50 Years of Cahiers du Cinéma
As the Ciné Lumière toasts film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma, David Jenkins asks if film criticism can still make a difference
But it’s Cahiers du Cinéma that reigns supreme in British minds. Counting Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut and Eric Rohmer among its early contributors, this Paris-based publication was among the first to grapple with cinema in purely aesthetic terms. The Ciné Lumière has organised a season of films to celebrate 50 years of its existence (even though it’s actually 59 years old!) which ties in with the publication of Emilie Bickerton’s indispensable biog of the magazine,
‘A Short History of Cahiers du Cinéma’.
Even Michel Ciment, editor-in-chief of Cahiers’ long-time rival, Positif, has a kind word to say about the occasion: ‘Cahiers du Cinéma is a very important magazine. Many of the ideas they forged over the past 60 years can be seen in much of the film criticism now.’
Bickerton concurs with Ciment’s view of the cultural import of Cahiers, but sees its current incarnation as a pale shadow of its ’60s-’70s heyday. ‘Cahiers recognised artists at work, even in the mainstream. You just can’t repeat what Cahiers did then.’ Bickerton blames the films as much as the critics for this: ‘Hollywood in the ’50s was a really impressive industry and it was an industry with artists working within it. You had Howard Hawks doing the films he was asked to do, but still being able to make his mark. Today, Hollywood is alive and kicking, but are there many of these “artists” working within the system? I don’t think so.’
According to Ciment, while Cahiers now has less of an eye for locating artists like Hawks within the Hollywood mainstream, it still defends the work of certain, notable directors. ‘With Jean-Michel Frodon, who was editor for five or six years, he was a kind of ayatollah, and he defiantly exercised the politique des auteurs.’ Stéphane Delorme was appointed editor last July when publisher Phaidon acquired the title from newspaper Le Monde. Ciment has noticed a clear change of editorial direction: ‘What I’ve witnessed in the past six months is very encouraging, because its attitude has become less dogmatic and contemptuous and it is now taking a wider view on cinema.’
Like the rest of the print media, the French are also asking questions about how the medium will survive in the future. ‘With the internet, I’m reminded of that famous line about how “everybody is Caruso under the shower”,’ says Ciment. ‘So everybody’s a film critic, but the problem is not to be a film critic; it’s to be a good film critic.’
Buy tickets for the '50 Years of Cahiers du Cinéma' season
Buy Emilie Bickerton's book, 'A Short History of Cahiers du Cinéma'
Author: David Jenkins
Director Tom Hooper and his cast tell us how they turned the super-musical into movie blockbuster.
The Time Out film team weighs in on the nominees for the 2013 Academy Awards
Get ready for the big guns… Spielberg, Tarantino and Bigelow
Daniel Craig’s 007 comeback, a genius indie romcom and all the mysteries behind ‘The Shining’ unravelled.
The results of our study on the state of films and filmgoing in 2012.
Read 'Time Out film debate 2012 highlights'
'The Hobbit' actor tells us why he wouldn't have a pint with Bilbo Baggins.
Dave Calhoun speaks to the director of 'Skyfall' about the latest film in the Bond franchise.
The genre-hopping director tells us how he invented a new genre with 'Life of Pi'
The twice Palme d'Or-winning director discusses 'Amour'.
Read our interview with Michael Haneke
The Danish director talks about his powerful new drama 'The Hunt'.
Read our interview with Thomas Vinterberg'
Time Out looks back at the impact of the 'Twilight' saga.
Discover what 'Twilight' has done for us
Time Out heads to the Lake District to visit director Ben Wheatley on set.
Read about our visit to the 'Sightseers' set
The director talks about 'Frankenweenie', which he describes as 'the ultimate memory piece'.
Read our interview with Tim burton
Our pick of the best films showing over the festive period.
Read 'The top ten Christmas films of 2012'
Mean Girls? Dirty Dancing? Tell us your favourite film guilty pleasure.
Read 'Film guilty pleasures'
What will Disney do to 'Star Wars'?
Read about the new 'Star Wars' trilogy
Ten young actors come of age on the silver screen.
Read 'When teen stars turn serious'
From Connery to Craig, we revisit all 22 Bond films.
Read '50 years of James Bond'
The director talks Scientology and working with Joaquin Phoenix.
Read the interview
Ten funny horror movies which went spectacularly off the rails.
Read 'Hilarious horror films'
The director talks psychopaths and theatre – 'my least favourite artform'.
Read the interview
We round-up the five best horror movies of Autumn 2012.
Read about this Autumn's best horror movies
Time Out visits Istanbul to see the latest Bond movie being made.
Read 'On the set of Skyfall'
Does Skyfall refresh or rehash the James Bond franchise?
The British director explains why 'Ginger and Rosa' is her most mainstream film yet.
'I’m almost as in demand as Brad Pitt’