I don’t know… I guess that this blog, for some people, is a window into French film criticism and I’ve definitively benefited from that attention. Writing blog posts on them can even be fun. For this reason I’ve decided to do an overview of Cahiers du Cinéma, which I haven’t really said much about since their 700th issue, for the 2014 year. Where their Top Ten list usually just provides a glimpse of their yearly activity, the following is a more thorough examination of its editorship, all of the films that they featured, what countries they’re from, and a brief rating.
In 2014 there were 68 films that were featured in either their Cahiers, Événement, Cannes and Film du mois Critiques, with an average of either 5 or 7 an issue. 33 of these films (48%) were either emphasized with an additional interview with its director or accompanying essay. The directors to receive covers include Alain Resnais (the second, and unfortunately, last time under Delorme) and, for the first time (also under Delorme), Miyazaki, von Trier, Cronenberg, Dumont, and Dolan. And there were three directors (Dolan, Wiseman, and Cavalier) that had two films brought up. There were interesting Dossiers (which received their own covers) on French Film Academia and Production Schools (they're not the biggest fans), Cinematography, Psychedelic Film History, and The Best Films of the Year. As well as Dossiers on subjects close to the original Cahiers project like Bazin, Langlois, Truffaut. And a special 700th issue, with guest contributions by famous directors and film personalities, on strong emotions associated with cinema.
The 2014 Critiques, in their varying hierarchy (excluding their Notes sur d’autres films), were: The Wind Rises, The Wolf of Wall Street, Nymphomaniac Vol.1, Like Father, Like Son, I Used to be Darker, Nymphomaniac Vol.2, Tonnere, Abus de faiblesse, Gloria, Neighboring Sounds, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wrong Cops, Stray Dogs, Student, At Berkeley, Youth, Arrête ou je continue, Aimer, boire et chanter, Tom à la ferme, The Strange Little Cat, When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism, Computer Chess, Real, Mille Soleils, Maps to the Stars, Adieu au langage, Bird People, La Chambre bleue, Deux jours, une nuit, Welcome to New York, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, Stop the Pounding Heart, Pan pleure pas, Under the Skin, Our Sunhi, Boyhood, Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon, Blue Ruin, Clouds of Sils Maria, Winter Sleep, P'tit Quinquin, Mange tes morts, The Kindergarten Teacher, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Mommy, Le Paradis, White Bird in a Blizzard, Saint Laurent, National Gallery, Of Men and War, Gone Girl, Love is Strange, What Now? Remind Me, L'Incomprise, Cavalier Express, Mercuriales, A Cappella, Eden, Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait, Interstellar, White God, Mr. Turner, Au revoir l'été, Gaby Baby Doll, Fidelio, l’odyssée d’Alice, Charlie’s Country, and Timbuktu.
These films come from the following countries (dictated by the nationality of the filmmaker): 21 from France, 14 from the United States of America, 5 from Japan, 3 from Canada, 2 from Portugal, 2 from the United Kingdom, 2 from Denmark, 2 from South Korea, 2 from Israel, 2 from Italy, and only 1 from the following countries: Chile, Brazil, Taiwan, Kazakhstan, Germany, Romania, Belgium, China, Turkey, Syria, Hungary, Australia, and West Africa.
The Cahiers Critiques can be celebratory but more often than not they’re ambivalent or even critical (a lot more so than Positif). The following are its chief editor Stéphane Delorme’s average star rating of all the previously mentioned films from the Le Conseil des Dix (from ‘don’t even bother’ to ‘Masterpiece’), though if he didn’t include a grade its either from the adjoined chief editor Jean-Philippe Tessé or one of the other writers.* But this is not to say that his views are strictly always the ones represented in the published reviews. The Cahiers critics propose a unique way to look at films and depending on how much they contribute per issue they can bring it into other directions. So, according to Delorme, the only four-star Masterpieces were Maps to the Stars and P’tit Quinquin, there were 24 three-star films, 34 two-star films, 6 one-star films (Winter Sleep, Gone Girl, Eden, Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait, Interstellar, Timbuktu), and two busts (Deux jours, une nuit, Welcome to New York).
To conclude, with the new January issue out, it’s worth mentioning it: Larry Clark with The Smell of Us gets his first cover, Foxcatcher gets a Film du mois and Pasolini and Souvenirs de Marnie get a Critique. And just one more thing, as a Valléeian, I have to say that it’s a real shame that his two recent films Dallas Buyers Club and Wild both got negative reviews.** Therefore, for the best appreciations of Vallée you’ll have to look elsewhere, like on the great Mubi and Cinema Scope.
* The only Critiques that Delorme wrote, editorials and other essays aside, were for the Dardennes, Reeves, and Nolan. And for Tessé it was for the Miyazaki, von Trier (Vol. 2), Fillières, and the Dumont (w/ Vincent Malausa),** This ignoring of Vallée is, unfortunately, not unique to them. Talking to Michel Ciment, he let me know that he's never even seen C.RA.Z.Y. (!) and that he walked out of Café de flore! And I’m not even going to repeat Philippe Rouyer’s dumb remark regarding Vallée on Le Cercle...