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Jean Luc Goddard is an amazing film-maker, but this is not an amazing film by any means. It's very hard to follow, veering between confusion to pretension, and back again. It's very hard to sit through the entire film.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Philosophically, Metaphorically , Visually Beautiful Film30 Aug. 2004
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Jean-Luc Godard has once again created a wholly unique cinematic experience in his IN PRAISE OF LOVE. The film requires participation (yes, even work) on the part of the viewer, but the contents of this art piece are so refined and so significant that it begs for repeated viewings, much like the major novels of history. His technique of telling his 'story' is idiosyncratic: there is a narrator who is at the end of a ten-year love affair and wondering why it ended. He states at both the beginning and end of the film that a love afair is in four stages: meeting, sexual passion, separation, and rediscovery. And in exploring the impact of the miracle of love he proceeds to investigate memory and history and how they are inextricably bound in our perception of the world both past and present. To present his case the narrator begins to cast a film to explain his story and selects at least one young girl to play the lover, only to have her blend into the fabric of the remaining of the film just the way glimpses become pieces of memory - distorted, illuminated, altered, reinvented by our present and our past. Much of the film is shot in luminous black and white and then the latter portion is altered by the introduction of color. But in the color portion the fields of color are manipulated into bands of brilliance that are at times artificial, at times precise. An elderly couple is interviewed, homeless people populate portions, making derisive comments on society and especially capitalism, the streets of Paris are there for wandering: Godard free associates visually and philosophically and leaves us with so many beautiful thoughts and phrases and images that one viewing of this film simply cannot suffice to capture them all. Our 'present' as a viewer will be altered by our 'history' of having watched the film before. "When I see a new landscape, it is not really 'new'(it has been there forever) but it is new to us because we relate it to landscapes and places that compose our past". IN PRAISE OF LOVE is a journey inside the mind of Godard and as such it only whets the appetite for more. A beautiful, if difficult, film for people willing to engage.
15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
A Poetic Essay19 Dec. 2003
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If you only know Godard from his 1960's films this late phase masterpiece will come as a surprise. In Praise of Love could just as well be titled In Praise of French Culture as this film is like a testament to all of the things Godard loves most about his countries cultural traditions. We know Godards taste in philosophy, music, literature, painting and most importantly film because his favorite sources decorate every frame of the film. References abound within the film to Robert Bresson -- who I think could well be called the patron saint of French Cinema. The New Wave film makers were always fond of Bresson but here Godard not only shows a young man standing in front of a movie poster for Pickpocket but he also quotes from Notes of a Cinematographer-- this book provides wonderful insights into Bressons mind set but also Godards who obviously reveres him . There is also a moving reference to Vigo's L'Atalante. The Godard of the 90's is a much matured artist less concerned with shaking things up than with learning how and teaching us how we must look backward and remember in order to move forward. The view of an aging artist yes but also the view of a mature artist. The first half of In Praise of Love is shot in black and white and the most memorable shots are of Paris at night -- the cinematography is achingly romantic which is fitting for the first halfs main theme is the search for romantic love. It is misleading to say this is the only theme though as while that theme is explored Godard also speaks of the current state of France and through his actors offers his insights into the modern state of French public life and politics which obviously leave him cold -- ie the state has no love for its people, and, anyone who makes over 10,000 francs a month in France no longer has a political conscience. As he films his young actors you can tell Godard is reminiscing about his own youth and own first love Anna Karina. For Godard politics are never far from love -- the two seem to go hand in hand for him -- because the search for love is intimately connected with our search for an ideal. Love will always fail, Godard seems to say, because we can never achieve our ideal of it -- or, searching for the ideal we cease to see the object that we love. In support of this examination of the early stages of love by a young man he offers an older gentlemans memory of his first love and how the memory of it still stings him. The film has a decidedly documentary feeling and a decidedly somber tone which is reinforced by the elegiac piano music. Though the narrative is not strictly linear it is fairly easy to follow. In addition each time Godard quotes one of his cherished sources (Chateubriand, Balzaz, Bataille's Blue Noon) the book is usually in the frame. The Godardian methods will be familiar to someone who has only seen his sixties work but you will also notice that those methods have mellowed, deepened, and become more intimate, and furthermore the pace of his films has slowed considerably reflecting the directors age and this is actually a welcome nuance as it