171 Contempt

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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denti alligator
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#51 Post by denti alligator » Mon Apr 07, 2008 8:20 pm

tryavna wrote:
denti alligator wrote:But then again, we all know what Adorno thought of film.
At least it's not jazz....
For Adorno, film is worse, cus it's insidious. Also, his critique of jazz is plain racist BS. His critique of film is dead-on, and in many ways still relevant today. Still one of the best Aestheticians of the century.

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GringoTex
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#52 Post by GringoTex » Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:24 pm

Michael wrote:Perfectly understandable. However, just don't dismiss Pierrot le fou yet. Give it another chance. When I watched it again, I kept JLG out of my mind and just sailed along with Pierrot. Something magical clicked and underneath the carnivalesque surface, there's something going on. I can't even explain this but I find it one of the saddest films ever. Pierrot is about loss of everything - romance, youth, innocence, etc. and is there anything more for Pierrot and his love to develop? No. The way I see: the whole film is Pierrot's complete gaze of the woman he loves and he knows she's slipping away. The whole film feels like a stubborn goodbye to something really special and only death can end this goodbye.
I think the more times you watch a Godard film (from his 1960-65 period, anyway), the more his "Brechtian" surface melts away to reveal an embrace of classical cinema that packs an emotional wallop. The first time I watched A Woman is a Woman, I was completely disoriented by the experimental technique. Now when I watch it, it gives me the exact same feeling as a Gene Kelly musical.

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Max von Mayerling
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#53 Post by Max von Mayerling » Mon Apr 07, 2008 10:06 pm

And, see, what I love about A Woman is a Woman is that when I watch it I feel like I'm watching a Brechtian Gene Kelly musical. Which, I suppose, is to validate what you're saying.

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Tommaso
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#54 Post by Tommaso » Tue Apr 08, 2008 5:57 am

HerrSchreck wrote:Music, like film, for me is entertainment first and foremost. We often ascribe breathlessly dramatic meanings to works, whose authors would be totally taken aback to see how our minds process it.
True, but that leads to the old question whether you're allowed to find meanings in a piece of art that are not thought of by its creator, or how authoritative the opinion of the creator should be. I'd always say it's completely okay to enjoy a film any way you want it, but with Godard I generally have the impression that he wants to have the audience understand his films in a specific way, and that's why he built in means of ensuring this (e.g. by refusing to tell stories in a linear way in his later film s and toning down the more overt 'entertainment' character). Godard is a man with a message, it seems to me, and this is what he tries to convey. And so I always also wondered whether he shouldn't have perhaps better written an essay for making his points clear. But that's the problem I have with basically all politically engaged art.

All this doesn't mean that I don't almost admire Godard for his determination and uncompromising stance, and occasionally there are Godard films that DO engage me ("Les Carabiniers", for instance, or "Maria & Joseph"). I have no problem with accepting Godard although his works don't normally interest me much, because I always have the feeling that he knows what he's doing. It's just not my kind of cinema, normally.
I see what you mean about "Venom & Eternity", but I still must say that this film at the same time gets on my nerves but still in a curious way entertains me for its sheer over-the-top character. Much more engaging for me than most Godard.

As to Adorno: One of the few good things about 'postmodernism' is that we're now beyond his strict divisions of 'high' and 'low', of 'progressive' vs 'reactionary'. I'm still shocked how easily he was able not only to dismiss Jazz, but also Stravinsky. Don't know his writings about film, though. What did he say?

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HerrSchreck
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#55 Post by HerrSchreck » Tue Apr 08, 2008 6:32 am

Your comments on adorno are very incisive. The sense of 1920's-60's Us vs Them-- the sense of delving, experimenting, tripping, of dismissing the Lockout via a creamy bright studio-based industry, the need to progress, what folks like Epstein & Man Ray and all the avant gardists, surrealists, Lettrists, etc-- has disappeared (although it must always remain). It's just a total mishmash of Ten Zillion Ambitions nowadays.

Dudes like Ted Adorno are wonderful to get you fired up prior to creating something, but in reality are just a bit of brain pumpup nowadays in terms of "applicable real world aesthetic principle".

