Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

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knives
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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#26 Post by knives » Mon Jul 02, 2018 5:41 pm

Are we considering Young Cassidy eligible for this?

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#27 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jul 02, 2018 5:47 pm

Good question since I still haven't updated the Ford and Godard eligibility lists. Yes!

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#28 Post by knives » Mon Jul 02, 2018 5:51 pm

Thank you kindly.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#29 Post by Rayon Vert » Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:55 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 10:44 am
Late period Godard, which Sauve qui peut (la vie) ushers in, is indeed narratively obscure to the point of, well, pointlessness. This isn't a critique but an observation. I think it was Bordwell who called out other film writers for not acknowledging the impenetrability of the plots in later Godard films, accusing them of cribbing from the official plot description instead of admitting how obfuscated said narrative often is in these movies. It took me several viewings to "get" Sauve qui peut (la vie), but I now rank it amongst Godard's best. You mention the use of sex and critical readings, Rayon Vert. I recommend finding the book the Radical Faces of Godard and Bertolucci, which has an insightful and inflammatory essay exploring and discussing the depiction of anal sex in the films of the two auteurs (with this film naturally receiving significant focus). It's an ugly but fascinating read!
Wow, a whole chapter about it. :-k I didn't notice it was so frequent in Sauve qui peut, but thinking back on it yes I can count at least three references to it: the most obvious being when Paul (I think it's him, he's offscreen) asks a friend if he sometimes thinks, ahem, of that with his daughter, but then there's the very early bit where Paul (the stand-in for JLG) himself gets propositioned by a hotel clerk, and there's a mention of it in that human sex centipede scene... I am curious as to what that author makes of all that.

This is especially true of the 80s and beyond films, but I always go back to reading chapters of books (Brody is a useful one) dedicated to the film in question before I watch it again, or else too much goes over my head, including the "plot"...

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#30 Post by knives » Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:29 pm

The Lost Patrol
Ah, just the sort of Ford I've been looking for with this little project. Ford is very willing to just be mean on this one with even the humour having the bite of masculine cruelty (the biggest laugh comes from a unknowing cuckold). It really opens the world open to another path for Ford without the Hays code wherein he would have been a more humanistic, but just as violent Peckinpah. The amen scene from The Wild Bunch even has a precedent here with the differences highlighting radically different world views. Which of course leads to Boris Karloff who absolutely steals the show as the token pansy. McLanglen as usual is a bore offering nothing a peg of wood couldn't, but Karloff and his character make the film seem much more modern as the pointlessness of war comes at us from the other side. His angry speech about this being the garden of Eden sounds more like something a modern film would include rather than something from this imperialist age. That's not to say that this is a paradigm of progressive understanding. Just that in it finding this event of WWI useless it is not acting like Black Narcissus saying that imperialism is wrong because the land and people will turn the Brits savage rather than the other way around. The imperialism question just doesn't seem important in light of the vastness of the desert. Thematically I suppose this is more a Jarhead as a musing on the boredom of war. It doesn't leave room open for the sense of a happy ending.

Young Cassidy
It is generic to say this, but this really does feel completely and totally Ford as represented by the more open Cardiff. Some moments could only be Ford, some only Cardiff, but most need both. Taylor singing to Smith by the river is a fantastic Ford moment, but it is punctuated by Cardiff having Taylor twirl his finger in the water. The two come together in a way that almost seems necessary. In Ford's hands I could see this easily being How Green Was My Valley twenty years on with Ford as an older observer of the politics he finds dear. By himself the film could have lost its romantic edge for an old man's humour. Cardiff makes the politics not just likable for their humour, but for their youthful passion as well. Alternatively the film truly could not be without Ford's guiding hand. The whole of the characterization is purely him and that extends to make the ideas of art, class, freedom, and unions succeed through their casual necessity. This never feels like a bit of left wing pontification as so many English films from the era do thanks to how the characters grow into those themes.

Night at the Crossroads
In many respects this is a massive improvement on La chienne though it still fails to cohere into a movie worth the director's reputation. The script is probably the best Renoir had worked with up until this point. The idea of him and Simenon teaming up rattles the mind with some compelling possibilities. The script contains a hard ugly edge removing Renoir's provincial comedy for a more sarcastic sort appropriate for noir. While the characters are barely sketched in at 70 minutes their archetype is conveyed well enough to make muscle of the plot. Had this been made four years later I could see the end result being one of Renoir's best. The weaknesses in budget and technology though cause the film to sink some. The aesthetic prowess of the film seems inversely proportionate to the coherence of the script, something Lynch would more deliberately make use of later, so that the opening scenes tell their story with quite some depth and a visual boredom while the ending is babble done with a great Mabuse flair.

