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Italy Rising, France Falling?

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St. Gloede
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Italy Rising, France Falling?

#1

Post by St. Gloede » June 29th, 2020, 12:04 pm

Hi all,

I was wondering what your impressions are of the developing trends and directors from Italy and France.

The former has usually been seen as a horror story for cinematic powerhouses, once at the forefront of all things cinema, then, decades of near-silence, while France, though arguably declining in overall talent, has consistently been popular with critics and maintained its status as one of the key cinema nations to this day.

But is that changing.

Outside of Céline Sciamma who are the younger master directors/critical darlings working in France today? Perhaps a few directors in their mid-to late-50s like Gaspar Noé, Alain Guiraudie, Arnaud Desplechin, etc. could still count, but that's a stretch.

Italy might not be looking spectacular at the moment, but an increasing amount of younger talent has actually started to make an impression. The most obvious of course being Paolo Sorrentino (albeit he just turned 50), but in the last few years we have also seen Alice Rohrwacher breakthrough with the spectacular Happy as Lazzaro (her two previous films also got some critical attention), while Pietro Marcello already has a film all the way up in Sight & Sounds' top 250 greatest films of all time (The Mouth of the Wolf) and just released the incredible Martin Eden last year (Marcello can also be argued to have one of the most interesting visual styles of today's auteured, the slightly saturated look making his frames often feel similar to paintings, and drawing in stock footage for visual poetry).

These are obviously very small examples, but could there be an argument made that things may just be changing ever so slightly - or is there a lot I have missed?

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#2

Post by cinephage » June 29th, 2020, 1:23 pm

I can give you a few names of young french directors you didn't mention, and that are considered as interesting by the french critics... You may want to have a look at their pictures :

- Quentin Dupieux (Rubber, Realite, le daim...)
- Bertrand Mandico (Les garçons sauvages, and many short films)
- Clement Cogitore (Ni le ciel ni la terre)
- Antonin Peretjatko (La fille du 14 juillet, la loi de la jungle)
- Guillaume Brac (Contes de juillet, Tonnerre, un monde sans femmes)
- Emmanuelle Bercot (La fille de Brest, la tête haute)
- Mikael Hers (Amanda, Ce sentiment de l'été)
- Yann Gonzalez (un couteau dans le coeur, les rencontres d'après minuit)
- Xavier Legrand (jusqu'à la garde), Lea Feher (Les ogres), Ladj Ly (les miserables) & Julia Ducournau (grave) only did 1 film, so it's too early to tell, but they certainly made an impression.

I guess you knowingly left aside Abdellatif Kechiche, François Ozon, Jacques Audiard, Bertrand Bonello and Christophe Honore...

I feel the french critics' influence has tremendously declined over the last decade, and that nobody reads the Cahiers anymore. Also, the directors from the Nouvelle Vague are either dead or retired, so as far as the current situation is concerned, this is a balancing trend, putting France back in its place, as a big country for cinema, but not as big as it was for a short period. I don't feel this has especially to do with Italy, as many other countries are also showing new talent.

However, France still exerts a huge weight in worldwide production, especially in auteur cinema. Many major directors from many various nationalities are happy to be able to count on french funding.

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#3

Post by brokenface » June 29th, 2020, 1:26 pm

I guess you're looking at directors aged in their 40s and under.

France could also list Mia Hansen-Love with Sciamma. Plus I'm sure they would point to people like Mati Diop and Ladj Ly who had debut films that did really well at Cannes last year. Early days for them.

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#4

Post by St. Gloede » June 29th, 2020, 3:51 pm

cinephage wrote:
June 29th, 2020, 1:23 pm
I can give you a few names of young french directors you didn't mention, and that are considered as interesting by the french critics... You may want to have a look at their pictures :

- Quentin Dupieux (Rubber, Realite, le daim...)
- Bertrand Mandico (Les garçons sauvages, and many short films)
- Clement Cogitore (Ni le ciel ni la terre)
- Antonin Peretjatko (La fille du 14 juillet, la loi de la jungle)
- Guillaume Brac (Contes de juillet, Tonnerre, un monde sans femmes)
- Emmanuelle Bercot (La fille de Brest, la tête haute)
- Mikael Hers (Amanda, Ce sentiment de l'été)
- Yann Gonzalez (un couteau dans le coeur, les rencontres d'après minuit)
- Xavier Legrand (jusqu'à la garde), Lea Feher (Les ogres), Ladj Ly (les miserables) & Julia Ducournau (grave) only did 1 film, so it's too early to tell, but they certainly made an impression.

I guess you knowingly left aside Abdellatif Kechiche, François Ozon, Jacques Audiard, Bertrand Bonello and Christophe Honore...

I feel the french critics' influence has tremendously declined over the last decade, and that nobody reads the Cahiers anymore. Also, the directors from the Nouvelle Vague are either dead or retired, so as far as the current situation is concerned, this is a balancing trend, putting France back in its place, as a big country for cinema, but not as big as it was for a short period. I don't feel this has especially to do with Italy, as many other countries are also showing new talent.

