RIP Jean-Jacques Beineix 8 October 1946 - 13 January 2022
January 14, 2022 4:45 PM   Subscribe

Jean-Jacques Beineix, stylish French film director, passed away at home in Paris on 13 January 2022 after a long illness.

Jean-Jacques Beineix ([bɛnɛks]; 8 October 1946 – 13 January 2022) was a French film director whose work is often seen as a prime example of the so-called cinéma du look. Film critic Ginette Vincendeau has 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 romantic plots." The cinéma du look also included the films of Luc Besson and Léos Carax. Besson, like Beineix, was much maligned by film critics during the 1980s, while Carax was much admired. In late 2006, Beineix published a first volume of his autobiography, Les Chantiers de la gloire (in French only). The title alluded to the French title of Stanley Kubrick's film Les Sentiers de la gloire (Paths of Glory).



His two most famous films outside of France are Diva and Betty Blue.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic (21 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

You can’t get much more French than being an Assistant Director for Jerry Lewis.
posted by skyscraper at 6:22 PM on January 14 [5 favorites]


By coincidence I recently watched "Diva" which is truly strange, sometimes beautiful, inappropriately erotic, always surprising, and completely, totally, French. I don't know if his other films are any good, but we should all hope to have left something so impressive behind us.
posted by dis_integration at 6:27 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


I was knocked back on my heels by the tragedy of 37° 2 le matin (Betty Blue) at the rep cinema back in the day.
posted by fairmettle at 8:02 PM on January 14 [4 favorites]

Was Diva the film with the henchman who had headphones, but was listening to classical music? Saw that in Paris, with a bunch of young french people. My French wasn't good enough for me to understand most of what was happening...

posted by Windopaene at 8:13 PM on January 14 [3 favorites]

Windopaene, yes, it was. Here is the trailer.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 8:23 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]

MetaFilter: truly strange, sometimes beautiful, inappropriately erotic, always surprising, and completely, totally, _________
posted by hippybear at 8:38 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]

I was just one year out of design school when Diva premiered and I think I saw it in theaters at least three times. The idea that the only thing that mattered was "the look" was a thrilling confirmation -- for the moment, at least -- that I had chosen the right profession.
posted by How the runs scored at 9:35 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]

Diva - so cool Zen and the Art of Tartine Butterance. Chapeaux! 🎩
posted by BobTheScientist at 12:07 AM on January 15 [2 favorites]

Was Diva the film with the henchman who had headphones, but was listening to classical music?

That wasn’t classical; it was Bal-musette! The actor is the prolific and memorable Dominique Pinon.

Diva meant a lot to me; enough that I dug up English translations of the novel series on which it was based. Literally every good part was added for the movie. An amazing film — glorious surface with a rancid, troubling heart. Hats off to Mr. Beineix. I’m surprised he was not more prolific.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:26 AM on January 15 [4 favorites]

Diva is my absolute favorite movie. When the woman stepped off the commuter train in a wrapper and barefoot, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I bought the soundtrack. I read the novel (basic and terrible; the screenwriter was a genius). I cut up onions wearing a mask and snorkel (not really) but I still really want a sofa made out of a car bench seats. So I was super excited to see Betty Blue. Turned out to be absolutely the worst movie ever made. How does that happen?
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:15 AM on January 15 [4 favorites]

I don't like it.
posted by Brachinus at 6:26 AM on January 15 [2 favorites]

That wasn’t classical; it was Bal-musette!

And an ironic counterpoint to the music listened to by Jules.

For the longest time I thought 'Diva' was a Luc-Besson film, particularly after watching 'La Femme Nikita' for the first time. It also didn't help my confusion that the actor who plays Nikita's boyfriend, Marco, is the same actor who played Betty's partner, Zorg, in 'Betty Blue.'