That lead to one particular musing on Renoir. He has this reputation as a great humanist full of empathy and consideration yet his career is tied to Lang's in a very tight manner even as Lang's reputation is completely the opposite. Lang remade Renoir not once, but twice and here we end basically in the same manner as Testament of Dr. Mabuse. These are pretty broad connections, but I wonder what about their views on storytelling and maybe even themes would have this sort of overlap that is stronger than any two random filmmakers should have. Does Renoir actually have a suspicion of humanity or maybe Lang finds a greater openness in the dark? Naturally the answer must be somewhere between, but the exact where I don't know.

For Ever Mozart
This was quite the surprise on two levels. The first is that it is a relatively straight forward narrative, at least compared to my expectations. Of course no one else except post-'80s Godard could have made it, but it all the sames follows a fairly simple a to b path with pretty traditionally defined characters with normal character problems filling the screen. This is probably a cause for the second surprise which is that this film most closely resembles Grandeur and Decadence from a decade earlier. Not only is a scene repeated, but the specific way he deals with his larger idea of art being important yet irrelevant seems to overlap in a lot of ways, though him being able to work in specifics in this case helps a lot to improve the overall film into something closer to greatness. Though in the earlier film's favor it is significantly funnier.

The true film to give this one in context though appears to be Kieslowski's Blue. Of course Godard is well known for his dislike of Kieslowski (though this seems a bit late as a response), but the reason for Blue in particular seeming like what this was developed as an antithesis of is that film's Euro-optimism and at least by Godard's perspective white washing of contemporary injustices. How can you develop an ode to joy as the balkans are burning with the worst European crimes in forty years? Like our characters witlessly planning a play in a war zone that seems like a deliberate ignorance that could only lead to a self destructiveness or a callousness depending on what wins out. Godard runs back to history claiming this the is a new give them cake moment on a much larger an deadlier scale. From that Godard with more discipline than usual a number of other pet topics relating to European history.
Last edited by knives on Sun Jul 08, 2018 1:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#31 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Jul 08, 2018 12:51 am

La Nuit du carrefour (Night at the Crossroads). I don’t get as much out of this as knives. Although I do have the same general impression of a film that pays off a bit more aesthetically than narratively. The storyline I found a bit hard again to follow (the early 30s sound is still very rough and dialogue can be difficult to make out at times) but there are a few atmospheric highs courtesy of some fog and rainy, muddy streets scenes.


Nana. Mixed feelings also about this one. Not the most compelling novel to start with, this lavish production suffers from several sequences that are really slow and too drawn out. Catherine Hessling really hams it up as the lead, but her performance of Nana as an iron-clad narcissist and the fairly Expressionist style of the film are perfectly suited to what is basically a horror story: a vampirish fiend who destroys the men around her, drawn hypnotically to her base charms, and who wreaks general havoc (I wonder what she would have brought to La Chienne). It’s much different from Renoir’s later output but you do have the social classes theme and a cancan scene I’d forgotten about. (Fun fact: in the Zola universe, Nana is the half-sister of Jacques Lantier, the Gabin character in La Bête humaine – and they’re both children of Gervaise (see Clément)).


---


Un Film comme les autres (A Film Like Any Other). I’ve seen the films in the Arrow set before and I don’t expect any of them to make my list but this seems like a good occasion to view the transfers and revisit the films. May ’68 seems to have been the decisive moment that turned Godard into a convinced Marxist-Leninist and this was the first film he shot with that mindset (he filmed the Stones in the studio in early June but the rest of One Plus One was filmed in the fall, while this one was filmed in the summer, exactly 50 years ago…)

It’s incredibly static but I still found something to like here the first time, and I liked it even more the second time. This is really like La Chinoise come to life: a staged but real, filmed conversation between a handful of revolutionary Nanterre university students and some sympathizing Renaud factory workers (and occasionally Godard off-screen). The voice-over commentary starts that off-putting monologic discourse trend that is characteristic of the DV Group films but in between ideological statements it relates the events of the past months, linked up to documentary footage of the events, and most of the time, thankfully, it’s off and leaves us to that (for me) engaging, free-wheeling conversation about the best means to achieve the revolution following those significant events. Along with the footage of the riotous events, it’s a document of the times and I find this conversation between these hopeful and committed, intelligent young people, stimulating and inspiring, even if I don’t share the political views.

What’s probably also unappealing to many is the way those people are shot – again, very statically - either from a long distance, close-up but with faces barely seen, or through thick wild grass. I was wondering if this was to protect the individuals’ identities, to promote a collective spirit, or provide a “Brechtian distancing device” (referenced early on in the voice-over commentary), and it’s possibly all three.

