Jean-Luc Godard

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Re: Jean-Luc Godard

#926 Post by swo17 » Sat Nov 26, 2016 1:23 am

domino harvey wrote:Also worth noting for those wanting to check it out that one of the rarer three star titles in this round-up, Pierre Kast's otherwise unavailable La morte-saison des amours, is streaming free on Amazon Prime with English subs as the Season of Love. It's, uh, not a three star film.
Because it's better or worse?

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Re: Jean-Luc Godard

#927 Post by domino harvey » Sat Nov 26, 2016 1:31 am

It is utterly unremarkable. I know Kast and Godard were friends and co-workers, but Godard had no problem giving Chabrol two stars early on so he must have responded to something in Kast's film. But, as the Quiet American situation shows, it's not always easy to figure what-- I mean, Dabat's Et Satan conduit le bal gets soooo much more mileage out of the lovers romping around an estate thing, and that was unilaterally bulleted by every CDD panelist, not just Godard!

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Re: Jean-Luc Godard

#928 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Nov 26, 2016 6:59 am

Thanks domino, this is great!

You know, something I'd love to see is someone who started out as a critic and then moved into filmmaking return to film criticism later in life and reassess some of their earlier writing (not Godard in particular. I'd just as much love to see Paul Schrader's thoughts on his body of work, etc). I'm really curious whether there would be any particularly radical shift in opinion from that, or presumably whether people prefer to move on without looking back at previous opinions, or overwrite them with new ones.

I'm also curious about what seeing a glut of films that are popular at a particular time does to 'rankings'. I often wonder whether someone tired or desperate for some novelty evaluates yet another western (or these days superhero film!) from that perspective, which is different from a future era looking back and enjoying seeing how westerns were dominating the release schedules at a particular time (which might have caused annoyance at the time because the flood of a particular type of film might be seen to be endless! Especially to a critic who might have to sit through them all!). General audiences have moved on and people who find a particular genre or trend especially interesting get to explore the films, from big blockbusters, to box office failures, to quirky offshoots, etc in much more elaborate detail, finding exciting connections and throughlines of connection to make an era even more valuable. (Isn't that kind of how film noir came about, in the way that post-war French critics were exposed to cyncial American thrillers 'all at once' and therefore were able to formulate a genre that linked such films together?)

I would also say that the wonderful thing about these lists (and our own list projects, and something like those 42nd Street or video nasty trailer compilation DVD) is just the chance to hear about rarer films that have slipped into obscurity for various reasons. Even if it is just hearing the title, that is a start! In something like this list, it can also show the seemingly unassailable classics like Vertigo at their contemporary moment of release surrounded by other films that had less staying power in the culture. That's always a valuable thing to be given an awareness of that helps to give context to 'masterpieces', as well as raise awareness of the overlooked, in any period.

Plus of course there's the specific conversation about Godard and his role in criticism that this is important for too. The next thing we really need to see is how everyone else on this Council voted, and whether Godard maybe countered some particularly effusive praise, or opposition for a particular film in his own rankings! (This is where just a ranking is a start but never enough in itself - you need a bit of discussion to hash out the rankings, and even better if it turns into a roundtable discussion between critics on their opinions!)

For example I'm amused by the three star rating to Grand Illusion, which I presume is relating to the then recently reconstructed by Renoir re-release of the film. How was Renoir seen by the 'Young Turks' at that point?

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Re: Jean-Luc Godard

#929 Post by domino harvey » Sat Nov 26, 2016 12:14 pm

These are great thoughts!

You're right to want to compare Godard's rankings to his co-panelists, but honestly, they're rarely all that different from the in-house staff's overall impressions by more than a degree. I don't think this is evidence of conformity as much as it is proof that these men banded together because they generally agreed on the same movies and broadly shared the same vision and impressions of the medium. I don't want to get into just posting the full CDD charts (which is why I included the issue numbers, so those curious can look them up themselves), but using your Grand Illusion example, here’s that full chart for that month:

Image

Renoir was always universally beloved by the Cahiers crew, and Godard liked his late-period work more than even his fellow Cahiers critics.

