Friday, April 13, 2012

Emily Bronte Goes Down in Flames: Godard's Weekend at Belcourt

Posted By on Fri, Apr 13, 2012 at 3:12 PM

Weekend
Where: The Belcourt
When: April 13-15

In his Histoire(s) du cinéma video series, Jean-Luc Godard spent much of the ’90s composing an elegy for the death of film. But this 1967 Godard epic tells how the movies ended: in a hellacious barrage of puns, rhetoric, slapstick, carnage, pop-culture allusions and cinematic self-destruction.

Two vile bourgeois urban dwellers (Mireille Darc, Jean Yanne) venture into the country, with their minds on their money and their money on their minds. What they encounter is the simultaneous meltdown of cinema and the breakdown of Western civilization, symbolized by junked cars, Esso ads, cannibalism, barnyard Mozart, and a seven-minute tracking shot past the longest traffic jam in movie history (which Robert Altman transposed to I-24 for a shout-out in Nashville).

Released just before Godard’s leap into the agitprop void with the Dziga Vertov Group, this “film found on the scrapheap” is a sustained, frequently hilarious yawp of frustration at the dead ends of narrative filmmaking and its irrelevance in a time of revolution. The director issues withering denunciations of the West over a static shot of a guy chewing his lunch; he rejects film’s literary influences by setting fire to Emily Brontë — literally. Yet as much as Godard baits his audience with Brechtian asides, calculated slurs and obscenities, and title cards that anticipate the alphabetical deconstruction of film in the following year’s Le gai savoir, his provocations remain pretty damn watchable.

Hardcore cinephiles can catch it Sunday along with a one-night-only screening of Godard’s latest, Film Socialisme.

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