One thing I’ve noticed sometimes in the description of this film (including in the Brody biography), which gets repeated on the back of the Arrow blu-ray case, is that the film is made up of two repeating parts visually (two 54 minute reels of the same visuals), with different audio tracks. I watched very closely, and this appears to me to be completely false. Both the documentary footage and the conversation shots appear to me to be distinct from beginning to end of the film, with, in addition, the latter always properly synched to the speakers’ voices and the different words spoken.


Histoire(s) du cinéma, Episodes 1a & 1b. I’m not up to watching the whole thing again, worthy as it is, but just revisited the first two episodes, which are the best anyway to my mind. Godard’s (historical, political) arguments are those of an artist, so that’s how I take them and I just get into the spirit of the thing. The art of this ambitious, provocative and ultimately quite personal essay is remarkable, as film sequences and stills, photographs of actors and directors, documentary footage, pictures of paintings, text, footage of Godard, visual effects and multiple simultaneous soundtracks (commentaries, film soundtracks, music) are combined to create a ceaselessly changing historical/spiritual kaleidoscope that can be overwhelming, even by the director’s multilayered standards. The partially surprising thing is how this especially mercurial piece (there is a tremendous abundance of information simultaneously but it also moves and changes constantly and rapidly) can still generate emotion (often through the viewer’s recognition of elements but in new, surprising contexts and juxtapositions) and notes of effective gravitas. I’m not always in the mood for this sort of thing, but whether it lands or not on my list this time, I consider it one of the man’s highest achievements.


King Lear. I was hoping that Criterion would put this out before this list project came to be, but alas.

Chernobyl has brought about an apocalypse and one of Shakespeare’s descendants seeks to retrieve art/culture. Though the premise is comical and it’s also, on the surface, about the death of civilization, this isn’t the black comedy of Week End. Godard’s philosophy of the image – arriving at a means to create true images, that will somehow uncover and “resurrect” the real -, a cornerstone of his later period, is truly front and center here in this film which is almost pure allegory, barely a sketch of a narrative film. But as is often the case in this period I’m left scratching my head as to how everything fits together – that central plotline/theme (which involves Godard as a self-referential, hermit “video media editor" Professor Pluggy), with the Lear-Cordelia storyline (and its associated “no thing” theme, which is still a bit unclear to me). (I noticed this time that at one point Cordelia “becomes” Joan of Arc, with the Americans as the - cultural - invaders of France.)

In addition to being philosophically and symbolically dense, and aurally hard to decipher, the film is a mixed experience because the ambitious conception meets with very primitive and somewhat ridiculous/amateurish production aspects, including the “goblins” and Godard’s (intentionally, I’m sure) awkward characterization and performance of Pluggy (speaking a terrible English out of one side of his mouth). The film was made in the period that Godard was working on the Histoire(s) du cinéma, which shows at several points in the film (the frequent use of paintings, the illustrations of image montage as it comes to be used in the Histoire(s) essay). A film I wouldn’t mind having more analysis of to further appreciate and understand, but whose execution, at times, leaves a bit to be desired.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#32 Post by knives » Sun Jul 08, 2018 9:10 am

Rayon Vert wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 12:51 am
La Nuit du carrefour (Night at the Crossroads). I don’t get as much out of this as knives. Although I do have the same general impression of a film that pays off a bit more aesthetically than narratively. The storyline I found a bit hard again to follow (the early 30s sound is still very rough and dialogue can be difficult to make out at times) but there are a few atmospheric highs courtesy of some fog and rainy, muddy streets scenes.
By all accounts it seems Renoir forgot to film a number of scenes which explains why the plot can be rather hard to follow. Good thing that method would pay off for Renoir later.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#33 Post by domino harvey » Sun Jul 08, 2018 11:24 am

Histoire(s) du cinéma, Episodes 1a & 1b. I’m not up to watching the whole thing again, worthy as it is, but just revisited the first two episodes, which are the best anyway to my mind.
No way, Parts 3A and 3B reppin'

I don't think Godard's fixation on "nothing" --> "no thing" is particularly deep, I think he just likes the word play. Regardless, it's caused me to always read that part in Molly Ringwald's inflection. And Burgess Meredith is great in his one day of shooting role-- I know few scholars take this seriously as a Shakespeare adaptation since Godard famously only adapted the first and last three pages, but Meredith's approach to Lear is quite clever and it almost makes me want to see a Cymbeline-style adaptation that updates the setting without updating the text

King Lear has the third-funniest Godard perf of the 80s-- Best is obviously his Tati dive into the car at the beginning of Keep Your Right Up, followed very closely by him announcing in Prenom Carmen that he's invented a movie camera that plays music

