January 20, 2005

Notre Musique – A Movie Review

An Amorphous Challenge To Artistic Quality
By Fred H. Arm
At first, I did not want to review this movie. After 79 minutes of patiently viewing this pure unintelligible and dark celluloid cinema terriblé, I thought it my duty to comment on this thing. For over fifty years the French filmmaker, Jean-Luc Godard, normally made a fairly decent movie, albeit somewhat to the south of mainstream. He has acquired an immense following, mostly consisting of an audience seeking an alternative to the crisp, formulaic style of his Hollywood brethren.

I am sure Godard had a theme in mind when he conceived this pseudo-philosophical aberration; however, his cinematic bumbling left me cold and agitated. It was bad enough that the setting was shot in decrepit buildings and in an abandoned library in war-torn Sarajevo; but the sub-titles were often omitted, the somber black and white shots added to the depressive mood of the film, and it lacked any kind of cohesive story or orderly flow. It seemed more like a by-product of a C- film student who could not quite grasp the elementary concepts of filmmaking.

The film spends a great deal of time showing grainy and Photo-shop filtered clips of the ravages of war and terror, illustrative of the Hell portion of his exposition of this so-called trilogy- Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. The Hell portion is quite vividly and tenaciously screened. Much more horror than would be reasonably necessary.

The Purgatory is nothing more than a series of unrelated and depressing scenes with much of the dialogue given in other languages without the benefit of sub-titles in settings that seem to darken rather than enlighten the tale. Occasionally, we are presented with the appearances of American Indians that present another incongruent obscurity that only distracts from this already dysfunctional parable. The Heaven portion is literally a walk in the park where supposedly all is good; however, the black and white of the film drag this supposedly inspiring element down with its dreary presentation.

The sub-titles ramble on with what would appear to be Godard’s own philosophical poetry that if presented by themselves would be quite profound and inspiring. However, it is obvious that when one mixes the finest of gourmet meat into a cheap hot dog, much of the filet’s unique flavor is eclipsed by the ordinariness and consistency of the dog. The film is so badly crafted that the message is drowning in mindless dribble.

Of course, the many Godard fans who are drawn to this film will no doubt expound on how wonderful it is, what a great message it sends, and how they were uplifted by the experience. I am sorry, but I just cannot go there. “Different strokes for different folks” makes this a film that I cannot in good conscience recommend to anyone. If you want to see a film that seems to be shot with a hand-held 8 millimeter camera, that is patched together here and there with Scotch tape, and that omits much of the dialogue translations, this movie is for you.

Posted by fredarm at January 20, 2005 11:52 AM