Goodbye to Language
Jean-Luc Godard's latest free-form essay film may be, more than anything else, a documentary of a restless mind.
The films of Jean-Luc Godard have fascinated and enraged moviegoers for a decade now. The simple fact is: This most brilliant of all modern directors is heartily disliked by a great many people who pay to see his movies.
Just over a week ago, "Dark of the Sun" opened in Chicago. I wasn't in town at the time and haven't yet seen it. Glenna Syse reviewed it for The Sun-Times and found it a "nauseous exercise in new ways of drawing blood."
Talk radio in Chicago came to a graceful, sad demise on WBBM Saturday night. It was a good wake, everyone agreed; not as much fun as Finnegan's, but better than Howard Miller's.
Good parables explain themselves. After you have read the story of Lazarus in the Bible, you don't need anyone to explain it to you. The same is true, I believe, of Stanley Kubrick's parable "2001: A Space Odyssey." It contains the answers to all the questions it advances.
Holding forth about actors a few years ago, John Huston allowed as how there were good ones and bad ones, and then there were a few like splendid thoroughbreds: All you had to do was judge their gait and you could see they had class.
Romeo and Juliet were upstairs asleep in the castle, and Franco Zeffirelli kept the night watch alone. He sat cross-legged on the old stone wall of the Palazzo Borghese and sipped brandy from a paper cup. Behind him, the wall fell 100 feet into the valley. Above him, the little town clung to the hillside, each house stacked above the last. And on the other side of the castle wall was the secret garden where the families of the Borghese had doubtless spent their afternoons 400 years ago.
Ebert William Golding's "Lord of the Flies," a famous modern novel, concerns a group of British schoolboys who are marooned on an island and gradually become savages. Despite all the standards of decency and honor that have been hammered into them in school, they eventually grow capable of murder. That's what the book is about: how capable we are of violence despite all our talk of civilization.
To the surprise of all concerned, Luis Bunuel's "The Exterminating Angel" has turned into a modest hit at the Town Underground. This is an encouraging sign if Chicago is to develop another first-run outlet for good foreign films. The Town will hold "Angel" at least another week, possibly two, before opening Orson Welles' "Falstaff."
Andrew Sarris tells the story of a Sam Goldwyn press conference at which a reporter incautiously began: "When William Wyler made 'Wuthering Heights'..." Goldwyn interrupted angrily: "I made 'Wuthering Heights.' Wyler only directed it."
I'm supposed to be a movie critic, and yet I keep hearing about these great new movies I've never seen. Don't think I'm not on the job; my trouble is that I live in Chicago.