DIRECTED BY: Jean-Luc Godard
FEATURING: Marine Battaggia, Catherine Tanvier, Christian Sinniger, Gulliver Hecq, Eye Haidara, Élisabeth Vitali
PLOT: Snippets of scenes involving passengers on a cruise ship are followed by a long segment exploring a rural French family who run a gas station; it’s topped off with impressionistic travelogues to Egypt, Palestine, and other locales.
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: It’s weird—by way of being random and impenetrable—but it’s also boring. Really boring. Had Jean-Luc Godard’s name not been attached, this movie would remain happily unseen by all but a handful of unlucky film festival attendees.
COMMENTS: Jean-Luc Godard has been telling French magazines that “cinema is dead” (though he would say “le cinéma est mort” and translate it as “film dead.”) Film Socialisme is the work of an auteur who truly believes that sentiment: it’s a dispassionate, bloodless dissection of moving images. It offers us actors but no characters, situations but no drama, incidents but no story, ideas but no argument, and challenges but no rewards. Deliberately obtuse, Film Socialisme sets out to frustrate: the first thing English speakers will notice is that Godard chooses not to fully translate the French dialogue, opting instead to tell the story through what he calls “Navajo English.” Large portions of the French dialogue are left untranslated, and when the viewer does see subtitles he reads only snatches like “watch notell time” and “itshim wariswar.” Sometimes the language will switch from French to English or German or Russian, sometimes in the middle of a conversation; one presumes that this provides brief opportunities for Francophones to enjoy “Navajo French.” Structurally, Film Socialisme is divided into three chapters. The first, titled “Des choses comme ça,” takes place aboard a cruise liner and explores fragments of stories from various travelers that don’t appear to add up to anything: a woman is trying to learn to speak cat by watching kitties on her laptop, a couple have a conversation about the Allied landing in North Africa while ignoring an apparently drunk woman Continue reading CAPSULE: FILM SOCIALISME (2010)