Another year, another Cannes. Amidst the usual griping (wasn’t last year supposed to be the worst competition line up in recent memory? Or was that the year before?), who would have thought that the big conversation starter would be JLG? The octogenarian has been doing his own thing his own way for so long now, I didn’t think anyone could muster the enthusiasm to feign outrage. Really, at this point who would even be surprised? As it goes, very few people involved in the fracas have actually, you know, even seen the film. Instead, it’s now a debate between ‘ivory tower elitists’ and more practical, level-headed viewers who have just had enough of Godard’s ‘pranks’. Start at Glenn Kenny’s blog, where the comments section has reached unheard of levels of vitriol (and length). Kent Jones stops by to give his usual calm, clear and concise input (it helps that he’s seen the film); Kristin Thompson touches briefly on the topic here, before branching out in another direction about distribution patterns, etc. Godard ‘apologist’ (or is that acolyte?) Jonathan Rosenbaum has some pertinent things to say here. Daniel Kasman has a nice write up here, where he talks about the film itself and not simply the critical conversation (argument, food fight, etc.) surrounding it.
Anyone who knows me or who has visited this space before knows very well my feelings on JLG – simply put, he’s probably the most important living filmmaker we have. Not to say that he’s my favorite – those are two different things entirely. But he’s the artist who has taught me the most about what sounds and images can, at least potentially, mean. He’s an experimenter in the best sense of the word, and like all experimenters, sometimes he fails and sometimes he succeeds spectacularly (frustratingly, sometimes within the confines of the same film). One doesn’t need to know that the factory set of Tout va Bien is modeled after Lewis’s ‘Ladies Man’ set – what is important in the film is linking the factory and the supermarket: the mode of production leading to the mode of consumption. Godard has given me more than I could ever give him, and for that I am grateful. Sure, go ahead and call me a disciple. I don’t mind a bit. I can't wait to see this movie.