Saturday, December 17, 2005

Day 78: Weekend

This is the movie equivalent of Cain, that preacher from the last two Poltergeist movies.  On the surface, it's relatively unthreatening, though the creaky old voice is a bit alarming, but when it grabs you, it stares at you with burning, ghoulish eyes and sings "God is in his holy temple," over and over and over, refusing to let go until JoBeth Williams comes to save you.  Weekend has one upped the demonic preacher in that it posits there aren't any JoBeth Williamses to save you, and as it turns out, it's right.  The question becomes, how many times will the preacher sing the same tune over and over?  The answer: A lot.

While that's the feeling I take away from Godard's Weekend (I described the experience of watching Alphaville as feeling like I was being poked with a stick… I think creepy ghost preacher is a step up), I cannot deny that the movie's laden with fantastic stuff, sequences that will live on in my memory for ages to come.  As such, I'm glad I've seen it and I'd like to see it again in twenty years.  Rather than clutter up the internet with random attempts to pin down Godard or the people who unabashedly love him, I thought I'd just ramble about what I liked.  (Because I just finished watching the thing and I'm very tired.)

The traffic jam in the movie is superb and, so I hear, famous.  It features a camera tracking down an interminable stretch of traffic and an ever-increasing cacophony of blaring car horns.  The length of the sequence and the pace of the camera movement, in addition to the aural displeasure of so many car horns honking, creates a disgusting, amusing suspense.  Every time a break appears between cars, a sense of hope that this brilliant sequence might soon be over pops into one's head.  And then it continues to its hilarious conclusion: bodies strewn everywhere from a nasty wreck.  The characters (and we) are so glad to be out of the traffic, we don't care at all about the dead.

I don't really care to get into the plot as I'm still not sure what was going on in many parts of the film.  Suffice to say: The movie follows an unhappy and somewhat wealthy couple as they attempt to go somewhere.  As they travel, the decaying bodies of dead or dying are cars scattered everywhere, smashed-up, flaming wrecks covered in the blood of their drivers.  The imagery is creepy and apocalyptic; it's also a dynamic way of foreshadowing the end of civilization, a subject the movie eventually reaches.

I enjoyed the bourgeoisie couple and the pointed attacks against them, and, I enjoyed the literary digressions Godard makes here and the characters referencing the movie they're in (what an awful movie, the man complains, all we meet are crazy people), and there's a poetic statement at the end of the film set to drums that had me both tapping my feet and wanting to shake my fist in triumph when it ended.  I also liked the way the movie seemed to subtly shift from being about the awfulness of the bourgeoisie to the awfulness of revolutionaries.

I'm not sure I'll ever fully enjoy a Godard film, but, then, after seeing this, I’m pretty sure they're not made to be enjoyed or even talked about.  I think they're made to be experienced as the deadening, soul-crushing, acerbic and funny little things that they are.  And I think they're supposed to make me as mad and ashamed as I feel now that I can cross another one off the list.  But time and technology have played a joke on Godard:  I purposefully ate fast food while watching this movie.