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FILMMAKER GODARD A Weekend with Conjugal Dread





Jean-Luc Godard 1951 Photo: F C Grundlach

Jean-Luc Godard Berlin, 1951. Photo: F C Gundlach



A feed from a Godard forum is a request from Gloria for help using Godard’s Weekend in a course about the road movie.

Two suggestions were made by Francis van den Heuvel:


Un week-end avec Jean-Luc Godard
~ blog La Nouvelle Vague, 25 June 2013


Week End (1967)


Alexandre Fontaine Rousseau, Panorama, 6 June 2006


Notch that one up for a Godard post. Some are not posts about Godard, which I feel a strong desire to make so simply by typing in the letters G-O-D-A-R-D as if I were M. Godard himself in one of those scenes he films of himself typing away on a typewriter with which he accedes to the modern by making it one with electronic memory, so he can type then let the typewriter type as if it’s not him typing. Who is typing him or the machine? God given inspiration. That sort of thing. Noise and cigar smoke. Girl and a gun.

There must be someone out there in the big wide world who has done a thesis on Godard’s typewriters. Almost certainly 12 on his specs through the decades. If I was a young person I’d start with, “He needs to cut it up”, which will lead in six degrees of separation to montage. Type. Cut. Rearrange. Separate. Godard. Odd. God. Ra. Goad. Road! No! Has to be in French for this to work.

Wonder if anyone ever received an anonymous threat letter from Godard – financial backers possibly? – made of cut-out letters of various sizes all jumbled together, but everyone who got one knew immediately who it was from – they’d seen all his films.



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August 14, 2015 Posted by | film directors | , | Leave a comment

FILM GODARD A Man, A Woman and a Dog





FILM GODARD Au Adieu au Langage [iPhone]
{1}




Godard has a new film out. And he’s keen/anxious to talk about it, film ‘n stuff.

A few people have seen it, writing and talking about it at great length so spoiling it for everyone else who might have wanted to see it without the comments and interpretations of the expertigensia ringing in their ears, at what you now know are salient or significant points in the film [or the homage points, say, to his own films or film in general] which you’d hope to enjoy, be puzzled or exasperated by at your own pace.

Thank God (the one without the full stop or as the French call it, point, a word J-LG could have a field day with…). I made sure I did not read a lot before watching The Great Beauty. And then when I had seen it, I desisted from even translating the title into Italian or even mentioning that the phrase had been used by a character in the film in a certain way. See, there I’ve done it now. Now you will be on the look out for it, even though there has been no indication why this might have some significance.

One reads the contents of one’s mind before seeing a film, in anticipation of it, which in itself may spoil a film. Book, art, play, film. A filmic or booky equivalent, shall we say analogy, to phenomenological bracketing or epoché is impossible. I’ve already remarked in a recent post that as soon as I saw the poster for The Great Beauty, I knew [as would literally millions of others..] where we were coming from, though not necessarily where we were going to. Eric Morecambe’s famous riposte [applicable to almost anything, like the Actress & the Bishop jokes] to Andre Preview on his, Eric’s, terrible rendition of – was it Grieg’s piano concerto? – “I’m playing the RIGHT notes, but not necessarily in the RIGHT order!” always flings itself up from the recesses of my mind like the lyrics to an incomprehensible ’60s songs like the one by Noel Thingy called The Windmills of My Mind.

Why it is that I think of J-L Godard as the archetype (or prototype) of the incredibly difficult (but obviously highly intelligent) au contrarian conversationalist in any setting – uncle [ton ton] J-J at a family wedding or diner party, seated next to you in aircraft, etc. – who somehow manages to create the immediate suspicion he may well be mad, or temporally cured and released from some sort of mental institution (the old jackets…), yet, underneath the frightening persona, has something interesting to say which holds you there despite your inclination to run.

Really mad people we seem to have an instinct for as we have so much experience of them in everyday life. Like films we have seen too much about before watching them, Jean-Luc Godard comes with such a pedigree, a provenance, we are comfortable in the paradoxical nature of many of his pronouncements. Expect them even. Be lost without them, possibly. We know he, like a lunatic, assumes you know he is God [when it comes to film]. If you do, as he knows he is and you do, then all is simple.

The reviews on Adieu au Langage were not out when I was passed by Glen W. Norton, via a Godard forum, the link to the Canon video interview avec Godard with English subtitles

(…a classic God[.] subtitles joke in there not created by God[.] himself. Qua? Comment? These are accurate subtitles while his are notably unreliable.)