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#34 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Jul 08, 2018 11:39 am

domino harvey wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 11:24 am
No way, Parts 3A and 3B reppin'
The last time I watched the whole series, I definitely ranked those a close second. (Since each of the four pair of episodes was made in different years, 1a-1b in 1988-89, and then a gap of several years for the later ones, it can make sense to consider them as four films.) Referring to my viewing notes, for those less familiar or not remembering the distinct episodes well: 3a focuses on post-war Italian cinema as the only attempt to capture the real after the betrayal of cinema’s promising start, with very cogent poetic philosophizing about the war years that returns us to the themes of the first episodes, and 3b is about the New Wave as a hopeful but ultimately doomed, dying last gasp. The episodes are distinctive in that Godard’s “narrating” voice is often present, though never in any dogmatic way. The associations and montage of words, paintings and film clips is frequently moving again, and episode 3a, the strongest of the two, starts with affecting statements about the failure to address the then-contemporary massacre in the Balkans.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#35 Post by domino harvey » Sun Jul 08, 2018 1:49 pm

Going back to knives' comments on For Ever Mozart, I'm certainly in agreement that it's a humorless movie. I must admit I haven't had the desire to peel open my Cohen Blu-ray since upgrading, but I still distinctly remember this being Godard's ugliest and cruelest film, what with
SpoilerShow
the protagonists being raped and murdered about 45 minutes in, prefaced with the line "This is how we get fucked in the ass" in relation metaphorically to both war and their placement within Godard's narrative, and then literally, with their subsequent implied sodomization). It's such a brutal moment in a brutal film

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#36 Post by knives » Sun Jul 08, 2018 2:02 pm

It's definitely a tough sit through on that level. He offers basically no subtlety in saying war is not a spectator sport. The whole scene you allude to is definitely one of the most violent feeling (though with a few small exceptions I don't think he actually shows anything) similar to The Virgin Spring though without any thematic positivity to hold onto. Based on the one viewing I would say it's probably the best of his '90s films I've seen, but it's also not really one I would watch on a casual Sunday.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#37 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Jul 08, 2018 2:10 pm

That story dimension in Mozart brought to mind Les Caribiniers, and both have black humor, although the tone of the first mixes with the tragic. The Cohen blu has a good commentary by James Quandt. Détective, Hélas pour moi and this one were probably the hardest for me to understand initially, without a lot of textual support.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#38 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Jul 15, 2018 1:13 am

British Sounds. I guess you have to appreciate these films in terms of their original aims and intended audiences, which I gather in this case is the already converted. The opening, long tracking-shot factory sequence recalls other similar ones in Godard, and the partial point here is to appreciate the constant, ear-piercing noise these workers are laboring under. Curiously, though the commentary expresses the Marxist perspective that these workers are oppressed under the wage system, the workers we do see mostly seem to have smiles on their faces, which undercuts the message a bit. All in all, there’s some, limited amount of creative inspiration and originality in these six sequences, but none of it is particularly memorable either. (I’d forgotten the Beatles songs. Of course Godard wouldn’t have gotten the rights cleared – I wonder what Apple would think of this release?)


Hélas pour moi. Shades of Hail Mary here in this story of a mysterious event/fable involving God (Depardieu – “of-through-God”) entering Rachel’s husband Simon (Donnadieu – “give to God”) – in order to sleep with her (to what end exactly? I didn’t quite catch this time around). This is really a difficult one. Even though I boned up again on the ideas inspiring Godard in this work, and that it supposedly communicates (ideas about origins, the present always carrying the past, a Jewish mystical tradition emphasizing a non-linear concept of time, the ever-present philosophical-cinematographic-mystical notions of the resurrection of the image, etc.), only bits of that reach me beyond the main plot when I’m actually watching again, which at some points becomes of uneven interest. On top of that, especially in the first half-hour or so, there are so many quickly-appearing-and-disappearing characters, with the usual dense layers of parallel spoken statements on and off-screen, as well as the written titles, that you’re left more disoriented than usual. I’d forgotten, though, how beautiful the photography can be at times.


Le Vent d’est. The Brechtian western that’s on the screen for most of the time kind of plays second fiddle to the audio commentary, which is focused on the twin goals of attacking socialist and leftist revisionism, and the bourgeois concept of representation (i.e. cinema), hence the “western” ironized. Even though this is full-out Marxist theory thrown at you non-stop for 1h32, I was surprised at how much I liked this (a lot more than the first time – I’ve upgraded it from D+ to B-). It’s passionate and smart, there’s a lot of creativity involved, and at times it’s even humorous.


Le Gai Savoir. It’s as if we were witnessing two of La Chinoise’s students at work/study on a film – as it happens both of them, Léaud and Berto, having played students in that previous film. Godard had from the start demonstrated his fascination with language and its deconstruction and here he goes at it full blast, now fully committed, politicized and Marxianized as Émile and Patricia attempt to recuperate sound and image from bourgeois civilization, finding a void from which new learning will be possible. There’s a mention of Descartes’ Discourse on Method near the beginning, and like Descartes the two youths are stripping everything away and starting back at zero. Godard whispers at film’s end that he’s offering here a field of lessons from which future self-aware (in the political sense) films might find inspiration and means.

