Simone Lainé

F.: Georges Diane, Serge Vincent; Mo.: Marie Da Costa; Mu.: Chadi Chouman, David Trescos ; Su: Didier Charentin; Int.: Michel Ciment, Quentin Tarantino, Wim Wenders, Joel Coen, Arnaud Desplechin; Prod.: Magali Chirouze (Adalios), TV Rennes 35 - Rennes cité media, Réaction en chaines, CinéCinéma, TLSP (Union des Télévisions Locales de Service Public) Digibeta. D.: 52’; Col .
T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Cinema critic, journalist, writer and lecturer: Michel Ciment is a prime witness to the cinema history of the last fifty years. A great analyst of this universe in perpetual motion, a detector of new talent, aggressive towards the ‘luke-warm’ and inclined to pronouncing abuse, he allows us to share his insatiable appetite and his passion – which has remained fully intact over time. (...) Michel Ciment deserves the portrait Simone Lainé has so fondly made of him. The film is exciting, precisely because Michel Ciment is exciting. Simone Lainé interviewed him so he could describe a career that started off in 1963 in the “Positif” editorial office. Laine also sought the opinion of numerous celebrities of the seventh art who have partially accompanied him on his path: they all nurture great respect and admiration for Ciment, even great recognition in some cases. During the opening moments of the documentary, Michel Ciment explains that, before becoming a critic, he devoured and digested the writings by other critics. In 1963 he approached the “Positif” editorial office with an article on The Trial by Orson Welles. To his great surprise, the piece was published and this marked the beginning of a bond between the journal and the young film enthusiast that would last indefinitely. Ciment recognised himself better in “Positif” than in “Cahiers du Cinéma”, the two publications that fought a ruthless war from their respective columns. Their rivalry is a legendary aspect of the two journals, but also of the film review realm in general. Ciment recognised in “Positif” an affiliation with the left-wing views so dear to him. But above all, he found in “Positif” the perfect vehicle for expressing his own views on cinema and the world. The young journalist was not only interested in films: Ciment wanted to go beyond his own reflections, to meet directors so that he could better understand the complexity of the artistic reasonings involved in making a film. He was forever travelling the globe to meet filmmakers, and he would focus many books on some of these (Kubrick, Boorman, Anghelopulos etc.). In the documentary, Michel Ciment comments that he set foot in that world during a privileged era, a hinge moment in cinema history, when the great classic cineastes such as Mankiewicz stood at their twilight and when those considered as today’s masters were making their debut. Ciment talks primarily of Scorsese (...). Ciment’s Kubrick is not only a book that allowed him – thanks to his pronounced perception – to dissect and understand Kubrick’s cinema and the links between his films. The book also presents, in the most eloquent of ways, the foundations themselves to Michel Ciment’s passion for the cinema. (...) Michel Ciment is praised by several great filmmakers in the documentary. Tarantino – another confirmed film buff who has also become a reference model, even if in a different register – speaks of Ciment as a teacher. The other directors questioned (Wenders, Joel Coen, Arnaud Desplechin etc.) also express their admiration. They say Ciment is not a critic like the others: he stands apart through his ability to see in a film what nobody else has picked up on. Thus Ciment has been able to form almost privileged relationships with filmmakers because in him they recognise not just the supreme champion critic he is sometimes described as, but also the sincere and passionate witness to cinema, fuelled primarily by the sharing. (...) The portrait sketched by Simone Lainé is certainly a flattering one full of praise. Nevertheless, it is a sincere, engrossing and fair testimony to the role played by Michel Ciment in the world of cinema. (...) As Ciment says, quoting Truffaut, “we all practise two trades: our own and that of the cinema critic”. We can all express our opinions on films, and Ciment explains his very well. He also suggests, mischievously, that a sort of critic’s licence should be introduced, based on the driving licence model, where the candidate should demonstrate a certain level of competence before being awarded the right to guide the audience towards one film or another. (...)