Cinema and Sensation: French Film and the Art of by Martine Beugnet

By Martine Beugnet

“Cinema and Sensation is a robust account of the cinema of our time, a time during which concept, and desire, can simply come up from a compassionate and unflinching immersion in fact. With a ravishing awareness to big new works of French cinema, this booklet restores cinema’s characteristics of being, and turning into, within the world.”
—Laura U. Marks, university for the modern Arts, Simon Fraser University

“Starting with a desirable record of modern Francophone motion pictures, Beugnet brings Deleuzian and different French idea, in addition to references to contemporary Anglophone analyses of sensation, to undergo on how this cinema creates ‘deeply sensual, synaesthetic effect[s] of the movie photograph and sound-track.’ This publication presents an invaluable method of this staff of movies, in addition to a skillful summation of a development in contemporary theory.”
—Maureen Turim, professor of English and movie and media experiences, collage of Florida

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Both works, in their own way, celebrate the materiality of the medium of the moving image, film’s inherent processes of endless becoming. As Michel Guilloux, comparing filmmaking with the kneading of the pizza dough, eloquently puts it: ‘Cinema’s raw matter is the world in which it is filmed . . it was necessary to work on this matter to shape the body of the film (pour que le film prenne corps), to create a new way of making film’ (Guilloux 1997: 12). Such comments remain an exception; in feature-filmmaking, directors are still more likely to be praised for their achievements as story-tellers than for their ability to engage with film as a physical entity.

When a pure optical and sound situation occurs, it ‘makes us grasp something intolerable and  ‘ ’ 41 unbearable’. For Deleuze, the extreme reaction induced by the affection image is more potent than the explicit violence of the action image . . The affection image ‘is a matter of something too powerful, or too unjust, but sometimes also too beautiful, and which outstrips our sensory-motor capacities’. As the sensory-motor function is suspended or breaks down, deeper insight occurs. (Deleuze 1989: 16; cited in Powell 2005: 119) Horror that Sticks: Trouble Every Day Like most of Denis’ films, Trouble Every Day (2001) has an elliptical narrative structure which is built around a constellation of characters and the criss-crossing of their trajectories (and, like the other brief synopses given in this book, the summary below, though it provides the analysis that follows with useful short-cuts, inevitably fails to encapsulate the film’s enigmatic dimension).

Working close to a much humbler furnace, Pizzaïolo Boni (Nénette et Boni, 1997) kneads a ball of pizza dough while fantasising aloud about the woman he desires. In one long single take, and in extreme close-up, the soft pasty mass is shaped, flattened, smoothed and roughed between Boni’s impatient hands. Feverishly punctured by his fingers, the malleable surface metamorphoses from desert-like expanse to a moon-like, crater-filled landscape. Eventually, Boni’s face bursts into the frame and sinks into the formless heap.

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