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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.

Author: Phil Powrie

One of the key features of Jean-Jacques Beineix's relationship with the film image is the notion of seduction and the erotic. This book shows Beineix's films form a coherent body of work and sketches out a psychodrama formed by Beineix's feature films. It explains, the cinéma du look was placed by many, including Beineix himself, in a position of confrontation with the cinema of the nouvelle vague. The book considers the early 1980s debates concerning the film image which led to the view espoused by Jean-Michel Frodon, after a brief account of Beineix's apprenticeship years. It attempts to place Beineix's work within the context of the development of French cinema, and discourses on the French cinema, as they evolved during the 1980s. Beineix's first feature film, Diva, enjoyed considerable success, becoming something of a cult film for the youth audience of the time, as well as launching the careers of Richard Bohringer and Dominique Pinon. More than any of the films of the cinéma du look, La Lune dans le caniveau exemplifies the characteristics Bassan enumerates: a mise en scène, which privileges exuberance, light, movement, especially the curves and curls of the camera, and an emphasis on sensation. Bereavement after IP5 turned Beineix away from feature filmmaking, despite several propositions from American producers, Alien Resurrection and The Avengers among them.

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Will Higbee

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. (This trend would seem to be continuing with Kassovitz’s current project, an ambitious, French-produced, English-language sciencefiction film entitled Babylon AD , due to be shot in 2006.) Nevertheless, in both phases of his

in Mathieu Kassovitz
Abstract only
Phil Powrie

especially youth audiences. Vincendeau defined the films made by Beineix and others as ‘youth-oriented films with high production values …. The “look” of the cinéma du look refers to the films’ high investment in non-naturalistic, self-conscious aesthetics, notably intense colours and lighting effects. Their spectacular (studio-based) and technically brilliant mise-en-scène is usually put to the service of

in Jean-Jacques Beineix
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Phil Powrie

heterogeneous in appearance, nevertheless have themes and styles in common which suggest the worldview of an auteur. It is a presumption which is peculiarly problematic in the case of Beineix. The auteur and his signature It is likely that for the youth audiences of the cinéma du look , the notion of the auteur played little part in their appreciation of Beineix’s films, as the difference in audience figures

in Jean-Jacques Beineix
From Le Thé au harem d’Archimède to Cheb
Carrie Tarr

two small boys to plan their ‘return’ to Algeria, a theme which he was to rework in Cheb . He was able to get the avance sur recettes for his screenplay for Baton Rouge , largely because of the prior box-office success of Bahloul’s Le Thé à la menthe . Baton Rouge , even more than Le Thé à la menthe and Le Thé au harem , plays to a crossover (male) youth audience for whom ethnic difference is represented as unproblematic. It is the

in Reframing difference
Constructing the televisual pop community in the GDR
Edward Larkey

Popular music in the GDR was always subject to intense political scrutiny so that Western influences, if they could not be prevented altogether, would at least be incorporated into discursive structures approved by the socialist state. This was particularly evident in pop music programmes on GDR television. Closely analysing the content and aesthetics of programmes from 1969, 1974 and 1983, this chapter assesses their address to youth audiences and shows how attempts to construct musical alternatives to capitalist pop music gradually gave way to musical and presentational forms more closely resembling their Western counterparts, even embracing mild nods toward criticism and rebelliousness. He maps these developments against changes in GDR cultural policies towards both television and popular music.

in Popular television in authoritarian Europe
Abstract only
Will Higbee

explores some of the socio-political realities affecting contemporary French society (racism, exclusion and violence) by presenting them in a cinematic vernacular that a youth audience can understand and engage with. And while his two most recent features interface more directly (and in some ways disappointingly) with Hollywood genre cinema, all his films display an affnity with an Americanised mass

in Mathieu Kassovitz
Will Higbee

, integration and national identity remained (as in the 1980s) key and often controversial subjects in French politics and the media. Their prominence in Kassovitz’s cinema can also be explained by the young director’s immersion in French hip-hop culture, with its strong anti-racist stance and emphasis on the alliance of a multi-ethnic youth audience – which itself reflects the extensive involvement of French

in Mathieu Kassovitz
Will Higbee

in excess of the meagre budgets with which he was working, are indicative of a new type of director. Moreover, by approaching controversial social subject matter in a way that replaced the more muted naturalism traditionally associated with French social realism with a visual style and thematic concerns that acknowledged the demands and tastes of a youth audience, Kassovitz determined the approach that

in Mathieu Kassovitz