Sunday, December 13, 2009

Histoire(s) Du Cinema

I could not get a hold of this video, but attempted to watch it on youtube. The subtitles were blurry and unreadable and there was only three of the six parts available. However, I could get a slight idea of what Godard was trying to say in this film. With footage from Hollywood films, Godard critiques the world of film outside of Jean-Luc Godard. Most of it seemed pretentious, but there were some interesting points and images.

My favorite, was that of Anna Karina. He seems to halfway explain (in a JLG fashion) his love affair with Karina. He compares it to world leaders and the French army taking it in the behind from the German Army in WWII. The rest of the film was violently put together into flashes between images of films, Godard himself, and other stock footage. Throughout the entirety of the film there was a constant banging of a keyboard.

I wish I could have fully watched, and appreciated this film. Hopefully one day I will get my hands on the video,

Notre Musique

War is hell, the aftermath is purgatory, and death is paradise or heaven. The stock footage and severe images of war, was meant to shock the audience right out of hell into purgatory. Purgatory is where the bulk of the film fell. In a war tattered Sarajevo, students and a reporter named Olga, went to Sarajevo to break a story on war (or at least I believe that is why they were there). In this portion of the film, we again have a philosophical overload, of deep set, often cliche commentary. Godard himself, took a part in this commentary with his showing of photos, it was almost as if he was teaching the students that were there. Olga was a reporter and of Jewish descent, which made for an interesting interview with a Palestinian man. The man spoke of poetry, and claimed that a country should not and cannot win if they do not have good poets. He also said Palestine is known because of Israeli's attacks, and it is Israeli that is notorious.

There were some interesting points in "purgatory", but for the most part (which Godard's later films tend to do) it dragged on and I quickly lost interest. Once again, Godard succeeded in making an eighty minute film seem as if it was three and a half hours long. I am not sure if this is a negative effect of age, or if Godard is purposely making his films drawn out and frankly...boring. What happened after the eighties? He went from making the most obscenely racy, sexually and politically charged films, to sleep worthy, overdone, images and commentary on philosophy of war and countries status.

Yes, this film was boring, but the structure and once again cinematography was beautiful. It was easier to follow past Godard films, which produced mixed feelings. I know I have complained in the past of Godard's lack of structure but it has grown on me, and I have realized that without that style it is not Godard. Although aesthetically beautiful, this film was not shocking, not progressive and not Godard.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Numero Duex

Godard not only crossed the line, he personally moved the line to a further distance and crossed it again. A wife performing oral sex on her husband’s flaccid penis, naked children, and children getting a first hand account on sexuality while watching their parents make love, all were included in this film. The parents described the vagina as lips and the penis as a mouth, and love making is a sort of silent kiss. The only thing I could think to myself was; who in the right mind would allow their child to be in this film?

What really pushed the envelope, opened it and then spit on it, was some of the dialogue. The open commentary on otherwise taboo subjects, such as; constipation, anal sex, dirty undersides and so on. Many of these subjects were discussed with their children. For example; the wife asks her son Nocolas if he knows what shitting is, he answers “yes” and she then proceeds to tell him that she hasn’t shit in two weeks. Another disturbing piece of commentary that included the children, was the husbands explanation of what he did to his wife when he found out she was cheating on him. He claimed he was so mad at her “he could of raped her”, so instead he had violent anal sex with her while she screamed, he then realized that one of his children was watching the entire encounter. It seemed that Godard wanted to take his audience to the darkest place in their subconscious, and let them roam comfortably in their abnormalities.

Even the way this film was presented was dark and tormented. We watched the encounters with this family through television screens in Godard’s editing room, through his eyes. This made each subject even more eerie, even more forbidden and taboo. This begs the question; why did Godard make this film? Why did he want to show us a seemingly normal family and their darkest secrets, through his gritty eyes? It left me wondering…”was this genius, or simply a strange perversion?” If it was genius, this could have been Godard’s statement against normalcy. No family is “normal”, every family has curious children, and strange sexually charged thoughts between husband and wife. Is normalcy actually perversion, but we just don’t talk about it? Or was Godard simply going for the shock factor, and not trying to expose an underlined issue? Maybe Godard was simply waking up his audience. Maybe he wanted them to revert to their natural and animalistic Freudian subconscious and not think at all. Maybe this film was made to make us not think; instead of to make our heads spin with unanswered questions. The reason for this film I will never be sure of, but I am sure Godard achieved his goal.

Friday, December 11, 2009

British Sounds

This was the most relevant, and well argued political film I have watched by Jean-Luc Godard. It did not transport me to a different world, or allow me to use my imagination. It brought to reality, and left the imagined unimaginable. Instead of going through the motions in a daydreamed daze, this film forced me to think of the world, my world, our world and the failure of its system. I am not a Marxist communist, but I know rigid, fundamental capitalism has failed. This is why places like the city of Detroit have over a 30 percent unemployment rate. This is why people are freezing to death because they have lost their homes due the greedy bank induced mortgage crisis/ this is why I am two days and three credits shy of a college education and working in a factory through a temp. agency. This is why; if I stay in my current position; I will never be unionized and I will continue to be taken advantage of. This is why I went to college; to eventually be the boss of people like me, to live the American dream, to continue living the dream of capitalism, to use a college degree as a base/start of getting my hands on as much money as I can, to drive a Range Rover, to smoke the finest cigars and drink the best wine, while an unemployed ex G.M employee rummages through my trash. Isn’t life grand?

