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.
Jean Epstein, born in Warsaw, was raised in Switzerland, but it was Brittany where he made some of his best films. He was famous yet misunderstood, original yet held to be idiosyncratic and poetic to a fault, consistently referred to by most critics as a key theoretician. Using familiar genres, melodramas and documentaries, he hoped to heal viewers of all classes and hasten social utopia. This book offers the first comprehensive introduction to and preliminary study of Epstein's movies, film theory, and literary and philosophical criticism in the age of cinema. Diluted into a single word, photogénie, his aesthetic project is equated with a naïve faith in the magic power of moving images, whereas Epstein insistently articulated photogénie in detailed corporeal, ethical and political terms. While Epstein scarcely refers to World War One in his writings or film work, it is clearly from this set of urgent questions that he began reflecting on art and literature. The New Wave movement in France in the late 1950s, put melodrama and avant-garde together feels oxymoronic if not sacrilegious. Epstein's filmography contains roughly an equal number of films that can be labelled fiction and documentary, a little over twenty, in each category. Epstein has opened the way for a corporeal cinema predicated on cinematography and montage rather than narration and mise-en-scène. Epstein's work in cinema, film 'theory', and philosophy, offers today a surprisingly contemporary set of movies, cinematographic idioms, and reflections on all the phenomena of cinema.
Diane Kurys' first film, Diabolo menthe (Peppermint Soda), made in 1977, depicts the lives of two schoolgirl sisters growing up in the early 1960s, a period which coincides with Kurys' own adolescence. Kurys' films are of interest not just as projections of individual preoccupations but also because their focus on girls and women of the baby-boomer generation produces a symptomatic text for analysing wider issues relating to female identity. Her work needs to be understood within the specific context of French cinema and French culture, in which the concept of the auteur, if ostensibly ungendered, remains resolutely masculine. The commercial and critical successes of Diabolo menthe and Coup de foudre, Kurys' two most incontrovertibly women-centred films, coincide with the period when the women's movement in France had its greatest impact on social and political life. In the light of recent gender theory which insists on the fluidity and constructedness of gender positions, Kurys' signalling of 'femininity' in François Truffaut's films might be considered progressive. Diabolo menthe was a huge success, well received by the majority of critics and the highest grossing French film of 1977, at one point coming second only to Star Wars. Cocktail Molotov focuses on a trio of teenagers who miss out on what was going on. Un homme amoureux, Après l'amour and A la folie are some other films that are discussed in this book.
Since the release of her debut feature, La ciénaga, in 2001, Argentine director Lucrecia Martel has gained worldwide recognition for her richly allusive, elliptical and sensorial film-making. The first monograph on her work, The Cinema of Lucrecia Martel analyses her three feature films, which also include La niña santa (2004) and La mujer sin cabeza (2008), alongside the unstudied short films Nueva Argirópolis (2010), Pescados (2010) and Muta (2011). It examines the place of Martel’s work within the experimental turn taken by Argentine cinema in the late 1990s and early 2000s, a trend of which Martel is often described as a major player, yet also explores correspondences between her work and other national and global filmmaking trends, including the horror genre, and classic Hollywood. It brings together the rich and diverse critical approaches which have been taken in the analysis of Martel’s work – including feminist and queer approaches, political readings and phenomenology – and proposes new ways of understanding her films, in particular through their figuring of desire as revolutionary, their use of the child’s perspective, and their address to the senses and perception, which it argues serve to renew cinematic language and thought.
Film writing has rather overlooked cinematic colour. In a scrutiny of cinematic
moments, and when colour comes to the fore, films open up in new ways. This book
explores a spectrum of colourful applications. It begins by considering films
that use colour in sparing amounts, and moves on to discuss increasingly
abundant displays. While highlighting the use of colour, the book also considers
the connections between different stylistic elements such as camerawork,
editing, performance, music, and lighting. It also offers an alternative to
national, socio-political, and historically chronological approaches to film
style. Six films present chromatic measures moving from understatement to
amplification. Leading from one end of narrative cinema's colour spectrum,
the book examines Three Colours: White. It then explores
Equinox Flower hat is similarly restrained and concerned with
reservation. The book discusses how delicate colours accrue to convey a fragile
sensibility in The Green Ray. Written on the
Wind is about Technicolor schemes. It also considers the resemblances,
after Sirk's work, of a film by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Next, it
addresses The Umbrellas of Cherbourg as a multicoloured
fantasia of the everyday. The music, story, and colour combine and clash in
surprising ways in this film, in shifting forms of the 'style-subject
economy'. The book looks for language matching the rhetoric of the films
under scrutiny. It notes and moves beyond generally inscribed meanings of
certain colours, paying attention to shifting connections and comparisons.
Spain as an entity and Spanish cultural identity are no less difficult to pin
down as the concept of the nation state is simultaneously assailed by political,
economic and cultural globalisation and the fragmentation of the state by the
demands of its autonomous communities. This book presents a coherent picture of
the main narrative, thematic, stylistic and representational trends which have
characterised the recent cinema produced in Spain. It seeks to explore the
obsession of Spanish cinema with the past and its role as part of a wider
recuperation industry. The book examines the varied forms of historical cinema
ranging from literary adaptation and period drama to retro thriller and musical.