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#56 Post by accatone » Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:39 am

HerrSchreck wrote: Dudes like Ted Adorno are wonderful to get you fired up prior to creating something, but in reality are just a bit of brain pumpup nowadays in terms of "applicable real world aesthetic principle".
To each his own cinema and if somebody wants to get entertained or needs a "clean" narration to get into something (not just intellectual but emotional) - why not! There is no reason for me, to get people into Godard if they do not find anything enjoyable with his films (enjoyable as opposed to the term entertained). But calling someone like Adorno "outdated" in terms of "applicable real world aesthetic principle" without giving further evidence is, sorry, something i can't bear.

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HerrSchreck
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#57 Post by HerrSchreck » Tue Apr 08, 2008 8:43 am

Why can't you bear that some of us don't share your opinion?

To expand on what I meant:

Adorno is inspiring, the same way reading the language in James Joyce, or the ideas (or language) and precepts in various religions text are inspiring, but cannot be practically replicated in the modern world. people make compromises with their religions every day, because the modern world requires sacrifice of principle at times. And believe me, aesthetic philosophy-- any kind of incisive philosphy, really-- operates in a near identical fashion in the minds of thusly-oriented people as does religion. Look at your own inability to "bear" an objection to Adorno's near sum disqualification of all forms of Entertainment.

The uncompromising incisiveness and commitment to principle is totally invigorating-- like reading Neitzche or Schopenhauer-- but to apply these principles straight on down the line to their fullest extrapolation in the modern world would basically find you living the life of a slate-wiping hermit. You gotta live, try to assimilate in this American Idolized world, make connections with assholes, make a myspace page, and try not to take the more plastic aspects of artistic survival and neccessity too seriously. You've got to try to sometimes grin and even find a way to Bear It. The whorish clash between art & commerce has been lamented forever and is as old as the hills... repeating with High Language with fist-pounding urgency what everybody already knows is not going to get you anywhere.

Reading Adorno is inspiring, fires ones sincerity and commitment, reminds one why one is committed in the first place (if one maintains a set of deeply felt aesthetic principles)... but to keep every precept on the dashboard of your front brain for constant referral... and reminders to vocalize severe condemnation for all visible endeavors to entertainment-- low fluff and high art-- will find you living in a Central Park Cave.

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Michael
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#58 Post by Michael » Tue Apr 08, 2008 9:09 am

GringoTex wrote:I think the more times you watch a Godard film (from his 1960-65 period, anyway), the more his "Brechtian" surface melts away to reveal an embrace of classical cinema that packs an emotional wallop. The first time I watched A Woman is a Woman, I was completely disoriented by the experimental technique. Now when I watch it, it gives me the exact same feeling as a Gene Kelly musical.
You're so right about that, GringoTex. After my first venture with Pierrot, I quickly rejected it, finding it one single long blah. But days following that, something about that film kept coming back to me. So I was like "what the hell" and decided to to embark on Pierrot's adventure once more on a very lazy, damp Sunday morning - all alone while everyone else sleeping away in the same house. I was completely floored by how much I missed on the first ride. Not only it's a knockout beauty to look at, it bursts with so much emotions that somehow escaped me previously. I'm now totally embarrassed by the first comment I wrote on the Pierrot le fou thread.

This is the kind of film that needs: time to grow; to be revisited a few times; to be experienced by yourself.

accatone
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#59 Post by accatone » Tue Apr 08, 2008 9:20 am

HerrSchreck wrote:Why can't you bear that some of us don't share your opinion?

To expand on what I meant:

Adorno is inspiring, the same way reading the language in James Joyce, or the ideas (or language) and precepts in various religions text are inspiring, but cannot be practically replicated in the modern world. people make compromises with their religions every day, because the modern world requires sacrifice of principle at times. And believe me, aesthetic philosophy-- any kind of incisive philosphy, really-- operates in a near identical fashion in the minds of thusly-oriented people as does religion. Look at your own inability to "bear" an objection to Adorno's near sum disqualification of all forms of Entertainment.

The uncompromising incisiveness and commitment to principle is totally invigorating-- like reading Neitzche or Schopenhauer-- but to apply these principles straight on down the line to their fullest extrapolation in the modern world would basically find you living the life of a slate-wiping hermit. You gotta live, try to assimilate in this American Idolized world, make connections with assholes, make a myspace page, and try not to take the more plastic aspects of artistic survival and neccessity too seriously. You've got to try to sometimes grin and even find a way to Bear It. The whorish clash between art & commerce has been lamented forever and is as old as the hills... repeating with High Language with fist-pounding urgency what everybody already knows is not going to get you anywhere.

Reading Adorno is inspiring, fires ones sincerity and commitment, reminds one why one is committed in the first place (if one maintains a set of deeply felt aesthetic principles)... but to keep every precept on the dashboard of your front brain for constant referral... and reminders to vocalize severe condemnation for all visible endeavors to entertainment-- low fluff and high art-- will find you living in a Central Park Cave.
Thanks for elaborating the over all concept to me - I am outta here!

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lubitsch
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#60 Post by lubitsch » Tue Apr 08, 2008 10:20 am

HerrSchreck wrote:My problem with the film first and foremost (though I may give it another try in a few yrs, tho me & JLG may be just about hopeless) is that it failed in the most crucial zone that any film needs to operate in for me to want to Get With It: as Entertainment.

Films are entertainment first and foremost, and to want to bother to sift and study out the (rather obviously lurking in this case) deeper patterns of subtext and myth, I've got to be engaged in entertainment terms. If mythology and symbolism and clever textural antics dont interact with a surface that is in itself entertaining on its own (in any of a thousand different ways, from densely packed, to simple melodrama, to completely deconstructed and abstract) then it just feels like a dry schema for an unbuilt architecture. For example, Ulysses is packed to the bursting point with deeper layers of deliberate hidden meaning. But it's surface, as a starting point, is a fantastically hilarious and moving & entertaining story.
One could point out an equally serious if similar problem of LE MEPRIS and other Godard films: they are not very subtle, in fact quite the contrary, they are agit-prop wallpapers, not only in regard of politics but asthetics, too.
When I watch VERTIGO, I enjoy a film as entertainment and if I like it, I can discover symbolic use of color, feminist subtexts and so on. If I watch LE MEPRIS, there's no entertainment surface, Godard immediately grabs you by the throat and shouts: Look at my message! Look at the way I deconstruct film language!
I'd say he and good parts of these ART films - whose heyday thankfully is mostly over by now - remove a layer of artistic work and interest for the viewer without gaining very much in exchange. Sure Antonioni can compose pictures and arrange people in these landscapes, but Wyler is no worse maybe arguably even better avoiding some unintentionally parodistic compositions. But THE HEIRESS is dramatic and intense while L'AVVENTURA is content in presenting som very shallow characters. The same goes for LE MEPRIS. the characters aren't particularily interesting and don't have much of a life aside from the things they represent.
Slowly the 60s recede back into film history as a another decade with its virtues and vices like every other one and it's quite pleasent to see somebody like David Bordwell to say that "MEET ME IN ST.LOUIS was a better film than L’ECLISSE or WINTER LIGHT."

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Michael
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#61 Post by Michael » Tue Apr 08, 2008 10:33 am

lubitsch wrote: it's quite pleasent to see somebody like David Bordwell to say that "MEET ME IN ST.LOUIS was a better film than L’ECLISSE or WINTER LIGHT."
I didn't know that! Very pleasant indeed! Even though Meet Me in St. Louis is a classic but I feel that it's not appreciated or recognized enough among modern film scholars or in film societies like this one we have here.

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Tommaso
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#62 Post by Tommaso » Tue Apr 08, 2008 10:57 am

lubitsch wrote: it's quite pleasent to see somebody like David Bordwell to say that "MEET ME IN ST.LOUIS was a better film than L’ECLISSE or WINTER LIGHT."
Heartily seconded, though the mentioning of "Winter Light" bugs me as a Bergman devotee. As a good example of how you can bring together a political momentum without sacrificing 'entertainment value' (at least for me), I'd name the two CC Makavejev films (though they probably only come to my mind because of the current debate about them in their dedicated thread).