The areas I forced myself to listen to, while going Ni Ni Na Na with hands over my ears [mostly], were the technical ones. And this is reflected in graphics included in the post. Let’s try to grasp (as it is obviously important) why he at one and the same time decries technological advances and at the same time adopts them with alacrity. Except that is, in the case of editing (See relevant tab on the canon interview page) where he it is explained there – something know amongst God[.] watchers – he uses magnetic video tape to edit with, thus getting his technical collaborators who have filmed digitally to make video tapes for him to edit. The amusing thing is he’s renowned as an expert in editing with tape to an extent that makes many scratch their heads at his ingenuity.

I use this digital-magnetic example as a route into the mind of Jean-Luc Godard, in a sense prior to any messages he may be sending to his avid (an even not so enthusiastic) followers about life in general and of course the art of cinema, and Art.

While he argues here about his latest film that 3D is a FWOT

(Along the lines of, “It is useless! We see no more with it than before..” All true of course.)

he still uses it (At least twice so far..). And presumably this is a way of saying something. Well of course it is. And here is where we get to the crusty old uncle who frightens the sh** out of you, who blows cigar smoke into your face, and yet who let’s drop those few words which catch your interest. Words you know are true like you know a word of art by a master is true without being quite sure how to explain it.

With Godard it is for me when he talks of art. If you knew nothing about Godard the film genius and heard him talking of art in relation to all sorts of things, you will be gaining an experience of the mind of a man who has thought very deeply about his art and craft, film. Filmmakers who talk photography are in the same area. Even the knowledge that a film-maker was formerly a photographer says a lot.

The one who now always comes to my mind, when film and photography are mentioned in the same sentence, or should we even say thought in the same thought, is Nuri Bilge Ceylan. And if I may take a God[.]-like excursion down an dark alley which neither you the reader nor I may quite know is a dead-end or not – as this post is as ex-tempore as you are likely to get in postdom – Ceylan, has used severally the trope of bloke-wandering-around-ancient-site-with-camera-ignoring-and-annoying-girlfriend trope.

With Godard we have to understand that every film is the same film because he is trying to get over the same God[no .]-like message about how he as God [with or without .] can use film to get over his agendas [or not]. And so could everyone else to humanity’s general betterment, if they only had the brains and foresight to see. He like many good or even great film directors [even nerdy-looking baseball cap wearing ones..] is steeped in film from the year dot. And he evokes the complete history of film almost in every quakey sentence he utters. It’s always, “What is film?”. And of course, “What can it do and not do?” He seems to be saying all the time, “Film can’t do/isn’t doing so many things that people dreamed it might do.” And that’s because they don’t understand it well enough to see its talents.

Godard’s “cinema is dead” or “It is now!” [UK football ref there you no UK people..], or “Well, I thought it was then but it really is now” can confuse people. But it’s simple. He believed like Eisenstein that film was purely for political ends. The montage was the method. The Way, The Truth and The Light.

And so fast forward to a film like Adieu au Langage [3D]. Just like me with my immediate and deep apprehension of the depth of Italian cinema through a balding man sitting on a classy bench with shades that look suspiciously like the Ray-bans Marcello Mastroianni wore in 8 1/2, we should get the fact that every time Godard speaks on film (and life) he is thinking of how film failed. He may talk enthusiastically and yet mockingly or ironically about advanced technology, but you know he is still trying to get there, by any means at his disposal.

And all the time, he is still using the same film-text-film-text-text-film-film he developed from his earliest films. At one point in my Godard journey, I felt sure he was saying film could not replace writing and so his films had to constantly show this to be true. For the audience this can be both irksome and difficult. A major facet of this is his voice and text overs are in French. Unless French is your first language or a good second, his efforts to overlap three things at once are pretty much wasted on you, as an immediate effect.

If this all seems a bit too arcane and you have not got to Histoire[s] du Cinema (and perhaps never will) try reading Celine Scamma’s schema for Histoire[s] – a blog search in COTA will get you there.

And finally, as The Two Ronnie would say, there is that thing about Godard and his unreliable subtitling. Apogee: Film Socialism. I have no idea whether this is true or not, but I sense he is saying that you can’t translate poetry into another language without destroying or partially destroying its original meaning. Which is true. Godel, Escher Bach, for some ideas and background. And he quotes poetry a lot in his films. As well as showing and talking about art.

