Customer Reviews: Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard
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on November 24, 2011
I must congratulate Mr. Brody for his in-depth examination of one the the great auteurs of cinema, a man who has consistently defied convention and created a body of work unlike anyone else in his profession.

Writing about Jean Luc Godard in an exercise in exasperation because the director is deliberately elliptical, leaving his films, methods and aesthetic open to discussion and varied interpretations. Branded, alternately, a fascist sympathizer, a communist, an anarchist and everything in between, Godard continues (to this day) to work at his own pace, exploring the themes that fascinate him without apology to critics, colleagues or even his most devoted followers and acolytes.

It is very easy to look foolish when discussing an artist as fluid, ever-evolving and unabashedly personal as Godard, but Mr. Brody's book treats its subject with finesse, subtlety, erudition and respect.

A superb meditation on a cinematic master.
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Jean-Luc Godard's output has been prodigious, and this massive book by Richard Brody manages to cover most of Godard's films up to 2004 and how they relate to the auteur's life. Brody, who first came to prominence as a writer for The New Yorker, has seen every one of Godard's films, and not only does he take us from Godard's early life and first feature A BOUT DE SOUFFLE up to his then most-recent feature NOTRE MUSIQUE, but he also describes Godard's many short films and television works, some of which are little known.

Proceeding chronologically through Godard's life, Brody first describes the context for how each film was made: Godard's personal relationships with the actors or screenwriters involved, where the money for the shoot was coming from, and how the shoot itself proceeded. Without getting too in-depth -- this is fundamentally a work of biography, not of very close analysis -- Brody describes the general plot and main episodes of each of the films. Brody sometimes claims that events on screen reflect events in Godard's private (usually romantic) life, and from other reviews here these claims seem to be contentious. However, that Godard's early films mirrored his relationships with Anna Karina and Maria Vlady was noted even in the 1960s by people close to Godard, and Brody is often basing himself on published sources. (Nearly all factual claims in the book are sourced, and the book ends with a lengthy section of endnotes).

Brody finds Godard's work to be interesting and often rewarding overall, but he does not believe that every film that Godard has made is of equal value, and he sometimes mentions his preferences. He feels that Godard was at an artistic nadir in the late 1960s and early 1970s with his politically radical films (the Dziga Vertov years). Later he calls Godard's early 1980s PASSION a misstep but its successor PRENOM: CARMEN a fine work. He also notes with disdain Godard's increasing anti-semitism in the 1990s.

For any cinephile wanting an overview of Jean-Luc Godard's work and the fascinating circumstances of how Godard's imagination became films, this is currently the best reference. My only regret is that the book stops in 2004, and Godard has continued to make films in the years since.
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on September 9, 2009
if you love godard, you must have this book,by THE NEW YORKER film reviewer, richard brody.he offers an insightful biography of godard, and his influences, the reviews are in chronological order, and are MUST READS, after watching the dvds. his treatment of BREATHLESS is packed with information and astute observations. it is absolutely amazing that BREATHLESS was godard's first film. keep this book by your dvd player!
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on January 14, 2015
I was glad to get a book about Godard's work and not a boring read about early family upbringing and struggles. This will appeal to aficionados of Jean-Luc's difficult cinema. It's like having a documentary about all of his films. Brody's writing is detailed and gets to the heart of the matter, just like his New Yorker pieces. I read it slowly to savor each chapter and movie. It's a must-read for filmmakers and students of the director.
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on September 21, 2008
The thing that struck me as I read this was that Brody seems more enamored of the idea of what he thinks Godard was doing as an artist than he is with the actual films he made - at least with the films he made during the first decade or so. Colin MacCabe's Godard: A Portrait of the Artist at Seventy seems more readable and more able to see the films as something other than opaque autobiography. Needless to say either book will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about Godard's personal life, although MacCabe, unlike Brody, shows some reticence in exploring his love life.
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on June 25, 2012
"(Richard Brody's) Everything is Cinema", famous French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy is quoted as commenting on the back cover, "is better than a biography, it is a novel". Fiction, in other words. I prefer to invoke the title of a Charles Mingus composition, viz "All the things you'd be by now if Sigmund Freud's wife were your mother": Over nearly 600 pages, page by page, precisely and adoringly, emerges the profile of a total neurotic, a mysogenist misanthrope, a miser.

A bit of a private life component may be the spice of a biography, but if nothing else but his private (ie off-screen) life is advanced to determine and explain all of Godard's films and video activities, the reader tires rather quickly: In the end, Le mépris (1963) is an excellent and intelligent film because Alberto Moravia's underlying novel is great (sociological rather than psychological) analysis, and Godard a skilled and innovative metteur en scene.

Some things are irrelevant, like his failed alliance with a relatively more mature Marina Vlady - Anne-Marie Miéville, the author rightly remarks, will be the first and only of Godard's women of equal caliber. And whether Godard held hands with Brigitte Bardot walking up the stairs of Curzio Malaparte's avant-gardist villa is about as irrelevant as his "accusation" of François Truffaut of having had a candid affair with Jacqueline Bisset during the turning of La nuit américaine (1973), and not showing it in that movie... ("how come only the director has no affair in that film?").

Brody's method of endless narration makes it difficult for him, and subsequently the reader, to in any defined way assess the weight/quality of Godard's individual films. This is perhaps the main weakness of the book. Also, it contains a series of factual errors in the assessment of the bitter feud with Truffaut, which (as can be read up in the latter's many biographies) was basically instigated by Godard's vile and foul sneering. Truffaut was not the only one who got that treatment, but he is the one who most decidedly stood up against the intellectual smear campaign.

Not an easy subject; a wealth of material, well written without any doubt, but still: not going anywhere in particular.

fbus 37 - Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard by Richard Brody - 26/6/2012
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on January 12, 2009
An excellent overview of the life and work of Godard. Although some may quibble at elements of Brody's approach, it would be impossible to write a book on Godard that pleases everyone. Brody's work is an interesting companion to Colin MacCabe's biography, published a few years back. Read both, watch the films and Godard will mean what he means as you stare out from within your human skull.

Dark Windows
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on December 2, 2015
Great product... great seller, hope to do nussines in the future... thanks :)
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on June 17, 2015
Dedicated, passionate, illuminating portrait of a body of work in motion.
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on October 12, 2008
Excellent portrait of JLG & the complexities & foibles of a person driven
to question the very form of filmaking. Thoroughly engrossing read, written in an easy flowing style without the inflections of worship or prejudice. A primary source for the understanding of a demanding intellect & a fascinating insight to private life/public art manifestation. Thoroughly recomended.
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