A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Weekend (Jean-Luc Godard, 1967)

Jean Yanne and Mireille Darc in Weekend
Corinne Durand: Mireille Darc
Roland Durand: Jean Yanne
Head of the Front de Libération de la Seine et Oise: Jean-Pierre Kalfon
Saint-Just: Jean-Pierre Léaud
Tom Thumb: Yves Afonso
Emily Brontë: Blandine Jeanson
Joseph Balsamo: Daniel Pommereulle
Pianist: Paul Gégauff
African: Omar Diop
Arab: László Szabó

Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Screenplay: Jean-Luc Godard
Based on a story by Julio Cortázar
Cinematography: Raoul Coutard
Music: Antoine Duhamel

"You say you want a revolution / Well, you know, / We all want to change the world." I'm old enough to remember when John Lennon and Paul McCartney were denounced as capitalist reactionaries for that song, especially for lines like "But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao / You ain't gonna make it with anyone anyhow." So watching Jean-Luc Godard's satire Weekend takes me back to the days of a revolutionary fervor that now seems naive, especially since the violent year of 1968 culminated in the election of Richard Nixon, and Mao has been relegated to the ranks of history's more odious tyrants. Still, there's nothing naive about Weekend, which although it now looks less like a great film than a self-indulgent one at least demonstrates the indulgence of a great self, i.e., Jean-Luc Godard's. Is Godard celebrating the revolutionary spirit or sending it up? Weekend ranges from fascinating to stupefying, from bravura filmmaking like the pan along the traffic jam and the repeated 360-degree pan around a farmyard where a pianist is playing a Mozart sonata, to the eye-glazing extended readings from the works of Stokely Carmichael and Frantz Fanon and the drum solo accompanied by a Whitmanesque poem by Lautréamont. Pauline Kael got it right when she called Weekend a "vision of Hell," but what seems most significant now is that it's a hell that lies just beneath us, covered by the veneer of civilization. In Weekend, civilization is showing cracks being widened by unbridled consumerism. And who's to say in the age of climate change denial, abrogation of human rights, and raging corporate globalization that those cracks haven't widened still further? This is a film made by a man who definitely doesn't "know that it's gonna be all right."

Watched on the Filmstruck Criterion Channel

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