Now fiction overtakes reality...
A. Gyurisin | Wet, Wild, Wonderful Virginia | 08/02/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"There is no questioning the power of Godard. His cinematic talent reaches much farther than my mind could even begin to escape, and upon watching some of his lesser known films these days - his sheer imagination was something that is decidedly missed in today's film experience. Watching "Pierrot Le Fou", the vivid color, the uncontrollable ability to combine any genre into one frame, and the dedication of his actors was demonstrated. A less-fan of his "Breathless" film and more into his experimental work, "Fou" was right up my alley - yet, watching "Made in USA", I was completely flabbergasted. This film was confusing, colorful, intelligent, philosophical, brutal, and a slice of what America was producing at the time, while all the while being completely Godard. Destined never to be a favorite among purists, "Made in USA" requires more than one viewing and an accompanying owner's manual to navigate, but the final destination is worth all the work. Using Anna Karina as our guide, this spy-thriller (if I could say that) takes off with a huge step and never looks back.
Do not watch this movie late at night or while doing anything that will cause you to glance away from the screen. Every moment in this film is necessary, every word that Godard has our actors speak - while at times confusing and thought provoking - is needed to tell this dis-narrative story. Godard is a master behind the camera for this film - giving us an early glimpse as to what was in store with "Pierrot Le Fou", his bold color and well read characters (each one is always holding a book - Bravo!), are just the crust. What made "Made in USA" stand out was the obvious connections to Walt Disney, the "Big Sleep", and nearly everything coming out of the 60s in America, but what makes Godard impressive, is that one needs to search to see it. He doesn't spoon feed you a narrative that makes your heart gush at the end, Godard creates challenging cinema that will not be enjoyed by all, but if developed - if watched over time - if studied, remains important even 43 years later.
"Made in USA" is another Criterion release that looks and sounds perfectly, but - even with my discussion on how great Godard's work is - isn't the greatest release from the master. Yep, I am a Godard fan, but I am picky. I didn't enjoy "Breathless", but "Pierrot Le Fou" I hold very highly - and this - well, "Made in USA" is intelligent, but perhaps a bit too pretentious. The idea behind this film is solid, but it is the execution that had me nervous. Godard is eloquent in introducing us to certain characters and elements, but gives them names of his favorites like McNamara and Nixon that just feels weighted by symbolism and inside jokes. The viewing took place over the course of three days, not due to the diminishing subject, but because a rewind was needed to ensure that parts didn't go missing or lost. Crafting one part puzzle, one part social commentary, one part comedy is difficult - and for the beginning film watcher - this probably isn't the best film to first experience Godard. Here is what I liked - I loved not knowing. What was exhilarating about this feature was the unknown. The confusing dialogue, the menacing tape voice, the constant barrage of planes flying overhead (if that IS what that noise was), and the possible hope of knowing Richard's last name - keeps one wanting to finish, but getting there is a battle. The dialogue is either a love or hate moment. As there is no linear story, from the spoken perspective, and it is easy to get lost in Godard's cluttered words. For myself, it was at times refreshing - and at other times a disaster. Without a linear narrative, it was difficult to understand how one character fit within the scheme of events. What was happening between Paula and Mr. Typhus? Just thinking about it gives me a headache.
The scenes that stood out in this film were the bartender moments (where you could call him Paul or Bartender, but not "sir"), the pinball machine in the garage, and the billboard store room characters. These made me chuckle and see the humor that Godard was demonstrating, but the others just felt murky and disjointed. Again, I would like to state that every scene was necessary, but were they great? The imagery was spectacular - giving us the color palette that he would later use in "Pierrot Le Fou" - and the cinematography followed suit. For me, it was just the language the bogged me down. I wanted to know these characters further, I wanted to further know the story of the skulled man, and who was double crossing who. "Made in USA" is an important film, I am glad to see it within the Criterion catalogue, but it is an advanced film. The average film watcher will not like this movie, even I felt lost sometimes - but I am so very happy that I watched it.
In another review, this film was quoted as a "B-side" to the Godard cannon, and I couldn't agree more. Could I watch this movie again? Absolutely, but not right away. I look forward to re-exploring this piece of cinema, understanding what I missed, and seeing the inside moments that may have slipped by me the first time. "Made in America" isn't perfect, and I don't know anyone that can take a ten minutes of a tape playing discussing politics, but this self-proclaimed "B-side" finally has a release it deserves.
Grade: *** 1/2 out of *****"
Pseudo-Psychedelics From The Master Of French New Wave.
4-Legged Defender | ATL. GA. | 02/18/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This isn`t one of Goddard`s most appreciated or understood films (ditto with '2 Or 3 Things I Know About Her' from the same time period), yet it`s fascinating to watch him deconstruct an Art form he almost single-handedly created. It`s an absurdist, surreal, darkly comic, brightly colored film noir-come-pseudo-spy story that`s chaotic and complex, and will leave you repeatedly shaking your head as you attempt to keep up with its inspired lunacy. It`s awash in bold, vibrant colors, most of the time red, white and blue to underscore the skewering of rampant American consumerism, and most characters have famous American names to further confound comprehension. But watching it the second time (in truth, I didn`t get it the first go-around), I found it to be acidicly funny Pop Art. The Bar scene with almost nonsensical chatter among its inhabitants while Marianne Faithful sits in a corner singing 'As Tears Go By' was hysterical to me. This was the last time Anna Karina worked w/ Goddard (their marriage broke up quite a bit before this film), and it appears at times throughout the film that he was putting her through paces just to screw with her and see how she`d react. This is not a casual film to watch, you need to give it your undivided attention, like most of his films, maybe more so. It`s not a movie that comes to you, you must go to it, if you get my drift. It`s also not the first film to watch if you`re not familiar w/ his work, you`ll hate it if this is so. You may not like it anyway, but it`s worth a go if you like Goddard, 60`s New Wave, and Pop Art Surrealism. And Criterion gives us many additional features to help us navigate our way within the delerious barrage of Goddard`s assorted visions."