One thing to keep in mind is that Godard threw around four star ratings at a far lower rate than his co-Conseilers, and many of the films he gave three stars to ended up making his yearly Best Of lists. Take, for instance, Astruc's Une Vie, which is probably the most widely-read of Godard's Cahiers articles given that it's the one anthologized in the French New Wave Reader. No one could read the bombastic praise Godard dollops out and think it was "only" a three-star affair for Godard. So clearly ratings are a bit skewed for the reviewer-- it's best to think of three stars, for Godard, as a four-star review (and the Conseil initially only used to go to three stars, though the option for the fourth came before Godard joined) and a four-star review being like an A+ in relation to an A for three stars.

You’re quite right that these charts show that much of what we think we know about film history is fleeting— I’m working on compiling a "full" study of Nouvelle Vague works and directors from this period and while most people only associate ten or so names with the movement, at the time Cahiers themselves included over 150 young French filmmakers who made movies in the wave during the first couple years of the movement (and yes, they even include the directors they hated). Several contemporary books and journals on the New Wave highlight that a conservative estimate puts the tally of directors generally regarded as part of the movement closer to a hundred than a handful. And yet it’s just sickening how few of these films are available anywhere on DVD or Blu-ray, much less how few of those are in English-friendly releases. One of the most fascinating eras of film-making is already all but erased, and like a lot of complex movements, we’re left with the most visible participants without getting a fuller picture. If you don’t have access to back channels where film-lovers are compiling rare TV screenings and foreign release rips and often providing superb custom subs, then your chances of even beginning to scrape the surface with regards to the movement are microscopic, unless you lived in France or near an art house circuit during the sixties. Take the aforementioned Une Vie, which is now better-known through Godard's perspective on it than it is from people watching it, as there's no commercial release of it anywhere!

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Re: Jean-Luc Godard

#930 Post by Rayon Vert » Sat Nov 26, 2016 1:23 pm

domino harvey wrote:One thing to keep in mind is that Godard threw around four star ratings at a far lower rate than his co-Conseilers, and many of the films he gave three stars to ended up making his yearly Best Of lists.
On this point, it seems important to really consider the description of the different star-rankings. If I was just seeing 3 out of 4 stars without any description, I'd assume it's "good to very good". But actually it says "absolute must-see". That's a lot more like a 3.5 out of 4, or a 4.5 out of 5 even.

Same with the lower rankings. 2 out 4 I'd blindly take to mean "OK, but mediocre". Actually it's a "must-see". Which in my mind I would associate more with a 3 out of 4. Only the bullet ranking indicates a bad film actually.

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Re: Jean-Luc Godard

#931 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Nov 26, 2016 1:58 pm

Its also interesting that Godard appears to have seen the most of the ten, seemingly all but one of the films released that month! Is that something that fluctuates over the months? I'd be curious who was the most 'consistent' film watcher, at least from the sense of giving an opinion on a film!

That feels like the other important thing about film criticism and readers becoming comfortable with an established critical voice. Once you can adjust for taste, or understand what a particular person's approach to a rating system generally is, then that helps to understand the films being described even better, and it only underlines further the wonderful relationship between a film and the person viewing it.

I sometimes think the best reviews are those that make the film seem interesting even if they end up being negative! Or even (heresy, I know!) leave the reader wondering if the critic did or did not 'like' the film! Because then it encourages the reader to watch the films for themselves to join in the conversation! If the film is available of course!

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Re: Jean-Luc Godard

#932 Post by domino harvey » Sat Nov 26, 2016 2:51 pm

Godard definitely saw the most titles in nearly every month he contributed-- it's funny, I started compiling these in the middle of his run and the first one I tallied was a relatively light month where he didn't weigh in on too many titles, and I thought, "Wow, this will be easier than I thought"-- but it turned out to be an outlier! Anne Wiazemsky once relayed how during filming, when any other director would be wholly focused on prioritizing the film-making process, Godard would always break shooting early so that they could go see a movie before dinner (this was during their courtship), go to dinner to discuss the film and make notes for the next day's shooting, then go see another movie after dinner, and then back on the set in the morning and repeat. I love the notion of how Godard could go see a movie and the very next day incorporate some element of it into the film he was shooting!

