Geek Out!

Gifts for Trekkies, Anglophiles, and arthouse obscurists

Geek Out!

Essentials Directors Series: Jean-Luc Godard

Wellspring Media, $59.95

Forty-five years, three wives, and 80 films after he first picked up a camera, Jean-Luc Godard is still going strong. Now 77 years old, the onetime poster boy for the French New Wave hasn't lost an ounce of his daring or aesthetic brazenness. Case in point: His 2001 philosophical rumination, In Praise of Love, was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and was heralded as one of the best movies of that year by countless critics; it was also abstract and erudite and willfully strange, and, try as I might, I couldn't make heads or tails of it. This holiday season, DVD distributor Genius Products is releasing a four-disc box set of films that span the great Frenchman's career, from his earliest New Wave breakouts, which announced a bold new presence on the international film scene, to one of his most recent releases, Notre Musique, an experimental three-part meditation on the nature of war. The set opens with Godard's most famous picture, 1960's Breathless, which, by this point, has moved beyond its reputation as a mere revolutionary artistic masterpiece and entered into the rarefied air of the cultural touchstone, where images become part of the collective consciousness. It's a remarkable thing when a piece of art that was once considered the height of aesthetic insolence and rebellion develops into a cultural given, but one look at Jean Seberg in her New York Herald Tribune T-shirt or the defiantly cocked angle of Jean-Paul Belmondo's fedora, and it's clear that Breathless is a film that exists free of time and context. This set also features 1963's Le Petit Soldat, about two lovers on opposite sides of the Algerian war for independence; the other feature Godard released in that fertile year, Les Carabinieres, an avant-garde look at war in an unnamed land; and, finally, 2004's Musique, which is as challenging a film as Godard has ever made. At an age when most men have resigned themselves to their accomplishments and failures, Godard is still out for blood, as if for him, life is that car Michel Poiccard talks about in Breathless: "Don't use the brakes," he urges. "Cars are made to go, not to stop!"

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More by Josh Rosenblatt
SXSW Film Review: <i>Bikes vs. Cars</i>
SXSW: Bikes vs. Cars
Swedish doc looks into the war between wheels

March 16, 2015

SXSW Film Review: <i>Sweaty Betty</i>
SXSW: Sweaty Betty
A dog, two single dads, and a 1,000-pound pig

March 15, 2015

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Essentials Directors Series: Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Luc Godard, Breathless, Notre Musique, Le Petit Soldat, Les Carabinieres

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle