I lived in France for about two years total. About six weeks during the Summer of 1993, about a year from the Fall of 1994 to the end of Summer 1995 and then about a year from Summer 1996 to Summer 1997. It is definitely what first hooked me on film and I still get quite the charge whenever I think about French cinephilia.
During my early days of France and of really starting to get into film I would often hear about Jean Renoir. People I came into contact with would tell me he was the most important French director ever, above all the rest of his peers including Bresson, Godard, and Rohmer.
And so finally in early 1996 wanting to understand this Renoir fuss, I embarked on a two month endeavor to watch every single one of his films I could find, in chronological order, and write thoughts after each of them. By the time I finished the exercise I felt like I had gotten a real handle on Renoir and that they were right. Renoir did seem like the most important of all of the French filmmakers I had seen.
Fast forward to the last couple of years. I have slowly begun to discover the cinema of Yasujiro Ozu, at this point having probably seen about ten or so of his films and having made the informal comment a number of times that I belive Ozu just might be the single greatest filmmaker of all time. But I am a completist. How can I make such a statement having seen less than 20% of his work? And so I think it probably apt that I go Renoir on Ozu, charting his career, working to try to understand him, one film at a time in chronological order going deep and as complete as I possibly can.
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