Thursday, May 20, 2010

“No rights, only duties”: new interviews with Uncle Jean

Since I wrote the blog post below, there has been more new Godard-info on the Net. The New York Times has published a review of Film Socialisme that indicates it is indeed the dense and brilliant work we’ve all been expecting it to be. Of course, reading the review my mind went off onto a Godardian tangent, wondering if Manohla Dargis has finally moved to NYC, or whether she’s still telecommuting her reviews in from L.A. (Who would have ever thought that the “paper of record” in a major U.S. capital of culture would make its chief film critic someone who wouldn’t deign to live in the city in which the paper was published? Ah, but then again, I’m so old-fashioned and analog, and her insights are really so invaluable a bi-coastal hookup was totally necessary….)

But, veering away from that missive from the shores of privilege and onto the latest classically contrarian statements by Uncle Jean, I point your attention to the invaluable translations of current Godard interviews being served up on the Cinemasparagus blog by Craig Keller. Craig recently provided translations of various Godard items, including an interview from the film’s press kit and two current magazine/website interviews. The first magazine interview is a chat between Uncle Jean and “child of ’68” turned mainstream politico Daniel Cohn-Bendit in Télérama. The article finds JLG probing his friendship with, and memories of, “Dany” while also noting that he engages in contradiction in his statements not for “fun,” but “to provoke an argument, in the sense of the Greeks.” Craig’s translation can be found here.

Another, even more quotable, interview with the Master can be found in the pages of the current issue of Les Inrockuptibles. Craig has provided a translation of this talk too, and there are plenty of interesting statements from Godard. His latest film took four years to create, and thus he wishes it was distributed in a rather unique way (this odd scenario is offered to both the Inrockuptibles interviewer and Cohn-Bendit). He also voices his support for the Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi and (gasp) Roman Polanski. The wonderful phrase from Film Socialisme, “what’s different these days is that the bastards are sincere” is explored; he reaffirms his disinterest in Truffaut’s more conventional later films (they were “not what we were dreaming of”); and he was the one who proposed YouTube as the site for his infamous trailers (which consist of the whole feature sped up to different commercial-style lengths). Find out his view of posterity, ownership of art, intellectual property (take a guess), and the words that might well wind up on his gravestone here.

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