I have a new article in Bright Lights Film Journal. It’s on the film criticism of Olivier Assayas:
As a critic, Olivier Assayas tends to tune in very early to a new phenomenon. He is the critic as seismograph, always looking to delineate the shape of things to come. Much later, writing now as a filmmaker, he would come to stress the value of chasing the spirit of your own time – or, better still, of letting the current of the contemporary run through you with “its anxieties, its doubts, its errings, its aspirations”– in increasingly militant terms: “To know how to question the new, how to capture its flows, is to keep questioning yourself, to remain aware at all moments that you’re always a vector of the old.”In these more autobiographical later writings, he would come to preach the importance of breaking with yourself, of destabilizing your own system. But as a Cahiers critic he was already deep in pursuit of the contemporary.