IN GOD(ard) WE TRUST discussion

Reading the book now

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message 1: by Tosh (new)

Tosh | 28 comments Well, off and on I have been reading the book and so far it's pretty good. What is fascinating and kind of gossipy is that Godard's Mom went out with a guy that is a couple of years older then her son. And Godard became a friend of his - that's fascinating to me. Also his Mom's death via scooter accident and her side of the family not allowing him to the funeral due that he stole things from the family, etc. That must have had an affect on him in some form of fashion.

Right now I am in the making of 'Breathless.'

message 2: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 13, 2008 03:53AM) (new)

I was surprised to learn that, early on, most of the Cahiers group--including Godard--had right-wing sympathies. Also, I never imagined Godard would've be the neurotic obsessive that he turned out to be in his relationship with Anna Karina.

I need to get back to this book... But, truth be told, the book does dry out a bit, like an octogenarian hooker's vagina, long about the 1970s. There's not even any good dish about working with Jane Fonda.

message 3: by Jason (last edited Aug 13, 2008 05:24AM) (new)

Jason | 10 comments I'm past Breathless and mid-Contempt. Still plugging away--I do feel like Brody's occasionally repeating himself (already).

Yet his meticulous attention to the conditions of production (the making of each film, as well as the making of the filmmaker) build a convincing case for one of his claims: the making of the movie and the "text" itself are "one," even down to the level of "film stock" (in a bout de souffle). There'd been meta-filmic texts before (sort of), and any number of melodramas about filmmakers, but Godard's refusal to cover up production in a 'clean, well-lighted' cinematic object is (for me) the bright buzzing beautiful idea which makes his films matter to me. (When they matter to me.)

I, too, was startled by the right-wing lean of the Cahiers cohort. Part of me was wishing Brody'd taken a bit more time to lay out the social and aesthetic context of Paris/France at the time--we get glimpses of the (overbearing?) force that was Sartre, and a sense that for some of the younger men such sympathies were a rebellion against the leanings of the time. But it still got under my skin -- watching Communist and Nazi propaganda films, Godard was impressed by their "fanaticism," "equated them aesthetically" (2).... I'm not yet sure how this tracks through Brody's reading, but it recalls my least favorite aspect of Godard's filmmaking, which is an (overbearing?) aesthetic/political sermonizing.

But that's vague, and you (both? all?) can and should jump all over me. I tend to think that as Godard's politics get more strident, his aesthetics suffer. And/or vice versa.

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Another thing about Brody--beside the fact that he resembles Rasputin, although Rasputin would never wear those frames... He likes to meander off on tangents that interest him. For instance, there is a whole chapter on Godard's American critical reception, including the critical/ideological differences between Sarris and Kael, which seems extraneous. Also, the political/social background for May 1968 seem excessive and not always strictly pertinent. All in all, the book could use some tightening up.

Much of the information on Karina and Godard's relationship is new to me, however, and quite fascinating. The violence, the infidelity, the suicide attempts, the tug-of-war between Karina's more mainstream film ambitions and Godard's increasing cinematic experimentation. I'd always imagined Godard (based on his films perhaps) was a somewhat emotionally arid man; thus, his intensity (or madness) in this relationship comes as a bit of a shock.

message 5: by Tosh (new)

Tosh | 28 comments All the comments above are interesting! I am only on page 50, but I am zapping through it and enjoying the book. And yes, I am kind of surprised about the Right leanings as well, ,but not shocked about it. After all, when you look at the big picture, these are guy geeks watching too many films a day!

Also I think there is something 'punk' about Godard and company at the time where they wanted to stand out from the crowd around them.

My personal disappointment of course is the lack of information about Godard and say someone like Boris Vian. I would think they would have met up in Saint Germain. But it seems neither party has commented on such a meeting. Nor anyone else for that matter.

message 6: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 13, 2008 08:50AM) (new)

Another anecdote I liked... Jack Palance apparently grew to hate Godard during the filming of Contempt and didn't like to be in the same location with him (even when they were filming). All of their communication went through a third party.

My personal disappointment of course is the lack of information about Godard and say someone like Boris Vian.

The book does tend to restrict itself heavily to Godard's film career and only those things that had a noted influence on it. I was surprised, for instance, at how much text there was about Andrew Sarris and how little about his infamous feud with Truffaut.

message 7: by Tosh (new)

Tosh | 28 comments And Godard was planning to make a film with his wife Anna Karina and WILLIAM FAULKNER. That's incredible. Just the thought of it is incredible.

message 8: by Tosh (new)

Tosh | 28 comments Truffaut went one direction and Godard went on a totally different direction. I think they out-grew each other.

message 9: by Tosh (new)

Tosh | 28 comments Going through the Contempt part of the book. It's interesting, if it's true about Godard's obsession with Karina. Even when Bardot is in front of his face!

message 10: by Tosh (new)

Tosh | 28 comments i am zipping through this book like butter on a hot piece of toast. I really like it. The question is, and the most unique aspect of this particular book on Godard - is the author's feelings that a lot of his early films are totally about him and his feelings towards Anna Karina. I think Godard would hate that critique. I am not sure if Godard is such a personal filmmaker in that sense. Any thoughts on this?

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Tosh, I really wondered about Brody's psychologizing of Godard's 1960s films as well... Almost everything in his interpretation becomes a "message" to Karina. One has to ask whether this is based in fact or tenuous armchair psychoanalysis.

This is always one of the problems of reading histories/biographies... We, the readers, are usually not qualified to know if the author's conclusions are legitimate.