And so for film. The very act of trying to make a film helps to remove your original intention (He seems to be saying..amongst many other things). If you just use film. So he, wanting to be sure of getting over whatever message he intends, falls back on words in films as text and commentary (plus the obligatory art),which in itself is an essay on the limits of film. Or the dialectic between The Word and The Film. (Being some kind of Marxist, he would want to show that dialectic is real moving things forward).

And so (and here back to latest interviews) he feels he can’t say directly (and never could or would) simply, in words, what he wants to say about film. This is both because it dishonours film (and maybe dispels some of its magic and mystic) and because he doesn’t want to make the whole thing seem simpler than it is. Instead he picks up on small points (in the Canon interview he starts with SMS, the modern, the dubious) from which to expand (why not start anywhere?) outwards and back inwards at the same time, to the core of what he sees film is and can do. And of course what life (using an iPhone) is and can mean (film your day he suggests..). That goes without saying. Though, like God[.], I’ve said it to make sure you don’t miss it.



Other

With Canon interview spoiler…

1/. Godard comes in many shapes and sizes
– He briefly reprised his views on aspect ration with Gallic hand gestures demonstrating the cutting off of the upper part of a shot, etc.

2/. Something I feel strongly: what a film is about or meant to be about can be taken separately from how it was made. Or not. They can complement each other. Or not. My natural inclination is to run these in parallel. Weaving in and out. Often when the going gets tough on the film itself as a story with a narrative imperative (or not), resorting, or even retreating (out of the sun into the shade..), to the How Did They Do That? seems the most sensible place to go. Even if in the end that strip of bright sunlight between the shady tree and the house has to be crossed.

Godard is often talked about in terms of his oeuvre when a new one pops up (as one does of directors in general). We get the jump cut standing for À Bout de Souffle, or Fritz Lang standing for Le Mépris (who starred in it but to whom Godard was also paying obeisance to as a director. (Wiki:Contempt (film) is an Idiot’s Guide to the latter with some of the associated Langifications – A browser search on Fritz on that wiki page will do the trick).



May 24, 2014 Posted by | Douglas Hofstadter, DSLR cinematography, DSLR Digital Cinematography Guide, Eisenstein, European art cinema, European cinema, European film, film analog/digital, Film and The Arts, film aspect ratio, film reflexivity, film sex, Film Socialisme, film technique, film theory, film [its techniques], French films, Fritz Lang | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FILM The Great Beauty 2013 [1]





Toni Servillo in The Great beauty



Dead in the water. Stuck. Wanting to spill out you thoughts on a film you heard about, watched and then, hey everybody, this is good, it’s….ah,um….you’ve got someone you’d like to watch this film before you spoil it by explaining all. Who hasn’t had that sinking moment when you ask someone about film, only to realise the whole film is going to be recalled from prodigious memory for you, and there is no escape. Yes, seen it. Brilliant. And here is entire right down to the details of all the dialogue.

I’ve got the same problem with The Great Beauty directed by Paolo Sorrentino. What can I say? I’ve tried writing it through to see what can be said, ending up with half-written sentences stuttering to a halt well before reaching their destinations. I was even going to use a few Italian phrases heard in the film. No. There is no way round this except to say it’s termed an art-house film. It’s Italian. English sub-titles. It won the best Foreign Film Award at the Oscars last year. Must be worth watching for foreign film enthusiast. It is.

What to say on a film you want someone to watch before you say anything? Are there films you can say quite a lot about without spoiling someone else’s viewing? Is the smallest vignette permitted? No. Not in this case either. All I can say now is, Lo, a film, try it. So. Not even the title translated into Italian. How one has to exercise steely control. And so this post is also addressed to someone who has seen the film who might understand why the title has not been translated in the heading, or in the body of text. (But who can have a conspiratorial wink about knowing why, and in turn not being able to put a kibosh on things by making a comment..)

Perhaps as a displacement activity to assuage the frustration : une petite idée de film.

A man and a woman meet, fall in love. Have a relationship. Then it breaks up for reasons unknown to the audience. On show some bewilderment, anger, sadness, regret, etc. Hankies out. They both loved the movies and spent a lot of time watching them and talking about them. As one does.

