Sunday, December 6, 2009

what happens when i get to talk about godard

on friday, my friend melissa called and asked me to give her a crash lecture on the french new wave and jean luc godard. she needed some quick talking points and of course she came to me because i know everything about film especially regarding the great godard.

i never actually got to talk about him in any length before and only gave a few sentences about him whenever situations called for it. i usually said something like 'he is a master though not all of his films are masterpieces.' thats true, i didnt care for many of his films but would happily watch a bad godard over and over again. but given the opportunity to talk about him, i realized how amazing i actually do find him even when his movies arent that great.

i dont love him on the same level as bergman, kurosawa, chaplin, or kubrick but in terms of intriguing directors, he is top. the upper echolon; a GOD(ard) even among enigmatic talents.

what i admire about godard the most dawned on me--he never sold out. his goal in creating films is exactly the same as it was when he first started. he set out to change film and the conventions of film. a former critic, he wanted to change the rules and some 50 years later, his films are still incredibly unique and fascinating though not always intensely watchable. this isnt a bad thing though. watching something recent like notre musique or forever mozart, ones realizes that they are hard to follow and difficult to comprehend but this was always his MO.

when he made breathless and changed cinema forever, he dropped the viewer into the middle of a movie in a seemingly already in progress scene and made the viewer catch up throughout the first half of the film. for a 1950s viewer, this must have been infuriating as viewers werent challenged like this before. now his most recent films are sometime loosely plotted, have involved music overpowering the dialogue which itself contains intense, long monologues on politics and religion often with the camera not focused on the person who is talking.

he is a recluse, doesnt give interviews now, and doesnt show up to accept awards much to the chagrin of good friend wim wenders. in short, he never gave up his artistic vision and reputation as a rebel and even his most commercially acceptable film, le mepris, is a challenging and reference filmed piece that is watchable but also exceedingly artistic.

few directors have been this confounding for their entire career.

i wish i got to talk about filmmakers i loved more and in greater detail but most people just dont want to hear a guy without formal film education ramble on about the love of a director or a movie they never heard of. regardless, if you need any refreshes on anything, let me know. ill be happy to send you into a state of information overload