VERSUS THE SCARECROW EPISODE ELEVEN: A Look At Jean-Luc. I decided to challenge myself and really open the doors of my film knowledge and take on “The Scarecrow Video Movie Guide”. It’s 808 pages of movies and movie reviews from some of the most knowledgeable movie people you don’t know. It’s a book put together by a staff that praises, and destroys, some of our favorites and not so favorites. You can read the rest of my series here.
Just a quick refresher: each episode, I’m going to tackle three films from three different categories. Two films will be films I’ve never seen before and one will be one I’ve seen before or own. For the new films, well, new to me, I’m going to review them like a typical FTS review using the TOAST Rating system. But, for the films I’ve seen, I’m going give a quick paragraph or two about why I like or don’t like the film. We’ll try to include the poster and trailer for each film. “….and here. We. Go!”
This episode we break into French Foreign films by taking a look at one of my favorite directors: Jean-Luc Godard. We look at Weekend, 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her, and the first Godard film I ever saw, Pierrot Le Fou.
Weekend (1967) Directed by Jean-Luc Godard. Starring: Mireille Darc, Jean Yanne and Jean-Pierre Kalfon. IMDB says: ”A supposedly idyllic weekend trip to the countryside turns into a never-ending nightmare of traffic jams, revolution, cannibalism and murder as French bourgeois society starts to collapse under the weight of its own consumer preoccupations.”
Weekend is the odyssey of the Durands, newlyweds that decide to travel to the country for the weekend. When their efforts are stifled by a traffic back-up, they enter a downward spiral that toes the line of reality, surrealism, and absurdity. The film is loaded with the usual anti-capitalism and consumerism sentiments, but they’re pushed to the forefront, making those ideals the reason for the societal collapse. If you’re able to look past that, you’ll find a film that is incredibly technically impressive. The film showcases easily the greatest single tracking shot ever caught on film. It follows a carpocalypse of an accident lasting nearly a mile and to capture all the mayhem, yet keep it contained and choreographed enough to make sense, is worth the price of admission. The only scene that could challenge the greatness of this would be Scorsese’s club scene in Goodfellas.
Godard continues his technical dazzling with a scene later on in the film where the camera rotates counter clockwise, 360 degrees, several times without any cuts, fades, or breaks. What makes these technical feats even more impressive is that the film only had a budget of $250,000! Now do these technical proficiencies help the plot? Not really, but it takes your mind off a film that comes across as a bit lackluster. The film is interesting enough as the Durands cross paths with medieval characters, farmers, and cannibals, but the story is too bloated with social issues that jump out and stare you in the face rather than subtly and satirically wave hello.
I would recommend seeing this once you’ve seen some of Godard’s other works like Breathless and Pierrot Le Fou. This film is not ideal way to introduce you to Godards work or French Foreign films in general.
Check back tomorrow for my review of 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her and then again on Wednesday for the conclusion of episode nine with my reflection on Pierrot Le Fou . And if you’re interested in more, you can find the rest of the Versus The Scarecrow series here.