As the New Year dawns, I cast off the shackles of the year previous and look forward to a future full of potential. The sun has set on the past, and with it on the Old ways. In these winter months, I find myself increasingly introspective, unsure whether I seek excitement or repose—whether I shall laugh next or cry. I have been smoking more. I am in love with life, or at least I think I am… but what is love except a child’s game? A bubble which delights though it cannot be held? I seek answers at the cinema, for it has been said that, “Photography is truth, and the cinema is truth twenty-four times per second.” *
OKAY this is a BIT MUCH, but please forgive, as I’ve just come off of a delicious Jean-Luc Godard bender, in preparation for TIFF Cinematheque’s retrospective: Godard Forever-Part 1. Running from January 23rd to February 13th, the series includes 17 feature films and 11 shorts from what is largely regarded as the New Wave Masters’ “Golden Age” (1954 to 1967). It is the first of a two-part celebration of his work, the second of which will take place in the fall, and will feature films from later in his career.
If you’re not familiar with Godard, or if you are vaguely aware of his stature as “Important Film Guy” but haven’t seen any of his work, a good place to start is his most well-known film, Breathless. An homage to the film noir genre (and Humphrey Bogart’s lips, kind of), the film stars perennial Godard fave, Jean-Paul Belmondo, and then-American-in-Paris, Jean Seberg. It’s moody, fun, stylish, and sexysexysexy (even the French title—“A Bout De Souffle” which means “At Breath’s End”—sounds like a lover whispering in your ear…mmmmmm).
Aside from Breathless, I’d also highly recommend any of the films in the retrospective starring Anna Karina. Godard’s wife and muse, Karina has that one-two punch of being both a fascinating actress and a style icon. Warning: Seeing her effortless je-ne-sais-quoi Frahhhhhnch style may seriously inspire personal imitations (I walked around the house for three days in full eyeliner and falsies after watching A Woman is a Woman). It’s no surprise that Karina started her career as a model. Godard apparently discovered and wanted to cast her in a small role in Breathless after seeing her in a series of advertisements for soap, but she balked when he asked her to appear nude (“Are you mad? I was fully clothed in those ads, and the soapsuds went up to my neck! It was in your mind I was undressed”). The role he intended for her to play was eventually cut from the movie and their collaborations together did not begin until his next film—Le Petit Soldat—when she was asked to play a lead and, this time, to remain fully clothed.
Aside from Le Petit Soldat, Karina appears in Alphaville, Made in USA, Pierrot le fou, Bande a Parte, Une femme est une femme, and my favorite that I’ve seen: Vivre Sa Vie. The latter film is told in twelve “tableaux” that paint a picture of Nana Kleinfrankenheim (Anna Karina) an actress who slowly descends into the world of prostitution in Paris. It’s a heartbreaking and beautiful film, and she’s incredible in it. All seven films featuring Anna are included in Godard Forever: Part 1.
More information and showtimes available here.
*by Godard. Godard said this.