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'Breathless' Review: Jean-Luc Godard Wildly Overrated Classic?

Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, Breathless
Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, Breathless

The fact that an artist writes boringly to convey boredom, or childishly to convey puerility, has no effect on the resultant work being neither boring nor puerile. Self-awareness of a flaw does not alleviate the flaw.

For that to not be true, intent in art would have to matter. In other words, all art would necessarily have to be accompanied by a detailed explanation of itself and its conception by the artist, something that in turn would render worthless the idea of art as its own best explanation. As a result, the very essence of the artwork would be diminished.

Yet, in recent decades there has been the reflexive notion, usually tossed about by bad artists, that intent is almost all in art – or even that it supersedes actual accomplishment. This results in the defense of bad works of art that inevitably rely on defending the work's intent, not its success in following through on that intent. This has been championed by postmodernism, the “first thought, best thought” Beatniks of the 1950s, and the New Wave of French cinema of the 1960s.

A bout de souffle / Breathless (1960) directed by Jean-Luc Godard, starring Jean-Paul Belmond, Jean SebergOne of the leading lights of that “movement” was Jean-Luc Godard, whose first film, À bout de souffle / Breathless (literally, “The End of Breath,” 1960), made him a superstar director. While Breathless's historic importance is indisputable, historic importance should not be equated to artistic excellence. In fact, Breathless has dated horribly; and even were it not dated, it would still be a bad film because it is so self-conscious, so poorly written, and so poorly acted that while sitting through it I felt as if I was actually watching a Roger Corman cheapo horror flick. [Note: Spoilers ahead.]

Now, let me add that there is more “art” in your typical Corman piece from that era, say, The Last Woman on Earth, than in Breathless because Corman's commentary on the state of filmmaking and art was more subtle (and often unintentional). Godard, by contrast, is so garishly dying to show his audience how hip and intellectual he is that he somehow failed to put any of that hipness or intellect – or any substance, for that matter- into his film.

Godard attempts to capture “reality” on film without realizing that anything filmed becomes unreal – or irreal. In fact, any form of art can never be real. To convey reality most aptly, art needs to be most affected. By shooting his film with a handheld camera while Parisians gawk at the filming-in-process, Godard ends up making the most artificial of films while trying to show the most tedious aspects of life. He thus focuses on the two worst aspects of film – the artificiality of cinéma vérité and the reality of tedium – rather than the two best ones: the “reality” of film as artifice and the “artifice” of poetically chosen reality.

What little story Breathless has to offer starts abruptly. It is an odd beginning, but not unlike many bad 1950s kids' television shows or contemporaneous B-horror films like Carnival of Souls.

A hood named Michel Poiccard (Jean-Paul Belmondo) steals a car in Marseilles and drives to Paris. On his way there, he is stopped for speeding and shoots a policeman. This goes by so quickly and without explanation that the viewer cannot empathize with him. Once in Paris, he needs to get money from a friend and flirts with an American student, Patricia Franchini (Jean Seberg). The couple wax in and out of fancy with one another, and the next morning, with Michel a wanted man, he breaks into her apartment, where she later catches him sleeping.

The middle of the film is the dead zone of their flirtations admixed with stilted, wannabe-intellectual dialogue. Michel tries to convince Patricia to sleep with him and run away to Italy. She is reluctant for she does not really care for him, despite finding him dashing. After she interviews a famous author for the newspaper where she works, something clicks within her. For a thriller, the duo have some rather pallid adventures before Patricia, for unknown reasons (to cover the fact that she has taken part in some of his criminal activities?), turns him in.

Up to the interview, nothing leads the viewer to believe a sensible gal like Patricia would for one moment go with a thug like Michel – much less go on a crime spree, especially after discovering he's a murderer. Real character development was obviously not a priority. This plot flaw – known as the dumbest possible action, a staple of later slasher and horror films – is needed for the tale to exist, so we must bear it. Just as inexplicably, Michel accepts his fate, refusing help from a friend, who tosses him a gun as the cops arrive.