They both realise they can’t share anything about film anymore – no communicating at all. They spend a lot of time thinking and imagining what they would be choosing to see, where they would be doing it if still together. Shown by the usual – inevitable – tropes [cleverly masked as homages and satire on] of shots of couples going into movies, etc. Even plugging in DVDs, blubbing, et al. Little scene in which one or other, disconsolate but determined, goes to see a movie. Buys a ticket, stands in foyer with the milling crowd – then after a certain amount of wistfulness, walks back out onto the street.

The upshot, to cut a short story shorter, is the means by each comes to terms with the loss of the film connection amongst the butterflies of lurv, and learns to live and love again. He of course has a film blog and finds he can’t write about films he wants her to see, so stalls, writes around the curly hedges, about production design or mise en scene, or even Godard being rude about actors, anything just to post with the film’s title on the heading. A marker for the future. A dog lifting it’s leg to a lamp post.

Suddenly one day he finds he can write a bit more on films he has seen. But not a lot. He still can’t bring himself to write about the latest releases – he doesn’t want to be a dirty little spoiler. But he realises he can write about obscure art-house movies that no one would want to watch, or even the technicalities of film making like editing.

Here’s one.

In the middle of a long dissertation on Hitchcock’s 1954 Rear Window, from an editing point of view (and POV comes into it a lot..), in Valerie Orpen’s Film Editing, on page 27, referring to an interview with Truffaut, at which point he is talking about the Kuleshov effect:


FILM EDITING orpen p.27 [hitch on actors] [2]


reading this, helps to see a bit more clearly what Godard means about actors. He’s saying the same thing, except he says it in such as a way as to highlight his role as auteur. Ce film, c’est a moi! Tout a fait….mon Dieu….mais oui….c’est vrai….il est moi! Godard=cinema=Godard. And Hitch was in the Hollywood system for the most part i.e. not what would be considered an auteur. Hitch was in control of his projects in a way most Hollywood directors were not. I’ve not read it said he was an auteur in the way the New Wave directors were. Though Godard is greatly interested in him and his work.



May 16, 2014 Posted by | Alfred Hitchcock, Godard, Jean-Luc Godard, POV, Rear Window [1954], The Great Beauty [2013] | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FILM DIRECTOR Godard read Proust








Readable in a second tab



October 18, 2012 Posted by | Godard, Proust | , , , | 2 Comments

FILM Michael Woods on Godard’s Breathless



At the Movies


Michael Woods, LRB, Vol. 32 No 14 ,22 July 2010


Short, interesting, enjoyable.


Qu’est-ce que c’est degueulasse? Oz Skinner takes it on in his blog Godard Montage.


In Musings on Godard’s 1960 classic, Robert Stanley Martin says:

The film’s ending presents them as tragic figures who can’t even commit to their own tragedy; they can only go through the motions of that as well. Godard highlights that with the film’s handling of a single word: dégueulasse.



Qu’est-ce que c’est dégueulasse? Needs a little examining of course. Strangely my very old Cassell’s (1930 edition) has the verb degueuler, v.i. (vulg.), to spew, vomit, but no examples. Further checking shows a more polite rendering would be degoutant. dégueulasse is from degueuler, to puke, to spew, and degueuler from guele, mouth.


Now: dégueulasse


With a bit of reverse translation, there is another nub: rotten “C’est dégueulasse de faire une chose pareille.” That’s a rotten thing to do.


Pas dégueulasse – not half bad : “Pas dégueulasse ce petite vin de pays.”



And finally, WordReference has the sort of list in my post on Haneke’s Caché: dégueulasse, which is pasted in full to get an instant grab of:


dégueulasse adj (dégueu) icky
dégueulasse adj vulgaire (répugnant) offensive, repugnant, disgusting
dégueulasse adj très familier (sale, vicieux) filthy
dégueulasse adj (sale) yucky
dégueulasse adj (injuste) lousy
dégueulasse adj (sans valeur) lousy
dégueulasse adj (sans valeur) crappy
dégueulasse adj hateful, despicable
dégueulasse adj crude, vulgar
dégueulasse adj gross, vulgar
dégueulasse n (expression de dépit) barf


Why worry. Enjoy the film again as depicted by Warren Craghead



April 12, 2012 Posted by | Godard, Jean-Luc Godard, New Wave | , , , | 1 Comment

FILM When Truffaut met Godard



When Truffaut met Godard



By


Tobias Grey


Financial Times, 21 January, 2011



February 14, 2012 Posted by | Godard, Godard/Truffaut, Truffaut | , , , | Leave a comment

