23.5.10

Waiting for Godard

Film critic Jason Solomons on the return of Jean-Luc Godard
Jean-Luc Godard

Jason Solomons returns from this year's Cannes Film Festival with high hopes for Jean-Luc Godard's new work, Film Socialisme, which features references to Jacques Derrida, Walter Benjamin, Samuel Beckett and William Shakespeare:
The real gem wasn't in competition but in the more experimental (and this year, dull) Un Certain Regard selection and it came from the grand master of the filmic game, Jean-Luc Godard, or JLG as he's now known, like some kind of perfume (a whiff of bitterness, with top notes of genius).

Helped with production by fashionista Agnes B and using words ("textos") credited to J Derrida, W Benjamin, S Beckett and W Shakespeare, among others, 79-year-old JLG's avowed final work Film Socialisme was the freshest, coolest thing I saw, bursting with a new wave of anger and vitality, retooling once again the visual language of cinema.

Shot in astounding, crisp HD, it's a fragmented collage of ideas and thoughts, beautifully pure graphics, scratched Dolby sounds and twisted images. He even plays with the convention of subtitles, merely placing English words along the bottom of the frame: "smile dismiss universe" or "destructive constructive". At one point, a girl at a petrol station refuses "to talk to anyone who uses the verb to be". Then a llama appears behind her. You want story? Forget it, but there's plenty of meaning here as Godard swipes at European history, Palestine, Jews, bankers and the futility of language and the strictures of time. As the final credits simply say: NO COMMENT – and the old man didn't show up for his Cannes press conference. [Read the article]