One thing that’s remarkable when viewing this is how this insight and philosophy into freeing sounds and images has arguably remained his primary concern through everything he’s done since, right up until the present.

This is quite dense, and has some moments that I found more impenetrable, but it’s also very fun, stimulating and aesthetically lively and challenging.


Éloge de l’amour. It’s “cleaner” and less overloaded in terms of simultaneous audio and visual structures than Godard’s previous late-period films, but if anything it’s more densely packed than anything else he’s made in terms of reflections and citations. As usual there are plenty of narrative asides (characters interviewed, reciting literature, expressing thoughts, etc.), but the main story revolves around Edgar in Paris who, in the process of trying to realize a project (theater? cinema?) around a significant love encounter of the past, meets up again with that lover, while the last section of the film consists of a flashback as Edgar is in Brittany researching the Resistance and meeting this woman, Berthe, for the first time.

Memory is the overwhelming theme of the film, in terms (as in the recent Histoire(s) du cinema) of both personal history and world History (and their relationship), with the Bonjour Tristesse-derived B&W=present/color=flashback mode helping to stamp this into form. There’s the memory of that love, but the whole film, made on the cusp of the new millennium, is visually and thematically a reflection on time, viz. all of the references to World War II and especially the Resistance, other references to France in medieval and Gallic-Roman times, visual allusions to Godard’s own distant past with those shots of the Parisian streets of Breathless, references to Robert Bresson (probably because he had just passed and maybe because his life really spanned the century?). These reflections on the significance of memory for human existence and love (love including here more largely the apprehension and love of the world and life) are intertwined with meditations on resistance to oppression, the death of life that the State represents (moving lines about how the state is the opposite of lovers) (with the memory-less, culturally colonizing United States as its most overwhelming and threatening incarnation), the identity of France, the Paris homeless, the Yugoslavian conflicts, love and existence and time and age and death, and of course cinema and the arts.

The film’s structure and form, with a return to (exquisitely photographed) black-and-white for the first longer part, followed by that extended flashback in distorted, hallucinatory, painterly video color, matches in originality and beauty the reflections it contains. The black-and-white portion makes it feel as if the present is already “past”, dead (or in mourning?), with the memory sequence fantastically alive. This is such an impressive piece, a solemn but moving film, head and shoulders above Godard’s fiction work at least of the latter 80s and 90s. I’d rate it among his very best and this cries out for a proper blu-ray presentation, definitely worthy of a Criterion edition.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#39 Post by domino harvey » Sun Jul 15, 2018 1:22 am

There’s a mention of Descartes’ Discourse on Method near the beginning, and like Descartes the two youths are stripping everything away and starting back at zero.
Au contraire, they're returning to zero, not starting back at zero. I actually don't think this is just one of Godard's usual linguistic puck acts, there's a difference. The descent/ascent (however you view it) is, I think, indicative of the actual anti-radical positions our so-called revolutionary central figures hold: they want elisions of the way things are to return or create an old way that may never have existed. This is regressive and reactionary, but not radical.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#40 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:28 am

Beyond the wording that you allude to, I didn't get anything from the film that would indicate that Emile and Patricia are being depicted as reactionary or regressive. I would need more evidence to be convinced of that reading.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#41 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Jul 22, 2018 12:46 am

JLG/JLG. The form is different because it’s an auto-portrait (of sorts) but it’s the usual themes and concerns (that provocative “legend of stereo” bit is amusing). Perhaps what I like about it is that successfully goes from moments of melancholy and utter seriousness to comedy (JLG’s self mise-en-scène is a bit in the Professor Pluggy vein in the last part). Likeable but a bit slight though.


Lotte in Italia. A young militant woman explains dialectical materialism and shows us how she’s resolved her contradictions. About as thrilling as that sounds.


Notre Musique. Godard seems to move away even further here than in Éloge de l’amour from his 80s/90s work in terms of a much more immediately readable, less multilayered work (there’s practically no overlapping audio dialogue or commentary tracks). The Divine Comedy-inspired framing device is audacious but otherwise this isn’t Godard’s strongest work. Arguably most of his fiction films (especially mid-60s onwards) have elements of the essay film, but this one strongly tends more than usual towards the latter. That becomes a problem in the long middle section of the film where characters’ words are almost exclusively politico-philosophical statements (some of this is sometimes a bit obvious, usually rare in the director’s oeuvre), and relate to one another only in this way. So that there are no truly meaningful relationships depicted, and therefore little to no emotional response elicited in the viewer beyond Godard’s ideas and the forms he uses to convey them. This also appears to me more problematic given that the film, despite occasional satirical touches, is mostly, like Éloge, dramatic in tone.