If you're not exactly going “wow” over the storyline, its execution will not propel you that way, either. Martial Solal's score is poor, with jazz and melodramatic Hollywood crime movie music inaptly placed. Merely quoting such bad music is not mocking it, and there is no justification for its clumsy use.

Jean Seberg, Breathless, A bout de souffle, Jean-Luc Godard
Jean Seberg in Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless

Raoul Coutard's black-and-white cinematography and composition is also rather forgettable, looking haphazard, poorly framed, and poorly lit. Again, deliberation and the excuse of “realism” does not make up for the murky end result. Also, unlike true film noir, Coutard makes no great use of the power of black-and-white imagery, be it the grays, or the play of shadow and light.

There are also poor stock-film inserts of Paris that do not match the rest of Breathless' quality or style. The famed jump cuts may have seemed cool and revolutionary upon its release, but nearly a half century on they feel self-conscious and do absolutely nothing artistically. Their form does not serve the function of the narrative the way a breathtaking series of jump cuts in Woody Allen's Stardust Memories documents the psychic decay of a character. (Those Breathless jump cuts may, however, make the uninformed believe they are watching a battered print.)

Across the pond, at the time Breathless was being filmed John Cassavetes was also making his directorial feature-film début with Shadows. Although there is an amateurish quality to some aspects of Shadows (it was not praised nearly as highly as Breathless), it was much less amateurish than Jean-Luc Godard's effort. Indeed, as a “realist” piece of filmmaking Shadows holds up far better today.

By contrast, Breathless cannot be defended on its own merits – but only as a historical curio. (That is exactly what virtually all pro-Breathless online essays do.) Cassavetes' first film, however, stands alone. His use of overlapping and realistic dialogue, neither culled nor self-consciously quoted from Hollywood film dialogue, is far better than Godard's. In fact, Godard captured none of the film noir joie de vivre that he hoped to, whereas Cassavetes brought real American dialogue to the screen. (The Breathless dialogue was stillborn when fellow auteur François Truffaut abandoned the screenplay to Godard.)

Just like Godard's characters never utter a believable line of dialogue, Michel is no more a gangster type than Jean-Paul Belmondo is Humphrey Bogart, whom Michel imitates throughout the film. This is seen by apologists, however, as the film's style. But this so-called style is really stylelessness. To claim that stylelesssness is artistic is akin to claiming formless Dave Eggersian puerility as a writing style.

As for The Criterion Collection's Breathless DVD, it offers an inane film commentary by film critic David Sterritt that basically consists of him oohing and aahing over the film's most meaningless dialogue and technical contrivances. As with most apologists, Sterritt does not defend what the film achieves, only what it intends to achieve. He calls the finale “extraordinary.” Why? He never says, but I'd presume it's because Michel makes lovingly playful faces at Patricia (as he had done earlier, in her mirror), thus showing he doesn't care that he's dying or that she has betrayed him. Oh, cool, man! Belmondo may have gone on to become a respected actor, but that definitely didn't happen because of his work here.

Of course, Jean Seberg was a goddess, but her Breathless character is badly underwritten. She does well with what little she has to work – and her bone structure had me thinking of Natalie Portman or Keira Knightley, always a plus. Another bonus was that this was the rare DVD of a black-and-white film where the subtitles were not in white, but in vivid yellow. (A good dubbing would have been better.) The film is also full frame. I do not know Breathless' original aspect ratio, but this is the sort of film where minor details such as this have no bearing whatsoever on the viewing experience.

Also worth noting is that the fact that something has been influential does not mean that that influence was good, or that the trend-setter was any good. Later filmmakers went leagues beyond Godard, actually demanding their innovations serve the film's narrative rather than merely creating a bit of self-indulgence over which a haphazard story is draped.

