Monthly Archives: November 2005

La Chinoise

One of Jean-Luc Godard’s most underrated and misunderstood films, this 1967 feature isn’t so much an embrace of France’s Maoist youth movement as a multifaceted interrogation of it—far more nuanced and lively than the theoretical agitprop Godard would make with others after the May 1968 uprisings. Though it explores the dogmatism and violence of a Maoist cell in Paris, Godard is equally preocccupied by such things as French rock, the color red, the history of cinema, the “revisionism” of the French Communist Party, and the rebels’ youthful romantic longings. The spirited cast–including Anne Wiazemsky, Jean-Pierre Léaud, and Juliet Berto–make all this touching as well as troubling. The movie helped inspire student revolt at Columbia University soon afterward, but that’s a tribute to its style and energy, not its political intelligence. In French with subtitles. 96 min.… Read more »

The Lady And The Beard

Many of Yasujiro Ozu’s films have topical interest, but few are as novel as this 1931 silent comedy about the westernization of a conservative young hero. Played by Tokihiko Okada, a big star at the time, he indulges in kendo sword fighting and sports a traditional beard until he’s persuaded to lose it in order to land a job at a travel agency. Some of his classmates ridicule him, but he’s also lusted after by one of the ladies, which gives this sexy, offbeat comedy of manners part of its punch. With subtitled Japanese intertitles. 72 min. (JR)… Read more »