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 Posted:   Oct 14, 2023 - 7:15 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

HELAS POUR MOI (Woe Is Me) concerns “Simon Donnadieu” (Gérard Depardieu), who, after leaving town for a business trip, is possessed by a god who experiences life on earth through Donnadieu’s eyes. This mostly encompasses tumultuous encounters with Simon’s wife, “Rachel” (Laurence Masliah), during which questions of divinity, love, and devotion are raised. Afterward, a publisher named “Abraham Klimt” (Bernard Verley) visits the town in search of answers regarding the episode, further probing ideas of storytelling and image-making.

Cinematographer Caroline Champetier said that the original screenplay began with a scene of God riding a train through France and Switzerland, observing all the battles of humanity through the window. This sequence would have required expensive special effects, and Godard finally gave up on the idea after visiting a company that demonstrated for him the effects they achieved for Jean-Pierre Jeunet's DELICATESSEN.

The film was released in France in September 1993. In the U.S., it played first at the Chicago International Film Festival in October 1993, before opening commercially in March 1994. The film has no original score, using pre-existing compositions from some contemporary composers on its soundtrack.

 Posted:   Oct 15, 2023 - 11:45 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

FOR EVER MOZART is comprised of four different segments involving a French theatre troupe who decide to make a film in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War of the mid-1990s, in the hope it would bring peace. However, a few of the actors are captured. The film often features dialogue relating to the ideas of cinema and art during wartime and how it can help people. The first segment revolves around the theatre troupe coming together around taking part in a project by an aging filmmaker (Vicky Messica). The second chapter has the group arriving in Bosnia, where the filmmaker chooses to abandon them when they get a closer look at the chaos of war. The third segment revolves around the filmmaker at a beachside area making his film, then shifts to the audience reactions to the finished film. The fourth and final segment is a concert in which a young man dresses up like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

The point of departure for the film was an article by Philippe Sollers in Le Monde about Susan Sontag's idea to stage a performance of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo. In the article, Sollers criticizes the plan, considering Beckett too depressing for the Bosnian War, and instead suggests Pierre de Marivaux'sThe Game of Love and Chance. Godard could not find Marivaux's play at the bookstore in his home town of Rolle, so he substituted the Alfred de Musset play One Must Not Trifle with Love, which Godard shows the theatre troupe doing in the first segment of the film.

The film has a stock music score. FOR EVER MOZART premiered at the 1996 Sarajevo French Film Festival. It won the Film Critics Award at the Venice Film Festival. The film opened in the U.S. in July 1997 and grossed just $25,000.

 Posted:   Oct 16, 2023 - 1:56 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE (Adieu au langage) was a 2014 French-Swiss 3D experimental narrative essay film written and directed by Godard. In the French-speaking parts of Switzerland where it was shot, the word "adieu" can mean both goodbye and hello. It was filmed by cinematographer Fabrice Aragno. The film's title never appears on screen, and the end credits just list peoples' names, without any indication of what work they contributed to the project.

The primary plot revolves around two parallel couples — “Josette” (Héloise Godet) and “Gédéon” (Kamel Abdeli), and “Ivitch” (Zoé Bruneau) and “Marcus” (Richard Chevallier) — who each react to threats of violence from the women’s respective husbands, argue about philosophy, walk around naked, and generally try and fail to communicate with one another. In between and surrounding their opaque stories, we encounter the habitués of a bookseller’s stand; Mary and Percy Shelley accompanied by Lord Byron; and Godard’s dog, Roxy, who wanders around the outdoors, seemingly bemused at the events of the rest of the film.

Godard became interested in making a 3D film in 2010 and asked Aragno to make some camera tests. Aragno was dissatisfied with the results of professional 3D cameras and built his own custom rigs using Canon 5Ds and Flip Minos, breaking many of the standard rules for 3D cinematography. Godard and Aragno worked on the film for four years, each shooting footage independently before officially beginning production with the actors. Godard edited a 2D version of the film before he and Aragno perfected the 3D cut with color correction and surround sound.

Some of the film's more elaborate shots have been called innovative techniques of the film vocabulary. These include a "separation" shot in which a single, unbroken shot splits into two separate shots that can be viewed simultaneously through either the left or the right eye, and then returns to one single 3D shot. Aragno and Godard also experimented with double exposure 3D images and shots with parallax that are difficult for the human eye to see.

Fabrice Aragno and Jean-Luc Godard on location for GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE

Both the female leads (Héloïse Godet and Zoé Bruneau) and the male leads (Kamel Abdeli and Richard Chevallier) were cast to physically resemble each other. The scenes with Bruneau and Chevallier were shot in the summer, the scenes with Godet and Abdeli in the winter. The actors waited two and a half years to begin shooting after being cast due to constant delays. After rehearsing for two years, Abdelli traveled from Paris to Rolle for the first day of shooting, only to discover that Godard had changed his mind. Bruneau's 2014 memoir Waiting for Godard chronicles the making of the film.

