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Jean-Luc Godard: Movie Love in the Sixties

September 5, 2008 - October 17, 2008

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A Woman Is a Woman, October 2, 5

“Are you cold?” “No. I’m trembling with excitement.” A throwaway line of dialogue from Band of Outsiders perfectly captures the romance of Godard’s cinema of the 1960s, in which he broadened the convention of on-screen love to embrace a wide entrancing world: this was movie love. The director described his “Band of Outsiders mood”: “Characters who live off the cuff . . . It is not the people who are important, but the atmosphere between them. Even when they are in close-up, life exists around them.” Even in the clinch it was not unusual to find Godard’s camera wandering off to dwell on passersby, movie posters, cafe fronts, the life of the street at least as important and philosophically rich as the life of the individual. By the time of Two or Three Things I Know About Her, the “her” in the title was not a woman at all, but Paris itself.

Still, if Godard was the artist, his then wife Anna Karina was the model; together they explored the prism of her persona from every angle to look at love, or something like it, in a half-dozen films. Whether tentatively confident, as in Band of Outsiders; determinedly ambiguous, as in A Woman Is a Woman; or tragically self-knowing, as in Vivre sa vie, it is Karina who grounds Godard’s notions about women in the real. Before Anna: Breathless. After Anna: Contempt.

We take the occasion of new prints of several Godard films to revisit this cinema that still trembles with excitement.

Judy Bloch
Publications Director

Friday, September 5, 2008
6:30 p.m. Band of Outsiders
Anna Karina, Sami Frey, and Claude Brasseur are unlikely burglars in Godard’s “reverie of a gangster movie.”—Pauline Kael. Repeated on September 6.

Friday, September 5, 2008
8:30 p.m. Contempt
Godard’s Homeric homage to Fritz Lang, “one of the defining moments of modernist filmmaking.”—Film Comment. With Brigitte Bardot, Michel Piccoli, Jack Palance. Repeated on September 11.

Saturday, September 6, 2008
8:30 p.m. Band of Outsiders
See September 5.

Thursday, September 11, 2008
8:30 p.m. Contempt
See September 5.

Saturday, September 13, 2008
6:30 p.m. Vivre sa vie
Godard’s fragmentary portrait of a prostitute makes Anna Karina an object of endless visual fascination. “A film of extraordinary purity.”—Manny Farber. Repeated on September 14.

Sunday, September 14, 2008
7:45 p.m. Vivre sa vie
See September 13.

Thursday, September 18, 2008
6:30 p.m. Breathless
Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo in the jazzy genre pastiche that launched Godard’s career and embodied the breathless bravado of the New Wave.

Saturday, September 27, 2008
8:45 p.m. Two or Three Things I Know About Her
An incisive view of prostitution and Paris, with breathtaking color photography by Raoul Coutard. “Perhaps Godard’s greatest feature.”—Susan Sontag

Thursday, October 2, 2008
6:30 p.m. A Woman Is a Woman
“A whimsical celebration of romance, sentiment, musical comedy, color film, the city of Paris and the abundant charms of Anna Karina.”—N.Y. Times. Repeated on October 5.

Thursday, October 2, 2008
8:15 p.m. Masculine Feminine
Jean-Pierre Léaud is one of “the children of Marx and Coca-Cola”—the young people of Paris circa 1965.

Sunday, October 5, 2008
5:15 p.m. A Woman Is a Woman
See October 2.

Friday, October 17, 2008
6:30 p.m. Alphaville
“Godard’s conceptual masterpiece is a hardboiled, Pop Art, sci-fi gloss on Cocteau’s Orpheus and Orwell’s 1984.”—Village Voice

Series curated by Kathy Geritz.

PFA wishes to thank the following individuals and institutions for their assistance with this series: Bruce Goldstein, Film Forum; Stéphanie Côté, Cinémathèque Québécoise; Sarah Finklea, Janus/Criterion Collection; Jonathan Howell, New Yorker Films; and Eric Di Bernardo, Rialto Pictures.