4 items from 2010
It seems strange that it's taken this long for Claire Denis and Isabelle Huppert to work together on a film, but whatever the reason, it was worth the wait. Denis's "White Material," featuring the legendary actress as a white African farmer who insists on staying in her home even though her war-torn country is descending into madness and bloodshed, offers the director yet another opportunity to display her beguiling style, with its patented mix of intense physicality and ethereal stylization. And who better than the amazing Huppert, the thinking man's goddess of the arthouse corporeal, to help bring this vision to fruition? It's a performance that relies more on movement and gesture than it does on dialogue and story. Huppert brings an intangible humanity to this character - despite the film's elliptical style, we're riveted by this woman's onscreen ordeal. The result is one of the actress's greatest parts - saying quite a bit, »
- Bilge Ebiri
Prolific French director of films with murder at their heart
The film director Claude Chabrol, who has died aged 80, created the first ripple of the French new wave with his first feature, Le Beau Serge (1958). Unlike some of his other critic colleagues on the influential journal Cahiers du Cinéma, who also became film-makers, Chabrol was perfectly happy in the mainstream. Along with Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Eric Rohmer and Jacques Rivette, he paid serious attention to Hollywood studio contract directors who retained their artistic personalities through good and bad films, thus formulating what came to be known as the "auteur theory".
In 1957, he and Rohmer wrote a short book on Alfred Hitchcock, whom they saw as a Catholic moralist. Hitchcock's black humour and fascination with guilt pervades the majority of Chabrol's films, most of which have murder at their heart. However, although Chabrol's thematic allegiance to Hitchcock remained intact, his »
- Ronald Bergan
The French New Wave veteran has died aged 80. We look back over his career with a selection of clips from his films
Along with François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol ushered in the New Wave that washed over French cinema at the end of the 1950s. Like them a critic turned filmmaker, Chabrol shared their appreciation of classical genre form – to some, he appreciated it too much, exploring rather than subverting its strictures. But his prodigious output and technical mastery assure his place as one of the great figures of cinema's first century.
Born in 1930 to a middle-class family, Chabrol studied law before joining Godard, Truffaut, Eric Rohmer and Jacques Rivette in making Cahiers du Cinema, the epicentre of auteurist celebration of 'low' Hollywood. In 1957, he and Rohmer published their influential study of Hitchcock – a director who would have an enduring influence on Chabrol's work behind the camera – and, »
- Ben Walters
Peter Bradshaw on the French New Wave figure who out-Hitchcocked Hitchcock with his hypocrisy-exposing suspense thrillers
For 30 years after the death of Alfred Hitchcock, the French film-maker Claude Chabrol near single-handedly kept alive a genre that without him might have become a museum piece, like the musical or the western: the icily elegant suspense thriller. The existence of these tense dramas depended largely on a strict set of social codes, a strong sense of order and a buttoned-up bourgeois society within which the idea of crime is unthinkable.
Yet the genre's dramatic charge depends not merely on the chill of transgression, but on the realisation that with sufficient ruthlessness, or ingenuity, or social privilege, some crime or psychopathic outrage might be concealed and fester, unseen, for ever.
Perhaps it is telling that Hitchcock was an Englishman; Chabrol found something in French society that was highly congenial to the suspense genre, »
- Peter Bradshaw
4 items from 2010
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