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First Name: Carmen The parallel stories of a quartet rehearsing Beethoven and a group of young people robbing a bank, supposedly to get the funds to make a film. Director Jean-Luc Godard attempts to make a film that resembles a string quartet, each of whose parts serves an abstract whole. The film is a meditation on the difficulties of youth in the 1980s, the relations between cinema and capital, and how to film the human body. Godard fills the film with carefully composed shots of bodies playing music, making love, and acting violently. His attention to bodies in First Name: Carmen makes the film's images very close to sculptures, particularly those of Rodin. The film's engagement with painting and sculpture continues Godard's ongoing investigation of the relationships between cinema and other arts. Passion Part of Jean-Luc Godard's ongoing investigation of the relations between painting and cinema, the film uses innovative forms to explore political and economic questions. Jerzy Radziwilowicz plays a director shooting a film whose scenes are all reproductions of paintings by Goya, Valasquez, and other European masters. Production comes to a halt when his producers refuse to increase his budget until he explains the film's story to them. Meanwhile, the director is ending an affair with Hanna (Hanna Schygulla), the wife of Michel (Michel Piccoli), who is the manager of the hotel where the film's cast and crew are staying. In a sub-plot, Isabelle Huppert plays a factory worker who attempts to unionize her fellow employees. The story of Passion is elliptical and incomplete. It is a means of presenting a collection of scenes and images on related themes. This kind of story will become the hallmark of Godard's later career. The links among the episodes become even looser in such films as Germany: Year Nine Zero and For Ever Mozart. Passion marks the reunion of Godard with director of photography Raoul Coutard, who shot many of Godard's films of the 1960s. The cinematography is key to understanding this difficult film in which how an image is shot is as important as what it depicts. Godard and Coutard favor shots that begin as open, disorganized framings and become painterly compositions as the people and things in them move. Detective Set in the Hotel Concorde at St. Lazare, the film is set in motion when miserably married Nathalie Baye and Claude Brasseur attempt to collect a debt from mob-plagued boxing manager Johnny Hallyday. Meanwhile, hotel detective Jean-Pierre Leaud tries to solve an old murder case. These two gossamer plot strands are used to tie together Godard's scattershot views on modern life, with emphasis on the voyeuristic potential of the recent video-camera boom. The director dashed off The Detective to raise money for a film he truly cared about, the controversial Hail Mary. Helas Pour Moi Hélas pour moi is the story of journalist Abraham Klimt (Bernard Verley)'s investigation of a case of divine possession. In 1989 God enters the body of filmmaker Simon Donnadieu (Gérard Depardieu). When Simon returns home, his wife Rachel (Laurence Masliah) realizes something is amiss but sticks by her newly divine husband. As in much of his later work Jean-Luc Godard uses a team of cinematographers to create breathtaking images. The theology-filled dialogue makes frequent references to light and illumination, which are in turn reflected in the sun-suffused images. Light comes bouncing off Lake Geneva or streams in from widows behind the characters who stand in shadowy interiors. Multiple narrators provide differing views of the same events, and an intricate web of flashbacks creates an almost impenetrably knotty chronology. Meanwhile, title screens periodically interrupt the action, and the characters introduce lengthy digressions on philosophical, literary and spiritual questions. The result is a beautiful but extremely difficult film, even for those familiar with Godard.

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Special Features * Jean-Luc Godard: A Riddle Wrapped in an Enigma

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FLV1383 Jean Luc Godard Collection (First Name Carmen/Detective/Passion/Helas Pour Moi/1983-93) $32.99 $29.99