It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
One sunny day at Cannes, I sat at lunch with the British director Ken Russell, who had been well-served and was feeling relaxed. As far as he was concerned, he said, he was pleased home video had been invented, because now films could be watched on fast-forward, saving everyone's time. There was a quiet smile on Russell's face as he dozed off. "You're kidding!" I said. He awoke with a start. "Certainly not!" he said, and pushed back from the table.
I suppose it was only a matter of time until Russell's insight reached Jean-Luc Godard. The great director began with films that we would all agree fit the definition of "movie" and has relentlessly put more and more distance between himself and that form. With "Film Socialisme," made in his 79th year, the pioneer of the French New Wave has been swept out to sea.
This film is an affront. It is incoherent, maddening, deliberately opaque and heedless of the ways in which people watch movies. All of that is part of the Godardian method, I am aware, but I feel a bargain of some sort must be struck. We enter the cinema with open minds and goodwill, expecting Godard to engage us in at least a vaguely penetrable way. But in "Film Socialisme," he expects us to do all the heavy lifting.
When the film premiered at Cannes 2010, it was received with the usual bouquet of cheers, hoots and catcalls. Defenders of Godard wrote at length about his content and purpose, while many others frankly felt insulted. In the spirit of Ken Russell, Godard actually posted an online video that used fast-forward to show his entire film in about four minutes. That I concede showed wit. (You can see it here: http://bit.ly/lznp1u)