Jean-Luc Godard – Made in U.S.A. (1966)

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With its giddily complex noir plot and color-drenched widescreen images, Made in U.S.A was a final burst of exuberance from Jean-Luc Godard’s early sixties barrage of delirious movie-movies. Yet this chaotic crime thriller and acidly funny critique of consumerism—starring Anna Karina as the most brightly dressed private investigator in film history, searching for a former lover who might have been assassinated—also points toward the more political cinema that would come to define Godard. Featuring characters with names such as Richard Nixon, Robert McNamara, David Goodis, and Doris Mizoguchi, and appearances by a slapstick Jean-Pierre Léaud and a sweetly singing Marianne Faithfull, this piece of pop art is like a Looney Tunes rendition of The Big Sleep gone New Wave. (Criterion) Continue reading

Jean-Luc Godard – Une Femme Est Une Femme AKA A Woman Is a Woman (1961)

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“Director Jean-Luc Godard’s deceptively blithe tribute to the musical comedy features Anna Karina as an exotic dancer who decides that it is time for her to have a child. When her lover refuses to commit to the decision, she turns her romantic attentions to his best friend. This being a Godard film, the straightforward story serves as a framework for improvisation and stylistic experimentation, allowing for odd interludes and unexpected images. Rather than the sometimes alienating, dense intellectualism of later Godard works, Une femme est une femme offers aesthetic pleasure through luxurious visuals and a charming musical score by Michel Legrand. Against this bright backdrop, Karina proves particularly fetching, capturing the film’s frolicsome mood in an unforced manner. While not one of Godard’s most groundbreaking or influential films, Une femme est une femme is one of his most appealing and pleasurable efforts.” Continue reading

Jean-Luc Godard – Vivre sa vie: Film en douze tableaux aka My Life to Live (1962)

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Quote:
Faced with a failed relationship, a dead-end job, and potential homelessness, young Parisienne Nana Kleinfrankenheim (Anna Karina) turns to “the life” – that is, prostitution. A simple tale told in twelve Brechtian tableaux, Vivre sa vie is one of Godard’s most deeply felt films, anchored by Karina’s astonishing lead performance and Nouvelle Vague favorite Raoul Coutard’s breathtaking cinematography of street-level Paris. Continue reading

Jean-Luc Godard – La Chinoise (1967)

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Synopsis:
Born in a decade of political turmoil, La Chinoise has become a cinematic marker for the significant historical events that surrounded its creation. Five Parisian students, their political awareness aroused by Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book and the Chinese Cultural Revolution, envision an overthrow of Western governmental systems – which they aim to bring about through acts of terrorism. One of Godard’s most brilliant films of the 60s, its success lies in the rejection of traditional narrative techniques: it is a dialectical charade which is as disturbing as it is comical. Though criticised in its day as a political manipulation, La Chinoise has proven alarmingly prophetic and its impact on audiences during the late 60s is echoed amongst viewers today. Continue reading