Vladimir et Rosa. The budget is obviously small but this is a smartly thought-out and written film, quite fun and anarchic. Beginning with Godard’s narration inhabiting some character with a strong accent (African French? if so, to what end?), this humorous film had me guffawing a few times. And even though the Marxist-Leninist, revolutionary message is sincere, the film is able to poke fun at everyone involved, and itself. Clearly the best of the films in the Arrow G+G box. This time, I actually enjoyed this more than Notre Musique.


Film socialisme. This shares with Notre Musique a tripartite structure and both are also explicitly political films (although I’d say Éloge is filled with politics as well, only in a more indirect way). In his senior years, Godard is making films that are as ambitious and complex as anything he’s done previously, which is fairly awe-inspiring. I won’t pretend I’m able to summarize the film’s ideas – they’re many and not all obvious, especially in how they interconnect - but the more explicit theme is Europe, its less-than-virginal past and the uncertainty of the shape of its future at a time of rapid transformation. Its triumphs seem to be indissolubly linked with a darker, twin side (democracy with war, liberation with further oppression and suffering).

The Martin family middle segment isn’t obvious to read. I take it they are involved in politics in some way, left-leaning, and there are several references to the French Revolution, as well as hostility towards the media and market forces (this continues the critique of global capitalism which is strongly obvious in the first part, with the consumerist cruise ship, the theme of corruption with gold/money, etc.). This seems to be a depiction of a loving family, despite the fighting, and the artistic heritage of Europe is celebrated among them (music, literature, painting). The film’s stated connection of the Martin name with the French Resistance perhaps reveals them as contemporary resistors in their own way, and symbols of hope for the future.

I notice that the film, especially through Florine, who seems to be a mouthpiece for the director here, repeats very similar statements made in Notre Musique and Éloge about how the abstract existence of the State is antithetical to what is precious and valuable in human life, e.g. “humans/individuals seek to pair up or become two, whereas the State seeks to be one”. I’ll have to revisit Adieu au langage but I notice its booklet has the sentence in it: “it’s a war, of society against the State”, and Florine also says something equivalent, so this is clearly a theme dear to modern-day Godard.

I don’t know what to make of all the animals in the film – the parakeets, the cats (in both cases, these have “paired up”), the donkey and the llama, the owl – but their presence is strong, and I wonder if this a continuing theme with the focus on Roxy in Adieu.

On another side note, the gas station is prominent in the Martin family section, and along with cars service stations seem to be something Godard returns to again and again, from the early works (Contempt, Pierrot, 2 or 3 Things), to the prominent gas stations in films like Sauve qui peut, Prénom Carmen and Hail Mary.

Film socialisme is a bit like Notre Musique in the sense that so much of what is involved in terms of the characters is allegory, but this comes off much stronger. The film has such an epic size, with the grandeur and beauty of many of its images in addition to its grandiose themes, and the Histoires du cinema-like sound-image collages are quite distinct and stirring.

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zedz
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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#42 Post by zedz » Sun Jul 22, 2018 7:09 pm

I've seen the latest Godard, so i might as well post about it:

The Image Book (Godard) – There’s nothing really new to see here. Godard has some fun with the soundtrack, bouncing texts around the walls, providing only partial subtitles, or providing subtitles for texts that are wiped from the soundtrack, and delighting in making his filmic extracts as compellingly ugly as possible, including the use of terrible analogue video sources, fiddling with contrast and colour, and brutally stretching Academy images to widescreen like Your Dad or Godfrey Reggio (but unlike those vandals, he fiddles with the ratio midshot to reassure us that it’s just a game). However, this is basically what he was doing twenty or more years ago, it’s a far cry from the genuinely fresh formal invention of Adieu au langage, and feels very much like a more concise and less ambitious Histoire(s) de Cinema. The film is divided into chapters, and some are much more successful than others. The first one, Remakes, is the most enjoyable and insightful, starting with an inspired burst of late Scott Walker (sadly not to return) and presenting a collage of clips mimicking one another, including contemporary news footage that seems to reenact famous scenes from movies (though this is one of those specious Godard gotchas that wear thin very fast – shots of people being pushed overboard to drown look kind of the same: this doesn’t actually say anything meaningful about Paisan or the real-life killers, or whoever captured them on film). That said, this section is visually engaging and effectively kaleidoscopic, though it’s nowhere near as witty, deft or well-structured as Guy Maddin’s The Green Fog, which explores similar ideas with a lot more discipline and skill. A later section rhymes and collides a whole lot of train-focussed footage, and is pretty enjoyable, but the more tendentious the chapters get the more tired the entire enterprise seems, and Godard never manages to pull off a unifying coup. The credits run some time before the film actually ends, but the post-credits material is just more of the same, so you don’t even feel that those who were faked out into leaving early were particularly disadvantaged.

