Real Cinephiles Prefer Reading "Cahiers du Cinema" to Going to the Movies:
December 5, 2001 8:51 PM   Subscribe

Real Cinephiles Prefer Reading "Cahiers du Cinema" to Going to the Movies: I stopped reading Cahiers du Cinema - the famously dogmatic French film journal where Godard, Truffaut, Resnais and Rohmer cut their teeth - a few years ago, when it got too arty-farty for its own good. Well, it's slowly becoming essential again. Their website is trés chic, intelectually challenging and a welcome antidote to the usual online movie-reviewing clowns. Or is it still a load of pretentious rubbish? (In French, but with a lovely intro, lots of cool stills and a Quicktime interview, in English, with underrated director Paul Verhoeven)
posted by MiguelCardoso (22 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Thanks for giving me a heart attack. You took me all the way back to French 1 and my very first "Cahier d'Exercises."
posted by scarabic at 9:13 PM on December 5, 2001

I don't know how much I _like_ admitting the title is true, but, sadly, I usually prefer reading the local arty-farty reviewer to leaving the house to take in an actual flick. The link does make the few remaining neurons-francais want a workout, though. (And what's the American Pie 2 review doing up there?) Tout a fait pretentieux, et je l'adore.

posted by apostasy at 9:29 PM on December 5, 2001

Maybe you should also read Film Comment and the Village Voice's film section.
posted by panopticon at 9:47 PM on December 5, 2001

Cahiers du Cinema has gotten too strange, Goddard is really a bit of a buffoon, sort of like the fictional Baldwin, remember when he threatened to go to France? Was it ever sorted out? I think he denied the whole thing, anyway. The website I don't like, too much flash and video, not everyone has broadband connections, even though I do, it's still very annoying. Just horrible.

The alternative is senses of cinema, a online journal that usually attracts opinions that are not different from mine. Current issuing talks about Max Ophuls, Tsui Hark's hilariously wacky Time and Tide and Abbas Kiarostami among other things. All the pages are html, formatted on white backgrounds with black text, are easy to navigate and load in seconds.

Village Voice's film section required some thinking, some reviewers are real nutty, while others are great. Edit. They voted that SAFE was best film of the decade.
posted by tiaka at 9:50 PM on December 5, 2001

I've always been irritated by the Voice's habit of using the titles of other movies as headlines for its movie reviews.

Regarding French cinema: as much as I love New York City, Paris has got us beat. There's like 300 movies showing in Paris during any given week. Three hundred. New York has fewer than 40, normally.
posted by Mo Nickels at 10:10 PM on December 5, 2001

Um, Miguel


it's Artsy-Fartsy!

posted by y2karl at 10:32 PM on December 5, 2001

at least according to my information on proper idomatic usage...
posted by y2karl at 10:34 PM on December 5, 2001

Hey blokes! I read French, it's my mother tongue, and I love cinema, too. Les Cahiers du Cinéma are more intellectual than artsy-fartsy to me. I don't believe you can approve or disapprove of a magazine or critic in an absolute, objective way. It's more a question of getting to know a critic (or a bunch of critics) with whom you share a common ground, then deciphering their jargon.

Anyway, I see a lot more movies than I read movie reviews, but when I need info to pick films for an upcoming festival, I ask my ex-flatmate, who relies heavily on Les Cahiers and Les Inrockuptibles. I'm rarely disappointed. Besides, how can a movie magazine be wrong when it consistently places Clint Eastwood movies in its Top Ten of The Year?
posted by qbert72 at 11:18 PM on December 5, 2001

The Cahiers site is like an online coffee-table book. The early Cahiers stuff was so damn inspiring; now it's just elegant criticism. But I appreciate the links. How's about a Godard resource, some Godard quotes, and an André Bazin tribute site, while we're in the (artsy-fartsy) neighborhood.
posted by liam at 11:22 PM on December 5, 2001

Music in the café? The soundtracks to Truffaut's films can be listened to at this French site, if you click on "musique" and scroll down.
posted by liam at 11:48 PM on December 5, 2001

Um, Miguel


it's Artsy-Fartsy!