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HerrSchreck
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#63 Post by HerrSchreck » Tue Apr 08, 2008 11:24 am

Thanks to Lubitsch this thread has regained the footing I was aiming for, and reacquired the ground I've been trying to have a serious conversation about out of genuine interest, which is-- if not to entertain the audience (it was said above by someone that JLG was specifically trying to get away from the idea of film as entertainment, which does indeed tie into Adorno's ideas about culture industry and subject/object, etc, the whole virtual semimarxist "opium for the masses" idea about product coming down from controlling corporations vs true artworks coming up from the masses themselves)... but finishing the initial sentence, I'm genuinely interested, in that it would help me to read JLG's later works in the future as I give his works more chances in my world, and find an appreciation within myself... I'm genuinely interested what it is he was moving towards, if not entertainment.

I love the idea of returning to artworks and gleaning a sense of the sublime that eluded me at first. It happenss with the lowest of schlocko shit (not camp!) like Bride of the Gorilla, and it happens with elusive masterpieces like Nostalghia, which was not initially a "liked" Tarkovsky for me, but over time grew and eventually took me over. So I mean these things in emphatic earnest-- I mention them all the time. Thus me jumping back into this thread despite the full moon hovering over it at present.

I'm anxiously looking for an answer to what it was JLG wanted his films to do if not entertain. Please don't say that the answer could possibly be "think": so many high art films which are dense, radical, profoundly innovative, anarchistic, avant, deconstructed, rife with narrative surfaces that are deeply thought out and preplanned like a skyscraper blue print with layers of depth and symbol orders that expertly ping pong and play off of one another in tours de force of the elevated sublime, still entertain. Entertainment and high art are not mutually exclusive. See all the works by FW Murnau, Jean Epstein, Yasujiro Ozu, Josef von Sternberg, the best of Robert Bresson, Ozu, Tarkovsky, etc. Over on another thread we discussed the astonishing feat that constitutes The Cranes Are Flying: as aeamless a blending as exists of high art aesthetics, with crowd pleasing melodrama, that incredibly rare case where art manages to hold hands with commerce and produce an astounding result.

Not that this is always necessary-- melodrama is just one facet of cinematic entertainment. Entertainment shouldn't, I believe, be a perjorative.. i e a code word for inane tv shows and mind-numbing fluff from the blandest candygloss of the studio system's heyday. Entertainment simply means that the viewer was interacting with an Artwork Product which absorbed him, or attempted to. The princeton dictionary describes it as:
an activity that is diverting and that holds the attention
.
Which hits the crux of my problem with Contempt-- it didn't hold my attention. I found it laborious, repetitive, grindingly bland, with occasional flashes of originality (the sublime forward editing flashes put a big smile on my face). I continuously felt my own presence in the seat in the cinema, was continuously aware of the dude I went to see the film with, wondering-- "was he having the same experience of total disinterest?"

To me this is what entertainment means-- you are successfully engaged or you are not. Perhaps JLG had a different-- clearly more negative-- idea of what Entertainment was. In a forum of members wayyy more educated than I am on this man and his cinematic intentions, I'd welcome some expanding on this. On one hand I see similarities between Antonioni, Bresson, etc, but on the other it's a stew all it's own... adding certain features and removing others which involve me in these other, quieter filmmakers. Though clearly I need to give Pierrot le Fou a new visit, and will take the advice offered and give it a spin.

(I also adore Winter Light btw... I think it's one of IB's best).

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Mr Sausage
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#64 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Apr 08, 2008 3:35 pm

HerrShreck wrote:I'm anxiously looking for an answer to what it was JLG wanted his films to do if not entertain. Please don't say that the answer could possibly be "think": so many high art films which are dense, radical, profoundly innovative, anarchistic, avant, deconstructed, rife with narrative surfaces that are deeply thought out and preplanned like a skyscraper blue print with layers of depth and symbol orders that expertly ping pong and play off of one another in tours de force of the elevated sublime, still entertain.
I can't answer your question, but that's because I have one of my own: when did it become a foregone conclusion that Godard's films cannot entertain? I find Contempt deeply entertaining, and I'm not indiscriminant about that term, since for example I don't find Dreyer's sublime Gertrude entertaining, but I do find it riveting and attracting (so I suppose I'm wondering in what sense we're using "entertainment" here).

