Woody Allen vs. Jean-Luc Godard
August 14, 2008 5:14 PM   Subscribe

Meetin' WA "At once sublime and witty, the 26 minutes of Meetin' WA consist of an interview Jean-Luc Godard conducted in 1986 with Woody Allen, the director of What's Up, Tigerlilly and Men of Crisis: The Harvey Wallinger Story (and soon to be featured in the final moments of Godard's abortive Cannon Pictures' King Lear). The chat itself is amiable enough; certainly avoiding any conceivable adversarial notes; but this, along with the New York setting (giving Allen the home field advantage as it were) does nothing to prevent a visible anxiety from growing on the part of the filmmaker as the interview goes on."
posted by vronsky (6 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I don't see the 'visible anxiety' at all. I see two filmmakers engaged in a conversation about film. Woody is actually well composed and gives interesting answer. Whomever put up the video also mentions that Woody's 'eyes dart back and forth and his face border[s] on open worry'. That is an exaggeration. The only reason his eyes 'dart' is because he is waiting for Godard's question, which is in French, to be translated by the translator. So he is looking at the translator because he doesn't know exactly what Godard is asking.
I would also add that I believe this interview was done about the time Godard was making King Lear, which starred [among others] Allen, Burgess Meredith, Norman Mailer and Molly Ringwald.
posted by Rashomon at 6:24 PM on August 14, 2008

I've never felt with the same conviction as in here what a pretentious ogre Goddard shows himself to be in this spittle.
posted by semmi at 7:28 PM on August 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thanks, I enjoyed that. I found it a very economical little exposition of both Allen's and Godard's creative processes, the one seeking to sculpt a film into something resembling an initial vision, and the other assembling a film like a bower bird weaves a nest from whatever's at hand.
posted by Wolof at 9:34 PM on August 14, 2008

I'm afraid I don't see the 'visible anxiety' either. Anyone who's ever been part of a conversation where someone is doing live translation (especially when there's cross talk like there is at times) knows how difficult it can be to keep up with what's being said and who's saying it. It can really throw off the normal rules of eye contact and interaction. So darting eyes in this kind of situation shouldn't automatically be equated with anxiety. Nor do I see any signs of anxiety in any other of Allen's behavior.

I think the right take on this is Wolof's. The entire interview is about process and response. With Godard's editing and interstitial gimmicks (and I don't necessarily mean gimmick in a negative sense) serving as a contrast to what Allen is describing: how television changes people's movie viewing experience and his own experience in making a film (idea -> script -> casting -> filming -> editing) and the response he has to the finished product.
posted by cptspalding at 7:39 AM on August 15, 2008

By strange coincidence I just finished reading an excellent essay/book review about the philosophy and work of WA. A fascinating character who fills his art with a wry nihilistic world view.
posted by binturong at 11:31 AM on August 15, 2008

Thanks for this; I once missed it at a Godard festival, so it's great to have it online. (Odd that at one point WA says "Renata Adler said..." and the subtitle renders it "Quelqu'un à dit..." ['someone said'].)
posted by languagehat at 2:11 PM on August 15, 2008

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