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By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

DVD: Godard’s FILM SOCIALISME

Eighty-one-year-old Jean-Luc Godard’s Film Socialisme is a disarmingly beautiful rash of video imagery that ranges from HD in gleaming blues on a luxury liner late at night to cell-phone images that stutter, blanch and bleed, accompanied by murmorous dialogues turning over familiar political idées fixe and the crisp musique concrète-style sound mixes of his work of the past three decades. The electric charge of the colors is splendid on Kino Lorber’s Blu-Ray edition, released January 10. (The ship, the Costa Concordia, ran aground on January 13, killing several passengers and crew members; see image below the fold.)

Godard hectors and cryptographs, finding an expressive character for his digital video palette with a more refined touch a decade ago, as in his 2001 Eloge de l’amour, but with less engagement than in the recently-reissued Sauve qui peut (la vie) (1980), shot on 35mm film, which works its metaphors of self-loathing, prostitution and misogyny with grave intentness. Film Socialisme is more like sketch comedy for a certain straineof cinephiles, far less dense than the obsessive and potted essay Histoires du Cinéma (also now legally available on video in the U.S.), those who react to colors and edits and gestural repetitions and thematic fixations, but not those who struggle to cipher a story from fragments. Godard’s latest fractured fairytales are also filmmaking as sculpture, expressive through collage and not the verities of theater and text, film as a corrupted dream. (Oh! The nineteenth century!) While spoken in French and German, among other languages, Godard’s bad-faith subtitles for American audiences consist mostly of nouns, and he describes the translation as “Navajo,” or an emulation of how Native Americans were made to speak in Hollywood Westerns. (Koch-Lorber’s edition offers a choice between full subtitles and “Navajo.”)
It’s fantastic essay-making, sometimes dotty in its spotty reasoning, but formally savoryl. Who’s it for? Ending the film on two cards—a defaced FBI copyright warning and the words NO COMMENT—Godard blatantly does not give a fuck.

The distributor offered an interview with Godard from “Sud Rail Magazine” by one “Renaud Deflins,” who may or may not exist. Excerpts:

Q production, distribution, exploitation?

A since the end of the big studios, after the Second World War, the order was inverted, with the aristocracy henceforth coming first, and the ” third estate ” last.

Q cinema and films – the difference?
A the same, cinema is not necessarily to be found in films.

Q 3D?
A very quickly, the dimension of time has disappeared and space flattened, cinemascope, l6:9

Q and copyright?
A we forget that Beaumarchais’ real problem wasn’t retaining ownership of “The Marriage of Figaro “, but simply getting his share of the receipts.

Q blogs and SMS?
A in a way, behind this young thinking similar to an earthworm, one thing matters to all these passionate Phoenixes: to survive and find in the depths of chaos a chance to resurrect (cf. Prigogine).

Q politics again?
A yes, as modern democracies, by rendering politics a domain of separate thought, are predisposed to totalitarianism.

Q and images?
A the old magus Bachelard spoke about implicit and explicit images. We might cite Jules Renard’s image of silence: snow falling on the water.

Q a vision of the future?
A even with Final Cut, the most humble or most arrogant of editors is in prison, bound to the past as to the future and must deal with it for the present. Only cinema reproduces this human work.

Q a last film?
A nothing more than a title: “Farewell to Language.”

One Response to “DVD: Godard’s FILM SOCIALISME”

  1. witherholly says:

    I hope he will be a good character reference for Francesco Schettino, the ship’s captain. CEOs walk, captains pay.

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“I suddenly couldn’t say anything about some of the movies. They were just so terrible, and I’d already written about so many terrible movies. I love writing about movies when I can discover something in them – when I can get something out of them that I can share with people. The week I quit, I hadn’t planned on it. But I wrote up a couple of movies, and I read what I’d written, and it was just incredibly depressing. I thought, I’ve got nothing to share from this. One of them was of that movie with Woody Allen and Bette Midler, Scenes From a Mall. I couldn’t write another bad review of Bette Midler. I thought she was so brilliant, and when I saw her in that terrible production of ‘Gypsy’ on television, my heart sank. And I’d already panned her in Beaches. How can you go on panning people in picture after picture when you know they were great just a few years before? You have so much emotional investment in praising people that when you have to pan the same people a few years later, it tears your spirits apart.”
~ Pauline Kael On Quitting

“My father was a Jerome. My daughter’s middle name is Jerome. But my most vexing and vexed relationship with a Jerome was with Jerome Levitch, the subject of my first book under his stage and screen name, Jerry Lewis.

I have a lot of strong and complex feelings about the man, who passed away today in Las Vegas at age 91. Suffice to say he was a brilliant talent, an immense humanitarian, a difficult boss/interview, and a quixotic sort of genius, as often inspired as insipid, as often tender as caustic.

I wrote all about it in my 1996 book, “King of Comedy,” which is available on Kindle. With all due humility, it’s kinda definitive — the good and the bad — even though it’s two decades old. My favorite review, and one I begged St. Martin’s (unsuccessfully) to put on the paperback jacket, came from “Screw” magazine, which called it “A remarkably fair portrait of a great American asshole.”

Jerry and I met twice while I was working on the book and spoke/wrote to each other perhaps a dozen times. Like many of his relationships with the press and his partners/subordinates, it ended badly, with Jerry hollering profanities at me in the cabin of his yacht in San Diego. I wrote about it in the epilogue to my book, and over the years I’ve had the scene quoted back to me by Steve Martin, Harry Shearer, Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette. Tom Hanks once told me that he had a dinner with Paul Reiser and Martin Short at which Short spent the night imitating Jerry throwing me off the boat.

Jerry was a lot of things: father, husband, chum, businessman, philanthropist, artist, innovator, clown, tyrant. He was at various times in his life the highest-ever-paid performer on TV, in movies, and on Broadway. He raised BILLIONS for charity, invented filmmaking techniques, made perhaps a dozen classic comedies, turned in a terrific dramatic performance in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” and left the world altered and even enhanced with his time and his work in it.

That’s an estimable achievement and one worth pausing to commemorate.

#RIP to Le Roi du Crazy

~ Biographer Shawn Levy on Jerry Lewis on Facebook