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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Weekend (1967) d. Jean Luc Godard

Movie Review
Weekend (1967)
d. Jean Luc Godard: 12 titles in the Criterion Collection
Criterion Collection #635

 I want to be careful about talking shit about how unwatchable Jean Luc Godard's films are until I've actually watched a few.  I've seen Breathless, Alphaville, this one.  I also watched The Virgin Mary in college, although that is not a Criterion Collection title.   You can't talk about Godard without discussing what Gary Indiana, in the essay that is featured on the Criterion Collection product page for Weekend, calls Godards penchant for "trying the patience of his audience."

 INDEED. How is one to discuss Godard-especially Godard after the mid 1960s, without discussing his disdain for the bourgeois conventions of film grammar, plot, strory-telling, emotional identification or really anything that makes people LIKE, as suppose, to despise, a specific work.  As Indiana says, the key to understanding Godard's mindset in Weekend and subsequent films is to understand the influence of Brecht on Godard:

The technique of Weekend, however, comes from Brecht. The film excludes any emotional identification with its protagonists. They have no inner lives. Corinne’s only emotional moment occurs when her Hermès pocketbook is incinerated in a head-on collision. Moreover, she and Roland are conscious of being characters in a movie. Weekend’s fistfights, shootings, stabbings, and highway carnage don’t simulate violence so much as transmit an idea of violence. The bloodshed is so deliberately fake that a scene where a real pig has its throat cut comes as a powerful shock. (Gary Indiana essay on Weekend)
 Brecthian distancing techniques seem key to understanding the Art House/Experimental cinema of Europe in the 1950s and 1960s. Call it experimental theater if you will, the theater of the absurd, the theater of cruelty, what you will.

 We're not so far removed from the academic post-modernism of the last few decades, and from that perspective Godard is like a patron saint, but personally, I think film that purposely eschews emotion in favor of lengthy Marxist diatribes (of which there are many in Weekend) are kind of missing the point of film.  Maybe it's because I've never, ever met a single person in my whole life who could confidently look me in the eye and say, "Yes, I like watching the experimental films of Godard- Weekend, Virgin Mary, all of it- love how he refuses to abide by the conventions of film grammar and story telling."

 If someone said that to me I would be all, "Shyeaaahhh right."  I mean no way.  I can see where you'd watch Weekend for a class, or because it is in the Criterion Collection, or because you love the French New Wave, but I can't see anyone sitting down and watching this movie for fun- which is something I tried to do several years ago- and failed to do.

1 comment:

chickrawker said...

I always thought his best film was "Contempt".

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