70 minutes | No MPAA rating
If your average American moviegoer recognizes the name of Jean-Luc Godard, it’s probably for “Breathless,” the 1959 Jean-Paul Belmondo film that singledhandedly introduced the modern era in cinematic storytelling.
Godard hasn’t been much in evidence on U.S. screens since the Sixties — his work is too experimental and challenging even for most cinephiles. But he’s made a movie almost every year for the last six decades, and finally one is playing in Kansas City.
“Goodbye to Language 3-D” already has gained some notoriety for having been anointed the best film of 2014 by the National Board of Review…a choice hotly debated within that august body (one might say the voters exhibited a perverse, cheeky humor worthy of Godard himself).
Now the film opens at Kansas City’s Screenland Crown Center, one of the few art houses around with projection equipment that can do justice to Godard’s use of 3-D photography.
This is not a conventional film…not even close. Like many of Godard’s works, it’s more of a collage on a central theme, an assault of dramatic (and antidramatic) moments, news footage, clips from old Hollywood flicks and political posturing.
The theme is summed up in the title — though since Godard relies so heavily on the spoken and written word one must assume he’s being ironic.
The picture opens at an outdoor used book stall where the patrons are roughed up by gun-toting men in black suits who attempt to intimidate readers. Periodically these thugs — who don’t seem particularly good at their job — will pop up to continue their harrassment.
A couple (Heloise Godet, Kamel Abdeli) sit around naked in an apartment holding post-coital debates. Like everyone else in the movie, they are less characters exchanging dialogue than points of view spewing socio-political maxims.
“Those lacking imagination take refuge in reality.”
“The law that denies its own violence cheats.”
“Yes, I am here to say ‘no’.”