It offers an analysis of other main forms of genre cinema which have dominated
the commercial industry and the popular imagination in Spain since the 1970s.
The book explores constructions of gender and sexuality across a wide range of
examples taken from a variety of contemporary movies. It also focuses on cinema
in the autonomous communities, mainly Catalonia and the Basque Country. The
period 1993 to 1994 was perhaps one of the most difficult for the film industry
in post-Franco Spain, particularly in relation to production totals and audience
figures. The setting Institut de Cinema Catalá offered a new forum for
debate and inaugurated the first of a number of attempts to define what Catalan
film and a Catalan film industry ought to be doing and how Catalan professionals
should develop their sector.
This book aims to provide an overview of the history and development of film noir and neo-noir in five major European cinemas, France, Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy, written by leading authorities in their respective fields. It contains a bibliography and extensive filmography. The book describes the distinctiveness of film noir or neo-noir within its respective national cinema at particular moments, but also discusses its interaction with American film noir and neo-noir. It commences with a reflection on the significant similarities and differences that emerge in these accounts of the various European film noirs, and on the nature of this dialogue, which suggests the need to understand film noir as a transnational cultural phenomenon. The problems of defining film noir and the reasons why it has almost always been regarded solely as an American form are discussed. Because British film noir had never received critical recognition, Andrew Spicer argues that British neo-noir had to reinvent itself anew, with little, if any, explicit continuity with its predecessors. The book also explores the changes in the French polar after 1968: the paranoia of the political thriller and the violence of the postmodern and naturalistic thriller. That new noir sensibility is different enough, and dark enough, from what preceded it, for us to call it 'hyper-noir'. British neo-noirs are highly intertextual and allusive, both thematically and visually. The book also discusses German neo-noir, Spanish film noir and neo-noir, and the Italian film noir.
This book explains how the famous Spanish singer and actress Imperio Argentina starred in a film, Carmen, la de Triana, that was made in Berlin under the auspices of the Third Reich. It examines the Transition between the dictatorship and democratic eras in four films featuring performances in which transgendered protagonists lip-synch to songs from the Hispanic diaspora. The book considers how punk music and its attendant sensibility and cultural practices were profoundly influential in Spain throughout the early years of democracy. It focuses on one of the most financially successful Spanish films of the last ten years: El otro lado de la cama. The book moves to how punk music and its attendant sensibility and cultural practices were profoundly influential in Spain throughout the early years of democracy. This was when the Spanish version of British punk's irreverence, playful and disrespectful attitude toward art, bad taste, and corrosive humour nevertheless failed to capitalise on the political overtones of the original movement. The book lays emphasis on music as an indicator of the attitudes, social hierarchies and demarcations of youth but marks a shift in focus towards flamenco. Continuing the interwoven themes of rootlessness and evolution, it examines the diegetic and non-diegetic contribution of songs to representative films of the so-called 'immigration cinema' genre within Spanish cinema. Next come the exploration of transnationalism, migration and hybridity by exploring the role of Afro-Cuban song, music and dance in two films from Mexican cinema's golden age: Salón Méxicoand Víctimas del pecado.
This book provides an introduction to French film studies. It concentrates on films which have had either a theatrical or video release in Britain, or which are available on video or DVD from France. Most avant-garde film-makers, including Germaine Dulac, were unable to continue in the 1930s, faced with the technical demands and high production costs of the sound film. Exacerbated by the Depression, and above all by the financial collapse of both Gaumont and Pathé, film production fell from 158 features the previous year to only 126 in 1934, and 115 in 1935. While poetic realism was at its height, a talismanic figure in post-war film was faced with a generally lukewarm reception from critics and audiences. Thanks largely to German finance and also to an influx of filmmakers replacing those who had departed, after 1940 French film. If 1968 marked a watershed in French cinema's engagement with politics and history 1974 did the same for representations of sexuality. In that year, pornography entered mainstream French cinema. Although film-making remains male-dominated in France as elsewhere, 'more women have taken an active part in French cinema than in any other national film industry'. A quarter of all French films made in 1981 were polars, and many of those were box-office successes. French fantasy has had a particular national outlet: the bande dessinée. The heritage film often takes its subject or source from the 'culturally respectable classicisms of literature, painting, music'.
This book explores the role of mise-en-scene in melodrama criticism, and considers what happened to detailed criticism as major theoretical movements emerged in the 1970s. Mise-en-scene, and other ways of conceiving visual style, has been central to so many important debates that the writing examined in the book shaped the field in enduring ways. The book provides a cross-section of the British culture and its attitudes to film. It also considers a range of important contexts, from material conditions of film viewing (and therefore criticism) to the cultural and political shifts of 1956. The book further investigates the frequently asserted connection between literary criticism and the approaches developed in Movie. It identifies the range of different approaches to interpreting mise-en-scene advanced in Movie, drawing out sections on action, camera movement and placing, connections between different parts of the film, and a range of further debates. 'Tales of Sound and Fury' is an extraordinary article, and Elsaesser's appreciation of the plastic and expressive qualities of domestic melodrama and the broader melodramatic tradition is exemplary. In the early 1970s, writing on melodrama provided some of the richest expressions of mise-en-scene criticism. The book embodies a number of approaches which were to undermine the emergent interest in the interpretation of the film style. Melodrama criticism is a crucial focus for shifts in film criticism and theory, and for this history.