2 or 3 Things I Know About Her video

New Yorker Video

JLG/JLG

Cinema Parallel

Most Americans would just as soon forget Godard exists, except as a name dropped by lame "indie" filmmakers groping for a credibility no one cares about anymore anyway; nevertheless, these are two of the most exciting new video releases around. 1967's 2 or 3 Things I Know about Her, available for the first time on tape (with its gorgeous Techniscope frames letterboxed, no less), is a summation of the Godardian world up to his kiss-off of bourgeois cinema in 1968's Weekend. The former film critic presents a society that's desperate for the good things in life (radios, cars, designer clothes, tropical vacations), but can only afford them through prostitution. Marina Vlady plays an ordinary Parisian housewife, raising a family and turning tricks amidst a city being redesigned to keep out the poor. It's Godard's first X-ray of the French family, and by film's end, no one, not even the filmmaker, can tell the difference between the people and the products that surround them.

Godard narrates 2 or 3 Things in an insistent whisper given to torrential musings about the nature of language, the creation of the universe, and whatever's before the camera. In 1994's JLG/JLG, subtitled "A Self-Portrait in December," these musings are not just narration, they're the whole film. Godard appears onscreen as a semi-fictionalized version of himself, and guides the viewer through his life (which involves lots of normal stuff, like walking through the snow and watching TV) in Rolle, Switzerland at the end of the 20th century. Against this backdrop of unconventionally beautiful winter landscapes, Godard delivers a monologue about a world actively forgetting its recent past. He compares cinema to memory, and the projection and reception of movies to people's unwillingness to come to grips with the tragic nature of 20th-century life, especially the Holocaust.

People are always telling me they don't want to watch Godard's films, they just want to kick back and be entertained. Maybe that's the perfect time to see them, when you're most open to his critiques because you least expect them. Let Godard sneak up on you, and burn his images and messages into your brain. (Cinema Parallel, 601 River Rd., Sykesville, MD 21784; 800-860-8896) (A.S. Hamrah)

 
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