09 September, 2010

Hockey Or Godard: TIFF Opening Night Choices

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

Well, one can't say that the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) which opens this evening, does not offer its audience a wide range of choices. On its opening night, film lovers can decide to sample the official Festival Opener, a campy Canadian hockey musical (yes, you read that correctly) titled SCORE: A HOCKEY MUSICAL by local filmmaker Michael McGowan or the latest movie meditation by one of the art form's masters Jean-Luc Godard.

FILM SOCIALISM, presented in the Festival's Masters series, is the latest cinematic time bomb from the French director of such nouvelle vague clasics as BREATHLESS (1960), VIVRE SA VIE (1962), BANDE A PART (1964), ALPHAVILLE (1965), PIERROT LE FEU (1965) and WEEKEND (1967). After an inactive stretch in the 1970s, Godard was back with a series of non-traditional, non-narrative film poems that were both ridiculed and embraced for their dense structure and kaleidoscopic visuals.

His latest continues in this expressionistic mode, described as a "symphony in three movements", the film is a cri de coeur that is both ravishing and troubling. The film begins on a cruise ship where passengers indulge in the hedonistic pursuits of gambling and disco dancing. The middle section moves to a provincial gas station to examine the domestic politics of the family that runs it. The final segment revisits the cruise ship's journey around the Mediterranean, intercut with archival footage and a dizzying monntage of clips from key films in Godard's encyclopedic catalogue of the cinema.

Much like abstraction expressionist painters or "automatic writing" authors, Godard leaves visual clues in what appears to be random assemblages to reveal deepth truths about our unsettled times. Count this as another metaphysical statement, both political and beyond politics, by cinema's most playful and distrubing provocateur.

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