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

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Tout Va Bien (Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Gorin, 1972)

Him, Jacques: Yves Montand
Her, Susan: Jane Fonda
Factory Manager: Vittorio Caprioli
Genevieve: Elizabeth Chauvin
Jacques: Castel Casti
Lucien: Éric Chartier
Georges: Louis Bugette
Léon: Yves Gabrielli
Frederic: Pierre Oudrey

Director: Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Gorin
Screenplay: Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Gorin
Cinematography: Armand Marco
Production design: Jacques Duguied
Film editing: Claudine Merlin, Kenout Peltier

Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin's sardonic look at what happened to the leftist intellectuals who were on the forefront of the May 1968 protests in France has two great cinematic showpieces. The first is the multi-chambered two-decker set on which we watch the employees of a sausage factory play out their messy, scattered, and mostly ineffectual efforts at a strike. Though the set is often described as an hommage to Jerry Lewis's similar set for The Ladies' Man (1961), the concept goes back to the era of silent comedy. The other remarkable sequence takes place in an enormous supermarket, in which the camera, placed behind the row of cashiers ringing up purchases, tracks back and forth as shoppers wheel up their goods, a communist hawks his book with a newly marked-down price, and a small revolution starts in which people are told that everything is free. It's a nightmare of consumer capitalism run amok. Godard and Gorin's satire is directed at the complacency into which everyone has sunk in the four years since May 1968, while attempting to demonstrate that the class struggle is still viable. It's conceived as a kind of film about a film, with off-camera voices discussing the need to cast stars -- i.e. Jane Fonda and Yves Montand -- to guarantee the money needed to make the movie. As a demonstration of Godardian film technique, it has moments of brilliance, but even though it scores some points, as political filmmaking it feels inert and now inescapably dated.

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