Thursday, 12 July 2012

Made in USA.

I was familiar with some of the French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard vast output which included his 1960 debut feature film A bout de souffle basically a very cool gangster movie with a great jazz soundtrack starring Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo, Alphaville (1965) which was shown as part of BBC 2’s World Cinema strand which went out on a Friday night in the late sixties best described as a science fiction film noir and starred Eddie Constantine and Anna Karina who was Godard’s wife at the time and Le Mepris (1963) the French directors most commercially successful film and his cinematic attack on Hollywood. It starred France’s biggest female box office attraction Ms Brigitte Bardot and was a film about filming the impossible, Homers Odyssey. All of them were prior to his mid sixties departure from plot-driven stories.

An example following this change is Made in USA (1966). The star of the film Anna Karina says at one point during what seems a rather long 85 minute running time ‘Every thing is double Dutch to me’ well I can sympathise!  I believe Godard is attempting a political statement or is he being simple elitist, is the film meant to be understood? It involves Paula Nelson (Karina) who is supposed to be a female version of Humphrey Bogart, complete with trench coat and droopy cigarette; she travels to Atlantic City to meet her lover Richard Politzer. On arrival she learns that he is dead and decides to investigate his death.  

Art work from Made in USA.
Made in USA is neither entertaining nor informative, other than perhaps its political statement, it’s not an attack on your emotions plus there’s no real narrative cohesion. Godard’s genius, it’s claimed, is making his films seen natural and improvised but they are far from it, we know that the dialog and the camera work were both calculated and worked out precisely. While Godard was shooting this film he was also working on the movie Two or Three Things I Know About Her (1967) a film that allegedly does not have a narrative structure either instead ‘presenting an essay-like study of the directors view of contemporary life’ I think I’ll stick to the films he made prior to 1965!

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