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Re: Jean-Luc Godard

#933 Post by knives » Sat Nov 26, 2016 11:58 pm

Though my understanding is that he often left half way through even with movies he loved.

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Re: Jean-Luc Godard

#934 Post by zedz » Sun Nov 27, 2016 12:17 am

domino harvey wrote:I’m working on compiling a "full" study of Nouvelle Vague works and directors from this period and while most people only associate ten or so names with the movement, at the time Cahiers themselves included over 150 young French filmmakers who made movies in the wave during the first couple years of the movement (and yes, they even include the directors they hated). Several contemporary books and journals on the New Wave highlight that a conservative estimate puts the tally of directors generally regarded as part of the movement closer to a hundred than a handful.
Thanks for all the valuable information. I'm very interested in this idea of an 'expanded canon' for the New Wave, as there are a number of really interesting French filmmakers that emerged at the time who aren't generally understood as being part of the New Wave. In the case of Alain Cavalier, he didn't become (briefly) prominent until decades later, and a lot of his work has been very different in character, but his first feature is right in the NV tradition. The Zanzibar Group seems very much its own thing to me, but they're sometimes lumped in with the New Wave anyway. Then there are strict contemporaries like Marcel Hanoun and Nikos Papatakis, who were making distinctive independent films at exactly the same time, but whose work I feel is far removed from the New Wave (and Papatakis, at least, defined his cinema against the New Wave).

Both have been recently celebrated with English-friendly box sets in France. Hanoun is by far the better filmmaker, and his quartet Les Saisons does veer close to the New Wave at points (and close to the Dziga Vertov Group at others).

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Re: Jean-Luc Godard

#935 Post by domino harvey » Sun Nov 27, 2016 1:05 am

Funny you mention that, as the rise of the Zanzibar group pretty neatly confirms the death of the New Wave and is one of the reasons (beyond the obvious) that I've capped the survey at 1968 (even though the Nouvelle Vague was pretty much dead well before that). Also, you'll probably be gratified to hear that Cahiers named Cavalier, Hanoun, and Papatakis as part of the New Wave during the initial labeling!

And knives is quite right that the critics at Cahiers all had deplorable movie watching etiquette, including leaving movies five minutes in-- this is really a case where anyone interested in the Young Turks must see Moullet's brutal and hilarious mea culpa about his time spent with Cahiers, Les Sieges de l'Alcazar (available from France in Blaq Out's essential Luc Miullet box-- all discs region-free and English-subbed!)

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Re: Jean-Luc Godard

#936 Post by domino harvey » Sun Nov 27, 2016 6:59 pm

Discussion of what constitutes the New Wave moved here

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Re: Jean-Luc Godard

#937 Post by domino harvey » Wed Nov 30, 2016 10:49 pm

BULLET: La Fille aux yeux d’or
Whatever movie anyone reading this thinks is the worst film to come out of the New Wave, if it isn't this, you're wrong. Dear God in Heaven, how can any movie be so awful? If you ever wondered what would happen if a director hated his wife and decided to build a film around that by casting his actual wife within a narrative in which she is infantalized (and later Childrens Hour-ed) and endlessly terrorized by bar-nothing the most obnoxious male character in the history of cinema for an endless hour and a half, good news, here's your answer: a film so bad only Norman Mailer and Jess Franco jammin' together could have made it worse!

EDIT: It is comforting to go back to this issue of Cahiers and see that the entire in-house crew bulleted this piece of shit

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Re: Jean-Luc Godard

#938 Post by Numero Trois » Mon Dec 05, 2016 2:29 am

domino harvey wrote:And knives is quite right that the critics at Cahiers all had deplorable movie watching etiquette, including leaving movies five minutes in--
Ha. That reminds me of reading accounts of Legs McNeil reviewing albums he didn't even bother to listen to. Amusing indeed.

