“From Breathless (1959) through Weekend (1968),” J. Hoberman wrote in The Village Voice in 2007, “Godard reinvented cinema.” Cinefamily’s one-week run of Weekend is the prelude to a mid-January miniretrospective unofficially documenting that reinvention.
It goes without saying that the program excludes Godard’s experimental film and video work of the past four decades, but even as a time capsule of Godard’s prolific early years, there are films glaringly absent from the lineup — Band of Outsiders and Alphaville being the most obvious, and La Chinoise, Two or Three Things I Know About Her and Made in USA being the most missed. But the six films that did make the list are certainly essential individually, and collectively they serve as a can’t-miss primer on Godard’s contribution to the French New Wave.
The selection ranges from Masculin-Feminin, the 1967 portrait of “The Children of Marx and Coca-Cola” screening Jan. 26, to Jan. 20 selection Breathless, Godard’s career-launching fractured gangster romance indebted equally to French cinéma vérité and Hollywood of the Bogart era, starring Godard’s soon-to-be mainstay Jean-Paul Belmondo and disgraced American ingenue Jean Seberg.
My favorite of the pack is Pierrot le Fou, Godard’s Technicolor treatment of mad love gone wrong, starring the filmmaker’s early-’60s wife and muse Anna Karina — who divorced Godard in 1965, shortly before Pierrot was filmed.
Each film plays one night only, on a double feature with Film Socialisme (2010), which is both Godard’s latest opus and, if the master of mixed messages is to be taken at his word, his last. We’ll have more on that film in these pages in the coming weeks. —Karina Longworth
GODARD IN THE ’60S | Jan. 20-26 | Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre | cinefamily.org