(Oh, and there's a Zorg in 'Fifth Element' but that's just got to be a sort of random connection, no?)
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 7:24 AM on January 15 [5 favorites]

posted by SageLeVoid at 8:51 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]

Diva was such an influence. Who didn’t want to live in a lighthouse and talk about the importance of baguette?! Betty Blue was amazing and heartbreaking.
posted by misterpatrick at 10:34 AM on January 15 [2 favorites]

I had massive issues with Betty Blue, but Diva, oh Diva! What a movie. I played the videotape I had into oblivion, and I'm fairly sure I saw it in a theatre at least half a dozen times. Beineix was definitely a master stylist and I wanted so badly to live in the world he created there.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 11:20 AM on January 15 [3 favorites]

Diva meant a lot to me in the 1980s. Like others here, I watched it repeatedly. And Pinon's snarled "Je n'aime pas" became a running joke in our family.
TWinbrook8, whenever I cut onions and my eyes start to tear up, I flash back on the snorkel scene.

In the Ann Arbor bookstore where I worked I played an old audiotape of the soundtrack again and again, for pleasant bibliophilic ambience.
posted by doctornemo at 1:00 PM on January 15 [2 favorites]

from the Guardian obit:

Diva heralded the arrival of a flashy mode of film-making later termed “cinéma du look”. Reaction to the movie from French critics, however, was hostile. “I thought I had made two films for the price of one,” the director said in 2009. “My first and my last.”

His producers were reluctant to submit Diva to the Toronto film festival, fearing that international exposure would further harm the movie’s reputation. “What damage can we do to this picture?” asked Beineix. “We’re already dead!” Stepping off the plane in Toronto, he went straight to the cinema where he found a standing ovation underway. “I thought, ‘Something’s wrong. I’m in another dimension.’”

The film was acclaimed by international critics. David Denby in New York magazine praised its “rapturous pop beauty” and likened Beineix to Steven Spielberg and Brian De Palma.

half a world away from Paris, Diva most definitely hit with my crowd of young wannabe filmmakers. It spoke rapturously of a cinema that could be both rapturously stylish and manage to tell something of a compelling story -- rather like Alfred Hitchcock updated for the now. I'm sure I paid to see in the theatre at least three times. Can't say I've felt compelled to revisit it though, which is beside the point. It mattered at the time which is more than I can say for most of the big deal North American releases of 1982-83.
posted by philip-random at 9:31 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]

Around that time was the apotheosis of... I'd hate to call them cult films (though most people do), but they'd turn up at the end of Barry Norman's Film 8X review programme, and look amazing, and I'd just have to find some way to see them (not as easy in those days as it usually involved a trip to London). Diva was definitely one of those films, and I even remember the clip they showed (the murder at the fairground), I was seventeen or eighteen and I was just as swept up by it as it seems everyone else was. After I was able to get it on video, I watched it over and over. I can possible quote stretches of the dialogue, despite the fact that I don't speak French.

I never did get round to seeing Betty Blue (which seemed to be too much about overwrought relationships, which I wasn't in a position to know much about, and I was much more interested in bootlegging), or, indeed, anything else he made, but Diva came at just the right moment for me. Later, The Draughtsman's Contract, Repo Man, Caravaggio and all the rest of my movie obsessions, but first there was Diva.
posted by Grangousier at 2:15 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]

Diva was absolutely formative for me, and why I drove Citroëns as daily drivers for years in a country where that is not an easy thing.
posted by sonascope at 5:00 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]

Later, The Draughtsman's Contract, Repo Man, Caravaggio...

And 'Aria' and 'Liquid Sky'...
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 9:23 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]

'Diva' & 'Betty Blue' are the famous ones, he followed 'Diva' with 'Moon in the Gutter', which was controversial and kinda awful but with some interesting moments. 'IP5' is worth a look.

'Roselyne and the Lions' is about a circus lion-tamer. Documentary style, and recommended if you just like watching camera footage of humans and big cats working together. In that respect, it's excellent.
posted by ovvl at 5:26 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]

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