Certain examples, like having Bardot wear Karina's Nana wig in Contempt, sound purposeful, but characterizing Nana's prostitution (and death) as criticism of Karina herself feels wildly speculative without Godard's corroboration. Brody presents these theories as givens without any evidence other than the known problems in Godard's offscreen relationship with Karina...

message 12: by Tosh (new)

Tosh | 28 comments Thanks for bringing this little film to light. i haven't seen or heard of it before.

Godard doesn't strike me as a 'personal' filmmaker. I think he takes what is out there and filters it through his work - but I don't think he influenced by 'personal relationships.' But maybe after reading the book, my mind would be changed. But even if it's true, I think it's a wrong way with respect to looking at his 60's work.

message 13: by Jason (new)

Jason | 10 comments I'm a lot further in, and am bogged down a bit on the problems both David and Tosh have mentioned, most precisely in Tosh's claim right above: "Godard doesn't strike me as a 'personal' filmmaker." Exactly--or not personal in the conventional love-life-projected theme Brody can't resist.

On the one hand, I do appreciate Brody's obsessive parsing, where the intersections of Godard's life with/in his films are so carefully and fully mapped. Yet it seems to do a disservice to the films' reach, ambitions, and effect -- their complex relationship with the complexities of politics, culture, and aesthetics which roil France, continually fuel Godard, and deserve the kind of fastidious attention Brody here squanders on who JLG is or wants to be fucking.

I'm overstating; I mentioned earlier that I really liked how attentive to the technical details Brody is. He talks about film stock, the kind of camera, the nitty-gritty tools and craft of JLG's productions -- and this continually impresses me, reaffirming Brody's argument that the making of the film and the film "itself" are never falsely-separated in Godard's work.

What I'd love to see explored with similar complexity illustrating how the complexity of "the times" and JLG's film comments on "the times." And, to be fair, Brody often does this -- for instance, the careful explication of Masculin Feminin (which is about where I've gotten in the book) does a great job at teasing out all the sources Godard's citing (I hadn't picked up on the Leroi Jones connection), and in particular the relationships between the presidential campaigns and the intimate lives of his characters (the whole debate on contraception, for instance). But JLG's portrait of women is only loosely tied (pardon) to the political debate around "loose" young women, and gets Brodied into a more personal criticism. Not unfair, I guess, but it's really interesting how Godard's moral/political vision and his own personal angers bear out in the film, which despite all that seem to also resist and fight sexism/misogyny. Back to his youthful rightist leanings -- JLG seems to have a conservative edge which his aesthetic actively disrupts. He strikes me as a filmmaker who lives and fully performs such contradictions.

It is probably unfair, as this is after all a biography of sorts, but I am more interested in Brody's film criticism, which I wish was more extensive and less bound to supporting his sense of that biography. And maybe you'd challenge my sense of JLG entirely....

message 14: by Tosh (new)

Tosh | 28 comments i agree with the above, and for the good reads person looking over these series of posts - the book is good. At first I thought it may be a 'dry' book on Godard, but it's ain't.

One of these days someone should do a volume on Godard's literary references as a book. Film-by-film list of all the authors or books that are mentioned in that particular film. Perfect job for our Brian of GoodReads!

message 15: by Tosh (new)

Tosh | 28 comments This book is like having a discussion while reading it. I disagree with the author, but enjoy being in his world, or in his thoughts. I am now in the political Godard years. Godard strikes me as a magnet who sort of picks up the vibes of his times - and then throws it out to the public via his film work. He doesn't have answers (who does?) but his questions are good.

message 16: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 20, 2008 11:57PM) (new)

One of these days someone should do a volume on Godard's literary references as a book.

I know I'm a Godard geek, but this is a great idea. Someone should make a book of just "footnotes" annotated by the time on the DVD playback. It could have critical commentary about scenes and, more importantly, explanations of all the artistic/cinematic/musical/literary allusions.

Which one of you people wants to get started? I get a headache just thinking about it.

message 17: by Tosh (new)

Tosh | 28 comments I wished i had the time to do something like that. But it would be a fascinating study on him - as well as a really nerdy thing to do!

Right now into the 80's part of the book. So far this book doesn't crack into the Godard personality. Why he is why he does type of critique. It's interesting that his family pretty much cut him off - and also in turn how he can cut off old friends as well. One wonders if his family has hurt him emotionally by cutting him off. But then again he did steal from them - but it could also be a form of attention - but not sure Godard thinks or feels in that 'feel good' way. He's a strange man that's for sure.

Brody really nails him on the way he films children, and again, not sure how i feel about that. Nevertheless this is a very fascinating read.

message 18: by Tosh (new)

Tosh | 28 comments it's amazing how Godard chased the money to make films, yet sort of burns bridges at the same time. It seems he has a perverse need to challenge the powers=to-be, whatever they are actual friends of his at one time - or producers.

i have a lot of Godard films on DVD, and I am going to have a mini-festival of his work in my living room right after I finish reading this book. I will start with the early to the latest.

And the great news is that in the U.K. they will be releasing the Historie(s) du Cinema on DVD. I think it's coming out in September.

message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

And the great news is that in the U.K. they will be releasing the Historie(s) du Cinema on DVD. I think it's coming out in September.

Damn. I knew I shouldn't've gotten rid of my region-free DVD player...

message 20: by Hirsuited (new)

Hirsuited | 2 comments There were a lot of interesting shorts and video mentioned in the book that I've never seen on dvd... I wonder if someone has digitized any of that stuff ... be great fodder for

message 21: by Hirsuited (new)

Hirsuited | 2 comments oh ... hey... they do have some there... w/ anne marie mieville

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