08 juin 2011

French critics legacy 5

"D. W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Carl Theodor Dreyer, and Sergei Eisenstein are artistic peers, regardless of the differences in their cultural heritage and context, and one of the great discoveries made by critics—the young French writers at Cahiers du Cinéma in the nineteen-fifties, the inventors and advocates of the politique des auteurs (or “auteur theory”) who are now better known as the filmmakers of the French New Wave—is the recognition that some of cinema’s most popular latter-day artists, such as Alfred Hitchcock and Howard Hawks, are not merely skillful showmen but classical artists, akin to the writers and painters of the grand tradition, despite working in popular styles and genres in the employ of a mass-media industry. [..]
Here’s André Bazin, from one of his last articles, “Réflexions sur la critique” (Reflections on Criticism), from 1958 (he died in November of that year); as the editor of Cahiers du Cinéma, he was something of a godfather to the young auteurist critics, with whom he disagreed—in print; here, he once again voiced his disagreement with them, but now that they had begun to make their passage to filmmaking, he concluded with a grand tribute to their way of writing, praising them for “sketching in advance the image of the ideal cinema that they hope to realize one day”:
To be sure, their criticism is narrow, even unfair, but the narrowness of their angle of reflection often makes it penetrate farther into the intelligence of its object than does objective criticism…. Truth in criticism isn’t defined by who-knows-what measurable and objective exactness, but, first, by the intellectual excitement unleashed in the reader: its quality and its amplitude. The function of criticism isn’t to bear on a silver platter a truth that doesn’t exist, but to prolong, as far as possible, in the intelligence and the sensibility of those who read it, the shock of the work of art."
The Pleasure Principle, Richard Brody (The New Yorker, 3 May 2011)
Then he also wrote:
"For decades, the revival and repertory scene in Paris was something for even us New Yorkers to envy. I’m not sure it’s actually better anymore—depends on the week—but there’s an event underway there now, one that started at the Festival of Asian Cinema in Deauville and is continuing in Paris at the historical capital of cinephilia, the Cinémathèque Française, that movie-lovers around the world should be coveting for their home cities: a retrospective of the films of the Korean director Hong Sang-soo. To up the ante, it’s taking place in conjunction with the French release of his extraordinary new film, “Ha Ha Ha” (it screened once at the Museum of the Moving Image a few weeks ago)"
Hong Sang-soo in France, Richard Brody (The New Yorker, 17 March 2011)
As if a NewYorker was in a position to criticize the offering of Parisian screens (See: Pariscope 2009!), when Americans come to Paris to watch Classic Hollywood flicks that are no longer screened at home, when non-American art films get a pity one-off screening in NYC, for the entire population of America (i.e. Sokurov's The Sun, Alamar, Le Quattro volte... amongst many others) at the Lincoln Center or The Film Forum because commercial arthouses (let alone multiplexes) don't want them! 
Come on, find something else to patronize France about. Paris (even regional France) is not so cheap with the best auteurs World cinema has to offer. At least we screen them to the public at large! not just in festival and cinemathèques, not just to press screenings, not just in our capital city.


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