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May 31, 2011


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"When the very act of trying to talk about a shot in FS, or questioning a prejudice built-in to a review, or someone posting the entire film with more thorough subtitles allowing the viewer to judge for themselves is censoriously called an act of "trolling", then we're at an impasse where responses are pointless. You might as well go all the way Glenn: you have my permission to delete my comments."

Andy, it's your combative and defensive tone, and the fact that you basically do the same to Glenn as you accuse Glenn of doing to Godard. You write that Glenn's review is "insensitive and idiotic" for not mentioning a sequence you feel merits discussion, and go on to impute intentionality to this failure - which basically means you're saying Glenn's review is disingenuous on top of everything else. So which is it? Disingenuous or just plain stupid? I think you have to choose here.

Did you ever stop think that maybe Glenn just didn't notice the moment of correspondence between sound and imagery that you go on to discuss? Or maybe that Glenn sees that moment, or, for that matter, the whole film differently? And, moreover, that this doesn't have to mean Glenn is prejudiced? That it could just as well signal a mere difference of opinion about the film?

You just don't seem to want to allow this possibility, and that's what makes it so difficult to discuss this matter with you.


Correction: rereading Glenn's piece I find he doesn't even bring up the Hollywood-founded-by-Jews bit... so it's JUST A.O. Scott.


Edo, look at Brody's review here: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/movies/2011/06/film-socialisme-humanism-and-paranoia.html

Here's Glenn Kenny: "The narrator, such as he is, informs us that his name is "Goldberg" and that this translates into "Gold mountain." Yeah, Jean-Luc, we get it. There's another bit later on with a reflection that Hollywood was "started by Jews," but this point, too, drifts off, as the focus turns more ostensibly anti-Zionist than anti-Semitic (I do believe there is a difference, and also, it should go without saying, that these are not two stances that work well together), but it doesn't matter because we're all kind of irritated now anyway."

Here's Keith Uhlich in Time Out New York: "And save for some muddled swipes at Zionism—a miserly black hat called Goldberg has his name translated to “Gold Mountain” (haw, haw)—he’s fully on his game."

Here's Leo Goldsmith at Reverse Shot: "For example, one aside about a Jew”-ish” businessman named Goldberg (or “gold mountain”) stands out for some critics as a possible anti-Semitic dig against Hollywood Jews."

In regards to someone subtitling the film, would someone like Godard who has said, "un auteur n'a aucun droit. Je n'ai aucun droit" ("an author has no rights. I have no rights.") care if someone did that?


I'm not disputing that critics discuss it. I'm disputing that American critics are somehow obsessive over it. Five critics does not a social psychological phenomenon make, especially when Keith mentions it as a swipe against Zionism, not Jews in general; when Goldsmith cites it as a view of "some critics", implying that he does not share this view, or at least does not want to commit to it.

Glenn, A.O. Scott, and Brody are the only ones to deal with the issue as such, and I really can't bring myself to see the way that the three engage with the question as being obsessive, prejudiced, or disingenuous...

Gabe Klinger

"But I don't like your tone much, so I'd rather not bother with you at all."

Ha! You're hilarious, Glenn. Fill up the place with your condescending bullshit, and then weasel out of a real discussion by calling someone out on the same.

I do believe that you got served rather eloquently by Mr. Rector. I didn't think someone could walk themselves into a corner with the "Godard is not capable of a kumbaya moment" argument, and then lo and behold... Andy countered some pretty persuasive stuff, I have to admit, and YOU have to admit, Glenn. But... you seem incapable of that.

Ted and Andy have made a point, backed with consistent and substantial evidence from the film itself, on how Glenn's interpretation -- that Godard is somehow "daring" us to think he is an anti-Semite -- is just.... somewhat misguided. The point is not to produce irritation, or to suggest issues and then back out of them: no, Godard is a big boy, he can assert, and make a point. He's not an moron provocateur like Lars von Trier (now *that* was an empty provocation)... Another thing would be for Glenn to say Godard attempts to make the point, and botches it (Michael Sicinski suggested this is in a very thoughtful review). But Glenn seems to argue that Godard's point is the actual dare, the provocation (I mean, isn't it clear that there is no evidence of anti-Semitism when everything in the film is put into context, rendering the idea of such a "dare" completely null?).

