|Godard in the 60s
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"Movies should have a beginning, a middle and an end, but not
necessarily in that order." Jean-Luc Godard. Throughout the 1960s,
cinephiles eagerly awaited the latest film or two by Jean-Luc Godard
(born 1930). A founding father of the nouvelle vague, the former film critic was
its most innovative in form, with each new work seemingly rewriting the grammar of film.
Jump cuts, asynchronous soundtracks, self-narration, cinema as essay, cinema as collage,
self-referential cinema, cinema of anarchy you name it, Godards 60s
oeuvre redefined cutting-edge and, with location and available-light shooting, now
provide a near-documentary time capsule of Paris and environs. Through Godards
movies, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg and Anna Karina became New Wave
icons, with the dark-eyed, appealingly vulnerable Karina doubling as the directors
muse through seven quintessential collaborations and a four-year marriage. Forty
years after the tumultuous events of May 68, and blessed with 100% hindsight, one
can almost see the chaos coming through the satire and social criticism in Godards
chronicles of "the children of Marx and Coca-Cola." His eventual
ever-more-outré stylistic leaps would leave even art-house audiences behind, but for at
least one pivotal decade Godard was a seminal force in redrawing the map of film.
"From BREATHLESS through WEEKEND, Godard reinvented cinema. Not since D.W.
Griffith was knocking out a weekly two-reeler at the Biograph studio on 14th
Street had there been anything equal to it."- J. Hoberman
"The most gifted younger directors and student filmmakers all over the world
recognize his liberation of the movies; they know he has opened up a new kind of
movie-making, that he has brought a new sensibility into film, that like James Joyce, he
is both kinds of master both innovator and artist. Godard has already imposed his
way of seeing on us: We look at cities, at billboards and brand names, at a girls
hair different because of him." Pauline Kael
Friday, July 18 7:30 PM
BREATHLESS (A BOUT DE SOUFLE), 1960, New Yorker Films, 90
min. Lip-stroking pug Jean-Paul Belmondo on the run, shooting cops and stealing
cars and cash from the handbag of Herald Tribune-hawking girlfriend Jean Seberg;
with the couple engaging in boudoir philosophy, staring contests, sous-blanket tussles and
plenty of smoking. The start of Godards decade of supreme hipness and seemingly
compulsive, often outrageous innovation. "No film has been at once so connected to
all that had come before it and yet so liberating... like high-energy fusion of jazz and
philosophy." Richard Brody, The New Yorker. "Theres
POTEMKIN, CITIZEN KANE, and this... Godards first film." J.
A WOMAN IS A WOMAN (UNE FEMME EST UNE FEMME),
1961, Rialto, 85 min. Anna Karina, an afternoon stripper in the crummy Zodiac Club,
yearns for motherhood, but live-in boyfriend Jean-Claude Brialy "isnt
ready yet," while hanger-on Jean-Paul Belmondo is more than happy to oblige.
Godards first in color and Scope, and his nearest approximation of a musical,
with cinematic in-jokes, and anarchic humor galore. Winner of the Berlin Silver Bear for
its "originality, youth, audacity and impertinence," with Karina named
Best Actress. "If Karina, Brialy, Belmondo, the voice of Charles Aznavour and a
thrilling glimpse of toplessness in a sleazy strip joint dont turn you on, then tant
pis! for you." Andrew Sarris.
Saturday, July 19 7:30 PM
PIERROT LE FOU, 1965, Janus Films, 110 min. "The
last romantic couple," as Jean-Paul Belmondo, fed up with wife and Paris,
heads for the south of France with old flame Anna Karina, a classic pulp fiction
moll of a gang of crooks. Essential 60s Godard, with sun-splashed color and
Scope photography by Raoul Coutard, a cameo by tough-guy director Sam Fuller
and an explosive finale. "The most ravishing and romantic film ever made... The
dazzling miseen-scene alternates Lichtenstein with Cezanne, pop art with
Impressionism, the shadow of Amerika falling across the Provencal sun."
Amy Taubin, Village Voice.
MASCULINE FEMININE (MASCULIN FEMININ: 15 FAITS
PRECIS), 1966, Rialto, 110 min. "This film could be called The children of
Marx and Coca-Cola." Literary lion-wannabe Jean-Pierre Léaud chases
budding yé yé star Chantal Goya, then gets a job as an unlikely opinion
pollster. A portrait of youth and sex, with the story repeatedly interrupted: a woman
blows away her husband; a scene in the Metro paraphrasing LeRoi Jones DUTCHMAN; Brigitte
Bardot rehearsing in a bistro; a Swedish art-film-cum-sex-film-within- a-film, etc.,
topped by Léauds probing off-camera questioning of "Miss Nineteen."
Sunday, July 20 7:30 PM
ALPHAVILLE (ALPHAVILLE, UNE ETRANGE AVENTURE DE LEMMY
CAUTION), 1965, Janus Films, 99 min. Godards trip into the future with
erstwhile B-movie hero Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine) trekking through space to
track down Professor "von Braun," aided by the profs daughter Anna
Karina, squaring off in a final showdown with the Alpha 60 computer. With familiar
Euro B-movie veteran, Howard Vernon (THE AWFUL DR. ORLOFF). "A dazzling
amalgam of film noir and science fiction. Raoul Coutards camera turns contemporary
Paris into an icily dehumanized city of the future." Tom Milne, Time
LA CHINOISE, 1967, Koch Lorber, 99 min. Philosophy
student Anne Wiazemsky, actor Jean-Pierre Léaud and friends, crashing at an
apartment lent to them for the summer, form a Maoist cell; and then... Godards
tour de force of idealism, naïveté and flat affect includes red accents in nearly every
shot. "Amazing! Like a speed freaks anticipatory vision of the political
horrors to come!" Pauline Kael.
Wednesday, July 23 7:30 PM
TWO OR THREE THINGS I KNOW ABOUT HER
(2 OU 3 CHOSES QUE JE SAIS DELLE), 1967, Rialto, 100 min. Is she Marina Vlady
or Juliette Janson? asks the narrating Godard in a conspiratorial whisper.
Shes both: an actress in a film and a housewife from the Paris suburbs who turns
tricks in the city to make ends meet. With characters casually addressing the camera, a
conversation between complete strangers in a bistro all underscored by relentless
thuddings of a pinball machine and an unblinking gaze at the cosmic whirls of foam
in a coffee cup. "Amid splashes of bold color, discordant sound, and brilliant
observation, the personal meets the political... the new CinemaScope print makes this
perennial must-see a must-see-now." Manohla Dargis, New York Times.
BAND OF OUTSIDERS (BAND À PART), 1994, Rialto,
97 min. "All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun."
Godard. In the dreary suburb of Joinville, Claude Brasseur and Sami Frey,
and mutual girlfriend Anna Karina, horse around with the idea of burglarizing the
villa where shes staying, but then things go memorably awry. A true jeu
desprit, with set pieces including the trio doing the Louvre in record time.
"Godard re-creates the gangsters and the moll as people in a Paris café, mixing
them with Rimbaud, Kafka, Alice in Wonderland. Perhaps his most delicately charming
film." - Pauline Kael