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domino harvey
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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#43 Post by domino harvey » Sun Jul 22, 2018 10:54 pm

Godard compared unfavorably to Guy Maddin? Injustice will not stand

Rayon Vert, what do you think of the first section of Notre musique? I think it's his best distillation of the chopped up video editing he's been doing not just in Histoire(s) but numerous shorts and interspersed in features. I'll often just revisit that segment, though I rate the overall film much higher than you. I suspect it will make my list, somewhere

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#44 Post by zedz » Sun Jul 22, 2018 10:59 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Sun Jul 22, 2018 10:54 pm
Godard compared unfavorably to Guy Maddin? Injustice will not stand
The similarity between the films was too acute to ignore, but I confess that the thought of you reading that post spurred me on.

(But seriously, The Green Fog is a bundle of fun: it's a found footage remake of Vertigo, with all the footage found from other films set in San Francisco, so you get collages of various people jumping into the bay, gazing intently at paintings of movie stars in period drag, or lying in hospital beds.)

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#45 Post by domino harvey » Sun Jul 22, 2018 11:07 pm


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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#46 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Jul 22, 2018 11:44 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Sun Jul 22, 2018 10:54 pm
Godard compared unfavorably to Guy Maddin? Injustice will not stand

Rayon Vert, what do you think of the first section of Notre musique? I think it's his best distillation of the chopped up video editing he's been doing not just in Histoire(s) but numerous shorts and interspersed in features. I'll often just revisit that segment, though I rate the overall film much higher than you. I suspect it will make my list, somewhere
I like it. But I thought the last third of Film socialisme beat it. I think all of Godard's films this century have been strong, but I felt it was comparatively weaker than Éloge or FS. Looking forward to seeing the new one, even though it sounds like it's a pure essay film with little to no pretense of fiction, story, etc.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#47 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Jul 29, 2018 12:40 am

France tour détour deux enfants. Taking as its inspiration a famous pedagogical 19th century book about two children who introduce France to the reader, this inspired essay “film” (actually a 12-episode series, totaling 5h13, shot for TV) executes a political and philosophical inquiry into French capitalist society by studying the lives, mostly through interviews (with Godard as the off-camera interviewer, frequently using his typical word play) with two actual children, Camille and Arnaud, among a society of adults who are labeled by the narrators as the “monsters”. The programs are ingeniously structured, and there are brilliant bits here. Godard is just as politically committed as in earlier Dziga Vertov Group films, but has left behind the Marxist-Maoist terminology and centers more on private, daily life (within the institutions of the family, school, etc.). The work is quite successful in allowing us to view society through fresh eyes, in ways we wouldn’t have considered, revealing the contradictions of these institutions as well as the social control and programming these children – and we – undergo. And as in the pre-DVG 60s films, the inquiry is ontological (“Do you have an existence? One or several?” etc.) as much as it is straightforwardly political. All of the episodes aren’t equally strong, but this often makes for fascinating viewing, not to mention seeing the development of the use of some audio-visual techniques that will feature in later works such as Sauve qui peut and Histoire(s) du cinema.

I hope this gets an actual release one day. I have a bootleg version of this and it’s on youtube (with burned-in subtitles) for anyone who’s never seen it and cares to. Watch the first episode and you’ll get a good idea, as the structure of each episode is the same throughout. (Also on YT is the preceding, twice as lengthy Six fois deux series, which I haven’t seen and probably won’t, given the image quality and the chore of watching it through that medium.)


Prénom Carmen
. I forgot how much slapstick humor there is in this film. This isn’t the deepest of Godard’s films (we’re back in the familiar terrain of loving-and-fighting lovers on the run) but I find a lot of it delightful: the Carmen and Joseph relationship and how the actors play the parts, the way the Godard scenes are also both wittily written and played. The nature and the city-with-cars/trains shots (sometimes in neat, diagonal lines) echo similar elements in Sauve qui peut and the other films of that era, although it isn’t obvious (for me) how these, and the violinists, all relate together.


Tout va bien. I always liked this but this time I really found it quite exceptionally fine, from one end to the other. The state of the union address, i.e. France since 1968, makes for a strong thematic frame, and there’s a solid enough narrative welded to the meta-cinematic and essay film aspects. All of the sequences are well-designed and distinctive, and Godard and Gorin investigate the politics of daily life and of the couple as much as institutions and the larger system. It’s committed but the style is open rather than doctrinaire (the points of view expressed by the various groups in the factory are all articulate), and the film is fun even as its intentions are serious. And Fonda is quite good here. Makes you wonder what types of films would have come out if Godard had stuck to fictional cinema in the subsequent years.

