Daily Archives: July 21, 2018

His 20th Century [HISTOIRE(S) DU CINÉMA & MONTPARNASSE 19]

From the Chicago Reader (July 16, 1993). For a more detailed commentary on the Histoire(s), including Godard’s own input, go here. — J.R.

HISTOIRE(S) DU CINÉMA **** (Masterpiece)

Directed and written by Jean-Luc Godard

With Jean-Luc Godard.

MONTPARNASSE 19 ** (Worth seeing)

Directed and written by Jacques Becker

With Gerard Philipe, Lilli Palmer, Anouk Aimee, Gerard Sety, Lila Kedrova, Lea Padovani, Denise Vernac, and Lino Ventura.

If you want to be “up to the minute” about cinema, there’s no reason to be concerned that it’s taken four years for Jean-Luc Godard’s ambitious video series to reach Chicago. After all, James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, the artwork to which Histoire(s) du cinéma seems most comparable, written between 1922 and 1939, was first published in 1939, but if you started to read it for the first time this week, you’d still be way ahead of most people in keeping up with literature. For just as Finnegans Wake figuratively situates itself at some theoretical stage after the end of the English language as we know it — from a vantage point where, inside Joyce’s richly multilingual, pun-filled babble, one can look back at the 20th century and ask oneself, “What was the English language?” — Godard’s babbling video similarly projects itself into the future in order to ask, “What was cinema?” Indeed, the fact that it’s a video and not a film already tells you a great deal about its point of view.… Read more »

The Audience is Us (THE TRUMAN SHOW)

From the June 5, 1998 Chicago Reader. — J.R.

The Truman Show

Rating ** Worth seeing

Directed by Peter Weir

Written by Andrew Niccol

With Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone, Holland Taylor, and Ed Harris.

Undeniably provocative and reasonably entertaining, The Truman Show is one of those high-concept movies whose concept is both clever and dumb. Let’s start with the clever part. A 29-year-old insurance salesman named Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey), who lives in a seemingly utopian small town named Seahaven on an island off the coast of somewhere like Florida or California, gradually discovers that he’s the unwitting star of a TV show — a show that’s been running 24 hours a day since his birth. Everyone else on the island is an actor or an extra — including his wife Meryl (Laura Linney), his best friend Marlon (Noah Emmerich), and his mother (Holland Taylor) — and 5,000 hidden cameras are planted all over town to record his every movement. The show has no commercials in the usual sense, subsisting instead on product placements accompanied by advertising patter from Seahaven residents, including Truman’s wife, who extols the virtues of a new gadget she bought at the supermarket or recommends that he try a new brand of cocoa.… Read more »