|Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria.|
Now that he's reached the age of sixty, French director Olivier Assayas's work thankfully hasn't settled into austerity, but instead continues to give off a youthful inquisitiveness that remains quietly passionate and quirkily insightful. Rather than becoming reserved and pedantic in his observations, Assayas continues to sparkle with a wry and active curiousity. He rejects easy irony for a more open-ended bemusement that belies the affliction of time and collapses the gap that often exists between generations. In Irma Vep (1996), Assayas presented a middle-aged film director (Jean-Pierre Léaud) who tried to capture a past classic by remaking Louis Feuillade's silent serial Les vampires (1915-16) only to discover his flailing efforts had more to say about the state of the present. In his richly meditative Summer Hours (2008), a group of siblings begin to dread the disappearance of their childhood memories, along with their summer home, after their mother dies, only to soon recognize that those memories can be transformed by the generation that follows. Something in the Air (2012), which didn't get half the audience it deserved, looks back at the political and cultural turmoil of the early Seventies and examines a young activist who can't reconcile the rigidity of fixed ideologies with the fluid sensuality of the pop culture he loves. Assayas's films are almost always about the flux of life where meanings don't get imposed but are drawn from an expansive embrace of experience.