This idea of provocation in Godard completely misconstrues the intention and discounts the filmmaker's intelligence (see Ted's point about Africa); it's almost as if Glenn were defaulting on a moot point -- or a non-issue, as Ted said -- for lack of anything else to say. Sorry, but this idea of Godard's cinema as a dare is not interesting criticism, Glenn. It implies that Godard doesn't have a political bone in his body, doesn't care about Israel-Palestine (except coldly from a distance), and that he is simply pulling stuff out of his arse. (Andy's observations on the acrobats, Joan Baez song, and the Hebrew-Arabic superimposition, on the other hand, are rather interesting and contribute to a defense of Godard as a humanist filmmaker.)

I can see why Ted and Andy might be weary of hearing arguments like the one Glenn makes in his review. That at least explains (although doesn't justify) the tone of condescension. NOW: Why you would want to punch them or tell them to f*ck off, Glenn, for scrutinizing your thought process, or for challenging you in a manner similar to the way you continually challenge others, is completely beyond my comprehension.

Victor Morton

Hey ...

Anyone notice that one of the critics named is "Goldsmith," which means ... uh, goldsmith, but is Jewish. And that another of the critics is named is "Uhlich," a variant of a German name meaning "powerful and wealthy." The Jew and the German, now locked in their joint desire to oppress St. Jean-Luc.

And that all this dragging the name of St. Jean-Luc through the mud is the fault of "Brody," a man whose name is the Gaelic for "muddy ditch." And the venue is the site of a man named Kenny, another Irish name, meaning "born of fire" like the fire that does the gold smith's work in running interference for the Ulrichkeit.



Glenn Kenny

Gee, Gabe, does this mean we're not going to try to have coffee the next time you're in town?

You don't like my condescending bullshit, then don't read my blog. I know that's the weasel's way out, but that's the way it is. If all it is is bullshit, then why are you and Rector and Ted and the rest of the very small squadron of the Godard police trying to turn my head around, or is it just Edo's soul they're trying to save? I won't condescend to criticize your use "arse;" and as to why I would deign to express my irritation with their tone, it's because I was irritated by their tone, first off, and yes, it's because they're taking issue with me for describing my experience of the film in its release version as opposed to deciphering the hieroglyphics that would allow me to discover that not only does Godard REALLY LOVE the Jews, but that he also believes in Santa Claus. And the whole "Christy Lemire is more interesting/Godard doesn't need admirers like YOU" subtheme is not adolescent in the least. I'm not going to bother to stick up for the heavy lifting I've done on more than one occasion with respect to Godard's work; longtime readers of the blog know and remember it. What I'm really interested in knowing Gabe, is just what Ted, and Rector, and now you want from me? To turn around and say, "I was wrong; Godard and anti-semitism IS a non-issue; his every pronouncement is pure and principled and true?" I don't think that's it. But indulge me; I'm curious.


Well, to go back to my original question: "I'm also curious Glenn why you followed suit with all the other New York critics in not discussing the lines to which the line "Yes...but the strange thing is that Hollywood was invented by Jews," is a response to."

I wanted to know why you felt that that should be left out, why you don't feel that line needs contextualization. Why you thought it should simply be dismissed as unfocused anti-Zionism.

I'm not questioning your liking of the film, I'm wondering why you felt that anti-Semitism should be brought up in a review of this film. I went ahead and concluded that the non-subtitling of the film plus you not looking up real subtitles resulted in a misunderstanding on your part. Since "Godard expert" Richard Brody played up the same point, it probably seemed like it had some legitimacy. I may have over-generalized when I said "the American critics" or "all the New York critics" have expounded this claim, but I think enough people have done so to make it a talking point and I feel that it diverts attention away from things that are actual at stake in the film.

