Saturday Double Feature: Godard Mon Amour (2018) and…

Another Saturday means another Saturday Double Feature!

Okay, let’s start with a quick recap of the “rules”, shall we? The basic idea here is to take a movie that is out in theaters now, and pair it up with another movie from the 1980s or before. Sometimes the connection will be obvious, and sometimes it’ll be a little less so, but that’s part of the fun.

Usually for this feature I like to look at the bigger movies that come out in a particular week, either the blockbusters or the ones that are getting a lot of buzz. This week, however, I thought I’d feature one of the smaller movies that should be getting more attention than it is. Especially since, unfortunately, this week’s major release line-up just doesn’t look to be that promising.

Godard Mon Amour was a festival darling in 2017, but it’s just getting a wider release this weekend. It is the story of film critic turned director Jean-Luc Godard at a pivotal point in his life.His marriage to his first wife Anna Karina had just ended and he was beginning a new relationship with a student activist, Anne Wiazemsky, who would become his new muse and lover. The film is a comedic look at their relationship and at a man trying to figure out where he wants to go with his art.

So in looking for a double feature for Godard Mon Amour I wanted to stick with out 1968 theme for this month, and actually, Godard had two films released in that year. The first was A Film Like Any Other, but the second, far more interesting film was Sympathy for the Devil, in which Godard filmed the making of the Rolling Stones song and then contrasted and interspersed the studio footage with shots depicting the cultural climate of the time

Among the scenes featured in the film are shots of the Black Panthers both reading from tracts and committing various acts of violence, a scene which takes place in a Nazi bookstore, an appearance by the aforementioned Anne Wiazemsky as Eve Democracy, and other short bits that provide a commentary and contrast to what is happening with the Stones themselves, including the dissolution of Brian Jones.

Here’s a peek:

So what do you think? What would you choose for a double feature with Godard Mon Amour? Leave your thoughts in the comments, along with ideas of any other upcoming movies you’d like to see “double featured”. Consider it, if you will, your chance to challenge me to come up with an interesting pair.

Until next time, Happy Viewing!

Sight and Sound Top 250 – #013 Breathless (1960)

And here we are, back again with another look at one of the world’s best movies as designated by the Sight and Sound Top 250 Movies of All Time list. This time around, it’s #013 on the list, Jean Luc Godard’s Breathless. And as always I’ll note that for those just joining us, you can find a full introduction to what the Sight and Sound Top 250 list is, and a look at the complete list of the movies on it, along with links to the ones I’ve already written about here. And, if you want to be sure not to miss any of these posts, just head on over to the Facebook page and give it a “like”or follow me on Twitter (both of those links are also in the sidebar) where I post anytime one of these – or anything else on the blog, along with just random other links and thoughts that may not make it into full posts – goes up. Trust me, if you’re not following one or the other (or both), you’re not getting the full Durmoose Movies experience.

Stark.

That’s the first word that comes to mind when viewing Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless.

In Breathless, Godard has pared down the nature of narrative film, making it, (as was his intent) almost documentary in nature.

Coming from a background in film criticism, a large part of Godard’s purpose was not just to make films, but use those films to comment on the nature of film and to transform it. In order to do this, he not only stepped outside of the studio, filming on the streets without permission and often surreptitiously, but also filming largely without a script, deciding on the day what scenes he wanted to film (largely filming in order) and giving the lines to the actors ust before shooting.

However, Godard’s innovative shooting style also extended to the editing room, where he decided to cut not only between scenes, but inside them, taking out anything he felt extraneous or boring. This led to what have been called “jump cuts”where the background may change dramatically while conversations may be taking place. These jump cuts also occur during action scenes, often with the camera only focusing on individual objects or quick actions, all of which serves to make the movie move much more quickly an adding an extra layer of intensity.

The film opens with a dedication to film noir house Monogram Pictures, an the reason for that seems to be two-fol. First, the movie is obviously Goard’s riff on the noir genre, including many direct references to classics of the style such as The Maltese Falcon, which is paraphrased in a statement by our protagonist Michel who states that he always falls in love with the wrong woman. For that matter Michel’s American girlfriend Patricia is, despite her outwardly light demeanor, an almost prototypical femme fatale, eventually holding all the cards and becoming the final arbiter of MIchel’s fate.

The dedication to Monogram carries a further significance also. Here’s an excerpt from a 1964 interview:

Godard, why did you really dedicate Breathless to “Monogram Pictures”?

I did it to prove that you can do pictures that are both interesting and cheap. In America a cheap picture is not considered interesting, and I said “Why not?” because actually there are many American directors who do B and C pictures who are very interesting. Vivre Sa Vie I dedicated to B pictures, because in my opinion it is a B picture.

You’re being dead serious now?

If it’s less than $100,000, it’s a B picture. The trouble is that in Hollywood the B budget is all they consider; it can be a B or Z budget, but even with a Z budget you can attempt to make an A quality picture. If you talk to a Hollywood producer-if you make a B picture then you are a B director. You are only an A director if you make films with A budgets. … I think this idea is wrong. But if you go to see bankers or producers in America they still think in Hollywood’s way.

So both in setting up the movie the way he did and carrying his thoughts on the nature of film all the way through the editing, Godard attempted to change the very nature of film, and with Breathless he succeeded

Here’s your trailer:

Saturday Double Feature: Enemy (2014) and…

Saturday on the blog means Saturday Double Feature, right? Remember, the basic idea here is to take a movie that is out in theaters now, and pair it up with another movie from the 1980s or before. Sometimes the connection will be obvious, and sometimes it’ll be a little less so, but that’s part of the fun.

By the way, if you’re a fan of these double features, be sure to check out this post, which has the details of the new Saturday Double Feature Guessing Game. Be a winner! Show off your movie knowledge! Maybe even win an Actual Prize!

A little break with the usual format here, as instead of our usual imaginary Double Feature, I can actually give you one I was able to take in about a week ago thanks to the Belcourt Theatre here in Nashville. Fortunately, it also fit within the current-movie-paired-with-a-pre-1990-movie format that I’ve already established for this feature, so it all works very well.

First up, we’ve got director Denis Villeneuve‘s Enemy which is out in limited release now, and stars Jake Gyllenhaal. It’s the story of a college professor who one day notices that a video he is watching features an actor who looks and sounds exactly like him. Setting out to find his doppelganger, he finds himself in some very strange and very dark places.

Obviously, this s a film that raises many questions about identity, about what is real and what isn’t, and in the end leaves one wondering just exactly what has been going on.

The second movie that I saw that night also raises many of the same questions, not only about exactly what is going on, but about identity and just exactly what it means to be an individual in a society that is trying to construct a new conformity by limiting thought and individuality.  The film is Jean-Luc Godard‘s 1965 movie Alphaville, which stars Eddie Constantine. I had been looking forward to watching this film for awhile, and was thrilled when it turned up on the Belcourt’s schedule. The fact that it happened to fit so well thematically with Enemy was mere happy coincidence, but sometimes things just work out that way.

Unfortunately, the trailer below doesn’t have English subtitles, but it really was the best one I could find, and I think it gives a good idea of the “feel” of the film, even if you may not be able to pick up on all of the particulars.

Fir those who are curious, I will be writing more about Alphaville in the next week or so. In the meantime, I’m curious to hear from any of you who have seen either of these movies. What are your thoughts or opinions on them? And also, as usual I’m curious about what movie you might have chosen to pair with Enemy. Just let me know in the comments below. And also let me know of any other upcoming movies you’d like to see “double featured”. Consider it, if you will, your chance to challenge me to come up with an interesting pair.

Until next time, Happy Viewing!

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