Sunday, November 28, 2010

Late and incomplete review - London Film Fest 2010 Day 10 - FILM SOCIALISME

We are on a cruise ship. We are in contemporary Europe. We are at the End of Days. We are in Palestine. We are in politics. We are listening to Alain Badiou. We are listening to Patti Smith.  We are in hi-def DV. We are in lo-def pixelated DV. We are in hi-camp Hollywood. We are in present-day desolation. We are mashing up images from everything and everywhere.

So what is the point? That we live in a post-political society? That we decadent capitalist Europeans care nothing for the class-struggle? That we are beyond political redemption? That we are living in a culture mediated by iconic media images, unable to disentangle reality from fiction? That we are merely repeating /parroting media image rather than critically engaging with life? Does there have to be a point? Is the point that there is no point?

FILM SOCIALISME is the worst kind of pretentious, patronising, pseudo-intellectual bilge that claims to have something profound to say about politics and the nature of cinema, but in fact is nothing more than self-indulgent, adolescent nonsense. The fact that it was produced by Jean-Luc Godard, French auteur, means that reviewers have been generous, ascribing to it meaning and coherence and earnest intentions that it simply does not possess. His film is insulting to us as viewers - it holds us in contempt. It tells us that we are not worth narrative structure or coherent exposition because we are party to the contemporary culture it is condemning. At least, that is the most generous explanation I can give for a film that plays like a collage, a scrapbook, where Godard has pasted in scenes from past films, news-reels and other sources into a layered, incoherent mess. Godard basically holds up two fingers to his audience in the film. Indeed, it is perhaps one of the most hateful film I have seen in recent years. The correct response is to walk out. And that is exactly what I did.

Now, a lot of the film's fans are going to say that basically I am just admitting my own ignorance. That I'm not well versed enough in Godard's back catalogue, that I don't speak French, that I don't understand the philosophical and political movements he is engaging with. That, basically, I am a poor creature who can only feel safe in the warm embrace of mindless Hollywood genre-cinema. To them, I say, in the words Godard might've have used as a title to this film, baise-toi! I speak French, I've watched his films, I read philosophy at university, and I like tough cinema. But this film is a case of the Emperor's New Clothes. It reflects back the pretentions of the viewers and cinema-goers who love cinema, LOVE cinema, should fight back.

FILM SOCIALISME played Cannes, London and Toronto 2010. It was released in France in May 2010 and was released on DVD last month.

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