Bay Area Cultural Events

Film Programs - Jean-Luc Godard: Expect Everything from Cinema

PFA Theater

"The films that Godard has made . . . since 1979 are arguably deeper, more technically accomplished, and more daring than the early ones."—Richard Brody, The New Yorker

Godard’s films from the 1980s, the focus of this installment of our ongoing retrospective, are sometimes referred to as the director’s Second Wave because of their (relative) return to narrative and larger budgets. With Passion, Godard embraces cinematic beauty, elegantly re-creating paintings by Delacroix, Rembrandt, and others. As in his explorations of Shakespeare’s King Lear, Bizet’s Carmen, Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot, and even the biblical story of Mary, allusions to art, music, and literature are reference points for an exhilarating, perhaps overwhelming, range of concerns. Godard: “People like to say, ‘What do you mean exactly?’ I would answer, ‘I mean, but not exactly.’” Breathlessly, he continues to interrogate what cinema means to him. Genres from slapstick to detective stories are mined, juxtaposition and fragmentation are enlisted, and sound and image angle for supremacy. Certainly a counter-cinema, yet Godard doesn’t focus on battling Hollywood, but instead on making his cinema. In JLG/JLG, his study of himself and his art, Godard was interested to see if a self-portrait could exist in motion pictures, as it does in painting. In an interview soon after its completion, Godard remarked, “Now I say, “I’ve done nothing, everything is to be done.’” In the spring, we present his late films, as well as a selection of his long, serial video essays.

– Kathy Geritz, Film Curator