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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Un film po, 20 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Made in U.S.A. [DVD] (DVD)
Not made in USA, but dedicated to Nick and Sam (Nicholas Ray and Samuel Fuller, "Hollywood mavericks who were objects of filial awe and Oedipal aggression for Godard"), the last full feature made with his nearly/newly divorced wife Anna Karina, and shot parallel to his Deux ou trois choses que je sais d'elle. Un film po, as it says several times in the film, completing it differently three times: poétique, politique, policier. Marianne Faithfull has a cameo in a cafe scene where she sings "As Tears Go By". A série noire picture without police.

Characters in the film are named using such real-life people as Don Siegel, Kenji Mizoguchi, Richard Widmark, Robert McNamara, David Goodis and Richard Nixon. Paula Nelson is probably named for Baby Face Nelson, about whom Siegel had made a film starring Mickey Rooney. The film starts with trench-coated Anna Karina in Atlantic City (a provincial French town), there to track down boyfriend Richard P...'s (phone, plane or car noise constantly blur the last name) whereabouts.

With the hotel visit by dwarfy, dubious Mr Typhus, bodies start dropping, amid encounters with Typhus' writer nephew David Goodis (here an "independent" character, not the author of Tirez sur le pianiste), and Doris Mizoguchi, Goodis's singing Japanese girlfriend. Jean-Pierre Léaud and László Szabó play secret service or army characters pursuing Karina, and there is an ironic Hegelian discussion in a café between Karina, a worker and the barman of considerable intellectual charm and humour.

On a personal side of interpretations, NY film critic Richard Brody says: "Made as a favor to his cash-strapped producer Georges de Beauregard, this ostensible adaptation of a story by American crime writer Donald Westlake was Godard's farewell to his muse/ex-wife Karina, never filmed more glamorously, as she changes from one colorfully Mod ensemble to another, posed against starkly colored backgrounds and shot (by New Wave legend Raoul Coutard) in a succession of giant, haunting close-ups."

The film is true Godard, parts unnumbered and hence less pre-packed like Vivre sa vie or Masculin, féminin, and the same natural street sound/noise when bar doors are opened etc. Large Mondrian like transparencies, garage interiors - this all makes the story appear less continuous than it actually is, discussing in parallel typical political disappearances/murders unsolved, pointing at a vast Cold War conspiracy. One should remember that this was a real topic at this stage in history, Vietnam and Algerian wars feeding the newspaper columns.

The bonus material of the dvd gives an interview with Anna Karina some thirty years later. It is quite interesting that she goes to considerable length to say that what seemed freely spoken gibberish by the actors - a critique often heard by Godard dislikers - was actually meticulously rehearsed, with no deviation from the script tolerated. We may believe this more today, as all Godard's are free from that free improvisation found in other Nouvelle vague auteurs. It just took a few years to understand and believe it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some Lovely Dresses for Lefty Anna which were not bought from Monoprix, 16 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Made in USA [DVD] (1966) (DVD)
Very much a film about film-making and about 60s political concerns of the intelligensia. In that sense it is alienating (and JLG uses plenty of alienating devices) for those not fully engaged with the issues. And that 'discussion' does threaten to undermine the film as 'entertainment' intentionally, I'm pretty sure. At the same time it's an essay in colour and 'beauty' which owes something to Ozu's late colour films of Tokyo, but this is more garish, perhaps, and less subtle. In fact it's so self-conscious that the narrative gets lost and the allusiveness gets tiresome. Is it really that clever to have characters called Richard Nixon? The acting such as it is apart from Karina seems pretty amateurish to me, but again, it could all be seen as doing the Brechtian anti-naturalist thing. It's not a film you could easily love, but it sticks in the memory and it ends with a characteristic in-car shot which is impressive - the 'freewheelingness' of Bande a Part/Breathless is gone.
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Made in USA [DVD] (1966)
Made in USA [DVD] (1966) by Jean-Luc Godard (DVD - 2008)
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