Friday, August 12, 2011
These are all the films of Godard’s that made the top 1000 in our 2011 update of the Top Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls. He place third with overall titles, tied with Bergman at 12, behind Hitchcock and Scorsese, and down from 16 in 2009, so he’s actually had four titles fall out of the top 1000. But then, with only 1 in the top 100, he's tied with about 60 others there; compare that with Kubrick's six.
1. Contempt (1963) #89
2. Pierrot le fou (1965) #124
3. Masculine-Feminine (1966) #126
4. Breathless (1959) #159
5. My Life to Live (Vivre sa vie) (1963) #171
6. Band of Outsiders (Bande à part, 1964) bw #268
7. Week-End (1967) #304
8. Two or Three Things I Know About Her (1966) #341
9. Alphaville (1965) #544
10. A Woman is a Woman (1961) #712
11. Passion (1982) #951
12. Sauve qui peut (la vie) (1980) #976
Not my favorite canonical director (though at least interesting), I hope he loses four over the next two years as well and he’ll be down where he more appropriately belongs. Many of his films are two hour discourses about the same thing, usually leftists reading propaganda (not that there's anything wrong with revolution! just do it, don't read a prepared statement about it - viva Che!), or sometimes people just telling you about themselves (Two or Three Things) – boring! But then, "your results may vary", lol..
Apparently others don’t think so. In fact, his top ranked film here, Contempt, is two hours of mostly silent brooding, and perfectly fits the archetype of what I don’t like about Godard – I personally think he wastes film footage and makes the creative process as easy as possible for himself by singles takes and not much editing and long scenes where not much happens. Most of these look like they were made in a few days – see Two or Three Things I Know About Her, Week-End (which is dreadful to sit through in a theater), Alphaville, and A Woman Is a Woman for more examples, if you have some time to kill. (I'd rather be having a root canal than sit through Week-End again)
A few films however, appear fresh and lively by comparison. I especially liked Band of Outsiders and Breathless – each were classic b&w films with a vitality usually lacking in Godard, these actually have pace and move like a good film should. These films may give the filmgoer a wrong impression of his overall work however, as he quickly moved from these faster-paced stories to the films with no stories, only long discourses. I received plenty of school lectures growing up, I don’t need them in films as well, not even in documentaries. Godard will be a acquired taste at best for most film fans, I find most of these more on the pretentious than artistic side of the scale.
One interesting film that didn’t make the top 1000 is better than most of these that did, Le Petit Soldat (1960), which has a journalistic and gritty style through most of its fast moving story, then disintegrates into political rhetoric. It’s about Algerian agents operating in Switzerland against France and trying to avoid capture from intelligence agents. It almost has a John Le Carré feel to it.
See the full list of top ranked 100 directors here: Top Ranked 100 Directors, 2011 Edition