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Category:    Home > Reviews > Politics > Ideology > Maoism > Marxism > FilmmakingDrama > Relationships > Surrealism > New Zealand > Sexu > Jean-Luc Godard + Jean-Pierre Gorin: Five Films 1968 - 1971 (*/**)/Le Redoubtable (2018/Umbrella Region Free PAL Import DVD)/Manifesto (2017/DVD*)/Vigil (1984/*/**)/Woman Is The Future Of Man (2004)/T

Jean-Luc Godard + Jean-Pierre Gorin: Five Films 1968 - 1971 (*/**)/Le Redoubtable (2018/Umbrella Region Free PAL Import DVD)/Manifesto (2017/DVD*)/Vigil (1984/*/**)/Woman Is The Future Of Man (2004)/Tale Of Cinema (2005/**all Arrow Blu-ray/*all MVD)

Picture: B & B-/C+/C+/B/B Sound: B/C+/C+/B/B Extras: B/D/D/B/B Main Programs: C+ C C C C/C+/B-/C+/C+

The following films take on philosophy, intellectual arguments and challenge the viewer to think, somethings feature films do not do enough of these days...

We start with two releases on the beginning of a new era for one of the French New Wave's most important directors. Fans of Jean-Luc Godard will want to pick up Jean-Luc Godard + Jean-Pierre Gorin: Five Films 1968 - 1971, a new Blu-ray box set from Arrow that has some of the filmmaker's lesser known (and previously unavailable) work in high definition.

These five films (made from 1968-1971) explore Godard's political agenda as he collaborates with critic and journalist Jean-Pierre Gorin to often times bizarre results. These projects with these two artists together became known as the Groupe Dziga Vertov (named after the early 20th-century Russian filmmaker and theoretician). Granted these films aren't mainstream in the least and will probably bore most to sleep, however there is some interesting stuff here.

The set includes the films:

Un Film Comme Les Autres - probably the most interesting entry that weighs on the social upheaval of May 1968 from the perspective of workers and students, who of which are protesting.

British Sounds, aka: See You at Mao - Takes place on a British auto factory assembly line, which is interesting to say the least. Themes of this film are set against class-conflict and The Communist Manifesto.

Vent d'est (translated Wind from the East) - maybe the most bizarre of the bunch that features the process of manufacturing homemade weapons.

Lotte in Italia / Luttes en Italie (Struggles in Italy) - centers around a woman who practices both political theory and political practice in her home. The film brings up several interesting ideologies but moves at a snail's pace.

Vladimir et Rosa (Vladimir and Rosa) - an appropriate satirical finale that focuses on the trial of the Chicago Eight, and features Juliet Berto and Godard and Gorin in front of the camera this time.

Presented in 1080p high definition with full frame 1.33:1 aspect ratios, black and white. Also included are standard definition DVDs. Both are remastered from their original 16mm film sources, and in that respect, the films look as best as they can here. T he audio tracks have been restored to original uncompressed monaural audio tracks (lossless on the Blu-rays) with optional English subtitles.

Special Features include...

A Conversation with JLG - Interview with Jean-Luc Godard from 2010 by Dominique Maillet and Pierre-Henri Gibert

Michael Witt on Godard, Gorin and the Dziga Vertov Group - Professor Witt, author of Jean-Luc Godard, Cinema Historian, takes an in-depth look at the films and filmmakers of this collection.

"Schick After-Shave" - a 1971 commercial by Godard

Newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow

A 60-page full-color booklet featuring a revised version of a lengthy essay by Michael Witt never before published in English; vintage texts by Godard appearing in English for the first time; archival interviews with Godard and Gorin; and a copious selection of stills from the films.

and a collectible box w/discs.

While not particularly this reviewer's cup of tea, this box set is nice for film student, Godard fanatics, or those heavily invested in avant grade and politics.

So how did Godard go from distinctive French New Wave Auteur to Maoist/Communist filmmaker who sacrificed his distinct filmmaking and identity that led to conflict with everyone from The Rolling Stones to Jane Fonda? Michael Hazanavicius' Le Redoubtable (2018) is a new film that dramatizes how Godard (Louis Garrel) had to choose between staying the international success that had an uncompromised left-wing opinion and if that had peaked and he needed to abandon his established cinematic identity to join a more radical kind of filmmaking.

Whether those films did or did not work, delivered what they claimed or even hold up decades later is incidental to what the film portrays, which is worth exploring. I don't know if it is totally successful at that, going overboard with visual references to all of Godard's mostly full-color films to 1967 and despite some good visual color and performances, this did not ring as true Godard as much as it could or should have versus the likes of Melanie McDaniel's brilliant music video for ''Linger'' by The Cranberries. The result is a mixed bag only fans of Godard (who returned to his former form after his Maoist films cycle and an analog video cycle ended) and film fans in general would enjoy.

