This week Pat puts his Anthropology degree to use to take issue with Jean-Luc Godard's sociology practices. Masculin Feminin is a sprawling look at the young people of Paris just before the 1965 re-election of Charles de Gaulle, a re-election that would lead to the events of May 1968 we've discussed previously with Godard's (superior) Tout va Bien. Unfortunately, Godard doesn't give the respect to his female stars that he wants to say the entire generation deserve.
Tout va Bien (roughly translated: "This is fine"), is the 1972 culmination of Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin's Dziga Vertov Group, a production group focusing on Marxist/Maoist revolution mostly through documentary, though Tout va Bien is a narrative film. It is, however, paired with the didactic documentary Letter to Jane, a postscript to Tout va Bien the dissects the famous Hanoi photo of Jane Fonda, star of the film who in the months following the release of Tout va Bien became an international talking-point. Ultimately, the film stands to ask the question "What is the role of the woke upperclass in the revolution?" and how that intrinsic to finding the right answers is asking the right questions.
1961's A Woman is a Woman is Jean-Luc Godard's first film shot in color or Cinemascope, a fact that may be more impressive if it weren't only the third film ever of a man who has made, well, a ton of movies. Still he didn't dive right in with the color (or the Cinemascope): three films later he'd go for color and wide-aspect again with Contempt, but right after that he's back to black and white and 4:3 with Band of Outsiders.
We're back with Jean-Luc Cinema Godard this week with 1964's Band of Outsiders. The Village Voice's Amy Taubin calls this film "a Godard film for people who don't much care for Godard" and Pat takes issue with that, though after our conversation about Contempt perhaps Pat's distaste for this film is actually because he does care for Godard. But then again, Alphaville. In any case, it's certainly an influential film.
In 1963 Jean-Luc Godard decided to try his hand at commercial cinema by creating a film about creating a film (though not about creating the film we're watching, mostly) in a way only Godard could manage. Unlike Fellini in 8 1/2, Godard may be working autobiographically but isn't out to absolve himself of his own shortcomings. It work a lot better for us than our last foray into Godard-dom, despite a maddeningly incomprehensible car accident.
In 1965 Jean-Luc Godard took an established film-noir detective character and shoved him into a dystopian future city ruled by an authoritarian computer that runs everything on cold logic while quoting Borges' poetry about the nature of myth and maintaining the most inefficient public execution system in history. Alphaville is weird. It's disjointed. It's baffling.