Breathless spends far too much time showing off its many influences – thereby also its derivativeness. Clueless critics missed that obvious fact, lauding the film's supposed innovations, e.g., the many improvised moments. But with no good execution, no real depth, and no character development, what was intended as satire becomes instead an awkward and obvious imitation, one that is not witty enough to be considered a comedy, resembling instead something like film noir lite. (Cassavetes' improvisations, for their part, never came across as “improvisations,” but as “reality.”)

In short, for all the claims to the contrary, Breathless reveals not a unique innovator, but an old Romantic masking as a hipster, while wildly cobbling together a Frankensteinian mess. In America we call that person a poseur. In France they apparently call them geniuses … just like, um, Jerry Lewis.

© Dan Schneider

À BOUT DE SOUFFLE / BREATHLESS (1960). Dir.: Jean-Luc Godard. Cast: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, Daniel Boulanger, Jean-Pierre Melville. Scr.: Jean-Luc Godard; from a story by François Truffaut.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of Mr. Schneider, and they may not reflect the views of Alt Film Guide. Also, a version of this Breathless review was initially posted in October 2006.

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36 Comments to 'Breathless' Review: Jean-Luc Godard Wildly Overrated Classic?

  1. David Watts

    I'm not sure Dan quite 'gets' the film. His criticisms for the most part appear to reflect Godard's deliberate creative intentions. These intentions seem entirely valid to me unless Dan believes that allowing the crayons to stray outside the Hollwood colouring-in stencil should be 'vorboten.' Of course the film looks and sounds different/unusual. It is supposed to. Dan gets very bogged down in notions of 'art' and 'reality' - things are immeasurable and entirely subjective. Personally, I really like the movie, despite its flaws, partly because its different and doesn't lead me by the nose like a sedated bovine to an institutional slaughterhouse.

  2. val carega

    I watch this movie for the first time and recorded it on my PVR, and that is a good thing because my fast forward button was getting a workout. my first attraction to the movie was the beautiful cars and the pretty street scenes and driving along the highways with beautiful vistas. but upon closer examination I realized that I didn't care for the characters at all and that the plot if any became tiresome rather quickly. some songs have a melody and they become entrenched in the culture and have a long life. they are admired for generations even centuries. some modern jazz however involves squeaks and growls with no melody whatsoever. I'm just taking a long shot here but, these pieces will have a short life and they will not be admired or loved by people generations from now. they will become minor footnotes in the shadows of great music, as this movie seems to be. take fashion for instance, you see an elegant Audrey Hepburn prancing down the street looking at windows, then juxtapose it to this angry contemptuous punker girl wearing torn stockings and disheveled hair and wearing badges, metal and chains.. its a fashion statement. I get it and I support it and I will defend their right to do it ,but I will not get warm and fuzzy to the style. the movie breathless had nothing to offer. fast forward to more entertaining films. some films educate and they even have an effect in changing the course of history, but that is done by well superbly written plots and well executed cinematography. you can look at a Andy Warhol film for 3 days, but at the end of that if you're not bored silly there's something wrong with you. I know that the message is deep and profound but you can cut to the chase and say “listen, this is boring as hell”, and you would have graduated to the next plateau of theosophical consciousness.

  3. doc ellis

    it is best described as either a good film with irritating flaws or a bad film with a lot of charm. yes it is silly and has a sense of parodying its story and characters, but i think that makes the film likable. however, the middle scene in her apartment is so irritating with its poor writing and repetitiveness that i had to stop watching. i wondered, what happened to the cute and interesting film i was watching? i resumed watching it the next day when my level of irritation had subsided. when they finally got out of that scene it went back to being a good film in its silly charming way. in the end i was not feeling the film was a waste of time, i enjoyed it, but the scene in her apartment is loooong, witless, and you just want michel to shut up. however, if you were liking the film before that scene, and you can get through that scene, you will like the ending.