Who would have known that we, the self proclaimed greatest nation in the world, could become failures? Why have we failed? Greed. Capitalism. They go hand and hand. The AIG presidents demanding millions of dollars in bonuses, after their company got bailed out by working class American people. The big three continuing to produce oil gasoline hogging SUVs , when they know oil prices can go up at any moment; it was too expensive to change their lines, and the American people wanted the status symbol of the bigger the better.

Even though it was made in Great Britain in 1970, “British Sounds” was relevant to modern day class struggle in America, and forced me to think of the reality of America via 2009. Still we over sexualize and undermine women, still workers are taken advantage of and underpaid, still we need reform. Maybe not as extreme of reform as JLG speaks of, but at least a compromise, something similar to modern day Switzerland or France would be beneficial to our country. I want to live the day that the quote in the film: Q “ Mommy is Daddy dead?” A. “ No honey, he works for GM” is laughable and untrue. It has been awhile, but Godard has struck a cord with me and has once again made me re-evaluate life, capitalism, women’s suffrage and my current and relatable situation in this “struggle between image and sound”.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Meeting with Woody Allen

This was extremely interesting seeing these two major influences on film as we know it, sitting down and speaking to each other. What can I say? It was simply a great experience anticipating and trying to guess what Godard was going to ask Woody Allen. It also was neat to see a humanized and curious Jean-Luc Godard ask questions to such a different type, yet equally as important, film maker.

I am glad Godard brought up the subject of television. What great directors though of television has always been a curiosity to me. Godard told Woody Allen that it has a negative effect on his creative process and compared it to radiation poisoning. I am pretty sure—due to the language barrier—Woody Allen misunderstood the question. Yet, it may have been a little bit after—Woody Allen said that television is a mere appliance not an art. However, Godard seemed to expose a contradiction in Woody Allen’s statement by bringing up a shot of buildings in one of his films. He asked him if the shot would have been the same if he lived in a country where TV. did not exist. Woody Allen drew blank, and eventually said it may have been. Godard basically was making a statement that T.V subconsciously affects us. They then moved on to discussing the creative process, as seen untainted by television.

Woody Allen has never watched the entirety of a single film he has made. He spoke of coming up with the greatest and most beautiful idea, the excitement that comes with that idea, and the eventual frustration that comes with not being able to produce that perfect image in his head. He does not want to watch the finished project because all he can see is the imperfections. He feels that directing is a tedious process, he is just glad he can do something tedious with film. Like most great artist, both Godard and Allen are never satisfied, nothing they produce meets the standards they produce in their head, and they will always stride for perfection, producing the perfect piece of art. We may see their art as beautiful and flawless, but in their eyes they will never see anything they produce as perfect (let alone satisfactory). Great artists are in constant battle with themselves…and they will never be satisfied.

Monday, December 7, 2009

In Praise of Love

In Praise of Love:

Is it just me or is Godard starting to slip in to an unconscious and distorted oblivion? “In Praise of Love” was layered with so many ideals that once again they were all lost, and once again I was left shaking my head. How can one film have three separate love stories (if you want to call them stories), knock Spielberg, tackle pompous Americanism, deal with a film within the film and give us a history lesson on the French Revolution…all while adding extremely thick dialogue coated with “deep” and often random thoughts? The answer; it cant. It was a mess--if it was not for the cinematography and the lack of color contrasted with the overuse of color—I would have fallen asleep.

I hate to sound bitter, but Godard’s modern works simply are unbearable. Like an athlete who hangs up the sneakers after his knees give out, it looks like Godard should have hung up the scripts and camera. It seems the flaws that actually helped make earlier films more beautiful and real, have been overexposed and equate to an explosion of sleep worthy modern Godard films.

I also have a slight problem with Godard completely contradicting himself. I may have misinterpreted it (which is most likely the case, since this film was so poorly put together) but he seems to take a feminist stand. Correct me if I am wrong, but he makes a statement against female nudity in American cinema. This is strange, since the last five films I have watched had dozens of naked females in the shots. He also once had a fascination with female prostitutes, and used them as main characters. Is he saying it is only okay when he does it? Why cant American cinema also be misogynistic? His point is not what bothers me, what bothers me is his obvious contradictions. It was as if he was searching for anything to attack Hollywood cinema.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

For Ever Mozart

The run time was an hour and twenty five minutes, but it felt like it ran longer than Titanic. I failed to learn the relevance of more than half of this film; either I have a short attention span, or Godard lacked logical closure and explanation. Did Godard piece together this film just for the sheer fact that he could? Did he know he could rush through and produce a bowl movement of a movie, knowing people would watch it because of his reputation? Did he know that many would claim For Ever Mozart as brilliant, simply because they didn’t understand it?

For the first time, I think Godard took advantage of his reputation as the strange, extremely artistic, edgy, and not easy to follow film maker. He used his reputation to put together a mumbling, rambling bore of a film, and get away with it. I barely followed the main plot of a young crew of actors, an aging director who struggled with funding, and their filming in Sarajevo. On top of this, the essay format and the philosophical jargon was not strong enough to keep the audience thinking—it simply went in one ear and out the other.

The cinematography was sub-par, at best. This really disappointed me. When I watched earlier political films that I could not exactly relate to, I could at least admire the unique beauty of the still shots, use of color, settings, etc. This time; there was no thought that went into the colors, the settings, etc. I was sick of continuous shots of the ocean, and faux woods. The explosions were cheaply done, and the machine gun shots sounded as if they came pre-recorded off one of those “high tech” keyboards via 1989.

I have been critical about many of Godard’s films, but this is the first time I have been thoroughly disappointed. I usually can find some good, but this time I could not. After I watched it, I shook my head and asked myself: "what happened"?