Oh, what the hell, I'll give a very weak answer: if he didn't want his films to entertain, then I guess he wanted them to do all the other things art films do that you list. But then I'm not convinced Godard was being sincere in his claim. Perhaps he didn't care whether or not he entertained, but I doubt he went out of his way, in this early period at least, to negate entertainment.

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#65 Post by bunuelian » Tue Apr 08, 2008 4:14 pm

Don Quixote and the Odyssey are entertainment, too. Interesting that the novel (or, more broadly, literature) isn't subjected to this entertainment-art dichotomy the way film is. I suppose we could blame film's unavoidable big business origin. Perhaps "entertainment" isn't accurate enough a term, since inumerable thoroughly entertaining movies also work on other levels. I think what is meant is "commerical entertainment," something meant only to pander to the lowest common denominator, to soothe rather than challenge, to be assembled quickly and forgotten immediately, those summer comedies with the "needle across vinyl" sound effect in the trailer.

Godard self-consciously planned for Contempt to fail as commercial entertainment. He set out to make it thoroughly disappointing for people who came to see Bardot get sexy. The elliptical, dry as burnt toast car crash that concludes the film is about as thoroughly unentertaining as a climax can get. Godard's contempt for the film's commercial purpose pretty much shouts itself from the rooftops here.

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Barmy
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#66 Post by Barmy » Tue Apr 08, 2008 4:38 pm

Why do I care if Godard wanted Contempt to be crap? Is intentional crap "better" than unintentional?

And although he makes Bardot look like a nonactress (not sure that was that hard), for a 1963 film there was ample nudity for the lechers.

My fundamental question was, why do crix REVERE this boring film? It has been showered with ludicrously rapturous blurbs by virtually everyone.

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bunuelian
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#67 Post by bunuelian » Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:31 pm

Barmy wrote:Why do I care if Godard wanted Contempt to be crap?
That wasn't my point at all. He intended it to be "crap" from the perspective of the studio heads looking to make millions with a Godard-directed Bardot vehicle - splicing in the shot of her ass and the conversation about her body parts to satisfy the studio is clear evidence of that.

He most certainly didn't want the film itself to be crap, and indeed, succeeded quite well in making an excellent film, especially for those who appreciate what he was doing with "filmic language." Anyone expecting the film to entertain like Transformers naturally would come away bored, because Godard's film isn't that kind of commercial entertainment.

I recall a long, wonderful discussion of Contempt from the old days, but alas, it's long gone. It was filled with interesting observations about the various structures and meanings throughout the film. It's been too long since I've seen it, so I can't recall them now.

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GringoTex
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#68 Post by GringoTex » Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:46 pm

lubitsch wrote:If I watch LE MEPRIS, there's no entertainment surface, Godard immediately grabs you by the throat and shouts: Look at my message! Look at the way I deconstruct film language!
That's because Godard demands you reach beneath the surface for the "entertainment" (I prefer Dave Hare's choice of "engagement").

Damned be any deconstructive intent, Godard's 30 minute apartment scene of Bardot and Piccoli's argument is the most harrowing account of the dissolution of love I've ever seen.

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tryavna
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#69 Post by tryavna » Tue Apr 08, 2008 8:03 pm

denti alligator wrote:
tryavna wrote:
denti alligator wrote:But then again, we all know what Adorno thought of film.
At least it's not jazz....
For Adorno, film is worse, cus it's insidious. Also, his critique of jazz is plain racist BS. His critique of film is dead-on, and in many ways still relevant today. Still one of the best Aestheticians of the century.
Oh, I agree about Adorno's importance, and I actually dig him. I'm not sure I'd characterize his stuff on jazz as "plain racist" though. It's misguided, of course, but it has always seemed to me that his misunderstanding of jazz was due in part to the fact that he was primarily familiar with it in its most watered-down (i.e., "whitest") dance-hall form.

FWIW, I find Adorno laugh-out-loud funny sometimes (and not unintentionally either). He could display a pretty wicked sense of humor, and I think a lot of people miss that entirely.

