Friday, October 16, 2009

Made in U.S.A.

Made in U.S.A., 1966
Dir: Jean-Luc Godard
October 16, 2009

This might be Godard's first consciously made political film, yet it's trappings are grounded in the hard-boiled American detective films of the 40s, particularly those involving one of Godard's heroes, Humphrey Bogart. I guess, in the end though, that even it's classic cinema references couldn't save Made in U.S.A. for me. I don't feel like writing long reviews about these Godard films anymore. Or maybe just this one because it was mediocre, borderline bad, unlike Masculine Feminin (1966), which I've decided is pretty good. His attempts at genre (like Alphaville (1965)) come off as stunted to me. It's hard to say that it's homage, because he's thrown the cinema conventions to the dogs at this point, but these just seem inferior to the directors whom Godard so admired. Casting preferred directors and film critics, and naming minor characters "Robert McNamara" and "Richard Nixon" is only amusing to a point. The Maoist platitudes ("I think advertising is a form of fascism.") and philosophic name drops are getting beyond tedious though. The entire long French wordplay scene in the restaurant is completely baffling to me. I'm not a young marxist, nor am I caught up in the political strife of the 60s. When the actors directly address the camera, it's almost like he's giving you instructions. Brecht would be proud, I guess. Either this film has aged really bad, or I really don't give a shit about his political agenda, which sometimes Godard himself seems a little confused about. His narrative and technical experimants are inventive, as always, but stark in it's presentation and completely off-putting. Now, the film is great to look at, and I think that cinematographer Raoul Coutard might be the best thing about this film, with colors popping all over the place. "Anna Karina, private eye" is also nice, if only to look at as she prances, pouts, and shoots bad-guys all around a really weird Atlantic City where everyone speaks French. Jean-Pierre LĂ©aud's silly gangster's death is my favorite part of the film, where Anna asks him, "Do you want to know when you are going to die, or for it to be unexpected (paraphrase)." He replies with the latter, and she goes on to shoot him without warning. The last shot of the film is a long take of Karina in a car with radio journalist Phillipe Labro, who plays himself, of them leaving the city, with the camera on the hood. In regards to Godard's main message, Karina states in their open-ended conversation/thesis summation, "We have years of struggle ahead of us." If Godard's later 60s films keep progressing like this, getting through them is going to be a fucking struggle, and literally take years.

1 comment:

Glacier said...

Great review Connor. I had a similar experience with Godard a few years ago and just had to give up. Alphaville is a solid F of a movie, in my opinion.