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Re: Jean-Luc Godard

#939 Post by Ovader » Tue Dec 27, 2016 1:21 pm

Image Et Parole:
Titles still in production include Godard’s Image Et Parole exploring the Arab world. Mixing fact and fiction, it has been shot in various Arab countries, including Tunisia. “He’s being shooting it for nearly two years now. We were hoping it would be ready for Cannes but it won’t be,” says Maraval. “It’s a reflection on the Arab world today among other subjects.”

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Re: Jean-Luc Godard

#940 Post by theseventhseal » Wed Dec 28, 2016 5:21 pm

domino harvey wrote:These are great thoughts!

You're right to want to compare Godard's rankings to his co-panelists, but honestly, they're rarely all that different from the in-house staff's overall impressions by more than a degree. I don't think this is evidence of conformity as much as it is proof that these men banded together because they generally agreed on the same movies and broadly shared the same vision and impressions of the medium. I don't want to get into just posting the full CDD charts (which is why I included the issue numbers, so those curious can look them up themselves), but using your Grand Illusion example, here’s that full chart for that month:

Image

Renoir was always universally beloved by the Cahiers crew, and Godard liked his late-period work more than even his fellow Cahiers critics.

One thing to keep in mind is that Godard threw around four star ratings at a far lower rate than his co-Conseilers, and many of the films he gave three stars to ended up making his yearly Best Of lists. Take, for instance, Astruc's Une Vie, which is probably the most widely-read of Godard's Cahiers articles given that it's the one anthologized in the French New Wave Reader. No one could read the bombastic praise Godard dollops out and think it was "only" a three-star affair for Godard. So clearly ratings are a bit skewed for the reviewer-- it's best to think of three stars, for Godard, as a four-star review (and the Conseil initially only used to go to three stars, though the option for the fourth came before Godard joined) and a four-star review being like an A+ in relation to an A for three stars.

You’re quite right that these charts show that much of what we think we know about film history is fleeting— I’m working on compiling a "full" study of Nouvelle Vague works and directors from this period and while most people only associate ten or so names with the movement, at the time Cahiers themselves included over 150 young French filmmakers who made movies in the wave during the first couple years of the movement (and yes, they even include the directors they hated). Several contemporary books and journals on the New Wave highlight that a conservative estimate puts the tally of directors generally regarded as part of the movement closer to a hundred than a handful. And yet it’s just sickening how few of these films are available anywhere on DVD or Blu-ray, much less how few of those are in English-friendly releases. One of the most fascinating eras of film-making is already all but erased, and like a lot of complex movements, we’re left with the most visible participants without getting a fuller picture. If you don’t have access to back channels where film-lovers are compiling rare TV screenings and foreign release rips and often providing superb custom subs, then your chances of even beginning to scrape the surface with regards to the movement are microscopic, unless you lived in France or near an art house circuit during the sixties. Take the aforementioned Une Vie, which is now better-known through Godard's perspective on it than it is from people watching it, as there's no commercial release of it anywhere!

I had to look up "Le Gaucher" It's the translation of Paul Newman's "The Left-handed Gun" directed by Arthur Penn. Never seen this film. Doesn't anyone have any comments on it?

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Re: Jean-Luc Godard

#941 Post by knives » Thu Dec 29, 2016 3:12 pm

Three stars seems a bit strong. It is a handsome enough of a film, but is hard to differentiate from the million of other takes on the story.

