The Claire Denis Cheat Sheet

Director Claire Denis at the photo call for her film Les Salauds (Bastards)

Want to be knowledgeable about our filmmaker of the month without committing yourself to an entire filmography? Then you need the Hell Is For Hyphenates Cheat Sheet: a suggested double that will make you an insta-expert in the director we're about to discuss…

CD Films BEAU TRAVAIL (1999) and WHITE MATERIAL (2009)

Director Claire Denis was raised in colonial French Africa, and many of her films reflect this in some way. Beau Travail is a sublimely beautiful work about an ex-French Foreign Legion officer reminiscing about his time leading soldiers in Africa. It stars Denis Lavant, a newly-minted cult figure thanks to his now-legendary work in Leos Carax's 2012 film Holy Motors. Following Beau Travail, you'll want to put on White Material. The always-brilliant Isabelle Huppert is the matriarch of a white family about to be kicked off their African plantation, trying desperately to hold onto the crop of coffee beans they've grown as their lives hang in danger. Both films are truly stunning, managing to convey a sense danger while drawing you in and lulling you to spend more time in these worlds. These two brilliant works, made ten years apart, should give you a solid understanding of the style of Claire Denis.

Substitutions: If you can't get Beau Travail, try Chocolat (1988). If you can't get White Material, try 35 Shots of Rum (2008).

The Hidden Gem: If you want to go for something off the trodden path, you have to check out her 2001 film Trouble Every Day. It features Vincent Gallo and Béatrice Dalle, and is equal parts sexy and horrific. Not for the faint of heart.

The next episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Lynn Shelton talking Claire Denis, will be released on the morning of September 30 (AEST).

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