1963

——THE ESSENTIALS——

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CONTEMPT (LE MEPRIS) (Jean- Luc Godard)

  I’ve seen this film five times and I’m still not sure how to adequately capsulize it. As with all of Godard’s films, one is rarely compelled by the narrative. So it doesn’t really serve to describe the storyline. Even though CONTEMPT has more of a plot than most Godards. And it’s a clever one at that, being derived from an Alberto Moravia novel, it skewers and jabs at the process of movie-making at the studio level. But as Godard is our most self-conscious of filmmakers, it celebrates the glory of cinema at the same time. Using color and widescreen, Godard comments and entrances. He uses Brigitte Bardot, uses Fritz Lang, uses the screenplay, the gorgeous locations, the bravura performance by Jack Palance………to explore, to examine, to question and of course, to celebrate. If CONTEMPT is about anything, it is about cinema. And that is why I keep going back to it again and again.

 

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8 1/2 (Federico Fellini)

  Fellini is the only filmmaker who could have gotten away with an act of cinematic self-indulgence like this one. After making La Dolce Vita and the huge success that followed, he couldn’t decided what to do next. So he makes a film about a director having crises in deciding how to make his next film. Of course, it too becomes an international success, solidifying the name of Fellini in the cinematic firmament in the process, and throwing more fuel on the fire that insisted that the director is God.

Of course, Fellini is not like every other filmmaker. Getting caught up in a Fellini film, you might laugh and curse and sigh, but you’ll rarely be bored. Some say that he peaked with this film. Others say that the argument is irrelevant. How do you evaluate a force of nature?

 

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