Thursday, September 21, 2017

WAITING FOR GODARD

May 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Six years ago, Michel Hazanavicius brought his silent, black-and-white movie The Artist to the Cannes Film Festival and was drenched with critical praise. The film did not receive the festival’s top award, the Palme d’Or (although its star, Jean Dujardin, was named best actor), but it did go on to receive a slew of Oscars, including best picture and best director. Hazanavicius’s latest film, Redoubtable, had its world premiere at Cannes on Sunday, and the reaction from critics attending the festival, was, well, muted and as antithetical as black and white. The film tells the story of a relatively brief but tumultuous period in the life of legendary French director Jean-Luc Godard in the late ’60s, when the then 37-year-old director married the 19-year-old actress Anne Wiazemsky and starred her in two films, La Chinoise and Vent d’Est, while he became radicalized politically. Hazanavicius deliberately mimics some of Godard’s style quirks in the film — to the distaste of several critics. Didier Péron in the French daily Liberation, remarked that the “pastiche” technique amounted to “plunder” and condemns the portrait of Godard, “the inventor of art forms par excellence,” as “an offhand, selfish, socially untouchable intellectual, regularly disregarding the people he claims to defend in the name of the revolution and Mao.” Geoffrey Macnab in the London Independent commented that Hazanavicius’s efforts to throw in Godard-like images “never have the force they should. This is mimicry, clever enough in its way, but often it only serves to highlight the gulf between Hazanavicius and the filmmaker whose work he is satirizing.” Tobias Kniebe in Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung called the film “an arrogance” and “an evil venture” in which Hazanavicius attempts to make Godard “look like a jerk.” Todd McCarthy in the Hollywood Reporter wondered who the audience for the film might be. “Serious cinephiles will likely reject it as glib and disrespectful,” he wrote, “while more mainstream viewers could be amused but not that interested.” On the other hand, Variety‘s film critic, Owen Gleiberman found Redoubtable to be “a lightly audacious and fascinating movie (if not exactly one to warm your heart).” And Jonathan Romney in Britain’s Screen Daily called it “a dazzlingly executed, hugely enjoyable act of stylistic homage. … Only hardcore Godardians — a pretty unforgiving bunch — would reject it out of hand.” But has the 86-year-old Godard himself, who called the film project a “stupid idea” when it was announced, seen the film yet, and, if so, what did he think of it? That question was put to Hazanavicius at a news conference in Cannes, and this was his response: