Lion in Winter

Film Socialisme, Godard's latest feature, is among his densest, most allusive, and perplexing; fans mostly familiar with Godard via the recent 50th Anniversary re-release of Breathless or from his iconic '60's work in general may want to exercise a certain degree of caution. But for fellow admirers of Godard's late-career mode (from Histoire(s) du Cinema on), this is very much a natural aesthetic extension and another masterpiece. It's also, it should be noted, at least as spry and playful and consistently surprising as it is "difficult" or "impenetrable."

And that's not to deny that it indeed is both of those things, but it's incredibly beautiful, too, as sensuous and vigorous as, say, My Life to Live or Two or Three Things I Know About Her, maybe even more so. It's identifiably the work of a pessimistic octogenarian intellectual, yet one who still sees some glimmer of hope in a generation too young to know the historical deck is stacked against them; the second part of this triptych is loosely constructed as a kind of tribunal (against the backdrop of a French gas station), where kids hold their parents and grandparents accountable for the problems with the world they'll soon inherit.

The first and third sections deal with a cruise ship's voyage west from Cairo, with stops in Palestine, Barcelona, and Naples, among other destinations. The passengers aboard (mainly Europeans and a few Americans, including Patti Smith, with the ship's employees seemingly from Southeast Asia) are mostly oblivious to their surroundings, as they discuss issues pertinent to Europe's past, present, and future. I was reminded early on of Vigo's L'Atalante but progressively more of Manoel de Oliveira's A Talking Picture, another autumnal masterwork, with Godard's fractured passage taking the reverse route from de Oliveira's fated West-East travelogue.

As with all late Godard, we're left with far more questions (or ideas) than answers, though that may be even truer for Film Socialisme. I hope to see this one again soon, ideally with the more precise English subtitles that a fan has reportedly supplied online. The official release version is paired with what Godard has mischievously called "Navajo subtitles"--that is, extremely simplistic English, usually two or three words standing in for audibly more long-winded French dialogue. It's initially quite frustrating, but it also, perhaps, speaks to the disconnectedness of Godard's cipher-characters from the problematic politics and histories of their holiday ports of call. Or maybe it's a commentary on the English-speaking world's ignorance of the intricacies of Mainland European culture? Either way, it's yet more food for thought in a film you certainly won't walk away from hungry.


Great Expectations

Two-thirds of my favorite band in the world ever + the great Mary Timony: I'm psyched.

According to this Village Voice piece on Carrie Brownstein, WILD FLAG (apparently, it's supposed to be written in all caps) are aiming for an August release for their debut record and playing some shows in the meantime.

In the article, Brownstein also talks a little about the tantalizing prospect of a reunion with the Sleater-Kinney member not in her new group. "I definitely feel like that is in our future [hooray!], but it's not even in the realm of possibility right now [damn]." Well, here's to hoping that WILD FLAG will tide us over until that magical moment comes.