Masculin féminin Screen 91 of 11 reviews

Masculin féminin

1966

Masculin féminin Poster
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    Everything Is Cinema (book): Richard Brody
    May 13, 2007 | Chapter 13

    Unlike Vivre sa vie, Masculine Feminine was filmed with an unadorned directness that looked the performers in the face as if in discussion with them... Where the camera moves in Vivre sa vie called attention to themselves, now the style of filming emphasized the performers. If Vivre sa vie, with its elaborate text, was something of an oratorio, Masculine Feminine, with its largely improvised dialogue, was more of a work of journalism.

  • As in Vivre sa vie (1962), but more rigorously, Godard tries out all the available techniques (long takes versus extensive editing, static camera versus moving camera) as he experiments with different ways of rendering the verbal exchanges between his characters––demonstrating that truth can never be simply filmed in a singular, transparent way, while trying, all the same, to reach and express that truth through a mosaic or collage structure.

  • An explosion of youth and freshness, from a time when anything seemed possible? The snappiest piece of intellectual pop cinema ever made? Yes, Jean-Luc Godard’s Masculin féminin is these things. But watching the movie now, 39 years after it was made, I’m struck most by its sadness, its harshness, and its pessimism.

  • Directed by anyone else, Masculine Feminine—one of three movies that Godard made in his peak year, 1966—would be a masterpiece. For the young JLG it's business as usual. Actually, Masculine Feminine, which midway through announces its alternative title as "The Children of Marx and Coca-Cola," redirected the brilliantly fragmented sociological cinema of A Married Woman (1964) from Parisian bourgeoisie to the city's youth culture.

  • The film is a provocative and deliriously funny examination of sexual politics in Paris during the height of the Vietnam War, and its genius is the way Godard seamlessly encodes his complex philosophy of the world into a deceptively simple love story between an ex-army recruit, Paul (Jean-Pierre Léaud), and a would-be pop singer, the beautiful Madeleine (Chantal Goya). This is first-class “Freudemocracy,” a term Godard coined to describe the sexual-political potential of film.

  • At first, this 1966 study of "the children of Marx and Coca-Cola" seems the most casual of Jean-Luc Godard's 60s films... But a closer look reveals a supple intertwining of quick shots and long takes, themes and variations—Godard is very strict in his sloppiness. An excellent film, still as fresh as the day it was made.

  • Rather than exploiting a succession of images to create implications beyond those of the individual shots, Godard builds montages which resist becoming more than the sum of their parts. As Varda in Le Bonheur, Godard offers a succession of shots to generalize actions which is nothing more than parts waiting to be summed up... While Varda failed miserably by juxtaposing a perversely anti-climactic montage of the carpenter's daily routines with ultra-climactic Mozart, Godard is more successful.

  • Casual and fragmentary as it may seem, Masculin Féminin is in fact probably Godard's most complex film to date. If Paul's odyssey in search of tenderness takes us through what is virtually a collage of lla vie modern at all levels—Bob Dylan as Vietnik and Negro as Black Muslim, The Pill and The Brassière, Vietnam and the Teenage Question—it is also a foray into the age-old Sex War.

  • MASCULIN FEMININ is well worth a view. But it seems fair to ask a film with such a bold title what its conclusions are regarding men and women. Unless there’s an irony I’m missing, the answer seems to be the following: Men care about revolutionary politics, listen to classical music, and love sex. Women don’t care about revolutionary politics, listen to pop music, and have no idea what they want when it comes to sex. In 2013 that answer doesn’t really fly, if it ever did.

  • One must keep on edge to sort out the irony from the outright indifference under the mask of mock objectivity, and one had better be hyper alert in order to follow the plot of male-female relationships under the stack of press clippings. Tragedy and comedy orbit freely around a world that has not so much been stopped for getting off as slowed down to another sensibility so that Godard can get on.

  • The curse of influential work is that it becomes dated after its innovations have been absorbed. Here and there the film's style and content are still too flinty to prompt imitation, but other aspects have become all too familiar. And much of the original charm of the film has evaporated.

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