Tuesday, November 30, 2004

See a Jean Luc Goddard film at the National Gallery

LOCATION: National Gallery of Art, East Wing (4th St & Constitution) TIMES: See here EQUIPMENT: Yourself, particular human eye that makes film effective OPTIONAL: Black turtleneck and a clove cigarette

The National Gallery of Art will be holding free screenings of Goddard films through December; I went to see Masculin-Feminin on Saturday. The comfortable auditorium is in the basement of the East Wing. I got there late and sat on the edge, but could still see the screen very well.

I'm not a film buff but know that Goddard was a French New Wave pioneer; as far as I can tell this means that he throws in some slightly confusing scene cuts, and repetitive ultra-realistic scenes with men grilling women about philosophic issues. There were some funny moments - I liked the scene where the lead character is slighted by his girlfriend, runs outside and sprays angry political slogans on a wall (I feel like I've seen several other French movies - The Dreamers in particular - where political activism is shown as a sort of occasionally entertaining spillover of your far more important erotic psychodramas. In DC, is it perhaps the other way round?) But I'm a story slut. If you're not going to give me a juicy plot, you better be philosophically profound - and if Masculin-Feminin was, I just wasn't getting it. We're "The Children of Marx and Coca-Cola." Ok, that's cute.

Nonetheless, Google tells me that Masculin-Feminin is not considered to be Goddard's best work (apparently when he made it he was recovering from a bitter divorce). Weekend, screening this Thursday and Friday, and Notre Musique, showing on Saturday, are supposedly much better.

After the show, I ran into Ellen, a security guard I'd met a year ago when she was working at the Hirshhorn. She was in charge of the section with a Ron Mueck sculpture, Big Man - a truly eerie photorealistic sculpture of a gigantic, fat, naked, hairless man curled up in a corner. "Let me tell you," she'd said, "it's pretty weird being around that thing when it's night and I'm all alone. Sometimes I think that he's moving around. Whoo-eee! But I feel so sorry for him, he seems terribly sad." I always like talking to security guards at museums, since living with a piece of art day after day gives you so many insights - and some of them have remarkable opinions. They're usually of a different socio-economic class than, let's face it, most of the people who feel like they should be interested in modern art - and as a result, they come in without any biases or any expectations that they should pretend to like something even if they don't. Here's an idea for a zine, somebody: interviews with art museum guards around the world.

Ellen was enjoying her new job, although she didn't think much of the Dan Flavin exhibit that was showing (installations with fluorescent tubes that would have really impressed me...if I'd seen them at the Art-o-matic.)


Blogger mjalex said...

The thing about French New Wave, of which I am an enthusiastic fan, is that it's style over substance. While I've only seen a handful of these types of films, it seems they (the directors) care more about creating a unique mood, while being innovative, than about plot details. The point is, to me at least, even with details missing from the plot, you get a full dose of the idea they're presenting.

Anyway, I liked "My Life To Live." I wish I could compare it to "M-F," but I missed it. If you haven't seen "Breathless," you really must immediately. So good I had to buy it after renting it. Even the Richard Gere remake is watchable (though only for free on TV) if only to see how the story is completely flipped.

Umm..and cloves smell kind of yucky. Love the Big Man.

8:16 PM  
Blogger zzzzzoe said...

I haven't seen Breathless (I refer you to: "not a movie buff") but I'll definitely check it out. The style over substance thing is very interesting, I guess it's not what I'm naturally drawn to - whereas I'll forgive your whoppingest stylistic cliches, if you hook me with a compelling story.

9:36 AM  
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