Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bande à part = Band of Outsiders (1964)

dir. Jean-Luc Godard
Viewed on 2007-05-30
Rating: 7.0

Although I'm not sure what to make of what I saw, I liked it. It helped a bit to watch the "visual dictionary" featurette on the DVD afterwards, which pointed out a number of film and literary references that were lost on me and probably anyone else who wasn't a film student or a member of the original audiences. Not to suggest the film is in any way irrelevant. Au contraire! For one thing, the title is the source of Tarantino and co's production company, A Band Apart, and it's obvious the movie itself influenced Tarantino's movies.*

I guess that in addition to the weird references, I was also put off by the narration, which I found out later is done by Godard himself. It seems mostly a pointless distraction, other than to occasionally provide some necessary exposition. So I kept wondering if in fact the narration was just supposed to be a joke, making fun of other crime movies with narration. But even if so, I think it spoils some moments that would have played better in silence. It's basically a show-don't-tell thing, but accusing a director like Godard of getting something as simple as that wrong seems ludicrous, and it's much more likely that I'm missing something. So given my confusion, I will allow for the possibility of liking it a lot more if I watch it again someday.

As a side note, I loved the little scene of the main characters running through the Louvre. According to the narration, they were trying to break the record held by a "Jimmy Johnson of San Francsico, USA" who ran through the whole building in 9 min. 46 sec. I did something similar there on my visit. I'd been walking around, dutifully looking at the art for maybe an hour and 45 minutes. I hadn't gone very far (the place is inconceivably big), until I had suddenly had enough. Not wanting to say I had come all the way to Paris and only saw a small portion of the Louvre, I decided to fast-forward through the rest in about 15 minutes. I pulled a similar stunt later that trip at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. USA! USA!

* Some examples: the conversations about trivial matters, which often evolve into philosophical discussions; the focus on the criminal mind; the ubiquitous pop culture references (whether you recognize them or not).

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