Glenn Kenny

Okay, Ted. Since you've gone to the trouble to frame your question in a different way than it was first formulated, let me try and give it an answer:What I'm discussing in my review, which was based on notes I took and a blog post I wrote up when I saw it at the New York Film Festival, is my immediate response to the picture and to certain aspects of it. The issue or "non-issue" of Godard's ostensible anti-semitism is not something that formed in a vacuum. There's the Brasillach material in "Eloge," for instance, and regardless of how you think it actually signifies, I would argue that, yes, there's at the very least an element of provocation to it. There's also the relentless hammering of Spielberg in that same film. Yes, I know that one needn't be an anti-semite to hate Spielberg, but in the context of what's going on in that film, certain inferences can be made. I actually don't believe that the line I cited really benefits from the contextualization you're insisting it needs. Neil Gabler's book and thesis notwithstanding, the notion that the Jews "invented" Hollywood is arguable at best and very, very murky at worst (it begs the question of what we mean when we say "Hollywood" and where the likes of non-Jews such as Griffith and DeMille and Edison fit into that formulation).

I don't think we're ever going to agree here; I do believe there are at the very least some unpleasant biases underlying some of Godard's thinking; you seem to be arguing that everything he's putting out there just makes good common sense. I'm sorry if the tone of my responses to you seemed out of balance to the tone you took. I don't want to indulge in special pleading for my reviews, but this was a piece for a mass-market website, which I imagine you might argue makes it all the more egregious; that I'm selling Godard as an anti-Semite to a mass audience. That was not my intention, and I don't think the unpleasant things in Godard's work invalidate it, or mean he ought to be shunned. Quite the opposite. I believe he's as important and vital as Griffith and Welles, and have always thought that.

Gabe Klinger

Sorry, Glenn -- it's certainly not personal. It's just been an uphill battle with Godard on this issue and I suppose we -- the Godard police, as you have dubbed us (affectionately, no doubt) -- are a bit tired of it. To borrow a word that Noam Chomsky likes to use a lot, I would like for it to be *uncontroversially* known that Godard is not an anti-Semite (or pretending to be one, or daring to be one, whichever it is). But, hey, Godard is not making the argument easier for us, and he doesn't have a crafty P.R. agent to run his musings by... That's the battle.

Anyway, certainly you don't have to remind me about the heavy-lifting you have done for Godard. Your PIERROT LE FOU breakdown is amazing, to cite one example... So no disrespect. I wish all parties had entered into this thread differently. More constructive arguments await.

As I mentioned to you privately, I am spilling my guts on FILM SOCIALISME in the form of a 3000 word review for a certain British magazine. I welcome your (and others') scrutiny when that's in newsstands this summer.

David Ehrenstein

Gleen, as far as I'm concerned you don't have to so much as mention Jean-Luc Godard ever again. It's far too taxing for you dear.

Kino Slang

Look at the little cornered dog slug his tail between his legs and finally address his own bad faith (edo: disingenuous) distortions! Is this how I'm supposed to write in Kenny's Komment Korner? All Godard aside, fuck you for that last comment "@" me. Gabe: you plan to have future coffees with this slob?


I think we're all missing the most amusing part of this unusually harsh bit of quarreling: Kino's conflation of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. If you're going to use an obnoxious assertion of cultural capital in service of a larger point, you'd better at least get your references straight. Other than that, I don't really have a dog in this fight because I haven't seen the film. Fun discussion though!

Kino Slang

Interesting stuff on "Goldberg" (et al, FILM SOCIALISME Annotated): http://www.movingimagesource.us/articles/film-socialisme-annotated-20110607 -
Nothing about the tone of voice in which name is pronounced though.

Thanks Frank, and sorry. It is amusing, but not an erreur tragique.

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