Godard speaks! Again. Quite rightly there’s a lot of hoopla about the world premiere of a 20-minute trailer the late cinema legend Jean-Luc Godard made for a feature film that will never exist: Phoney Wars.
Cannes festival director Thierry Frémaux explained Sunday at a special screening of the work that Godard extensively researched trailers as well as films.
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The Phoney Wars trailer footage is a series of collages on what appears to be photographic paper, and the topic explored is Charles Plisnier, a Belgian surrealist and poet who was expelled from the Communist party in 1937 for, as Godard puts it, “Trotskyist deviancy.”
The festival noted that the work “will remain as the ultimate gesture of cinema.”
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A curiosity, if you will, that will be wheeled out at film seminars in Paris, London and New York, for all of us to wonder what might have been had Godard been able to make the actual feature film.
There’s text from Godard in the footage that gives us a hint: “To no longer trust the billions of diktats of the alphabet to give back freedom to the incessant metamorphoses and metaphors of a true language by returning to the places of past shoots while taking into account the present stories.”
But good on the festival for screening it on a large canvas, particularly as Godard likened cinema to painting.
The billing is: A Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello and Vixens production, in co-production with L’Atelier.
But I was more interested in Florence Platarets’ one-hour documentary Godard by Godard that preceded Phoney Wars.
Here was the cinema giant recalling how his mother warned him that filmmaking “was a dangerous world.” And then there’s Godard proclaiming that “cinema’s biggest enemy is television.”
My favorite moment was Godard informing American TV chat show host Dick Cavett that “I do cinema: I don’t do films,” while also pronouncing that “cinema is the opposite of culture.”
Then there’s Francois Truffaut’s famous declaration that Godard’s 1960 Breathless is the best first film since Orson Welles made Citizen Kane. That statement probably still holds. Others will surely argue otherwise, but I’ll stand with Truffaut.
Interesting to see the Godard homage the same weekend as I caught two films by American cinema artists.
First up was Martin Scorsese’s mammoth Killers of the Flowers Moon, a movie just short of a masterpiece, which reminds us how America was founded on blood and bullets — and sheer, utter greed.
The talent involved in this work is remarkable but did it need to be 3 hours and 26 minutes long?
That said, I could have sat longer and watched Lily Gladstone’s portrayal of a woman, a member of the Osage tribe, being stripped of her health and wealth by predators, on a loop. Such was its power. And Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro are at the top of their games. I wanted justice for her!
After the world premiere screening the cast, creatives and top Apple executives trooped off to Chateau De la Crois-des-Gardes for dinner, signature cocktails, fine wines and Telmont Reserve champagne from a vineyard that’s 50 percent owned by DiCaprio.
I wasn’t there, by the way. I’m definitely second or third tier when it comes to Apple. I think they like to punish if one has pissed them off. I was invited to some sort of Apple soirée on Sunday but I was busy.
Actually, I couldn’t have made the grade one Apple bash on Saturday because I, very happily, went to see the Todd Haynes film May December starring Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore — both electrifying — and Charles Melton, who is a name to watch. I mean, he’s so good in this movie about an actor (Portman) who travels to Georgia to find out the “truth” about a woman she’s about to portray in a TV movie.
I’m not going to give the storyline away here because I want you to experience how it unfolded for me.
After the film I walked in the soaking rain to the after-party at Magnum Beach. For the record, I did not partake in a chocolate-dipped ice cream with nuts and hundreds and thousands.
Haynes told me that he had such a pleasurable experience making the film that he didn’t want the shoot to end. “That doesn’t always happen,” he confided.
Haynes and Christine Vachon, his longtime producing friend, introduced me to Melton (Bad Boys for Life) who’s clearly having the time of his life being in Cannes with this film.
We’ll be hearing a lot about him in coming months — and Lily Gladstone, too.
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