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GringoTex
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#70 Post by GringoTex » Tue Apr 08, 2008 8:09 pm

HerrSchreck wrote:if not to entertain the audience (it was said above by someone that JLG was specifically trying to get away from the idea of film as entertainment,
Who said this? I reject the entire notion and don't want it to become the focal point of our discussion. Take a look at Godard's Best of Year lists for Cahiers du cinema in the 50s and early 60s: 80% of them are Hollywood films. There was no bigger champion of Hollywood at Cahiers.

Now he was certainly interested in how cinema works as entertainment, and he explored this vigorously in his films (hence his films were an extension of his criticism [his Hollywood-loving film criticism] as he always claimed), but I see no evidence prior to 1966 that he wanted to get away from cinema as entertainment.

Like I mentioned before- it's easy to spot the Brechtian effect in films such as Breathless, A Woman is a Woman, Band of Outsiders, Pierrot le fou, etal., but it takes some work to reach beneath that surface for the emotional, entertaining, engaging heart that beats at the center.

After 1965, of course, it's a different matter. Whether Godard reached out for politics or he had no place else to go after Karina kicked his ass to the curb is irrelevant- he had lost his taste for romanticism.

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#71 Post by david hare » Tue Apr 08, 2008 8:20 pm

Yes, if ever a movie was "about" the horrible, relentless, soul destroying breakdown of a marriage, this is it.

I don't really want to engage any further in apparently useless posts to win people over to a movie they simply don't like. That's fine by me. But I do want to address some points made by several people in the last couple of days.

Lube talks about Godard's agitprop agenda and this is overwhelmingly true of the completely dreadful political period circa 68 to 72 (these films remain unwatchable to me.) But the agitprop moniker can't reliably be extended as a blanket to his entire work. Quite obviously his movies fall into distinct periods, even if they are all to a primary degree immersed in formal issues. What is far more pertinent I think is the wonderful playfulness of Godard's early pictures, most notably of course all the movies with Karina. Une Femme est Une Femme - which is another Ponti production by the way and in Scope and Color, is just as radically engaged in deconstruction of not only narrative but the elements of film including characterization, diaolgue/soundtrack, cinematic referentiality, and the movie's relationship with its audience. But the movie seems to play as much more "fun" than Le Mepris, as do Bande a Part and Alphaville. These three at least have an irresistibly playful hook which certainly caught me when I saw them in first run. But then Mepris also caught me up at 16 first run and kept me engaged for decades as well.

As for Adorno, what little I've read doesn't endear him to me as a fruitful avenue for study into the notion of movies as popular culture. His socio/philosophical analyses of social relationship/disempowerment by a controlling bourgeois orthodoxy (or whatever the hell he is arguing) really should have as its prime subject television.

The entire business of the movies (and that is exactly how the movies began - as a business of entertainment) is far more complex and multifaceted than Adorno's arguments allow. Far better comparisons are popular cultural arenas from other times in history like Baroque and Renaissance church music which bridged a a literal chasm to common people from the pre Baroque era works of Machaud, Palestrina, etc etc. But Bach et al managed to embrace exceptionally refined cultural artefacts like the Motet and the fugue and whatnot into broader works of popular appeal and consistent acclaim. There are very pertinent parallels to be made with the movies here, and in other areas of culture and society which witnessed the popular growth of art forms, but simultaneously saw them branching into even more "refined" and "specialized" subcategories.

And that's enough from me on this topic.

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GringoTex
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#72 Post by GringoTex » Tue Apr 08, 2008 9:51 pm

Pertinent to this argument is the common critical interpretation of the opening of Vivre sa vie: Godard first shows the back of the heads of Karina and Man in conversation in a cafe for 4 minutes and then cuts to another shot of them at the pinball machine from 3/4 behind for another minute or so. The general argument is that Godard is ridiculing conventional pleasure by not showing us Karina's face during the entire first scene of the film.

But Godard had just spent the entire preceding two-minute title scene analyzing Karina's face. And after the opening cafe scene, Godard immediately cuts to the record store scene where Karina descends a ladder (from the heavens) to reward us with a full-on, gorgeous frontal shot.

The point of this three-scene sequence is not to ridicule our appreciation of a beautiful face- it's to emphasize its beauty.

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Barmy
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#73 Post by Barmy » Tue Apr 08, 2008 11:24 pm

I find it interesting that the Contempt lovers tend to emphasize how "difficult" it is. How you have to dig like a rat in garbage to appreciate its depth.