Definitely not the first film that one should watch if they
Dennis A. Amith (kndy) | California | 03/10/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"In 1966, Jean-Luc Godard was asked by producer Georges de Beureagard if he can create a film quickly. The answer was yes and that the can film two at the same time: "Made in U.S.A." starring Anna Karina and Laszlo Szabo and "2 or 3 Things I Know About Her" starring Marina Vlady. It's important to note that "Made in U.S.A." is the final full-length film he created with his ex-wife and muse Anna Karina and the first film of singer Marianne Faithfull (a popular singer in the '60s and also the steady girlfriend of Rolling Stones vocalist Mick Jagger at the time). While "2 or 3 Things I Know About Her" stars the woman that rejected him for marriage. So, needless to say, these two films are rather significant.
"Made in U.S.A." is the final goodbye between Karina and Godard and "2 or 3 Things I Know About Her" is a film that shows him angered by the rejection. And also two films that mark the end of the cycle of Jean-Luc Godard who has become more of a political person and wanted to use his films to deal with internal conflict that he felt about cinema and politics.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"Made in U.S.A." is known for it's vibrant colors. As a detective, Anna Karina's character is known for wearing vibrant colored dresses and the film definitely does a great job showcasing those colors, especially closeups of Anna Karina's blue eyes. This remastered version of the film looks absolutely beautiful and I can only imagine how this would look on Blu-ray (if it ever receives a BD release). It's vibrant and colorful film!
"Made in U.S.A." is presented in its original aspect ration of 2:35:1 and the HD digital transfer was created on a 2K Spirit Datacine from the original 35mm camera negative. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitt and flicker were removed manually using MTI's DRS system and Pixel Farm's PFClean System while Digital Vision's DVNR was used for small dirt, grain and noise reduction.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
As for the audio, "Made in U.S.A." is featured in monaural French with English subtitles. "Made in U.S.A." was mastered at 24-bit from a 35mm optical print. Clicks, tumps, hiss and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube's integrated audio workstation. The film is primarily center channel driven but I chose to have my receiver play the audio with stereo on all channels.
"Made in U.S.A. - THE CRITERION COLLECTION #481" comes with the following special features:
* On the Cusp - (26:28) Jean-Luc Godard biographers Colin MacCabe and Richard Brody dissect the personal the political in "Made in U.S.A." and "2 or 3 Things I Know About Her".
* Anna Karina - (10:08) A 2002 interview with Anna Karina looking back at her life and working with director Jean-Luc Godard.
* Laszlo Szabo - (5:46) A 2009 interview with Laszlo Szabo who appeared in several of Jean-Luc Godard's films and talks about making "Made in U.S.A.".
* Made in U.S.A.: A Concordance - (17:26) A video essay tracing the source of many of the references that make up the script of "Made in U.S.A.".
* Trailers - Featuring the original release trailer and the Rialto Pictures re-release trailer.
* 16-Page Booklet - Featuring "The Long Goodbye" essay by J. Hoberman.
"Made in U.S.A." is definitely not a film for those not familiar with Jean-Luc Godard's work. Although there is a main story about the character of Paula investigating her lover's murder, the film is not only heavy with references but there are a good number of political dialogue which was more or less Godard's platform for him to get out on what was on his mind.
Although many Jean-Luc Godard films show signs of politics being used in the storyline, "Made in U.S.A." tries to balance the film utilizing Anna Karina as this sexy, stylish detective but then using the film as a platform for politics but most importantly, for Godard to use two characters that define how he was back then as a filmmaker and then having Anna Karina taking care of the men in order to show that Jean-Luc Godard as we knew him in the past in his Anna Karina films is now no more.
"Made in U.S.A." is the final swan song between both Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina. Despite being divorced at this time, she would no longer be his muse and the director would no longer be the director that many people have respected him and loved him for. His next films "La Chinoise" and "Week End" would truly mark the end of Godard's narrative and cinematic period of his filmmaking career and from then on, Godard would be a different director focusing on revolutions and his interest in Maoist ideology and would only return to mainstream films in 1980.
This is not a film for those who are not familiar with Godard's work or Anna Karina. I've met many who have watched this film solely for the purpose of the beautiful shots of Anna Karina and didn't like the film at all. For me, my appreciation was because it was a fitting goodbye to his ex-wife. After watching this collaboration between Karina and Godard, you knew it had to end someway and "Made in U.S.A." was the way to do it.
As incoherent this film may be to many people, I enjoyed the film in fragments. As a "noir" film, it's not my favorite. As a Godard film, I was impressed. The cinematography by Raoul Coutard was absolutely beautiful, the awkward randomness of certain scenes was an interesting way to see a perspective of Godard as a filmmaker and as a person who faced conflict and needed an outlet to let his emotions out. Both "Made in U.S.A." and "2 or 3 Things I Know About Her" are two different types of films made at the same time but are enjoyable in their own way.
Do I recommend "Made in U.S.A.", yes...that is only if you have seen a good number of Jean-Luc Godard films. This by no means is a film you should start out with if you want to learn about Godard's filmmaking style. Overall, a fantastic Criterion release and a film that I definitely enjoyed!"