  4. minh

    reading this article randomly, thus I can't stand its whole point of view, totally stupid. who can define art anyway? the artist himself. godard made breathless to depict, to talk about a young generation: a generation that live aimlessly, reckless, doesn't really care about the moral values, etc. and there are still people like that around. they chose and lived their lives as freely and dangerously as they want, and through it godard showed his attitude toward the society, the cinema at the time. cinema or art cannot stop at one point, it must move, breath and has its own lives. you propably prefer the tradtional film-making with the beginning, the middle and ending in its right order, you may prefer the character's personality according to the morals, keep it to yourself. not every people is the same, not all directors have the same style. it's not unreasonable that godard's breathless hs been always highly acclaimed. godard, along with other directors from the french new wave changed the whole french cinema and awaken a whole lot of film-makers with his own style, his own thought. with people like you, with a narrow-minded attitude, boring taste in movie like that, no wonder world cinema has been so horrible!

  5. Ivona Poyntz

    agree with sentiment that Breathless starts and finishes in a rush but sandwiched in between is an agonisingly prolonged,smoky french discourse on life, which made my eyes glaze over. For conversations in bed, no one does it better than Rohmer in 'My night at Maude's'

  6. Belmondo

    It's a shame for Dan Schneider that Partho Chakrabartty read this review and decided to comment on it. Partho makes Dan look like such an indulgent, closed minded, attention-seeking, B-grade critic.

    “I don't like nor dislike it. I simply recognize, as you do, it's not good.”

    This sums up what I can't stomach about his B-Grade criticisms. He seems to believe that he can approach the film from some kind of omniscient objective viewpoint. That his opinions are fact, that the things he finds irksome or shallow are thus and that one can approach a film like this from a 'fixed' point of view. He uses the constitution as his defense here, and I'm assuming it's the American one. As if everyone is entitled to butcher other people's creations with their rigid thoughts and fundamentalist opinions.

    As Partho said, 'Always remember a critic is a nobody who talks.'
    I just wish nobodies like Dan would shut up, constitution or no constitution.

  7. cc

    Partho Chakrabartty I would love to read your paper on this..

  8. James

    “…absolutely nothing artistically.”

    What does this even mean? What do you mean by “artistic?” Pretty vague.

    And look, I'm no Godard or Breathless apologist (I've read plenty of good critiques of both), but to comment that the characters in Breathless are underdeveloped, as if no one noticed, is like saying chocolate ice cream is not as good as strawberry coz it doesn't taste like…strawberry.

    “In America we call that person a poseur. In France they apparently call them geniuses.”

    Jesus. Is this a film review or is this Fox and Friends?

  9. patrick

    Dan, Glad to read a voice of reason. Having just watched the film for the first time, I needing to know that not everyone gushes high praise for this “classic” movie. Thanks

  10. Sean Collins-Smith

    Wow, was this a fresh and invigorating read. My film professor adores (and even worked with) Godard, and therefore he talks about him all the time. It gets old, especially since he always cites Breathless as a masterwork. It is boring, self-indulgent, and just plain bad. Thanks for writing this review!

  11. Ben

    almost everything you said in this article is ill-informed and incorrect.

    i could comment on every point you made, and explain everything that was incorrect and ignorant about that point. but that would be an incredible waste of time.

    i don't know why i bothered reading this article - yet alone commenting on it. evidently, my views are intense enough to do so…

  12. Giles

    -The rigour in question is of artistic integrity, because artists are master illusionists. I'll only trust an artist who will use illusion to show me reality-
    Partho Chakrabartty…BRAVO!

  13. Janet

    This is the best film review I have ever read. You sum up delightfully and eloquently that feeling of complete dissatisfaction and frustration I had, but couldn't yet articulate after watching Breathless. I adore this review and you.

  14. Francine

    As a film critic you need to be well informed about the history of film. This includes its historical context and influences which you have shown that you are not fully aware of based on your extremely biased review. This also applies to your perspective on postmodern art. I was wondering if you have actually read anything by the Cahiers from that era? I think it would also help if you did more research on Italian neo-realism and its influences towards the French new wave too.

