Stanley Kauffmann on Films: French Accents
May 04, 2012
Goodbye First Love Elles Monsieur Lazhar First love, a term that often has a touch of the patronizing, is a moving truth in a new French film called Goodbye First Love. The writer-director, Mia Hansen-Løve, whose third feature this is, has addressed her subject with complete emotional confidence. She knows how it is often “understood” and disprized; she also wants us to see some aftereffects. Camille is a fifteen-year-old student in Paris when we first see her—nude, as her beloved boyfriend, the nineteen-year-old Sullivan, pulls the covers off her.
If the latest polls—and the accompanying press coverage—are to be believed, Nicolas Sarkozy's time as president of France will soon come to an end. In the all-important run-off election scheduled for May 6, most believe the incumbent will lose to his Socialist challenger, François Hollande. This is a prospect that no doubt worries Sarkozy and his supporters in France. But it should also worry people elsewhere in Europe, as well as here in the United States. To be sure, Sarkozy’s unmaking has been a long time in coming.
Genocide and the Fine Arts
April 20, 2012
The Patagonian Hare: A Memoir By Claude Lanzmann Translated by Frank Wynne (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 528 pp., $35) I. The film called Shoah runs for more than nine and a half hours. Its subject is the extermination of Europe’s Jews by the Nazis. It features Jewish survivors of the death camps, Poles who lived near the camps, and Germans who organized and ran them—and also its director, Claude Lanzmann, in the background, with his various interpreters. The languages in which these people speak include Yiddish, Hebrew, English, German, Polish, and French: a sound file of Europe.
March 29, 2012
The Steins Collect Metropolitan Museum of Art Van Gogh: Up Close Philadelphia Museum of Art Van Gogh: The Life By Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith (Random House, 953 pp., $40) Nobody in the history of culture has known more about the art of persuasion than the avant-garde painters, sculptors, writers, composers, choreographers, and impresarios who transformed European art from the end of the nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century.
TNR Film Classic: Movie Brutalists (1966)
March 24, 2012
The basic ideas among young American film-makers are simple: the big movies we grew up on are either corrupt, obsolete or dead, or are beyond our reach (we can’t get a chance to make Hollywood films)—so we’ll make films of our own, cheap films that we can make in our own way.
March 14, 2012
Impossible to call them dead things, those lights in the sky.
In Praise of Jean-Émile Laboureur
February 29, 2012
I have some artistic enthusiasms that I’m not eager to discuss in public. It’s not that I’m embarrassed. But I am afraid I will not be able to explain them, much less justify them, even to my best friends. I put in this category my attachment to the engravings of Jean-Émile Laboureur, who recorded the parks, streets, shop windows, pleasure seekers, working people, and lovers of 1920s and 1930s France in an immaculate Art Deco style. I know that Laboureur’s work, with its easy-on-the-eyes Cubistic stylizations and languid Roaring Twenties protagonists, can be more than a little programmatic.
And The Award Goes To...
February 25, 2012
2011 wasn't the most interesting year for film, but it did have its moments: The silent film reasserted itself while Scorsese went 3D, Terrence Malick recreated the genesis of the universe and Maya Rudolph got diarrhea in a wedding dress. But how will these ambitious projects fare at the 84th Academy Awards show this Sunday night?
Form and Fortune
February 22, 2012
Steve Jobs By Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster, 627 pp., $35) I. In 2010, Der Spiegel published a glowing profile of Steve Jobs, then at the helm of Apple. Jobs’s products are venerated in Germany, especially by young bohemian types. Recently, the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Hamburg presented an exhibition of Apple’s products, with the grandiloquent subtitle “On Electro-Design that Makes History”—a good indication of the country’s infatuation with the company.
That is So! That is So!
February 22, 2012
The Sense of an Ending By Julian Barnes (Knopf, 163 pp., $23.95) Is it worth it? Life, I mean—is it worth it? Julian Barnes isn’t sure. “I am certainly melancholic myself,” he says in Nothing to Be Frightened Of, a memoir-cum-meditation-on-death, “and sometimes find life an overrated way of passing the time.” Martha Cochrane, in England, England, thinks about “the thinness of life, or at least life as she had known it, or chosen it.” “She had done little in her time,” Jean Serjeant thinks in Staring at the Sun, and Gregory, her son, had done less.