Derik Badman's Journal

2020-07-04 16:01

Celebrating fourth of July by watching... Godard movies? Sure. A bunch are leaving the Criterion Channel at the end of the month, so I figured it was time to watch them (or rewatch). This morning it was Pierrot Le Fou and this afternoon La Chinoise. Both of the brightly colored 60's Godard, though the latter is much further along with the political and experimental Godard. Pierrot has a more consistent narration throughline, but still seems mostly like Godard having a lark. I didn't care much for this one when I first watched it many years ago, and this time through I can't say I loved it. Beyond just an excuse to watch Anna Karina (and there are other better movies she is in), there's not much there that I grab onto. One weird thing that stuck out to me is a scene where the two protagonists pretend to crash their car after coming upon another car crash (in a very Godardian staged way that makes no attempt to look realistic). The car has crashed against a tall concrete strut, and you can see others in the background. It's some kind of overpass, but then as the camera cuts to a long shot as the two walk away, we see it's just a tiny section of overpass in the middle of a field, unconnected to any highway, and no highway in the visiable distance. It's such an odd thing, absurd even, so much so that you could think Godard invented it for the movie, though is obviously impossible for the time.

La Chinoise is a harder work to understand. Its about a bunch of young French Maoists living together and studying Marxism-Leninism. It frequently features multiple layers of talk or writing which is hard to process in translation, because for the most part you lose the ability to listen to one thing and read anything, because you are reading both (at least for me, I can usually read the French text on screen). It's hard to tell throughout the film how much Godard agrees with the political rhetoric and how much he is being ironic, particularly about the characters. They seem quite absurd, particularly in the way one of the women in the group is basically the domestic help, while everyone else sits around reading and writing and pontificating. They have little educational sessions that seem quite silly; they play a lot with toys to play act violence. When the one woman (Anne Wiazemsky, Godard's wife after Karina, as it happens) discusses becoming a terrorist (to bomb universities!?) with one of her former professors in a long scene in a train, he, at least as I read it, bascially destroys her arguments and makes her look naive. It's a strange movie. She does end up murdering two people, and then... we don't see her again.

Been rewatching Star Trek: Discovery and since I have the cheap version of the CBS channel, I have to watch commercials, and it is oddly the only time I've really seen commericals in a long time. I've found it interesting seeing the various ways companies have started addressing the pandemic. There are commercials with people in masks and p.r. about protecting workers and/or customers, and then there are ones that seem to have jumped the gun on "opening up" thing, about going places and making up for lost time. It's interesting to see the attempts to be current.