Monday, 2 April 2012



Au revior, mon petit Jean-Luc. Non: c'est adieu. Je suis no longer willing to plod through your (in this case literally) intergalactically tiresome old piffle. First I endured two miserable hours of incomprehensible and humourless hectoring in the impossibly boring Weekend, then the pointless A Bout De Souffle, which [1] is not as much fun as the Richard Gere remake and [2] might have been cool when viewed through a haze of Gitanes and Gauloises in early sixties Paris but which just looks stupid now. Now this, which is certainly at least a hundred times better than those two films, but only in the way that a punch to the shoulder is better than a kick in the goolies.

In fairness, Alphaville has a nicely unsettling mood to it, and terrific black and white photography which transforms the Paris of 1965 into an unfathomable and bleak city of an undated future, justifying the thesis that proper science fiction is actually about the here, now and us. Sometime in the future, trenchcoated secret agent Lemmy Caution, 003, turns up in Alphaville looking for a missing scientist but ultimately discovers that the town is run by a supercomputer named Alpha 60 which routinely sentences its citizens to death for behaving illogically....

That Alphaville looks great and has some semblance of plot and character does not, however, mitigate against it being very heavy going, full of people blathering nonsensically and full of things that just don't make sense. Indeed, I had to take two runs at the movie after initially giving up on it about thirty minutes in. For a film about a society based on pure logic on pain of death, there's a hell of a lot of nonsequiturs and illogic left unexplained. The executions are all carried out in a swimming pool: the condemned get to make a quick speech from a diving board before being shot, and then a team of synchronised swimmers leap in and collect the body while the spectators applaud. Why? Who is the bloke who attacks our hero in his bathroom at the start of the movie? An enemy agent? And why does our hero take pictures of everything? Does Not Compute.

But this is Jean-Luc Godard: it's probably not supposed to compute. That's probably the whole point of the exercise: contrasting the pure logic of this future society with basic human qualities like love and free will. Which is fine, J-L, but you really don't have to go about it such an aggressively difficult way. More bizarre than anything else is the presence of a sight gag that would later show up in The Benny Hill Show of all places: a man obeys the sign on a vending machine to insert money, and is rewarded with "merci". Roflmao, as they say. Maybe there's an open mike night coming up at the Comedy Store?

No, I'm still not going to bother with Godard any more. Granted, it's immeasurably more interesting and accessible than the intolerable Weekend, but it's still too much like hard work and I ended up with a worse headache than the one I got from watching Transformers: Dark Of The Moon in 3D. If I have to look a movie up on Wikipedia afterwards to find out what the hell was going on then either I'm thick or Jean-Luc Godard is mostly rubbish. And I don't think I'm (quite) that thick.



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