Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Sarah Adler, Nade Dieu, Rony Kramer, Simon Eine
Written by: Jean-Luc Godard
Directed by: Jean-Luc Godard
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: French, Spanish and English with English subtitles
Running Time: 79
Date: 05/18/2004
IMDB

Notre Musique (2004)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Bitter Victory

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

As daring and volatile as he was 46 years ago when he made Breathless, Jean-Luc Godard returns with another of his extraordinary, heated, agitated essay films. Packing more thoughts and ideas into any two minutes than most movies have at all, Godard takes us through three chapters, "Hell," "Purgatory" and "Heaven," and he's not too pleased about any of them.

War and military are his foremost preoccupation, but he also ponders history, politics, religion, literature and movies. The first segment, "Hell," is simply a montage of images of war and violence (gleaned from movies and news reports), juxtaposed with a haranguing, monotone piano note. In "Purgatory," which is here on earth, he questions the greatness of Homer, fumes about the plight of the Indians, travels to Sarajevo, and lectures in a film class, picking apart Howard Hawks' His Girl Friday. In "Heaven," the Marines stand guard while people eat apples and read David Goodis novels.

Stylistically, Godard uses startling image and sound techniques both new and borrowed from his own films as far back as Band of Outsiders (1964). At one point, the film submits that anyone who tells a story without really living it doesn't understand what really happened. The flip side is that the people who live the events can't tell the stories. Godard has done both.

Perhaps the great French New Wave filmmaker understands the connection between these various subtopics, but the viewer only needs to latch onto a couple of them to enjoy this awesome experience.

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