Thursday, July 02, 2009

A Short Response to Jonathan Rosenbaum's Recent CINEMA SCOPE Column

In the most recent issue of Cinema Scope, which should be hitting newsstands soon, Jonathan Rosenbaum was kind enough to single out some recent Masters of Cinema Series releases for praise and comment. You can read the column here — scroll down to somewhere around the middle of the piece to get to the MoC-related section.

I need to respond to one section in particular. Rosenbaum writes:

"In all three cases, it seems that many pertinent contributions are being made to scholarship, which makes me all the more regretful that Keller, who outdoes himself on Une femme mariée, can’t always distinguish between writing and blogging, and winds up raising perhaps even more questions, issues, and outright puzzles than he settles. Consider only the incoherent music credits that he offers on page 2, which list “Louis [sic] Beethoven,” “Dave Brubeck,” and “Claude Nougaro who turned ‘Blue Rondo à la Turk’ into ‘A bout de souffle.’” Come again? Even if he’s simply pulling our legs here in some elaborate fashion, it would be helpful to know how and why."

Rosenbaum seems to imply that one difference between "writing" and "blogging" is that the latter consists of playing fast-and-funny with the facts, whereby one indulges in following a notion to its (potentially non-)conclusion; whereas the former will exude a scholarly sobriety and exhibit a feeling that everything is explainable, that the artwork can ultimately be controlled. In "writing," the Critical Voice stakes its claim as authority — the artwork posited as a kind of mathematical conundrum or occurrence in the world, awaiting its own solution from the entity in 3D-space who can condition order... Such a delineation of Art and Criticism has never seemed too real, or really important, to me...

But there are some very simple reasons for the presentation of the Une femme mariée music credits in the book.

••• "Louis Beethoven" because that's how Godard presents it in the film credits; because everyone knows he's referring to "Ludwig van Beethoven"; because "Louis" is the French 'version' of "Ludwig"; because Une femme mariée takes place in a world where Louis XIV and Louis Armstrong both still exist — side-by-side; and because for Godard there's no delineation between 'high-art music' (Ludwig van Beethoven) and 'popular music' (Louis Armstrong).

••• "Dave Brubeck" because an arrangement of his composition "Three to Get Ready" from the famous Take Five album plays on the soundtrack in the film.

••• "Claude Nougaro who turned 'Blue Rondo à la Turk' into 'A bout de souffle' " — because Nougaro is also listed in the film's opening credits (and to whom the rearrangement of "Three to Get Ready" can likely be attributed); and because one of his most famous pieces is a rearrangement, with lyric, of Brubeck's "Blue Rondo à la Turk" (also from Take Five), which Nougaro then retitled — in homage to Godard — "A bout de souffle", the French title of Godard's first feature, Breathless, from '59. Everything comes full-circle.

So no leg-pulling, it can be blogged.

Une femme mariée, fragments d'un film tourné en 1964 et noir et blanc [A Married Woman: Fragments of a Film Shot in 1964 in Black and White] by Jean-Luc Godard, 1964:


1 comment:

  1. A good answer, both Godardian and to the point.
    Miguel Marías


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