Adieu au langage [2014)

It’s been several years since I’ve seen this.

And I’m afraid.

Afraid that perhaps it hasn’t aged as well as I would hope.

But one thing is certain:  this film is infinitely more enjoyable than Le Livre d’image.

Yes.

Perhaps that is the problem.

The Image Book lacked a girl and a gun.

Is it thus even a movie?

Well, have no fear:  Adieu au langage has both…and some nudity!

And a dog.

Roxy.

Godard’s dog.

Roxy Miéville.

But first, let me just say this:  the real star here is Marie Ruchat.

More exactly, her hair.

The beautiful redhead.

Sure, Héloïse Godet is the fit brunette whom we see nude quite often in this film, but Ruchat harmonizes with the autumn leaves.

The dead leaves like honey in the calm fountain.

Bird bath.

The blood lemons that tinge as red spreads.

The electric poppies like Thoreau at dog’s-eye-view.

We can relate.

It pleases the eyes.

The difficulty of the film is rewarded in painterly images.

Not so with that which followed (Le Livre d’image).

Perhaps Godard caught himself.

Realized he was relying too much on the KNOWN.

Owed it to himself to push on…forwards…into the UNKNOWN.

Switzerland was known.

Comfortable.

Easy.

Beautiful.

An excellent film.

Compared to what.

Reexamine Godard.

Timeless imagery here.

But the difficulty of a filmmaker having difficulty making a film.

Any film.

If Joyce had kept writing after Finnegans Wake.

Lived.

Godard had already coughed in this film (four years before Le Livre d’image).

 

-PD

Le Livre d’image [2018)

And so I’m back.

Sort of.

Maybe.

With Godard.

Can we go from back to front?

After having gone halfway from front to back?

More importantly:  WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST WATCH?!?

I’m guessing JLG might relish such a reaction.

But really.

Le Livre d’image (The Image Book) is a thoroughly fucked-up film.

Music stops and starts.

Ok, standard Godard.

Images run and then go to black screen.

Again, standard Godard.

But something is further about this film.

Perhaps the most accessible touchstone would be the glitchy music of Radiohead circa Kid A and Hail to the Thief (to name my two favorites).

To wit:  Godard seems to be enjoying fucking with his audience.

Every possible convention of cinema is destroyed and frustrated by his anti-art approach.

It is Swiss.  It is dadaist (in a certain sense).

But it is stranger…

Which brings us to a crossroads.

Is Godard getting senile?

I mean, seriously:  is this the work of someone falling apart?

It may be.

There is an achingly-sad moment near the end when we hear that trademarked Godard narrative voice break up.

Coughing.

Too many cigars.

Almost 90 years old…

But there are other possibilities.

Indeed, The Image Book hearkens back to the Godard of his Dziga-Vertov years.

Extremely obtuse.

Painful cinema.

A cinema of cruelty (for Artaud).

We catch glimpses (literally) of Louis-Ferdinand Céline.

Yes.

There is a pessimism here.

But mostly a hard reality.

And yet, is it reality?

The Image Book is surreal…while being mostly in a stark cinematography.

A bit like Picasso’s Guernica.

But more boring.

Can I say that?

Boring.

When you’re 88 years old (like Godard), perhaps things move slower.

Perhaps you could call it “slow cinema”.

But it is FAST and boring.

Many cuts.

Many, many cuts.

Painstakingly (painstakingly?) spliced.

It seems.

Also seems random.

Aleatory.

I Ching.

John Cage.

But onto another aspect.

That of revision.

Revisiting.

The Image Book is to Godard’s oeuvre as Histoire(s) du cinéma is to film history as a whole.

Le Livre d’image could be said to be a sort of CliffsNotes to the work of Jean-Luc Godard.

But there’s just one catch.

You would need to know the oeuvre in its totality to really make much of this pithy summation.

So it is, in a sense, useless.

But it still speaks.

Galileo.

And yet it moves.

Godard is not dead.

Not yet.

And he should know that he will never die.

Not with the timeless body of work he has contributed to humanity.

And yet, that tobacco cough says otherwise.

To live in those lungs.

To feel the weight of mortality pressing down.

Le Livre d’image is a frustrating piece of work.

It has very little (almost none) of the lyrical poeticism that its predecessor Adieu au langage had.

Indeed, perhaps this is a purposeful “let down”.

Like Neil Young’s On The Beach or Lou Reed’s Berlin.

To extend the metaphor there, it is mostly like Metal Machine Music.

It is jarring.

Annoying.

It gets under your skin.

But it makes you think.

And perhaps that is the whole point.

Perhaps Godard is reaching for a new filmic language.

He may not be there yet, but he is reaching.

This is essential, cranky cinema.

The bleeding edge…

 

-PD