FILM WRITING – Shot and Counter-shot: Presence, Obscurity, and the breakdown of discourse in Godard’s Notre Musique



Shot and Counter-shot: Presence, Obscurity, and the breakdown of discourse in Godard’s Notre Musique


Burlin Barr, Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy, Vol, 18 No. 2, 2010



June 23, 2011 Posted by | Godard, Jean-Luc Godard | , | Leave a comment

FILM ~ En Attendant Godard, a review



En Attendant Godard, A Review


Mathew HoltMeier at Cinema Without Organs, 21 October 2009



June 23, 2011 Posted by | Godard, Jean-Luc Godard | , | Leave a comment

FILM GODARD ~ Godard’s Women- Feminism vs Marxism



Godard’s Women- Feminism vs Marxism


– A review on Godard’s women characters and his idea of feminism


By nom-de-plume Plath-ish (aaargh!)


This version has a different layout



June 16, 2011 Posted by | Godard, Jean-Luc Godard | , , | Leave a comment

FILM GODARD ESSAY A Bout de Souffle: The Film of the Book


A Bout de Souffle: The Film of the Book

First published in Literature/Film Quarterly 32:3 (2004), 207-212

Can’t see author, but if anyone knows who wrote it, I’ll add it later.




September 24, 2010 Posted by | film adaptation, film analysis, film [its techniques], French cinema, Godard, Jean-Luc Godard | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

FILM GOOGLEBOOK GODARD ~ Jean Luc Godard’s Hail Mary: women and the sacred in film


Jean-Luc Godard’s Hail Mary: women and the sacred in film

By

Maryel Locke, Charles Warren, Jean Luc Godard, Anne-Marie Miéville

August 29, 2010 Posted by | film [its techniques], Godard, Jean-Luc Godard | , | 1 Comment

FILM ESSAY Why Jean-Luc Godard is Important : A Look at the Films of a Ground-Breaking French New Wave Director



Why Jean-Luc Godard is Important: A Look at the Films of a Ground-Breaking French New Wave Director

by

Michelle Strozykowski

blogs at Movie Noodle


April 21, 2010 Posted by | Godard, Jean-Luc Godard, New Wave | , , , | Leave a comment

FILM ESSAY GODARD Jean Luc Godard’s Breathless: Defining the French New Wave



Jean Luc Godard’s Breathless: Defining the French New Wave

by

Adam Karabel

September 20, 2006

April 21, 2010 Posted by | Godard | , , | Leave a comment

FILM ESSAY GODARD Modifications and Expansions of Bazin’s “Faith in Reality” in the 1960s Works of Jean-Luc Godard



Modifications and Expansions of Bazin’s “Faith in Reality” in the 1960s Works of Jean-Luc Godard

by

Arnab Majumdar

August 19, 2008


April 21, 2010 Posted by | Bazin, Godard | , , | Leave a comment

FILM REVIEW Roger Ebert’s 2003 assessment of Godard’s A Bout de souffle



Breathless (1960)  by Roger Ebert

April 21, 2010 Posted by | Godard | , | Leave a comment

FILM Film as an act of Love {by Sukhdev Sanhu}





antoine-les-400-coups1




Film as an act of Love


by Sukhdev Sandhu

Fifty years ago, François Truffaut’s Quatre cents coups
heralded a revolution in cinema. Sukhdev Sandhu salutes
a modern classic



NewStatesman 2 April 2009

April 15, 2009 Posted by | Antoine Doinel, Cahiers du cinéma, criticism, culture, film analysis, film directors, film editing, film narrative, film theory, film [its techniques], Truffaut | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Film: Godard



Reading this review by Chris Petit of a book on Godard ( full of interesting facts about the man and film) of Richard Brody’s Everything is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard is a reminder of how sometimes it is often better to stick to the art itself rather its creator.

After reading the review I had welling up within me a feeling that if  that was what he was like and  that was his attitude, then did I really want to watch or re-watch his films? Well of course I do.

the life and the work problem for novelists has been discussed in several of my posts, e.g. on V S Naipaul.

August 13, 2008 Posted by | film directors, film [its techniques], Jean-Luc Godard | , | Leave a comment