---

Doctor Bull. A really likeable little film. Rogers is the typical Ford celibate hero here, caring for his community even as it condemns him out of small-mindedness. The director takes his sweet time establishing the narrative tension, while the many exterior shots of the village add to the authenticity and charm that Rogers brings. There’s also a certain class angle to the story. Fairly delightful.


Donovan’s Reef. It’s a light, summery South Seas rom com in the very relaxed tone that Ford can employ, and while the comedy isn’t always tops and some scenes are a miss (an unnecessary extra saloon fight scene with the Australian Navy contingent), there’s still some enjoyable charm here in the lackadaisical pace, the settings and the performances. It’s a very pretty film and with the lightly alluded-to past of the Navy ex-pat characters’ backgrounds as heroic survivors of a WWII guerilla war on this Polynesian island, it’s almost as if the whole tone of the film symbolizes a sort of now-we’ll-just-enjoy-peace ethos (the word peace keeps coming up). Amidst the smiles, there’s another little note of seriousness in the racism dimension in the storyline with the children. Meanwhile Donovan’s relationship with Amelia is Ford riffing again on the taming of the Irish shrew theme of The Quiet Man.


She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. Wow the blu is a hell of a revelation picture-wise. Still not the greatest film though. Fort Apache was already full of digressions, but this one is even worse and doesn’t have at all either the narrative or dramatic force of its predecessor. The story itself regarding the potential Indian War never substantially coheres and when we get to Brittles’ retirement the focus really gets lost and the film becomes about him. But this is still Ford at the peak of his craft, so we get some terrific visuals (those expressionistic red shots at the beginning are surprising, almost if a vision of hell is being rendered as we’re told about Custer’s defeat), some great scenes and moments (especially good at depicting the weariness of the cavalry walking all those distances), and the solid acting as usual (Wayne is especially good in that moving scene of getting rewarded by his men). However this isn’t movie magic like Clementine, The Searchers or Wagon Master.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#48 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Jul 29, 2018 10:24 am

I was very pleasantly surprised by Tout va bien (and even more UNpleasantly surprised by Letter to Jane).

Prenom Carmen is yet another visually gorgeous film (the box set with this was a phenomenal bargain).

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#49 Post by knives » Sun Jul 29, 2018 5:00 pm

This is Korea
This is probably most interesting when looked at in the context of being between WII and Vietnam. It's not as well built or shocking as Ford's own WWII films though there are still a number of compelling moments throughout. This aligns pretty closely to the feel, goals, and methods of WWII suggesting even moreso how clean a break Vietnam was for American propaganda. The film is also interesting for showing how quickly military technology had already developed from WWII.

Mean Without Women
This is often bandied about for having the ur-Ford title, but the film seems very underseen even by the standard of early sound Ford. It's an odd duck in a lot of ways though starting with that title which isn't intended to be stoic or masculine in the way people treat it. Instead the title becomes quite said with the men really being mere grown boys who need those women. It's a sad Ford film with his humour being turned on its head revealing it as the display of immaturity it is. I'm not sure if dour Ford is something I would want regularly, but this suggests a whole universe of possibilities that we never got.

The film is also weird for the historical injunction it represents. It's kind of crazy to see a mostly silent Hollywood picture this late let alone one that deals with its silence in such an odd way. At first it seems to be slipping into modernity. The credits are totally silent, the first images have generic music to them, and then it becomes one of those sound soundtracks ala Sunrise before a dialogue scene based around a song being sung in the background like in a Rivette picture. That goes under quickly with it switching back and forth between the last two as many films of the era did. It looks like songs are the key at first, but that quickly goes by the wayside with dialogue scenes even having title cards repeat the words verbatim. It's a totally weird film that's also a pretty good 70 minutes.

The Blue Eagle
This is a mighty weird one and also features a sub so I guess that's today's theme. The film starts off as a kind of romantic comedy were bitter rivals in love call a truce for the sake of war suggesting a reconciliation through the battles. Instead they come home and act like horny school girls for Janet Gaynor who clearly believes she is in Design for Living. This is all well and good, but the film wouldn't be sufficiently insane enough on that so midway through the film switches gears again to become a two sides of the law dope busting crime thriller with shocking double turns, murder, and at least one genuinely great shot. It ends as this bizarre, violent, Irish thing I just don't have words for and all in under an hour.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#50 Post by Rayon Vert » Tue Jul 31, 2018 10:56 pm

Does anyone here think highly of Godard's Soigne ta droite/Keep Your Right Up? Even with a fairly sound understanding of Godard's work and its context, when I saw this (off a bootleg rip) I thought this was incredibly opaque and an incredibly hard film to make sense of frequently, and really not that enjoyable, but I'm the midst of reading some Godard studies that are making it sound like a key work and very interesting, and now I'm wondering if I should splurge for the blu to give it a second shot.

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