Following up on Kate’s forum, I thought it would be fun to look at how Godard viewed America, particularly in this colorful satire of Atlantic City.
haha I like this thread – just Godard?
I have a clearer recollection of Two or Three Things I Know About Her, and his comments on the Vietnam War, but I thought this title was more appropriate.
Stroszek is my favorite example of this. Herzog made Wisconsin look like it was on another planet.
Also, Malle’s God’s Country.
Jim Jarmusch perhaps…
Stroszek is indeed a brilliant example!!!
Mystery Train and Dead Man are also good ones
I’d argue the same goes for Herzog’s recent Bad Lieutenant movie too. not a great movie necessarily, but the ‘natural’ environment feels strange, almost alien.
Manhattan=/=the entirety of New York City, contrary to a lot of foreign and domestic filmmakers may believe.
I was thinking more about Godard and the political messages he conveyed in his view of America. He turned Madison Ave. advertising and film noir back on itself and used it to critique the US. A bit too obvious perhaps, but with a sharp sense of humor.
As a fellow New Yorker, I can feel your frustration with the notion that Manhattan makes up the entirety of New York City, but i think it’s normal with any spread out city that most people’s perceptions of the city include a very small geographic portion. It’s the same thing with cities like London, Istanbul, or Beijing, which are all very spread out, but when people conceive of those cities they only think of a very small geographic area. Obviously it’s different with places like Paris and Amsterdam, which are very concentrated geographically. It’s frustrating but I’m just saying.
Smoke was filmed mostly in Brooklyn, as I recall, or at least a reasonable facsimile.
The Leningrad Cowboys Go America.
Being filmed in Brooklyn doesn’t necessarily mean they see it as being New York City, although I’m unfamiliar with the film so I can’t say, but when people think Queens is a suburb, there’s a problem.
P.S. I must say Made in USA is very tempting with that $12.99 price tag on amazon.
I think you would enjoy Smoke. I noticed the clearance sale as well.
“Schultze Gets the Blues” and “Mystery Train” have some of the ‘Herzog effect’ as well. The cinematically familiar as seen by outsiders.
Could you explain the Herzog effect please?
Yeah, I mentioned Herzog and Jarmusch in the other thread. Also Wenders in Paris, Texas and some of his later films. To a certain extent, Takeshi Kitano’s Brother as well.
When you take a place or a set of scenes that have become familiar (in this case in US films) and yet they are filmed/written in such a way as to have a “visitor” quality to them, an out-of-kilter feeling.
Brad put it very well: “Herzog made Wisconsin look like it was on another planet.”
If you have seen some older foreign horror movies that feature (unknown) American actors as ‘the Americans’ you get the same feeling. Yes, they are supposed to be the “American scientists” and yet the scenes feel completely off compared to a US film featuring the same characters.
It’s not an undesirable effect as it certainly can mess with an audience if the filmmaker wants to.
MATT: agree about Brother, but i don’t think Takeshi is using the ‘effect’ to say anything in particular though. he is just a foreigner making a film in the U.S.
Is the R1 release of Stroszek botched or can I rent it? On Netflix it says the aspect ratio is 1.33:1. Could anyone clarify whether or not this is correct and whether or not the R1 release does have the correct cut of the film regardless of the quality of the transfer? Thanks.
“Being filmed in Brooklyn doesn’t necessarily mean they see it as being New York City, although I’m unfamiliar with the film so I can’t say, but when people think Queens is a suburb, there’s a problem.”
Both “Smoke” and “Blue in the Face” by Wayne Wang capture the coolness and energy of NYC very well, there’s no suburban vibe there at all.
“Stroszek” (according to IMDB and a few other places) was shot on 35mm in 1.1:66 (which is how I recall seeing it.)
You mean a NYC coolness that’s started to wither away since the mid-90s?
Renault you have to be more specific… for some the coolness went away with speakeasies, some say the coolness fade away with the bebop scene, there’s some who claim the beatniks in The Village where the last ones representing coolness, there’s many who say that the coolness died when the yuppies came. What do you have in your mind, gentrification and hipster boom? If that’s the case then I don’t recall any of that in those flicks.
I’m thinking of yuppies, gentrification, and hipsters. Yes. But then again, perhaps one needs to simply stray away from these areas to see that NYC cool still exists. Queens hasn’t yet been trampled upon, thank god, nor has Harlem, or any of Manhattan above central park for that matter.
My best friend in US grew up in Queens, he still uses words like “pisser”, it’s pretty funny how much non-textbook things I know about NYC without having spent much time in the city thanks to him. Thinking about it… actually most of my friends in US grew up in NYC. And when I was a kid and learned english from watching movies from TV I definitely loved flicks which were set in NYC the most. All that has had a pretty drastic effect on my accent, some people think I’m Polish immigrant from Brooklyn, no kidding there pal.
Does exoticization have everything to do with differentiation? I find it interesting how Melville requires his rather fetishized “American” mise-en-scène to occur/be located on the outskirts of (traditional) French civil society… In order to render things more plausible? Or more exotic? A “plausible” person is one who is said to be skilled at producing persuasive arguments, esp. ones intended to deceive. Is there a difference between the need to be plausible and the need to feign the exotic?
“i don’t think Takeshi is using the ‘effect’ to say anything in particular though. he is just a foreigner making a film in the U.S.”
Well, yes, at some level it’s just a grope for a segment of the American audience that might otherwise not see his films, but it’s also an attempt to set the Japanese gangster (as in Yakuza) against American gangter (as in mafia) and American “gangsta” (as in post-modern, aestheticized version of certain aspects of street gang culture) culture. It doesn’t quite come off like intended, though (at least, not for me).
I agree that’s what it is trying to do but I think the level of estrangement is more directed at the main character himself rather than the foreign culture.
I too think it fails at its attempts to create a story about global gangsters and universal brotherhood, or whatever the hell it is trying to do :-)
I think Godard was drawn to film noir because of the seamy side these movies presented of “America.” It fit his political sensibilities. I think Melville and Truffaut were drawn more to film noir stylistically and saw it as an effective way to present their own cinematic visions. Truffaut completely transplanted “Shoot the Piano Player,” setting it in Paris and the French countryside.