Volume 12, Issue 8 / August 2008

French Cinema

For this issue Offscreen casts its eyes on French cinema, both new and old. Perhaps no single figure best represents the grand heights that French cinema scaled than director Jean Renoir, whose long career spanned from the silent period to well after post-World War 2. Though strongly identified with France, Renoir also made films in India and the United States. Daniel Garrett takes on a trio of items on the great French filmmaker Jean Renoir, a commentary on his 1939 classic The Rules of the Game, and two books, a collection of interviews and a section of a book detailing Pauline Kael’s appreciation of Renoir. Around the time when Renoir was ending his career a young actress burst onto the scene and soon established herself as one of the most glamorous, intelligent, and versatile French actresses, Catherine Deneuve. Garrett reviews a recent book by Deneuve, tantalizingly titled Close Up and Personal: The Private Diaries of Catherine Deneuve, alongside a general survey of 24 key French films, The Cinema of France, edited by Phil Powrie. Totaro tackles a single film, the uncompromising horror film A l’intérieur (2007, Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury), as representative of the recent rebirth of French horror cinema. Author Jason Mark Scott returns to Offscreen with an essay on a film, Le Mepris, by another giant of French cinema, Jean-Luc Godard. Scott offers an analysis arguing for Le Mepris as one of Godard’s most ‘emotionally’ engaged works which uses the art of filmmaking and cinephilia to comment on marital breakdown and, in the process, prefiguring Laura Mulvey’s seminal thoughts on the male gaze first articulated in her groundbreaking essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” In tribute to the recently deceased (February 18, 2008) Alain Robbe-Grillet, Offscreen concludes this special issue with the personal account of a young film scholar, Simon Laperrièrie’s, double encounter with Robbe-Grillet the writer/novelist/filmmaker and Robbe-Grillet the person. (Donato Totaro, ed.)

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