Godard often rewrote scenes the night before filming and allowed no improvisation on set, aside from minor screen blocking. One such improvisation involved an actress sitting in front of a lamp, resulting in lens flare that Aragno called "magic" in 3D. Héloïse Godet said that Godard's direction was "very precise and very gentle, but clear and no discussion about it." There was very little rehearsal time for the actors, but Aragno took a lot of time to set up each shot. Godet said that "the set was silent and focused. Dedicated. But [Godard's] steel attitude would occasionally melt into a warm smile. He came up with funny jokes or proved extremely thoughtful towards us." French film historian Florence Colombani was asked to travel to Godard's home and act in the film, then discovered that he only wanted to film her hands drawing the Cross of Lorraine while she spoke her dialogue.

GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE premiered on 21 May 2014 in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. The film won the Jury Prize, the first Godard film to ever win an award at Cannes. Godard did not attend the Festival, but sent retiring festival president Gilles Jacob and artistic director Thierry Frémaux a video letter explaining his absence from the Festival and his state of mind. The video letter was intended to be private, but Jacob released it to the public as a short film called Letter in Motion to Gilles Jacob and Thierry Fremaux. Main competition jury president Jane Campion said, "the fact that he throws narrative away, it's like a poem. I found myself awakened. This was a free man."

Upon its release, the film received generally favorable reviews. In the U.S. it debuted at the 2014 New York Film Festival, and, after playing a few more festivals, was released commercially by Koch Lorber in October 2014. In the U.S., the National Society of Film Critics named the picture as the Best Film of the year. The film has no original score, with only classical music on the soundtrack.

 Posted:   Oct 17, 2023 - 10:37 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Godard’s THE IMAGE BOOK (Le livre d'image) is split into unrelated chapters, each honing in on a theme: remakes, the law, the Arab world. Each chapter is a collage of sounds and images. There are splices of music with quotes from philosophers you might or might not recognize – they’re not identified. The film examines the history of cinema and its inability to recognize the atrocities of the 20th and 21st centuries (specifically the Holocaust, ISIS, and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict), the responsibilities of the filmmaker and the advances in political discourse with the introduction of consumer-grade digital cameras and iPhones. Towards these ends, Godard uses footage from old movies—a western, a dance film, THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI, YOUNG MR. LINCOLN, and CITIZEN KANE to name a very few—as well as news clips, raw footage of terrorist atrocities, state-backed atrocities, and executions.

An except from Godard’s narration: “Do you still remember how we used to train our thoughts? Most often, we started from a dream. We wondered how, in total darkness, can colors of such intensity arise in us…in a soft and weak voice, saying great things…important, astonishing, deep, and just things…image and word. It looks like a bad dream written in a stormy night…under the eyes of the West..the lost paradises. The war is here..."

Godard said, “When you produce an image, be it of the past, the present or the future, you have to do away with two images each time to find the really good one.” THE IMAGE BOOK was photographed and co-produced by Fabrice Aragno. It premiered on 11 May 2018 at the Cannes Film Festival. Although it did not win the official prize, the jury awarded it the first "Special Palme d'Or" in the Festival's history. It was also named the best film of 2019 by Cahiers du Cinéma.

According to Godard, the film was intended to be shown on TV screens with speakers at a distance, in small spaces rather than in regular cinemas. It was shown in this way during its first run at the Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne in November 2018. The film played at the 2018 New York Film Festival and opened commercially in the U.S. in January 2019, ultimately grossing $94,000. The film has no original score.

THE IMAGE BOOK was Jean-Luc Godard’s 45th and final feature film.

 Posted:   Oct 17, 2023 - 11:04 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

More than half of Godard's feature films had their American premieres at the New York Film Festival in Manhattan, and in October 2013 the Festival featured a comprehensive retrospective of his work. In 2010, Godard was awarded an Honorary Academy Award: “For passion. For confrontation. For a new kind of cinema.” He did not attend the ceremony.

Perhaps Godard best summed up what he was trying to do in his films when he said “I'm still as much of a critic as I ever was during the time of Cahiers du Cinema. The only difference is that instead of writing criticism, I now film it. In order to criticize a movie, you have to make another movie.”

But Godard was not just criticizing other movies with his own films, but society itself. Eventually, though, he had to admit defeat on that score: “It's over. There was a time maybe when cinema could have improved society, but that time was missed.”

Perhaps. Either way, people will be watching Godard’s attempts for a long time to come. Farewell, Jean-Luc,

Jean-Luc Godard, Michel Piccoli, and Brigitte Bardot on the set of CONTEMPT

Godard, 1968, at Berkeley, California

Godard, 1963

 Posted:   Oct 24, 2023 - 8:55 AM   
 By:   Indy1981   (Member)

Bob DiMucci, I appreciate the time and effort you put into this and all of your artist retrospectives.

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