    If you prefer generic Hollywood conventions and its linear-style narratives, then I can see why you think Breathless would be a complete disaster of a film. Sometimes it is rather nice to sit back, enjoy and appreciate the mundane aspects of life too.

    There is a lot more I would like to say, but I'm going to leave it at that for now.

    Good luck.

  15. bp

    thank you for this. i rewatched breathless the other day and was struck by just how bad it is. unspeakably, unwatchably bad. shadows - as you point out - is leagues apart and shadows ain't that great.

  16. Partho Chakrabartty

    I am shocked at how violently I disagree with your views.

    For instance, dubbing is a travesty in a medium that relies on the dramatic value of dialogue. I would not have anyone tamper with the shape and tone of the dialogue even if it were in another language.

    You approach Breathless from a fixed position. While knowing your own mind may have been a critical good in the early 18th century, canonical and restrictive views of art are now out-of-place. That is why your critique will earn both vociferous support and violent criticism - it is because your position is obviously closed. Instead of giving us quiet insights that allow us to form our own opinion, you have given us rhetoric. The same mistake Godard made sometimes. I, for my part, ignore the rhetoric, and find that the film still serves me wonderfully. Why?

    Your ideas on 'realistic character development' signify a fixed idea of the human, of what human beings are expected to do. I consider that a myth, a myth that filmmakers have propagated down the ages. That a Phyllis Dietrichson must be evil to lead an originally flawed Walter Neff astray is exactly the kind of false reality film conveys. You seem to prize it, and I prize it too - film's capacity to sustain an illusion is a wonderful thing. But is it therefore the only thing that film must do? That is like saying becoming President of the USA is a wonderful achievement, and everyone should be gunning for the post. No. Please allow film and filmmakers their freedom.

    And not only freedom of intention, which you do allow them (by not caring for it, and I agree with you there). Ignore intention, but please do not ignore the way Breathless constructs its own language. Try and follow the thread of its own reasoning, as it is presented (and not as critics present it, or as Godard himself presents it). I found in the film many valuable moments - the stuff you called mundane was for me insights and recollections of similar situations, a case of almost watching yourself from a detached perspective and understanding how you behave. The long sequence in Seberg's apartment is wonderful because it is not staged reality. It is as real as any afternoon that you and I have spent; the conversations falter and the characters are as unable to understand each other as people usually are. And Seberg's character is real because it houses contradictions.

    Some of us may view film as a medium of escape from our lives, or even as a chance to arrive at some exalted, or aesthetic, or simplified world. Some of us expect films to be as honest as possible so we can rely on the artist's insights. The rigour in question is of artistic integrity, because artists are master illusionists. I'll only trust an artist who will use illusion to show me reality, and yet make reality pungent and extra-mundane by giving me the benefit of his insight. An artist who uses illusion to completely transport me is a very skilled illusionist - and I'll love him for it - but I will not rely on him or believe in him.

    And yet for me both are artists, and as a critic I will deeply consider both their projects; I will make an attempt to understand them and break into their meaning. That attempt I find lacking. Always remember a critic is a nobody who talks, like I am talking right now. The artist is the one who creates, the one who's doing the real work. Even as a viewer I would ask people to give the artist a chance, to really listen to him instead of imposing their own beliefs on him as part of their judgment. My problem with you is at a very human level. I don't think you have bothered to understand the film at all, and have summarily dismissed it on account of its most surface appearances.

    I would have given examples, but considering your review was theoretical with no close detail, I can't be bothered to comment on it. I am doing a paper on the film at present; I will send it to you if you like.

  17. French Film Geek

    I agree wholeheartedly with Mike, Dan you seem to have totally missed point of the French Nouvelle Vague. All the characteristics which you have seemed to criticise actually are part of the new wave techniques.

  18. Cole

    Thank you for enlightening the internet with your short-sighted analyzation of this film and Goddard's work. You might try actually watching this movie next time you sit down for it (the translation is not actually “scumbag,” as others have pointed out, that's a mistake the policeman makes when repeating Michel's last words, which translates more literally to “it's a bitch”).

