A luxurious palace hotel; Jean-Pierre Léaud’s shrewd pantomime; false detectives after an elusive crime; boxers constantly wearing shorts and fixed fights; a decaying couple putting pressure on a debt-drowned manager; the mafia and the princess of Bahamas; the stone, feline features of a mature Johnny Halliday; a very, very young Julie Delpy; hallway intrigues and desperate love; teenager tits. And the world outside the hotel only existing through the film’s baroque soundtrack, which is as much as, or even more, narrative-driven than the dazzling series of shots featuring pool balls, chandeliers with thousand light bulbs, and reflecting surfaces which the editing equals to opaque faces, speeches learned and repeated that may seem false to the spectator, but never to the characters. Truth only exists on books that circulate like temporary bibles. Flashes that echo the film noir genre, but making it seem distant and obsolete. A multiple intrigue that moves forward with the rhythm of a thriller but it may very well change to a different direction. Very few times has Godard made such an intriguing or –in other words– beautiful film. –BAFICI
The lynchpin of the French New Wave, Jean-Luc Godard was arguably the most influential filmmaker of the postwar era. Beginning with his groundbreaking 1959 feature debut A Bout de Souffle, Godard revolutionized the motion picture form, freeing the medium from the shackles of its long-accepted cinematic language by rewriting the rules of narrative, continuity, sound, and camera work. Later in his career, he also challenged the common means of feature production, distribution, and exhibition, all in an effort to subvert the conventions of the Hollywood formula to create a new kind of film.
Godard was born in Paris on December 3, 1930, the second of four children. After receiving his primary education in Nyon, Switzerland – during World War II, he became a naturalized Swiss citizen – he studied ethnology at the Sorbonne, but spent the vast majority of his days at the Cine-Club du Quartier Latin, where he first met fellow film fanatics Francois Truffaut and Jacques Rivette. In May… read more
'Parce que l'amour est éternel!' That's why! This film could seem a lot of nonsense and I'm sure I wouldn't remember any of it, if I watched it again in a few years (just like it happened this time). Characters call themselves hotel detectives (?) while they seem obsessed by the mystery of a murder which happened at a Paris hotel two years before (the solution being linked to a room number). One guest (E Seigner, 19 at the time) is almost always topless. Another one (N Baye) seems to play a C Aznavour vs J Hallyday contest. Actually the first is her husband, who bores her a lot, the second a fight-promoter who owes her a lot of money. Godard may be trying here to 'deconstruct noir'. Of course, he fills, as usual, with literary references: Conrad, Sciascia, Shakespeare. The one thing I'd really like to remember the most: his final self-parodic 'dedication' to directors Cassavetes, Ulmer and Eastwood
A project fulfilled in order to make enough money for Godard's beloved "Hail Mary" project, "Detective" references endless thriller plots (and "Raging Bull") but seems half-hearted. But half-hearted Godard still provides fulsome thoughtfulness, elegiac musical counterpoint, and hot women (and Johnny Hallyday ain't half bad either, if that's your thing).
Leaud is a genius! But the film lacked strategy. Maybe Godard assumed the pace of the movie would be balanced by the cute Julie Delpy but it wasn't. Yet like all Godard movies, it is poetic and offers advice: not the kind you get at a bar but the kind you get from Balzac or Shakespeare.
A smorgasbord of Godard posters on occasion of a major retrospective in New York.
An original translation of a talk given by the great cinematographer of Godard, Léos Carax, Nobuhiro Suwa, Claude Lanzmann, and more.
*** All images from Détective (Jean-Luc Godard, France/Switzerland, 1985). Cinematography
Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
Written by Alain Sarde, Philippe Setbon, Jean-Luc Godard, Anne-Marie Mieville, and Richard Debuisne
Original… read review