Not in the UK, where Miguel spent his formative years.
posted by Summer at 3:08 AM on December 6, 2001

You all lose, b-fatt and lazy's reviews rule.
posted by cps at 3:14 AM on December 6, 2001

Personally, I prefer Cashiers Du Cinemart. Much less pretentious...
posted by ph00dz at 5:35 AM on December 6, 2001

Oh, for the innocent days of movie magazines!
posted by Carol Anne at 6:29 AM on December 6, 2001

"I think there is a very good film critic in the United States today, a successor of James Agee, and that is Jonathan Rosenbaum. He's one of the best; we don't have writers like him in France today. He's like Andre Bazin." -- godard :)

i think harvey s. karten and james berardinelli also write good reviews.
posted by kliuless at 7:13 AM on December 6, 2001

It's all about the Filthy Critic. He's letting those grass******* in Hollywood know what time it is. (It's time, for the curious, for less mediocre hogswallop.)
posted by haqspan at 7:21 AM on December 6, 2001

Thanks, Carol Anne! And thank you, kliuless. I love Rosenbaum but hadn't heard of the other two. I'm checking them out today.
Also Film Quarterly is subscription-only, though it is online. Positif, the slightly down-market version of Cahiers, though more fun, has an even crappier subscription-seeking website.
My favourite American critic, who just about singled-handedly championed the Cahiers's "auteur theory" in the U.S., is still Andrew Sarris. Stanley Kauffman, from the New Republic and Anthony Lane, in The New Yorker, are more entertaining, but not as useful.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:33 AM on December 6, 2001

his formative years

And oh what years they must have been....

I second MC's praise for/comment on Anthony Lane. I love reading his reviews, especially when it's a movie neither he nor I could care less about -- he just has so much fun tearing them apart....
posted by mattpfeff at 8:04 AM on December 6, 2001

Miguel, please. Underrated director Paul Verhoeven? It's pretty hard to underate Basic Instinct, Show Girls, Starship Troopers and the truly execrable Hollow Man, which could have been a great movie, IMO.
posted by Lynsey at 9:17 AM on December 6, 2001

Lynsey: I haven't seen Hollow Man(the Cahiers review put me off...) but I love Starship Troopers(Sight and Sound did too and put in on their cover); Robocop and Total Recall. With Basic Instinct(not a bad movie)and Show Girls(not as bad as all that, though admittedly a failure)I think he was misled by Joe Esterhazy's screenplay and countless anonymous studio executives. That's three brilliant films, in my book.
In any case, he's so despised in America that "underrated" is correct.
The interview on the Cahiers website is illuminating, as the French guy gives him hell but he pulls through. He's a mathematician and an intellectual, interested in the cinematic action equation. His films make one think, they're all tongue-in-cheek and his narrative-driven editing is wonderful.

Either that or we Euro-trash are making the Jerry Lewis mistake again. Not! In any case, if you say Hollow Man could have been great, that's it, I'm renting it tomorrow!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:46 AM on December 6, 2001

i heard somewhere he wanted to do a movie about christ!
posted by kliuless at 12:24 PM on December 6, 2001

Well, I don't see enough movies to make any informed remarks but I have seen Soldier of Orange , a wonderful World War II movie (which is where I first encountered Rutguer Hauer), and Spetters, a neorealist, I guess you would say, contemporary (for 1980) slice-of-young-life film, both in the original Dutch and both have stuck with me to this day: Soldier of Orange for the acting and total grimness (it's based on the memoirs of a Dutch war hero)--realistic carnage 20 years before Saving Private Ryan--and Spetters for it's funny and tragic scenes in alteration. As for the five mentioned just above by Miguel, well, I've seen three, all the sci-fi ones... and have mixed feelings about all. But on the basis of the first two I saw, I concur with Miguel's estimation of Mr. Verhoeven. If you recall scenes from a movie every other day or so after twenty years, somebody was doing something right.
posted by y2karl at 3:06 PM on December 6, 2001

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