  19. Mark

    I did not enjoy Breathless. I believe its comrade, Truffauts' The 400 Blows, to be, as you like to say, “leagues above Breathless.”

    What I gleaned from your review is that you percieve the art of intent to be a negative characteristic - of both cinema and of filmmakers - but that while holding this belief you simultaneously practice the opposite extreme in your criticism.

    Is there no respectable middle ground?

    -Mark

  20. Walter N

    “The first thing that is required for a film to produced is a screenplay, and the visuals, mise-en-scene, camerawork, editing, all exist to serve toe story. The word is king.”

    That's all I need to read to know I'm wasting my time reading your reviews. Don't bother replying, I won't be coming back.

  21. Dan Schneider

    I don't like nor dislike it. I simply recognize, as you do, it's not good.

    But, he got better. Contempt, while not great, is leagues above it. And Louis Malle was better'n both Godard & Truffaut.

  22. John Eaglet

    It was necessary at the time, French Cinema really did need a New Wave to stir it up a bit.

    It can be argued that American and European Cinema could do with a New Wave today as well.

    Godard is basically doing what Rossellini already did almost a decade before: Making “ugly” movies that throw traditional Hollywood filmaking out the window.

    Rossellini, in “PaisÁ “, created something Sublime. Godard, in “a bout de souffle” created something Juvenile.

    But the theory behind these two directors are very similar (although the practice is different. One must not forget that Rossellini hates Hitchcock, Godard idealizes him).

    This is quite comprehensible, after all Truffaut worked on Rossellini's side before making his own films and brings these theories across the border into France.

    Godard makes “A Bout de Souffle” as a parody, a homage, a divertissement but more than anything he makes it as a “Manifesto”. An example of destructive cinematography, where everything that a movie “must not do” is happily done, over and over again.

    It's quite o.k. not to like this movie because, in fact, it is not a good movie.

    It's an emblematic movie.

  23. Dan Schneider

    Not:

    You are practicing the criticism of intent. Homage or not, it fails.

    John: 'And the Jerry Lewis joke was completely uncalled for.'

    Same could be said of this 'homage.'

  24. John Eaglet

    I don't agree completely with this review. Although I will agree that A bout de Soufflè is a bad film. But it is bad in such a gratious and puerile manner that I find it hard to hate. In this it reminds a bit of Easy Rider, released almost a decade later: Bad, influential and thoroughly enjoyable.

    Godard was making a statement with this film (But I'll agree that this alone doesn't make it in any way “good”). He was “rubbing it in the face” of critics and audiences alike, I would even go so far as to say that he was deliberately stirring up an uproar if only to bring more publicity to the then rampant “Nouvelle Vague”.

    Godard was also filming on a tight budget, this is the real reson behind his “jump cutting” (if a scene came out badly he couldn't afford to redo it, he would just cut out the bad part and stick the ends of the good parts together) and his “handheld camera” style.

    The storyline, on the other hand, is openly ironic and has only grown moreso with the outdated fashions.

    The jump from Interdiegetic to Extradiegetic music is just as ironic, and plays with the fact that the movie itself was completely filmed without sound (the entire film was completely dubbed and even reimprovised in studio, much inspired by Jean Renoir's experiences with the same techinique).

    All in all I find this film bad, very bad, but in a cute way. All in all I enjoy it.

    And the Jerry Lewis joke was completely uncalled for.

  25. Not a pretentious fool

    Godard was wrapped up in American film before and during the filming of Breathless. Of course he didn't like the “Tradition of Quality”, the reigning French cinema of the time, but that's because he felt it was bourgeois bs. Read Godard on Godard and you will realize that Godard was enthralled with American cinema, and Breathless is a homage to American film and its style (particularly the film noir and gangster film). A lot of people misinterprret this film, claiming it's Godard commenting on commercial art and so forth, no it's not. It's a simple tribute to Hollywood, to Hitchcock, Nicolas Rey, Raoul Walsh, etc. What is great about this film is it's editing, and the intertextuality found in the film. Peace.

