The Image Book
May 23, 2018 2:07 PM   Subscribe

Jean-Luc Godard's new film "Le livre d'image" (trailer) premiered in the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and was awarded a "Special Palme d'Or", since, according to Cate Blanchett, it “almost sat apart from the other films, almost outside time and space”, and so could not be considered against them. This time, Godard was present for the press conference, though in absentia via FaceTime (45min video: English; French).

couple of reviews:
Jonathan Romney, Screen Daily:
You could almost say that a Competition premiere of a Godard work in the Grand Théâtre Lumière is less a cinema screening in the normal sense than a one-off site-specific art installation. This is definitely the case with The Image Book, a meditation in sight, sound, text and blazing colour that is intractably hardcore even by the standards of his recent work like Film Socialisme and 3D experiment Farewell to Language. A Godard work this tough faces the viewer with a singular challenge: shrug and assume, as so many have in the past, that the director has lost the thread (as if he were ever interested in anything so linear as a thread) or take a bet that there is a hidden logic in the work and submit oneself (critically, of course) to that logic.
Stephanie Zacharek, Time:
The Image Book is an assemblage of film clips, news footage and random, unidentifiable stuff, with mysterious title cards inserted seemingly at random—one reading “1. REMAKES” appears three times, or is it four? Here and there Godard’s voice itself is heard, craggy as the branches of an ancient tree, making doomy, mournful pronouncements. There is footage of terrorist atrocities that feels both jolting and yet also somehow safely remote: These are just things on a screen, not things happening before our eyes. And yet Godard may be asking us, and himself, if there’s any difference. Snippets of sound, words and music work mostly at odds with the images, not in concert with them. The effect is something like watching little kids unsuccessfully trying to work two jump-ropes at once, resulting in wriggly, out-of-sync parabolas. That’s the intent: Godard wants to disorient in order to reorient, as he’s done for pretty much his whole career.
David Jenkins, Little White Lies:
Familiarity with the director’s gigantic, late-’80s video collage Histoire(s) du cinéma might act as a stepping stone towards this baffling new work, as it offers a similar onslaught of captured fragments, manipulated newsreel footage, slogan-like inter-titles and much doomy neo-classical music culled from the ECM catalogue. Godard himself provides much of the narration, his voice so gravelly it now makes Tom Waits sound like a English choirboy. The film casts a spell, and the dialogue that we hear comes across as a splenetic incantation while the director stirs his cauldron in the basement.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety:
it’s something of a paradox that “The Image Book” is more accessible and vibrant than much of the work of the past 30 years that Godard has been reflexively praised for (as, for example, the unwatchable “JLG/JLG”). He has now gotten rid of actors entirely and found a free-associational mode of sound-and-image collage that suggests MTV crossed with the Beatles’ “Revolution 9.” He’s no longer a cracked storyteller — he’s an audio-visual poet. This means that “The Image Book,” rather than being seen by 12 people, might find an audience of 112. It was just announced that images from the film would tour several major cities as an installation, and that feels right. Godard, let’s be honest, has left the art house behind. He has become his own living museum piece.
posted by sapagan (5 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
So I wanted basically to post the press conference since it was a delight to see and hear Godard speaking and actually conversing with people - and not being all mysterious and willfully obscure. In addition, it seems almost like a screening event itself with Godard on that little iPhone screen only partially visible, taking journalists' questions in a quasi-face-to-face communication.
posted by sapagan at 2:13 PM on May 23, 2018

I'm pretty sure that if I'm going to see this, it'll be by myself given my wife's reaction after I dragged her to see Goodbye to Language.
posted by octothorpe at 4:03 PM on May 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

I read somewhere in the UK that it will be on Mubi at some point but was unable to determine when I should start my free trial to watch it. Does anyone know?
posted by diziet at 4:33 PM on May 23, 2018

He has now gotten rid of actors entirely and found a free-associational mode of sound-and-image collage that suggests MTV crossed with the Beatles’ “Revolution 9.”

I'm curious, but a little skeptical. What's so innovative about video collage? The blurb about the late-80s Histoires period has it, except this isn't baffling, it's just derivative. Of his previous works, and of the same semiotic postmodern/poststructural theoretical orientation as usual. Godard has, perhaps, become his own film student.

There don't seem to be any dates in the reporting on Mubi, I'd just keep an eye on this page.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:38 AM on May 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

That's handy thank you!
posted by diziet at 12:35 PM on May 24, 2018

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