Missing from this review from the July 1975 Monthly Film Bulletin is any acknowledgment that Godard and Gorin’s rather punitive analysis against Jane Fonda’s role in a still photograph might have incidentally reflected some misogyny along with their resentment against the power of a movie star. For those interested in tracking down Letter to Jane, it’s included as an extra on the Criterion DVD of Tout va bien. —J.R.
Letter to Jane
France, 1972 Directors: Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Gorin
Letter to Jane was initially made to be shown in a specific limited context: as a short accompanying Tout va bien at the New York and San Francisco Film Festivals in 1972. As with all of Godard and Gorin’s joint projects, the essential aims of the film are demystification and political analysis. More generally, it pursues a demystification of cinema itself as art object, reflected in the minimal technical means used in the articulation of the filmmakers’ argument (a montage of stills separated by cuts or makeshift wipes accompanied by the voices of Godard and Gorin in English, with brief uses of recorded music as punctuation) — an approach further developed by Godard’s more recent work with video, which seeks to demonstrate that the “production of sounds and images” need not be as expensive or as technically elaborate as is usually supposed.… Read more »
Both of these reviews appeared in the July 1975 issue of Monthly Film Bulletin (vol. 42, no. 498). –- J.R.
Director: François Jouffa
Bored with her life, Béatrice goes to work in Mme. Renée’s upper-class Parisian brothel, where she is given the name of Julie and quickly initiated into the tricks of the trade. Flashbacks suggest that she was sexually abused by her stepmother, and grew up believing that the life bf a courtesan was glamorous. On her second day at work, she is attracted to a client, Jean-François, a wealthy advertising man who chooses not to have sex with her but asks her for a date that evening. She accepts and winds up living at his flat, but he repeatedly avoids having sex with her. In desperation, she resumes work at the brothel in the daytime without telling him, then leaves him one night to go home with her friend Martine and her boyfriend. As she gradually saves up enough money to fly to Ceylon — where she hopes to attain spiritual peace — she becomes increasingly depressed by the grotesque needs of the clients who come to the brothel, the jealousy of a fellow worker, and the overall sordidness and sadness of the place.… Read more »
From Monthly Film Bulletin, July 1975 (vol. 42, no. 498). –- J.R.
Great Britain, 1974
Director: Stephen Weeks
England; 1930. Talbot and Duller, former schoolmates of
McFayden, are summoned by the latter to a country house
supposedly belonging to a friend of his father for a weekend
of grouse hunting. Ragged and isolated by the other two for
his callow enthusiasm, Talbot is puzzled to find a warm
teacup and an odd-looking doll in his bedroom. In the
morning, he witnesses a scene in the parlor enacted by
people living forty years ago: Robert Quickworth signing
his sister Sophy over to Dr. Borden’s insane asylum, despite
the protests of her maid. At first Talbot assumes this to be
an elaborate practical joke, but after seeing people who
resemble these characters in the village pub and
dreaming or half-dreaming further episodes — in which
the doll leads him to Borden’s asylum -– he becomes
increasingly obsessed with the intrigue. Meanwhile
Duller, who has come to the house to seek ghosts with
‘scientific’ equipment, is disgruntled when all his
experiments fail and he insists on leaving. McFayden
confesses to Talbot that he has recently inherited the
house and invited him and Duller there to ‘test’ it
for ghosts, mentioning a cousin of his father’s who
went mad there.… Read more »
From Sight and Sound (Summer 1975). I think I probably did a better job with The Godfather 33 years later, when I wrote something about it for Filmkrant. — J.R.
The Godfather Part II
‘I believe in America,’ declares an undertaker in portentous close-up at the start of The Godfather, appealing to Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) to dispatch an act of vengeance on his behalf. The sequel begins and ends with close-ups of Michael (Al Pacino), Vito’s youngest son and successor: in the first his hand is being kissed off-screen by yet another supplicant; in the last he sits alone biting his knuckle, with his wedding ring clearly in evidence — an apt symbol of his solitary dominion, with the Corleone family virtually destroyed so that itshollow emblems and relics might be preserved. The most obvious achievement of The Godfather Part II (CIC) over its predecessor can be seen in the quiet authority of this framing device, which tells us everything we need to know about the fate of the Corleones without recourse to rhetorical hectoring; its most obvious limitation is that it essentially tells us nothing new.
Perhaps more than anyone else in Hollywood, Francis Ford Coppola epitomizes the man in the middle.… Read more »