  26. Dan Schneider

    I actually deal with what is onscreen, something film theorists do not, but keep typing, in a few million years you'll have Hamlet.

  27. Mike

    Yet you refer to it as a “visual medium”. You're unraveling more and more with each reply. As for that holocaust of a humor attempt, I'll just let it sit and marinate in it's awfulness.

  28. Dan Schneider

    The first thing that is required for a film to produced is a screenplay, and the visuals, mise-en-scene, camerawork, editing, all exist to serve toe story. The word is king.

    As for your other logorrhea, was that you or Homer Simpson who said, 'D'oh!'?

  29. Mike

    1. So you're telling me you like Breathless? No? Then I guess you kinda wasted Point #1, huh?

    2. So, Godard has lost all sense of your opinion of art. I'm sure he'd be torn up to hear that.

    3. I guess when one sees a universally canonized film (not even Breathless necessarily) and finds it completely beyond them, one feels the need to concoct a simple, easy-to-swallow definition of art. At least you've been successful in that.

    4. Anything that can be boiled down into one sentence is essentially a rant. Your “review” on Breathless is: “Godard thinks he's a smarty pants but he really isn't nah nah ne nah nah”.

    5. Sorry to deflate your hero bro. Compare him to anything, guy's got two great films, tops.

    6. I also grew out of thinking girls were “icky”. Neither had anything to do with peer pressure.

    7. This is such posturing. You barely even mention anything visual in your “review”.

    8. A chain of events in a cause and effect relationship occuring over time and in space. Hope you're satisfied, I don't normally do requests.

    10. I can, and they about equal yours (Here's a tip: might wanna put a question mark at the end of a question, yes?)

  30. Dan Schneider

    Let's try explaining this in Neolith 101:

    1) In criticism, I do not deal with like nor dislike, but good or bad. I like some bad art, I dislike some good art, but I recognize the difference between the two.

    2) My view of Breathless is certainly not from Wikipedia- an example of Lowest Common Denominator thinking. It's from the film. Godard is so manifest in what he is trying to do, that he has lost all sense of what I state in the opening paragraph.

    3)His intent is meaningless. Ironically, the schlock films of an Ed Wood are far more cogent a commentary on then contemporary culture because he and his films embodied it, and did not masturbatorily think himself superior to his time. Again, intent is meaningless, and if you understood as much of art and film as you claim, you would know this, and not be so entranced by such a puerile work of art.

    4) My review was not a rant- your post is. Nor is it anti-intellectual, it's anti-effete art. One need not know the Three Tenors' entire catalog to understand when Placido hits a bum note. Fortunately, Godard seemed to improve somewhat- unlike Cocteau, for Le Petit Soldat is a bit better, albeit still very weak, and Contempt is a pretty good film- if not great.

    5) Re: Kubrick, I'm comparing him to American directors- it's called reading.

    6) As for growing out of Kubrick- so, you're saying that you are so still influenced by peer pressure that you do not think independently. Got that from Post 1. Fer sure, dude.

    7) Where do i state I refuse to watch subtitled films. In a visual medium, subtitles are like tape over the Mona Lisa's mouth. Dubbing is superior. Again, read before responding.

    8) Define narrative.

    9) My right to comment on anything is from the Constitution (look on Wikipedia), but not from Wikipedia.

    10) Can you count your grammar errors? If so, is it more than these enumerated points?

    If so, you've graduated to Neolith 201!