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Re: Jean-Luc Godard

#942 Post by domino harvey » Thu Dec 29, 2016 3:13 pm

Yes, not bad but completely forgettable and weirdly negligible to receive the praise it garnered here

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Re: Jean-Luc Godard

#943 Post by goblinfootballs » Thu Dec 29, 2016 3:18 pm

Ovader wrote:Image Et Parole:
Titles still in production include Godard’s Image Et Parole exploring the Arab world. Mixing fact and fiction, it has been shot in various Arab countries, including Tunisia. “He’s being shooting it for nearly two years now. We were hoping it would be ready for Cannes but it won’t be,” says Maraval. “It’s a reflection on the Arab world today among other subjects.”
Nice, but that article spoils the reveal in Elle.

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Re: Jean-Luc Godard

#944 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Dec 29, 2016 4:39 pm

I haven't seen it but isn't The Left-Handed Gun part of that 'revisionist' series of films about Billy The Kid, that sort of privileges his actions over that of Pat Garrett (all sort of leading to the Peckinpah film in the early 70s). It also semeed like it was an attempt to move some of the teenage angst psychodramas of Rebel Without A Cause and The Wild One into the western genre.

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Re: Jean-Luc Godard

#945 Post by knives » Thu Dec 29, 2016 5:13 pm

The first part is absolutely true, but the teen angst angel isn't explored enough to be a blip on the radar.

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Re: Jean-Luc Godard

#946 Post by theseventhseal » Thu Dec 29, 2016 6:13 pm

colinr0380 wrote:I haven't seen it but isn't The Left-Handed Gun part of that 'revisionist' series of films about Billy The Kid, that sort of privileges his actions over that of Pat Garrett (all sort of leading to the Peckinpah film in the early 70s). It also semeed like it was an attempt to move some of the teenage angst psychodramas of Rebel Without A Cause and The Wild One into the western genre.
It seems that was one aspect of the film which naturally would have appealed to cinema-reshaper like Goddard.

From The Village Voice:

Penn debuted with the self-absorbed anguish of the Actors Studio Western The Left-Handed Gun (1957). There are rare, really new moments here, like the cutaway to a little girl who's slapped by her mother for laughing at an empty boot that a man's just been shot out of. But the odor of the vogue social problem pic is strong, with Paul Newman's Billy the Kid a juvie-hall case history—one waits for the tough-but-fair Boys' Club counselor to ride into town. Penn's training in theater and live-TV drama (e.g. Playhouse 90) shows; the central performance is rehearsed into an anxious stir, every line matched to an actorly decision, a blocking cue.

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Re: Jean-Luc Godard

#947 Post by John Cope » Thu Dec 29, 2016 9:27 pm

Another detail worth noting is the similarity to Charles Neider's 1956 novel, The Authentic Death of Hendry Jones, later to be the directly acknowledged source text for One-Eyed Jacks. As Danny Peary puts it in Cult Movies 3:
Arthur Penn's The Left-Handed Gun (1958), with Paul Newman as Billy the Kid, was released and it suspiciously contained, with slight variation, almost all of Neider's material, including his two major sequences and those scenes in which "the Kid" takes revenge on corrupt deputies who murdered someone close to him. Ironically, if Brando and Co. had faithfully adapted Neider's novel they'd have been accused of copying The Left-Handed Gun! So they knew they had to make changes. They developed a story on a much larger scale, made the relationships far more complex, and gave the lead character, Rio, redeeming qualities.

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Re: Jean-Luc Godard

#948 Post by theseventhseal » Thu Dec 29, 2016 11:44 pm

And the cinema is a better place for it!

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Re: Jean-Luc Godard

#949 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Dec 30, 2016 1:54 pm

I also wonder how The Left-Handed Gun plays into Arthur Penn's later takes on outlaws during the rest of the decade, leading up to Bonnie and Clyde! Wasn't there also something about Godard perhaps directing Bonnie & Clyde for his American debut at one point? (Which raises the tantalising situation of what might have happened if it had played against Truffaut's first English language film in Fahrenheit 451!)
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Re: Jean-Luc Godard

#950 Post by domino harvey » Fri Dec 30, 2016 1:56 pm

The screenwriters wanted Truffaut to direct it, but even though he wound up giving some script notes that ended up in the final picture, he wasn't interested

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