Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Times on French Film

Michael Kimmelman in the Times today gives a pretty fair survey of recent trends in French film. Ignore the title, which is a little overdrawn, and get on with the substance of the piece, which is fairly decent and, for once, turns to an authentic expert, Antoine de Baecque, who knows cinema, rather than Bernard-Henri Lévy, who made what has been called the worst French film ever and therefore might have been expected, given the Times' usual preferences, to have been presented as the country's foremost authority on cinema as well as everything else.

2 comments:

Mikolka said...

Thank you for the link. The article is very interesting.

Anonymous said...

The author is ignoring large portions of French cinema. He's focusing on a few examples that support his point of view, that France doesn’t like to look in the mirror as Abdel Raouf Dafri puts it, while ignoring contrary evidence. In all, I think the article is quite unfair.

M. Kimmelman makes it sound as if "American blockbusters" were used to finance French cinema. (Boring nostalgic music hall stories and harmless comedies, that is.) In fact there is a tax on movie tickets, the CNC is withholding a percentage of ticket sales for any movie.

Believe it or not, it's possible to make a film skewering a sitting French president, isn't that what the documentary "Dans la peau de Jacques Chirac" (M. Royer, K. Zéro) was about?

It's not like "La Haine" is the only French movie about violence and les banlieues. From the top of my head: "Wesh wesh, qu'est-ce qui se passe?" (R. Ameur Zaïmeche), "Ma 6-T va cracker" (J-F Richet), "Raï" (T. Gilou), "La Squale" (F. Genestal)…

Not everything's hunky-dory and movies depicting the Algerian war of independence have been censored in the 1960's, that's absolutely true. Yet, movies dealing with colonial wars —including torture, etc— are not that rare: "L'Honneur d'un capitaine", "Le Crabe-tambour" (both directed by P. Schoendoerffer), "Avoir vingt ans dans les Aurès" (R. Vautier), "La Question" (L. Heynemann), "Mon Colonel" (L. Herbiet)… Movies dealing with WWII are not rare either, and I'm not talking about the flag-waving kind: from "La Traversée de Paris" (C. Autant-Lara) to "Uranus" (C. Berri)…

The paragraph about "Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis" is kinda odd. How could one ignore that Kaddour Merad is of North African descent? It doesn't sound to me like the typical French name (aka Jean-Pierre Dupont).

Besides, I don't understand why Kimmelman is focusing on French cinema. This is not the only way to deal with colonial wars and la banlieue. What about other forms of storytelling, and essays, etc?

If I had to summerize the article, I'd say: American culture is soooo superior to anything else, especially French culture. If you're a serious-minded American, please stop wasting your time with French culture. (Angrily waves fist at the French.)

It's not like French cinema, or society for that matter, is the be-all end-all. But, come on…