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Contempt (1963) - Jean-Luc Godard // Movie Night

Unfortunately, and I do feel embarrassed to say, there have been zero Godard films I enjoy. And I don’t mean that in the way that only fun movies are what I “enjoy.” Whenever I feel a movie is successful, that is getting me to feel emotions, I enjoy it. Just look at the previous entry for an example at that. What I mean is that I have never ended a Godard movie and felt like he was a master of cinema, you know, they way a film major is supposed to feel about Godard. Instead, his filmmaking always comes across more like an edgy teenager making arbitrary decisions only because they’re new and unheard of. For example, the random colored gel swaps in the opening scene with Camille and the writer laying in bed together.

Furthermore, I feel that the script on this one was particularly weak. Everything felt scatterbrained, which most certainly can work in films, but Contempt is TOO scatterbrained, in a way that subtracts from the film as a whole. Being too scatterbrained results in that effect lessening itself through sheer repetition.

On the other hand, all of his films look incredible, with perhaps the exception of Breathless which didn’t have enough money to look great. Beautiful vistas, buildings and saturated colors are throughout the work. Although, I have come to groan at the monochromaticity of the French New Wave. The saving grace of each film of his that I watch is that he picks extremely charismatic actresses, Anna Karina particularly, but Brigitte Bardot fits that description well in this film. The actresses being given strong characters or a lot to do in the work is a different story entirely.

In summary, my opinion on Jean-Luc Godard has not been changed by this film, although I genuinely am hoping I find one that does. If you have a few free hours and a Filmstruck subscription, the beauty of the CinemaScope is worth it. I would not recommend this film to anyone who isn't already interested in film history or who aren't looking for a highly-regarded-filmmaker's-work shaped notch in the belt.

Later tonight the Méliès Society is screening Alphaville (and Dark City), perhaps I will enjoy that more.

(UPDATE: I didn't)


St. Louis, Missouri