Monday, October 26, 2009

2 or 3 choses que je sais d'elle

2 or 3 choses que je sais d'elle (Two or three things I know about her), 1967
Dir: Jean Luc-Godard
October 25, 2009

This at first glance this seems very typical of late 60s color Godard, a disjointed, anti-capitalist ramble with a whispering narrator (Godard) speaking elliptically. That stuff makes me want to punch someone in the face. But the entire film overall is never less than engaging, often hilarious, and sometimes astonishing (especially at a point when I have convinced myself that Godard has nothing worth saying to me anymore).

The film mostly follows the life of Julitte Jenson (Marina Vlady), a bourgeois housewife and mother who occasionally goes into Paris to work as a prostitute. Marina is a total babe, and watching her for an hour and a half is pretty remarkable, and for me, I was getting tired of Karina anyway. Good riddance, JLG. Vlady was the wife of Hotspur in Chimes at Midnight (1965), and she caught my eye there, despite only being in like 5 minutes of that film. The camera occasionally focuses on other characters, and cinema verite interviews mid-scene dissect their vapid lives. They sometimes have breathtaking insights, but more often just have a few mediocre witticisms. It even gets to Juliette's children, especially her hyper-active son, who pretty much gives the best performance a kid can, and his sequence about "nice, clean girls who don't disagree with me" is amazing. The always crying (or bawling her freakin eyes out) daughter is always on cue, which has to be somewhat difficult. In a typical Godard fashion, his argument is put forth sometimes directly, sometimes poetically: that modern society itself is prostitution, that we have come to value lifestyle over life. If the tired tirades against consumerism seem old, the overall effect is still one that is still frighteningly relevant 40 years later.

Even if you can't get behind his message, which believe me, I understand, 2 or 3 things is filled with so many powerful images and sequences that it makes me wonder what the hell he was doing on the brainfart that is Made in USA (1966). It also might be his funniest that I've seen, the presentation not nearly as serious as the thesis, coming across as a non-stop stream of visual puns and references. I think that's why I didn't hate this. The fact that Godard actually has a sense of humor and doesn't need to be so angry actually made this film as good as anything he ever made. But then, the mood will be changed with a gut-punch of insight and wonderment: the world in a coffee cup; the decision of which narrative to follow. The film is multi-layered and ambitious, and the things I didn't like about it are the things that I don't like about all Godard films. There are, however, too many things to like in this film to dismiss it. I'm a bit reluctant now to move on, since it was at this point that Godard revolted 1oomph against what he saw as "pleasurable" films. This might be the last kind-ish thing I have to say about him or his films. We'll see how long I go before i give up.

PS: Try watching this as big as possible: it's widescreen to THA MAX.

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