Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Rise and Fall of a Small Film Company

You may find Jean-Luc Godard’s The Rise and Fall of a Small Film Company (1986)currently in revival at Anthology Film Archives, bullshit or brilliant. It’s actually a little of both. It’s filmmaking as a piece of performance art, maybe the kind you’d find in a Richard Foreman work at The Saint Mark’s Poetry project. Gaspard Bazin (Jean-Pierre Leaud of The 400 Blows fame) starts off the film shooting screen tests and ends up joining the line of hopefuls who receive 20 francs a shot for their time. Jean Almereyda (Jean-Pierre Mocky), the producer is a fugitive from the New Wave come upon hard times who ends up like Jean-Paul Belmondo in Breathless.The whole film replete with Almeredya’s alienated wife Eurydice (Marie Valera) has the feeling of microscopic outtakes from Contempt left on the cutting room floor. A great part of the action is simply the line of actors reading sentence fragments into a camera positioned in front of a poster of L’avventura. One of the female actresses iterates “he’s the only man I ever loved, he’s dead.” She’s asked to repeat it and then the camera holds her wide open mouth freeze-framed in a shot that recalls the Odessa steps sequence of Eisenstein’s Potemkin. La Grand Illusion is the headline of one of the sections of the film and a book about Jerry Lewis, a favorite of French cineastes, lies in a pile on a desk. It would be cant to say that The Rise and Fall of a Small Film Company deconstructs the process of filmmaking, though it does tip its hat ambivalently to the demise of celluloid and the concomitant advent of the video in which it’s shot (it was originally a made-for-TV movie). But the film takes too many creative liberties to qualify as an essay in filmmaking, narrative or anything else. It’s more like a dance and in the end Godard himself makes an appearance as the guest diva. There's a side to Godard which wants to blow everything to smithereens including art, cognition and certainly the social order. If you find yourself shaking your head, you may be responding to the fact that this time his anarchist impulses may have created an esthetics of gibberish.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.