Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Kino Lorber - GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE on 3D Blu-ray ""

Monday, April 13, 2015

Kino Lorber - GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE on 3D Blu-ray

GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE (2014; Jean-Luc Godard)
There is a part of me that wants to hate Jean-Luc Godard's latest film GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE (his 121st project and his 1st in 3D) and totally understands the reactions of those folks who didn't care for it. That said, I must admit that I found myself rather transfixed by it so it can't have been all bad as far as my experience with it goes. It has many of the characteristics of what some may classify as the most annoying almost self-parodying parts of French art movies. Characters delivering random but politically-charged, nonsensical dialogue to each other, experimental stylistic choices 
Godard does experiment a bit with the 3D here though. He makes several successful attempts to disorient the viewer with partially cross-dissolved images (using multiple 3D planes), shots that are upside-down or blown out, various video textures and so forth to paint with his lens. As he has done so often before, he pays no mind to the "rules" of constructing shots for the stereoscopic format and just does exactly what he pleases. He uses various video formats and even experiments with bringing bits of sound and music in and out of prominence on the soundtrack at various points throughout the movie. He also likes to obstruct the camera's point if view by often sticking things in front of it.
While it feels like a movie by Godard (by way of Terence Mallick in spots), it also feels like a clumsier, slightly less accomplished voice than that of the man who made BREATHLESS so long ago. I don't mean this film doesn't have its merits, because it really does. And the fact that it transfixed my for it's brief  69-minute running time makes it applause-worthy in my book. I normally despise this kind of film, but for some reason this one compelled me to stick with it. I think another part of my not being totally turned off by this film was the fact that I really hadn't watched much experiential cinema for quite a while and that made my brain all the more open to it I guess. Included with the Blu-ray is a lovely essay by David Bordwell. I was fortunate enough to take some classes from him during my college years and have always found his insights to be quite profound. That's certainly the case here and I'd like to cite one paragraph from his essay that I think sums up GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE quite well. Bordwell writes, "What's there can't be any old images or sounds; they hook together in larger patterns that sometimes float free of the plot, and sometimes work indirectly upon it. The best analogy might be to a poem that hints at a story, so that our engagement with the poetic form overlaps at moments with our interest in the half-hidden action of the characters". In thinking about the film (which I have a great deal since viewing it), this seems to make the most sense to me. One does get the feeling of an artist sketching out various things whilst watching the film and in fact, it has been called a "sketchbook" by some. Because it is difficult to see traditional conclusions to many of the lines of thought presented here, it does seem quite fragmented as a whole an perhaps incomplete. But I feel that a film like this fights the very idea of a beginning and an ending and that's not to say that it transcends the form in some way (though I must admit I've not seen many movies like it, especially with the 3D component as a part of it). As much as the film could be momentarily frustrating, it was by no means something that I didn't feel like I'd want to revisit again. In fact, I watched it twice and am planning to show it to my wife very soon. It's the kind of experience that is a very unique one nowadays and for obsessed fans of the cinematic form, it should be attempted at least once. I'm pleased that Kino Lorber decided to put this out on 3D Blu-ray as it is certainly a film of some importance and I wouldn't have been at all surprised to see Criterion snap it up.

Special Features:
This 2-disc set includes a 3D Blu-ray and a standard Blu-ray. There are no extras on the 3D Blu-ray, but the standard disc contains:
-"In Conversation with Jean-Luc Godard" (47 mins) This interview with the stalwart director himself is as interesting to me (in a companion piece kinda way) as the film itself. From watching this interview, Godard just seems like he would make a remarkably fascinating dinner companion. He is a man that speaks (both verbally and through cinema) in an extremely metaphysical way. He lives and breathes the philosophy behind his work which I respect a lot. You can just tell  that he is still passionate about asking these kinds of questions even knowing that many of them cannot be answered in any definite way. He seems drawn to that sort of material, in fact he thrives on it. I can see how that sort of thinking could really keep a man going over such a long career as he's had. And despite his still somewhat "punk rock" attitude towards filmmaking, he seems to be a guy who has no intention of stopping. I only hope to realize a fraction of his thoughtfulness when I reach 84 years of age. 

GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE can be purchased from Kino Lorber direct and other online retailers:

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