However, France still exerts a huge weight in worldwide production, especially in auteur cinema. Many major directors from many various nationalities are happy to be able to count on french funding.
Thank you so much for the list, incredibly helpful. Not seen anything from the majority of the names (only one I have seen more than one from is Quentin Dupieux), and will add their major work to my watchlist. I have been meaning to watch Les garçons sauvages forever ... I need to just sit down and do that as it looks fantastic.

I should have included Bonnello in the appendix as he's the youngest of the directors in their 50s :lol: and he got a later start so he is still fairly "fresh", Abdellatif Kechiche is turning 60, but he did have his debut in 2000 so it does depend a little of how we count and where we start counting from (i.e. age, time active, time since breakout, etc.)

Interesting note that it may in part be due to the critics losing favour. I definitely agree with the other major reason you pointed out (new wavers dying) as, at least personally, they were still the main people producing fantastic French films in the 70s, 80s, 90s, and even 00s and to some extent the 10s (Faces Places is my favourite French film of the last decade), and the slow drop-off really overlaps with what I view as the decline - even though several great directors had followed their trace long term feels smaller.

It is a little sad if France settles into just being a larger cinema nation, but I suppose you can't always be on or close to the top (which I would argue you were all the way from the 30s to late).

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#5

Post by St. Gloede » June 29th, 2020, 3:51 pm

Would love a similar list for Italy if anyone has one.

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#6

Post by brokenface » June 29th, 2020, 4:06 pm

Italy you could add Luca Guadagnino, Gianfranco Rosi and Matteo Garrone as some of their bigger current names though they Sorrentino's generation.

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#7

Post by Lilarcor » June 29th, 2020, 4:09 pm

Another French debut I was really impressed with last year in addition to the already mentioned Mati Diop and Ladj Ly was Hafsia Herzi's You Deserve a Lover. French cinema is thriving I think and the future is bright. Not seen enough from young Italian directors to really make a point there, but it's certainly not bad either.

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#8

Post by hurluberlu » June 29th, 2020, 7:55 pm

Nah, not really.

I mean you could argue they are both in decline since their 50s/60s/New wave grandeur if you want but Italy is now far behind and nowhere near to catch up. France has a much better system to incentivize creation and faciliate distibution of auteurs. Italy young cinema has fallen into the commercial bias of pure entertainment with primarily comedy and action. Documentary is maybe a genre where they still shine.

Pietro Marcello's Martin Eden is good but all relying on Jack London's story and Luca Marinelli's acting talent (Italy still does have amazing actors and actresses).
To the big names you mention and still relatively young I would add maybe Jonas Carpignano.

For France all Cinephage + Léonor Serraille + Rebecca Zlotowski + Justine Triet + Nicolas Pariser...
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#9

Post by St. Gloede » June 29th, 2020, 8:59 pm

It would be so fantastic if all of these new debuters transform the landscape. I was getting a little worried as Sciamma seems to be the only one on the path to making any kind of all-time great/master status.

Which is really slim for the previous generation as well, judging based on TSPDT (not the most reliable on directors I suppose), there are only 6 post-new wave generation directors on the list, half of which debuted in the 60s (Eustache*, Garrel, Pialat), two in the 80s (Carax, Denis) and one in the 90s (Gondry) - *Eustache feature debut was in '66 which arguably makes him a new wave contemporary - *I did not count Akerman, as she is Belgian, but her key early films were primarily French - she debuted in the 70s.

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#10

Post by St. Gloede » June 29th, 2020, 9:13 pm

hurluberlu wrote:
June 29th, 2020, 7:55 pm
Nah, not really.

I mean you could argue they are both in decline since their 50s/60s/New wave grandeur if you want but Italy is now far behind and nowhere near to catch up. France has a much better system to incentivize creation and faciliate distibution of auteurs. Italy young cinema has fallen into the commercial bias of pure entertainment with primarily comedy and action. Documentary is maybe a genre where they still shine.

Pietro Marcello's Martin Eden is good but all relying on Jack London's story and Luca Marinelli's acting talent (Italy still does have amazing actors and actresses).
To the big names you mention and still relatively young I would add maybe Jonas Carpignano.

For France all Cinephage + Léonor Serraille + Rebecca Zlotowski + Justine Triet + Nicolas Pariser...
I would agree there. The only way Italy could actually "catch up" at this point is if France consistently kept falling, with fewer and fewer directors replacing the older guard - though I am a little hopeful that we'll start seeing more interesting films coming out of Italy again.

I do disagree re: Martin Eden - While certainly utilizing the story, I would say it is Marcello's style that truly makes it shine - the saturated, slightly aged look and mix of stock footage and colours makes it a visually poetic experience while also adding a Brecthian lense, making us more aware and critical of what we are watching. I watched Marcello's 4 films leading up to Marin Eden over the last 2 days (part of what inspired this thread) and he is clearly building on this mix of fiction, reality and poetry from film to film - which makes me quite excited of where he will take it.

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