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Notre musique (Godard)

(kelvin) · 5 · 1380

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Reply #1 on: November 03, 2004, 10:29:11 AM
It's a beautiful movie. Lots to chew on and think about, par usual, but strangely enough it features a mellower Godard than we've seen in awhile. None of the wonderful passion and bitterness of In Praise Of Love, though I suppose it's easier to be biting when you're dealing with something microcosmic and personal like love and memory, rather than war and reconciliation. Anyway, Notre Musique isn't quite as good as the former, but very nearly -- and for those who hate the incoherent style that has become of JLG you might find this one a bit easier to wade through. Not on a scene by scene basis however, as it may be his MOST scattershot feature, but as a whole it's quite simply organized.

One last thing: the major point of every review on it so far has been the "will little digital cameras save cinema" scene. Funny, because each reviewer has a totally different memory of what the outcome was -- something that would (I'm sure) amuse JLG greatly. When he gets asked the question in the movie, he doesn't "roll his eyes in disgust" nor is he "frozen and stumped" like a few have suggested. He just sits there, and DOESN'T ANSWER. As simple as that. No leaning one way or the other, just silence... which is neither dismissive nor supportive.

I'll leave you with one of the cuter quotes from the movie, which got a decent laugh from the audience at both screenings.

"How come revolutions are never started by humane people?"

"Because humane people don't start revolutions... they start libraries."

Silly, funny, sardonic, maybe a little moving; Godardian.
Those who say that the totalitarian state of the Soviet Union was not "real" Marxism also cannot admit that one simple feature of Marxism makes totalitarianism necessary:  the rejection of civil society. Since civil society is the sphere of private activity, its abolition and replacement by political society means that nothing private remains. That is already the essence of totalitarianism; and the moralistic practice of the trendy Left, which regards everything as political and sometimes reveals its hostility to free speech, does nothing to contradict this implication.

When those who hated capital and consumption (and Jews) in the 20th century murdered some hundred million people, and the poster children for the struggle against international capitalism and America are now fanatical Islamic terrorists, this puts recent enthusiasts in an awkward position. Most of them are too dense and shameless to appreciate it, and far too many are taken in by the moralistic and paternalistic rhetoric of the Left.


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Reply #2 on: November 04, 2004, 07:32:26 AM
i really cant wait to see this, but i'm not holding my breath in hopes of seeing it anytime soon because the fucking theaters around me havent even gotten undertow or brown bunny yet, for christs sake.
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Reply #3 on: January 13, 2005, 02:19:55 AM
I really love this movie (and I wasn't a fan of In Praise Of Love, although I can't say whether it was the movie's fault or mine). Full review here -- oh what the hell, I'll copy and paste.


I'm now setting out to write about Jean Luc Godard's latest film, Notre Musique, after having seen it but once. I saw his last effort, In Praise Of Love, just one time as well, and it left me too confounded to be able to lucidly explain it in a review. On the one hand I admired what I perceived as great depth and insight, while on the other I wondered if the elliptical style was simply a blind alley that was in fact as impenetrable as it seemed. I gave Godard the benefit of the doubt, but to date have not revisited the film. My loss, perhaps, but I digress.

In Notre Musique, Godard turns his philosophical lens towards the causes and effects of human suffering. Perhaps pain is a much less esoteric concept than love, for this film is far more lucid and, on a relative scale, audience friendly than In Praise Of Love. In other words, it functions just as well as cinematic poetry as it does overtly theoretical essay, and while its ideas and concepts certainly demand and deserve further examinations, they're also accessible on a far more immediate level.

The film has a three tiered Dantean structure: Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. Hell, the shortest section, is a 12 minute study of the horrors of war, covering just about every conflict since the advent of the motion picture camera and crossing the line a few times into footage from fictional war films. In its graphic and unsentimental montage of human destruction, it calls to mind Resnais' Night And Fog, and also, to an extent, Godfrey Reggio's Naqoyquatsi -- the digitally manipulated hubris of which is evident in contrast to Godard's utilization of simple and direct juxtaposition.

Purgatory is the film's centerpiece. It takes place in Sarajevo and begins with Jean Luc himself as he is picked up from the airport; he has been asked to give a lecture to students at a literary conference. Driving through the streets with his translator and a poet, the sad nature of revolution and its after effects are discussed. The mistreatment of and identification with various sectors of humanity runs throughout this segment. A young Israeli woman named Olga (Nade Dieu), a relative of Godard's translator, is greatly distressed over the West Bank occupation; an idealistic Israeli journalist (Sarah Adler) wonders why no one will publish a paper on the same subject; and on a more surreal level, a bombed library becomes the stage for a Native American man and woman to voice the mistreatment of their people at the hands of American settlers.

Olga's fury and indignation lead her to vocally contemplate suicide, and, for a brief moment, as this intelligent and passionate young woman wavers on the edge of reason, a window opens on the screen and the cause of all this suffering becomes clear; the delineation between purgatory, in which humanity strives to overcome the horrors of hell, and hell itself become vague. It's a moment of startling, beautiful and sobering clarity, and it provides the emotional core to Godard's thesis.

And if that thesis is that destruction is a trait as essential to humanity as its perseverance to transcend destruction, then the lines between heaven and hell grow more blurry in the last section, a brief and lyrical exploration of a wooded paradise, inexplicably populated with US Marines. As with the rest of the film, the symbolism here works on various levels; among the more obvious, a girl and a soldier sit on the banks of a river, sharing an apple. The Garden of Eden is restored, but at the cost of American Military occupation.

Throughout all of this, the fact that this is a film, and that it is directed by Jean Luc Godard, is as important an element as anything contained in it, a fact underscored by the scenes of Godard's classroom lecture on montage and representation. This postmodern narrative adds an additional dimension to the more traditional story (which both alternates between and merges poetry and understated polemic, narrative film and documentary); rather than attempt to explain this further, I must instead confess that I'm exceeding the boundaries implied upon myself by a single viewing of the film. There are countless critics who know more about Godard than I, and more about politics, and will be able to use their knowledge and insight to delve much further than the surface I've merely skimmed here. But that the surface is skimmable at all -- and that what lies under it is so intermittently cognizant -- is enough to to allow a less academically trained viewer (such as myself) to look at and judge it; and, quite likely, know that it is great, rather than just assume it.

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Reply #4 on: January 13, 2005, 02:34:38 AM
so is it making it's national release here?  seems like i've been waiting for this thing for years...

and very nice review as always...