Film Socialisme May 24, 2012 19:35:52 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on May 24, 2012 19:35:52 GMT -5
My sentiments exactly after my viewing of Film Socialisme.
This is my introduction to the world of French director Jean-Luc Godard. He has been hailed as a filmmaking mastermind, prolific, reclusive, and utterly different, putting many American directors to shame. Watching Film Socialisme, I would've thought he was the Michael Bay to the French people. This is one of the worst, most unpleasant movie experiences I've had in years. Put that on the back of a DVD.
Before you proclaim me as some inept, condescending idiot, who is practically void of diligent, efficient criticism, consistent readers will note I adore indie cinema. They will know that on weeks when a famed, hyped blockbuster comes out, I sometimes see it, but pay the smaller films due more often than not. The week Transformers: Dark of the Moon came out, I saw the divine Art of Getting By. Just a week after the release of The Avengers, I sought out the tenacious Bernie. Not to mention, if I can't get around to seeing it in theaters, I always try and seek it out on DVD. I rewound, Googled, and contemplated points Film Socialisme was trying to make and have come to the conclusion the film is utterly listless and is almost void of meaning. You can say I don't appreciate "art," but don't say I didn't make an earnest attempt.
You know how sometimes, in a film, you experience a sense of confusion? Perhaps you become lost because you weren't paying attention, went to the bathroom, or even just drifted into your own little world while it was playing. Imagine feeling like that during the course of a whole film. Film Socialisme manipulates the viewer in ways I never thought possible. It deliberately makes its message nearly unobtainable by a casual viewing. It is a form of poetry in the opposite sense; instead of providing words and dialog, while leaving the viewer to imagine the visuals, it hands you the visuals and forces you to do all the work by reading so deeply into it you've lost your train of thought. I have no problem with movies that make you think. I find that to be an added benefit. I do have a problem with films that try to get by with the bare, bare minimum like supplying abstract visuals forcing you to form the vaguest analogy to what they all mean.
By now it should be almost clear to you there is no plot, so let's focus on what the film does consist of. It is divided into three acts or proclaimed "movements." The first focuses on a cruise ship named the Costa Concordia, which interestingly was wrecked in January 2012, featuring dialog of all different languages as the ship sales listlessly around the Mediterranean. The immediate problem is the subtitles, which seem to deliberately distant and void of meaning. The conversations, mostly, take place in French. There will be a lengthy monologue, and at the end, you're provided with at most three nouns or adjectives, sometimes even words merged together likeso. If you're an average American, how will you comprehend this film? Ironically, the film is entitled "Film Socialisme," and much like the government system, it is unfair, biased, and annoyingly ignorant to those of other statuses. As an exercise, I'll sum up this paragraph "languages, conversations, ignorantstatuses." Run and decipher that.
The second movement involves children demanding such answers and definitions to the terms "liberty," "freedom," and "equality." The third and final movement involves scenes of all different walks of life, from Palestine, Egypt, Barcelona, Odessa, Naples, and Hellas. By now, we've been alienated tirelessly, taken advantage of, and are begging answers, explanations, and further examination. Is this a location study? It certainly isn't a character study since we are never provided with one who appears in more than a handful of shots. Is this supposed to be indistinct commentary on socialism? It certainly isn't, since the topic is rarely discussed. Or is this supposed to be...whatever you want it to be?
I can't remember the last time a film was so displeasing, thoughtless, isolated, and alienating. What baffles me is how the French director, Jean-Luc Godard, has developed such a loyal, concerned fanbase. Perhaps this was an off-movie, and he made it out of instantaneous thought and sudden interest. I mentioned before that Film Socialisme is my introduction to his work. Here's a connection I can make to that; imagine going on a date with the most beautiful man or woman and having them spit in your face upon arrival. Great impression? Well there's my connection to the film at hand. Steve: 1, Film Socialisme: 0.
NOTE: The film ends with an FBI disclaimer, like one that will appear before a feature on a DVD, that slowly fades into French text, before giving us a black screen saying "NO COMMENT." The alienation just never stops.