I would like to know your thoughts about the New French Extremity. I’m doing on essay on it and my main subject is the constant clash between two opposites ideas i.e. the Good/Bad mother, the desexualized sexuality and nudity (vs the sexuality in hardocre sexploitative movies), etc.
I don’t know. I’d have to think about it, but for a second I thought this was going to be a reactionary post against them voting in a “commie”. I’m not necessarily criticizing their choice, which is why I put the word ‘commie’ in quotes.
^ French extremism =
Oftentimes the tactics work; sometimes they don’t, especially in the horror movies which end up being mistaken as moralist but is actually more like pandering. Frontier(s) and other Xavier Gens’ stuff are clear examples of these (haven’t seen Laugier’s Martyrs). From what I’ve seen when it comes to the sexual stuff, I think that the most skilled of filmmakers in the movement are able to provide a developed emotional context to justify their extremities (ex. Denis, Ozon).
It’s not a movement, my friends. It’s a phrase created by James Quandt to lump together a large number of disparate filmmakers in order to dismiss them, without thought or analysis.
Other than the wholly subjective (near childish) term there is almost nothing they share; narratively, stylistically, aesthetically, or in terms of form.
Actually I believe there is. In terms of form, there is some kind of a desire to disturb the viewer( Noé is an expert in this )
Maybe there are comparable elements in Noe’s early films and say the static nature of Dumont, but the Noe of Irreversible and Enter the Void is almost diametrically opposed to the approach of Ozon, Denis, Dumont, de Van, etc. (and even among the latter four there are huge gaps in comparison… the closest being probably de Van and Ozon).
This ≠ this.
In all fairness, the New French Extreme Horror flicks are very reminiscent of eachother in terms of tone, style, aesthetics and form. I am nost definitely not a fan.
Oftentimes the tactics work; sometimes they don’t, especially in the horror movies which end up being mistaken as moralist but is actually more like pandering
Inside, Frontiers, Martyrs, High Tension et all pretend to be about the lengths human beings will go to in order to survive but are little more than shock cinema of the least creative kind. They pass themselves off as morality plays to give themselves an out and then spend the bulk of the running time reveling in the violence and depravity. Better acted than the Saw series and much more competently made but just as shameless and hollow.
Yeah, Dumont is not attempting to assault the audience. Either is Bertrand Bonello – they both have more in common with Bresson than Sade or Noe or any splatter film director. Besides linking explicit portrayals of sex and extreme violence under one rubric seems very anglo-puritanical. Considering even Patrice Chereau’s Intimacy also gets lumped into New French Extremity, I don’t think you can hold up the general thesis that it revolves around desexualized sexuality. The more horror oriented films work though – Inside, Martyr(s) and Aja’s works are probably not bad examples of what you are looking at (Inside in particular for its view on motherhood).
“In all fairness, the New French Extreme Horror flicks are very reminiscent of eachother in terms of tone, style, aesthetics and form.”
The question is whether those films would be “New French Extremity” if they had a big Hollywood budget and the name of a common long blade cutting tool behind them… (Or if they’re any more extreme than Japanese or Korean horror imports)
When we talk of the horror genre we talk of a genre that is predicated on extremity in its essence. Pushing the bar beyond where it had once been (the ‘gross-out’ effect of pea soup seems but a distant memory)…
That’s very different from what de Van does in In My Skin or Dumont in L’Humanité. Hence why it’s not a movement. In its very construction it confuses genre aesthetic with the denatured stylistic of modern French ‘art’ cinema.
James Quandt does indeed place a few films in his category that, as far as I can determine,
don’t belong there.
I’m not sure if that means he’s done no analysis, or if it means he just needs to refine his system.
Either way, you don’t need to spend a HUGE amount of time “analyzing” most of the recent French horror
and torture porn pictures to be completely justified in dismissing their directors.
They exhibit the sustained adolescence we see from many directors of American comedies,
but in the grimmest, least appealing manner imaginable.
“Either way, you don’t need to spend a HUGE amount of time ‘analyzing’ most of the recent French horror
and torture porn pictures to be completely justified in dismissing their directors.”
“When we talk of the horror genre we talk of a genre that is predicated on extremity in its essence. Pushing the bar beyond where it had once been…
That’s very different from what de Van does in In My Skin or Dumont in L’Humanité… In its very construction it confuses genre aesthetic with the denatured stylistic of modern French ‘art’ cinema."
Maybe Quandt should have devised some sort of continuum, because it’s not unreasonable
to locate In My Skin, (which struck me as Tenant-period Polanski paying tribute to Herschell Gordon Lewis) somewhere along a line along which (in whatever direction) we eventually get to Martyrs.
Hard to believe that de Van directed both In My Skin and Don’t Look Back; I guess she did some growing up.
I think I should concentrate my research on horror or horror-like/thriller movies from this particular movement or whatever you could call it. I chose this subect because I like horror movies and I am sensible to and interested in their aesthetics. I don’t believe any movie or director should be discredited or dismissed. We’re not here for that.
“…which struck me as Tenant-period Polanski paying tribute to Herschell Gordon Lewis…”
“In its very construction it confuses genre aesthetic with the denatured stylistic of modern French ‘art’ cinema.”
I personally find it somewhere between Antonioni and Oshima, but…
Marc, I hope you didn’t get the impression that my seeing some directors as deserving of dismissal
meant that I also thought you should not continue your research, or that your essay would not have value.
Because I certainly don’t believe that.
But anyway, your contention that no movie or director should be discredited or dismissed might make for a rousing topic discussion here at Mubi.
Wu Yong, regarding the Antonioni comparison, that’s either a miraculous display of clinical objectivity
or an act of generosity toward de Van that most directors would kill for.
And I don’t think anyone is confused about the aesthetic, at least not in this particular case.
“…regarding the Antonioni comparison, that’s either a miraculous display of clinical objectivity
or an act of generosity toward de Van that most directors would kill for.”
The devaluing of humanity beyond little more than an object(body) of mainly aesthetic fascination has something to do with Antonioni, methinks. Not much of a stretch, it’s actually pretty obvious in the film…
“And I don’t think anyone is confused about the aesthetic…”
I’ll take that somewhat more seriously when someone shows the line between In My Skin and Martyrs, instead of just claiming it’s there.
I’m not saying there is a line “between” In My Skin and Martyrs; actually, I think that’s your argument, and I agree with it.
In other words, there are obvious and strong distinctions between the two.
My contention is that, along a line of pictures that employ both “extreme” depictions of suffering and a character or characters whose motivation to induce said suffering remains inexplicable,
we could find both pictures, even if they reside at extreme ends of that continuum.
And in my view, that’s not much of a stretch at all.
Marc, are you focusing on 2 or 3 films, or looking at the movement in general terms?
I did a fairly similar essay, looking at French Extremism and Race Relations around the time, focusing on the rise of the extreme-right in French politics in the early 2000s, and comparing it with films such as ‘I Stand Alone’. You could pretty much write the same essay now, with it being about the early 2010s in France.
CeleryFc: I’m looking at the movement in general terms but as I said I think I’ll look more particularly on the horror movies of the movement. It’s more like a descriptive essay where I just try to analyze how stories are told and shown.