How do we learn? What do we know? Night after night, not long before dawn, two young adults, Patricia and Emile, meet on a sound stage to discuss learning, discourse, and the path to ... See full summary »
In the near future, leftist writer Paula goes from Paris to the French town of Atlantic-Cité when she learns of the death of a former colleague and lover, Richard P. Is she there to ... See full summary »
A Communist must always ask himself why and think carefuly to see if everything conforms to reality. A Communist is never infallible, should never be arrogant, and never think things are OK only at home.
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Not an easy film to comment on, or even appreciate, given its overt political content - but also the fact that I watched it, without the benefit of English subtitles, on French TV (amusingly, the French ones which accompanied the screening could hardly keep up with Godard's typically loquacious script!); unfortunately, my reception of this cable channel - which has been showing some pretty good, even rare, titles for years - hasn't been perfect in recent times...but, in spite of all this, I still couldn't afford to miss out on one of Godard's most famous films, right?
Anyway, the director's best and worst qualities are well in evidence here: with an obvious emphasis on the color red, it's visually stimulating, indeed overwhelming (as, frustratingly, Godard often puts text in his images while the characters are speaking!), and filled with both sight and sound gags (the French song about Mao and the 'little red book' is hysterical), in-jokes (Godard's voice is often heard indistinctly interviewing the characters) and innumerable pop-culture references. However, it's undeniably exhausting to follow in detail, with the relentless spouting of Communist ideology and wordplay sometimes going over my head in the process...and, by the end, it all sort of runs out of steam anyway - what with most of the characters giving up on their enclosed life-style of theorizing and taking up menial jobs instead, apparently to put in practice what they had so far merely preached - or something similarly vague...er...vaguely similar (why, it's gotten me mouthing abstractions, now!). The young cast is headed by popular "Nouvelle Vague" (and, apparently, politically-involved) stars such as Jean-Pierre Leaud, Anne Wiazemsky - who, for a while, became Mrs. Godard - and Juliet Berto.
Still, the film's anarchic, anything-goes attitude provides a good deal of amusement throughout; especially enjoyable is Wiazemsky's naïve interview, aboard a train, of a noted literary figure who turned conservative (which rebounds on herself and exposes her own political confusion!) and her own botched assassination attempt towards the end. Despite its necessarily heavy-going and obviously dated nature, LA CHINOISE - which has been released on DVD, though not in R1 land - is not quite the embarrassment that was, say, WHAT STALIN DID TO WOMEN (1969; which I watched only a few days ago)...and it's unfortunate that, for the next decade or so, Godard renounced mainstream cinema for underground political film-making (from which period I still have a couple of titles, British SOUNDS  and ICI ET AILLEURS , lying in my "Unwatched Films On VHS" pile)!
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