Thursday, May 2, 2013

The appeal of the drift

 Jean-Luc Godard, Hélas pour moi (Oh Woe Is Me), 1993.

Like most of Godard's late films, the ones of his "Second Wave" in the 1980s and beyond, they are impeccably beautiful, shot like Vermeer paintings made with micrometers and precision lasers. They also don't make a lick of sense to me. I'm thinking this to be the point: at once lampooning the stereotype of French ennui and fully embracing it. I think some people were supposed to be blind in the movie; possibly, someone died a couple of times. People kept walking into the water like they didn't notice. God was discussed in mathematical terms. The trains blow through town with astounding violence. People talk in stilted poems.

And this made world's more sense than the couple of minutes of Film Socialisme that I watched this morning. That one looks to be even more beautiful. There is some deal where the English subtitles are first translated into Navajo and then back to English, stripping out all the words that dont; translate, or something like that. Infuriatingly beautiful.

Aki Kaurasmaki, I Hired a Contract Killer, 1990.

Finland's finest, Aki Kaurasmaki is one of my favorite directors. Watch his Leningrad Cowboys Go America some time. It's the Blues Brothers for the "I hate the oldies" set.

I Hired a Contract Killer is a funny/not-funny/even-funnier-so piece of London noir involving a Bartleby-like, ennui-soacked Frenchie on the run from mobsters accompanied by a classic bombshell babe like they don't make anymore except in Facebook tattoo photos. They go to a bunch of really amazing looking diners and dive bars.

I watched this a week ago and cannot get the song from this Joe Strummer cameo out of my head.

Joe Strummer, "Burning Lights"

Maybe it's the wind-down of the semester, the threat of summer's onslaught, the encroaching deadline of my book, but all I want to do is watch really pretentious foreign films on YouTube and write brief synopses of them. Like I am doing now.

I had a good friend that described his life as "living like a French film." I assumed that he meant that it was populated by stunning women that didn't care for him and he in turn appeared to be more humorless than he actually was. But maybe he was onto something. The appeal of the drift is difficult to deny. The anchor of self-scrutiny keeping oneself harbored among a bay of loose barges containing mostly nothing.

I'd put a tidy ending to this but I just did my last class of Media Writing, where we encouraged people to eschew the tidy ending and let the facts peter out just like a French movie does, so there. Adieu.

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