The idea of this was to delve into the unknown with cinema; instead I have fallen in love Werner Herzog’s documentary film-making. Now having seeing the majority of his modern documentaries, I feel complete. Not to say I won’t watch any of his features, I mean to, but Jean-Luc’s films have finished their course with me. I’m not bored of them, and I’m eager to watch more, though on a more lucid basis. These two films were chosen for this part (3) because I watched them fairly close together. Though my Herzog watching has been continuous.
Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World (2016)
My viewing of this film needs context, as I saw it at an independent cinema, in a theatre style screen. It was the premiere of the film, and was followed by a Q & A with director Herzog, lead by Richard Ayoade. This a nice way of seeing a film, and the first in this series that I went to see on the big screen. And that has an effect because suddenly the film becomes more pleasing on the eye. The wide screen elevates that sense of spectacle. Thus, advancing the films grand themes revolving around the modern world, and the use of the internet. It’s a passion piece, like all of Herzog’s documentaries, and each person he interviews are full of life.
There’s a bustling pace of it, where Herzog is almost squeezing all these concepts into a 90 minute period. Opening the doors and letting you walk through them. It’s darkly funny, and empathetic, like usual, yet has this real grandness to it. The topics feel larger than the arctic or a grizzly bear and the film had an impact on me because of it. A nice way to sum up is to say that I was having an existential crisis in my head whilst sat in the cinema, but also had a smile on my face.
La Chinoise (1967)
This is an experimental one from Godard. An art film to the extreme. He portrays a series of questions around liberalism and socialism in the guise of Mau, or at least that’s how I read it. And a series is a good way of putting it, because it’s a long continuation of straight shots. Symmetry at it’s highest level, with every frame being a work of art. As you’d expect from Jean-Luc the visuals are breathtaking and every second is worth screen-shotting. Yet, what does it all mean? This is a question I can’t answer, and is one of the reasons I’ve semi given up with Godard’s films. I don’t study them enough to get anything more than aesthetic appreciation from them. The themes are difficult to interpret and I find myself getting lost in translation.
Nonetheless, it’s another film I’d highly recommend, just for the interest of it. Mostly it reminded me how much I liked the first Godard film I watched, Breathless, and how much I’d like to watch it again.
Sidenote: If this was a competition between the filmmakers than Herzog would be winner. That’s probably only because I’ve only been watching his contemporary works, but I think it’s down to me really liking the guy. I once wrote a tweet saying that it would be a sad day when he died, and that was before I had seen any of his films, if that means anything.