  31. Mike

    haha by the way I just read your peice on why Kubrick is like omg the best director ever, and it's pretty much an encapsulation of what people who know nothing about film think. Most of us grew out of Kubrick by the time we graduated high school, man. It's kind of sad. The fact that you refuse to watch foreign films because of subtitles explains so much about your peice on Breathless. So keep throwing around words like narrative and thinking that your Intro to Film course (a step up from Wikipedia) has given you the right to comment on works that you have no more than a rudimentary comprehension of. I understand your quite the opponent of pseudo-subjecivity and political correctness. In that case you'll be happy to know that you are wrong.

  32. Mike

    I don't blame you for disliking the film so much, since you so amazingly misinterpeted it. You're accusing Jean-Luc Godard of not being aware that cinema is, by nature, unreal? You're joking right? I understand you probably read on Wikipedia or somewhere that the movie is “criticizing mainsream cinema”, and you probably bought this very simplified abridgment of the Godard's intent and based your reading of the film on it.

    Godard isn't just commenting on classical cinema, he's also commenting on art cinema. The hand-held camera/docu-style was a common characteristic of art cinema, and that “stilted wannabe intellectual dialogue” as you called it, was written to be so as a comment on art cinema's penchant for “deep” discussions by it's characters.

    You don't need a written statement by Jean-Luc Godard prior to viewing the film in order to know this, as you claim in your opening statement, you just have to be, y'know, informed, learned, have even a remote working knowledge of the history of film, as opposed to the aformentioned Wiki-cation that you clearly went through.

    Should one be able to appreciate (or understand)a particular jazz album if it is the first they've heard as much as someone who knows the entire catalogues of Mingus, Miles Davis, Coltrane, etc by heart? (just an example, I don't even like jazz). Clearly they should not, and clearly this does not detract from the quality of the artistic work, as your twisted and misinformed philosophy states. Obviously you have some people reading your work, so please, in the future, if you're not going to be well-versed in cinema (oooh you've seen a Cassavetes film, good for you!), at least make an attempt to do some real research before you spew your embarassingly anti-intellectual rants that I'm sure aren't at all intended to just get a rise out of certain people.

  33. Dan Schneider

    Films like Breathless are like writers like Charles Bukowski- valued because non-artists literally can say that they could make something as good- or bad, and generally be correct. Thus the previous poster's comment.

    8 1/2 is not a great film, ala La Dolce Vita, but it's leagues above Breathless, technically, and even in narrative. It fails greatness because it's too long, convoluted, and is on the fence between the early Fellini and later ones, where excesses worked- say in Amarcord.

    Here's my 8 1/2 review:

    http://www.cosmoetica.com/B432-DES365.htm

    It was on another site, but they decided they did not want film reviews any longer.

  34. Aleema

    I find your review rather refreshing, and so close to the truth. When watching these types of films with my movie-buff peers, I often feel alienated because I do not feel the same about the movie as they do. I had a similar experience while watching Fellini's Eight and Half, and my written review pratically mirrors your own. I was estranged because almost every other review I read praised the film highly. I feel the same about Breathless as I did Eight and Half, and I am very relieved that someone else feels the same as well.

    In honesty, however, films like Eight and Half and Breathless are valued for their specific traits, rather than their overall quality. The cinematography of Breathless is what draws most of its fans — but that does not make it a good movie. I agree with you whole-heartedly in your review.

  35. Dan Schneider

    I did watch the film — thus the detail. It's arguable over what is said and to whom, but the commenter also agreed that Belmondo's referring to Seberg as a scumbag, as well.

    These types of comments are always made by fans of bad art or artists. I cannot help that you 'like' this bad film, but your liking an ugly woman does not make her Halle Berry to the rest of the world.

    Actually, watch other films, and this film will stand up even worse in comparison to better films — like the Cassavetes film I mention.

  36. Al Wheat

    Your review is neither innovative nor good. Nor influential. Not even hip. It would help if you watched the movie: In the exaggerated death scene, Belmondo-Bogart does not call Seberg “a scumbag.” It is the police who misstate his reflection on death (something like “It's a scumbag”). I hope that you do not consider these remarks bigoted or abusive. It's simply that your review lacks insight and credibility.