allows one to absorb the content of each sequence. I am tempted to say I prefer this late phase of Godards career to his early phase but of course one would not exist without the other. In the second part the main theme shifts away from love, although that continues to be a minor theme, and towards history -- in truth the two themes are interrelated and comments made about one topic invariably have significance for the other. Memory becomes an obsesion for the aging artist and Henri Bergson is a major reference point in this section of the film. Godard argues that until nations are willing to confess their crimes and own up to them and allow for open discourse they will remain in a kind of infancy. National identity and growth is dependent on memory and thus America is ridiculed for failing to have any kind of memory. In fact in the funniest part of the film a representative for an American film company is in France trying to purchase the rights to a resistance fighters memoirs. Godard has a character comment that America has no memories of its own and thus must buy them from other countries. America is seen to be suffering from the worst case of arrested development but France is also seen to be guilty of it as well. The film is a rich essay with many themes which complement each other in unusual ways. I found it moving and thoughtful and infinitely rich -- at any given moment you will find yourself contemplating a particularly evocative reference which connects the past to the present. This is the kind of film you like immediately and the kind of film that invites you back to it. There is much here and I've only hinted at some of the things I noticed on a single viewing but I plan on watching this many more times.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The best film of 2001...another great Godard film28 Sept. 2003
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I really love this film. Like most of Godard's best work, it yields itself to repeated viewings (I have seen it now 4 times) because it is such a rich work, including so many ideas (on language, love, memory, Paris, America, poverty, and of course cinema). The film is very much like a novel in that each scene is imbued with more and more layers one on top of the other. Highly complex, original, and intelligent cinema is hard to come by nowadays, so thank you Jean-Luc for making movies for INTELLIGENT people.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Overwhelming26 Feb. 2009
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This is a movie which should really never be seen for the first time.
I bought the DVD after reading a reference to the movie in the New Yorker magazine. I was open-minded, not knowing at all what to expect. I had never seen a Godard film before, being much more familiar with German cinema than French.
Half way through the film, I was thinking - there is no plot, the dialog ranges from unintelligible to utterly pointless, absolutely nothing is happening, there are no characters I care the least bit for, the actors seem totally oblivious to where the camera is (half the time their backs are turned to us while speaking, or doing whatever they are doing - which seems to be nothing of any interest most of the time). Most astonishingly, Godard at frequent intervals seems to despair of showing us anything at all, and the screen fades to black... and stays that way for lo-o-o-o-ng seconds, sometimes with (pointless) dialog, sometimes with nothing at all. When it was all over, I still had no idea whatsoever what it was about.
But - but, but, but.... I can't remember when I've last seen a movie I found so compelling, so arresting, so utterly mesmerizing, so ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL. I couldn't tear my eyes away. (With two annoying exceptions*) every scene was absolute perfection, every line precisely the right line. I keep re-playing it over and over again in my head. I can't wait to watch it again. THIS IS WHAT GOOD CINEMA IS ALL ABOUT. Highest recommendations - see it, buy it - it will change what you think about movies.
.... After three viewings of this movie, I need to amend my comments slightly. What marks this movie apart from most others one sees is its depth. There is no way to see everything that's going on in any particular scene in one go, and it seems that no detail was too small for Godard's consideration. The songs playing in the background, the movie posters on a wall, the casual mention of a name leads to a dizzyingly complex web of associations that can only be appreciated by pondering. You will not "get" this movie right away, but I guarantee it will haunt you. Despite its undeniable flaws, one of the most rewarding films I have ever seen, and I have definitely not watched it for the last time. Highest recommendation.
* The two (to me, at least) flawed scenes are: 1. Where the people are (apparently in a bookshop) listening to a radio broadcast about Kosovo. What is the point of this scene? 2. At the house in Brittany, where the lead female character goes off on a long rant about America having no history, so it must "steal" others' histories to make its movies. Huh? What about Westerns? Gone With the Wind? The Grapes of Wrath? etc. This is nonsense.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A confusing film, not for everyone.21 May 2013
V. R. Padgett
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Stark black and white; scenes that one would never see in any American film-- the man and woman facing away from camera, long shot, several minutes, dialog only; Palletes of Van Goghs ``Sailboats`` -- can the garish color mean otherwise?
If you have seen the masterpieces of director Werner Herzog, you will recognize his influence here.
Criticism: Chapter titles needed to be translated into subtitles.