Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Adieu au langage

2014, France/Switzerland, directed by Jean-Luc Godard

A film that's very much in keeping with later-period Godard: dense, narratively confusing, potentially pretentious/infuriating/illuminating, visually magical (and certainly not populist: I was 50% of the audience for this screening). It certainly resists any easy categorization, and it's not a film that's going to please someone motivated by narrative progression and resolution more than anything else. For me, it's hard not to be impressed by the vitality of an artist constantly trying new things no matter what stage of his career he happens to be at: here, the experimentation is especially obvious on the visual level, with the director make intriguing use of a wide range of cameras. The different equipment generates a strikingly varied set of outcomes, from very grainy, almost lo-fi pictures to crisp and astonishingly detailed close-up shots depending on which camera he chooses. As David Bordwell suggested in a post recentlyGodard is interested here in visual texture in a way that seems more familiar from painting, and as such it's no accident that he includes a variety of shots of palettes, brushes and paint (and finds visual equivalents for these in other places, such as the coat of the dog we see throughout the film). Inevitably, Godard also uses 3D in ways that no commercial filmmaker would imagine, most notably when he splits the two cameras required for 3D filmmaking and has each follow a different bit of action (if you close one eye and then the other you can flip back and forth between the two images, editing them in whatever sequence you'd like yourself). The first of those instances was, to my mind, the most successful for a number of reasons: it worked quite naturally with the onscreen action as well as having the element of surprise, and it had me laughing with delight. 

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States