur magnifique. À la présence étonnante. À l’inventivité permanente. Ses scènes avec Julie Gayet, puis avec Caroline Cellier, sont les seules à peu près regardables’. 3 A more sustained example of the way in which

in Mathieu Kassovitz
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Will Higbee

Looking at his filmography to date, there is a temptation to divide Mathieu Kassovitz’s career into two distinct phases. The first, comprising his short films and feature films up to and including Assassin (s) (1997), engages in an often provocative way with socio-political debates in contemporary France through an aesthetic mode of address designed to appeal primarily to

in Mathieu Kassovitz
Will Higbee

), ‘Mathieu Kassovitz, un Frenchie à Hollywood’ , Le Journal du Dimanche (4 January) Bonnaud , Frédéric ( 2000 ), ‘Made in France’ , Les Inrockuptibles (27 September) Bourguignon , Thomas and Tobin , Yann ( 1995 ), ‘Entretien avec Mathieu Kassovitz: les cinq dernières secondes’ , Positif , June, 8–13 Blumenfeld

in Mathieu Kassovitz
Will Higbee

la distance chez les sauvageons , Paris : Seuil Boulay , Anne and Colmant , Marie ( 1995 ), ‘“ La Haine ne nous appartient plus”’ (interview with Kassovitz ), Libération , (31 May) Bourguignon , Thomas and Tobin , Yann ( 1995 ) ‘Entretien avec Mathieu Kassovitz: les cinq dernières secondes’ , Positif , June, 8–13 Bosséno , Christian

in Mathieu Kassovitz
Will Higbee

spoke directly to a new type of young audience (and one that included the young Mathieu Kassovitz) in a visual cinematic language that they could both understand and relate to. Of the handful of directors associated with the 1980s cinéma du look , it is Luc Besson who has had the most significant and enduring influence on Kassovitz. Beyond the inspiration offered by his

in Mathieu Kassovitz
Abstract only
Will Higbee

) 3 Kassovitz and crew shooting at altitude for Les Rivières pourpres 4 Mathieu Kassovitz (Johnny) and Jean-Louis Trintignant (Marx) in Regarde les hommes tomber (Audiard, 1996

in Mathieu Kassovitz
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Will Higbee

This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the key concepts discussed in the preceding chapters of this book. The book seeks to argue for Mathieu Kassovitz's importance in contemporary French cinema as a filmmaker whose work has engaged with key shifts in French cinema since the early 1990s, such as: new realism, the banlieue film and the 'post-look' spectacular genre film. It establishes Kassovitz as a director who consistently occupies the position of a 'popular' filmmaker, and whose films reflect the increasing prominence of youth at the heart of contemporary popular French culture. In a national cinema that has made strategic use of the auteur's cultural cachet in order to mark its difference from Hollywood, Kassovitz is seen by many to side more closely with the American 'invaders' than the defenders of French cultural exception.

in Mathieu Kassovitz
Will Higbee

(s) (interview with Kassovitz), consulted at mathieukassovitz.com/assassins/interviews/mathieu1. htm (site last accessed 21/7/05). —— ( 1998 ), ‘Les aventures de Mathieu Kassovitz’ interview in Steadycam , consulted at www.mathieukassovitz.com/itw/steadycam.htm (site last accessed 19/7/05) —— and Boukhrief , Nicolas ( 1997 ), Assassin

in Mathieu Kassovitz