100 Essential Directors celebrates directors of distinct vision, who have honed their respective crafts, who have brought something new and exciting to the medium, and who continue to push the boundaries of the form.
With an oeuvre of thematically disparate films and a serpentine career trajectory beginning in the 1970s and still shaping itself today, Olivier Assayas is a tricky figure to discuss on a broad scale. His work situates itself between highbrow and genre, academic and artfully hip, linear and experimental, Paris and Hong Kong; he seems equally indebted to influences as diverse as Cahiers du cinema (for which he wrote in the early '80s), the Chinese new wave, and punk rock.
His forays into filmmaking began with a series of shorts made in tandem with his critical writing for Cahiers du Cinema. These projects show an early synergy with music and indeed seem to function as music video prototypes; later feature works like Disorder (1986) and Clean (2004), which are concerned with the personal and professional lives of struggling rock stars, continue this thematic trend.