Olivier Assayas

"Like the founders of the French New Wave, Olivier Assayas discovered the cinema first as a critic writing for the influential journal Cahiers du cinéma… In a filmmaking career now more than twenty years old, Assayas has consistently conveyed an active imagination and a continued fascination with the dynamics of love, lust and affection, with misfits and criminals, and with cinema's unique ability to make them all real." - Harvard Film Archive

Olivier Assayas

Director / Screenwriter
(1955- ) Born January 25, Paris, France
21st Century's Top 50 Directors

Key Production Country: France
Key Genres: Drama, Ensemble Film, Psychological Drama, Romantic Drama, Coming-of-Age, Comedy Drama, Erotic Thriller, Thriller, Teen Movie
Key Collaborators: Luc Barnier (Editor), François-Renaud Labarthe (Production Designer), Denis Lenoir (Cinematographer), Georges Benayoun (Producer), Charles Gillibert (Producer), Eric Gautier (Cinematographer), Yorick Le Saux (Cinematographer), Antoine Basler (Leading Character Actor), Alex Descas (Leading Character Actor), Jean-Baptiste Malartre (Character Actor), Juliette Binoche (Leading Actress), Virginie Ledoyen (Leading Actress)

"Assayas benefits from the camerawork of Denis Lenoir, and he is adept at making noir situations seem everyday. He is already a master at overlap, betrayal, and stray coincidence, and he seems to be improving as time passes. Moreover, Irma Vep gave a welcome sign of humor in its awareness of the many poseurs and paranoids one meets in film production." - David Thomson (The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, 2010)
“Olivier Assayas is the author of some fifteen films. After his studies in art and literature, he made short films and collaborated on a number of scripts, in particular for André Téchiné with Rendez-Vous and The Scene of the Crime. He also wrote for the Cahiers du Cinéma (1980-85) and is the author of a book of interviews with Ingmar Bergman. His first film, Disorder, which won an award at the festival in Venice (1986), established him as one of the most significant filmmakers of his generation. His fame was enhanced with Cold Water (1994) and Irma Vep (1996), presented in Cannes.” - Festival de Cannes
“In the '90s Olivier Assayas emerged as one of the key figures in the new generation of French filmmakers. As a former critic for Cahiers du Cinema and a die-hard cinephile, he makes his films both personal and referential to the works of directors that he adores… Though his films enjoyed considerable critical acclaim in France and at international film festivals, his name was virtually unknown in English-speaking countries until the release of his 1996 film Irma Vep, a loving tribute both to Louis Feuillade and Hong Kong cinema. Still faithful to his critical roots, he later directed a documentary on Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien.” - Yuri German (Allmovie)
“Capable of tackling everything from slow-burning period pieces to thrilling neo-noirs to anarchic comedies, Parisian Olivier Assayas was a gifted director and screenwriter whose work became synonymous with the film movement known as the New French Extremity. The son of filmmaker Jacques Rémy, Assayas began his career as a critic for influential magazine Cahiers du Cinema, where he wrote lovingly about the European and Asian directors who would later inform his own pictures.” - Turner Classic Movies
“Assayas favors stick-and-move moviemaking, with cinematographer- collaborators Eric Gautier or Denis Lenoir picking out evanescent moments from complex sequence shots, cutting through warrens of activity that would trip up a bulkier crew. The paradigm is the controlled anarchy of the all-night rager in Assayas's fourth film, 1994's Cold Water, the director's recollection of being young and bored in the early '70s, as detail-right as resin crumbs stuck on a Uriah Heep gatefold. The party's coda comes at dawn, as girls squat to pee in a damp field and Nico's donjon-drear voice echoes through the soundtrack—I've been a convert ever since.” - Nick Pinkerton (Village Voice, 2008)
“I make European films and I feel kind of lucky that they are seen at all in North America, because, you know, most of French and European filmmaking are basically not seen. I’ve been pretty lucky because my films have had some kind of minor distribution in the US, but, of course, you know, just only in the main cities. There is a certain level of awareness, but when you make movies, basically, you hope to address to the broader audience, and ultimately try to deal universal issues, and somehow you have this deep belief that you are making something that’s kind of worthwhile in the sense that if it connects with audiences it will just increase their awareness of the world that they live in.” - Olivier Assayas (PopMatters, 2009)
TSPDT Guide
Recommended
Summer Hours (2008)
Worth a Look
A New Life (1993), Cold Water (1994), Irma Vep (1996), Late August, Early September (1998), Carlos (2010) , Clouds of Sils Maria (2014) , Something in the Air (2012)
Approach with Caution
Paris Awakens (1991)
Not Recommended
Demonlover (2002) , Boarding Gate (2007)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films
Olivier Assayas / Favourite Films
The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964) Pier Paolo Pasolini, Ludwig (1972) Luchino Visconti, A Man Escaped (1956) Robert Bresson, Mirror (1974) Andrei Tarkovsky, Napoléon (1927) Abel Gance, Playtime (1967) Jacques Tati, The Rules of the Game (1939) Jean Renoir, The Tree of Life (2011) Terrence Malick, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Stanley Kubrick, Van Gogh (1991) Maurice Pialat.
Source: Sight & Sound (2012)
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    Carlos
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