Whereas the crix celebrate it as Godard's most movieish movie. Finally that avant garde scamp has made a movie with stars and a story!!!!! I'd be willing to bet 50 Swiss francs that the movie did ok in its 1963 release. What I do know is that it made 500k in its 1997 US re-release, which has got to make it one of the most successful "artfilm" re-releases ever. The heartland finally embraced JLG. Too bad he wasn't alive to see it.

Sorry, but the movie just ain't that deep. Anyone suffering a breakup could only pray that it is as "harrowing" as padding about in a gorgeous sun-drenched Rome apartment clad in plush towels, with the added bonus that the sexiest woman in France is in the room. Please.

Tout va Bien, a film with broadly similar concerns, is vastly superior. Why? Because it has interesting acting perfs and some cool camerawork, as well as a similar but far more clever opening sequence.

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HerrSchreck
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#74 Post by HerrSchreck » Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:07 am

Tommaso wrote:But it's precisely the idea of film as entertainment that Godard seems to have become increasingly suspicious of (look at some of his filmic essays from the 90s, it's obvious to me that he wanted to get ride of the idea of entertainment there).
Gringo: this was where I tweezed the idea, which I'd heard paraphrased before about Godard, but I don't know where. I'm not claiming to be an authority on this guy as few works by him have done anything for me, but Tom sounds like he's read up on the man, and I've never seen him coming off half cocked on a subject, so I take him at his word. If you can prove him wrong, that's fine... but:

I take exception to your mentioning "his favorite films" as justification for his belief-- as a director-- in "entertainment". He may have loved Hollywood films as a critic, but the films he made as a director, I think you'd agree, aren't of the Hollywood Golden Age pedigree... not by a long shot. Arthur Rimbaud liked cheap poetry and nonsensical little ditties, but this is not what A Season In Hell is. A man's work is not the sum total of his youthful inspiration.

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Tommaso
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#75 Post by Tommaso » Wed Apr 09, 2008 6:56 am

HerrSchreck wrote:. I'm not claiming to be an authority on this guy as few works by him have done anything for me, but Tom sounds like he's read up on the man, and I've never seen him coming off half cocked on a subject, so I take him at his word. If you can prove him wrong, that's fine...
I've actually not READ very much about Godard, but have had the chance to see quite a bunch of his films over the last 20 years. My statement that Godard deliberately shunned the notion of entertainment at least at some point of his career came, firstly, from his move away from cinema in the late 60s, taking up video work and collective filmmaking with that Groupe Dziga Vertov instead. If I remember correctly, his intention was to get rid of the 'authoritarian' stance that he ascribed to the idea of 'being a director', and also to get rid of film subscribing to and upholding capitalism, i.e. the entertainment industry. Secondly, his late filmic essays from the 90s, where you often have a voice-over discussing philosophers and writers of all sorts over the visuals which barely, if at all, have a narrative. In my view this is clearly defying the notion of entertainment in the sense of immersing yourself into a story or even only into images (you can't enjoy the really beautiful images of these late films because you always have to sort out what the heck is being said about Nietzsche on the soundtrack). The distancing effect achieved by this is not Brechtian in effect, but, I believe, shares some of Bertolt's ideas.

About the idea brought up above that one wouldn't judge literature by the same standards as film: well, actually I would. I find both "Don Quixote" and the "Odyssey" highly entertaining, and the same goes for "Ulysses" or "Paradise Lost". But that's not the important point. I guess, with books and with films the question whether you find something entertaining or not is normally entirely subjective, but in the above literary examples it seems at least obvious to me that none of these authors defied the idea that someone could be entertained by their works (and their success over the centuries seems to have proven them right, even if "Ulysses" is a highly experimental book). Looking through my bookshelf, I can't find a single book written to defy entertainment, actually. Not even with Beckett I would get that idea. Perhaps it's just my selection of works, i.e. why should I have a book that doesn't entertain me, but honestly, I just can't think of any author who would have a written a book consiously against entertainment. Which doesn't mean that there are no books which I find boring (I can't stand Charlotte Bronte, for instance, she bores me to hell), but that then is a purely subjective point-of-view.

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