By ending just before the new stage of films like the ones reviewed above, we do not get any behind-the-scenes of his Maoist era, which might have made for an even more interesting film or better half or conclusion of this one. Either way, it is still worth a look for those interested.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image looks good for the format and has good enough color to evoke the Godard films referenced, while the lossy French Dolby Digital 5.1 sounds good for the format. There are sadly no extras.

Julian Rosefeldt's Manifesto (2017) might seem at first like an anthology film, but instead, the great Cate Blanchett as thirteen different women stating their own ideological positions in uncompromised ways. As it is not 13 separate narratives, it is not an anthology film, but what is impressive is how Blanchett transforms herself into each woman, part of a group of great British talent including Helen Mirren, Tilda Swinton, Tracey Ullman and even Annie Lennox who just have an amazing knack for this.

Also, it never seems forced (the 13 pieces have overlap as well as contradictions) and oddly is at least as convincing as any of Godard's Maoist works, whether anything jere is maoist, Marxist or an other 'ist' you can suffix onto it. It is just that Blanchett is one of the best actors (and actresses) anywhere and she just surprises and even stuns, segment after segment after segment after segment. It doesn't matter what you believe in, lie or dislike here, she is so convincing stating all of this that you just cannot stop watching and this even has some exciting moments that makes it worth going out of your way for if this is your thing. I hope more people get to see it!

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image looks just fine for the format with Blanchett looking good throughout, but I wish a Blu-ray was issued. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is a bit weak, but you can hear pretty much all she has to say. There are sadly no extras.

The first film from New Zealander Vincent Ward (The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey), Vigil (1984) captures a tone closest to what would happen if a Werner Herzog film and a Terry Gilliam film were mashed together. The photography is a mix of surrealistic and naturalistic and has very dream-like quality to it that proves that Ward is an interesting voice in foreign cinema and that the country of New Zealand really is one of the most ideal places to film a production in the world (as Peter Jackson has proved time and time again).

Vigil stars Penelope Stewart, Bill Kerr, and Frank Whitten to name a few.

The film centers around a remote yet beautiful valley where things are quiet and the people are few and far between. When a farmer dies, a hunter steps forward and helps out the farmer's mother with a bizarre new invention. But soon, the farmer's family sees the Hunter as a threat and its decided that he must be expelled from the valley... things only get weirder.

Vigil is presented in 1080p high definition with a 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a nice sounding LPCM Mono track, both of which have been created specifically for this release. To my knowledge the film has never been available on disc and certainly not of a presentation of this caliber. Arrow continues their high quality standards for quality, giving us a nice transfer overall for the Blu-ray format.

Special Features include...

Brand-new appreciation by film critic Nick Roddick, recorded exclusively for this release

On-set report from the long-running New Zealand television programme Country Calendar

Extract from a 1987 Kaleidoscope television documentary on New Zealand cinema, focusing on Vigil and Vincent Ward

Theatrical trailer

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil

and FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Carmen Gray

Vigil is kind of an unusual story but worth watching for its strong cinematic look and feel. If you enjoyed The Navigator (also recently released by Arrow and reviewed elsewhere on this site), then you may want to give this a watch.

Finally, two favorites of Martin Scorsese are the interesting Japanese works of Hong Sangsoo, Woman is the Future of Man (2004) and Tale of Cinema (2005). Both films tell very natural stories of love and the complications that arise along the way. Nothing too stylized or super crazy over the top here, just grounded realism.

In Woman is the Future of Man, two men are in love with the same woman... kind of like Chasing Amy but not quite as complicated. And Tale of Cinema intertwines two stories one of a suicidal man who forms a pact with a friend and the other about a Filmmaker who pursues an actress and ends up falling in love with her. (thus his life is the projected reality of his film)

Presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray discs with a 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio and Korean 2.0 Stereo tracks and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless tracks as well, both films look fantastic on disc and have been nicely restored as one would expect.

Special Features...

Newly filmed introductions to both films by Asian cinema expert Tony Rayns

Interviews with Kim Sangkyung, Lee Kiwoo and Uhm Jiwon, the stars of Tale of Cinema

Introduction to Woman is the Future of Man by director Martin Scorsese

The Making Woman is the Future of Man, a featurette on the film's production

Interviews with the actors of Woman is the Future of Man

Original trailers

Stills gallery

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow

and FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the films by Michael Sicinski.

- Nicholas Sheffo (Manifesto, Redoubtable) and James Lockhart



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