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2 or 3 Things I Know About Her
DVD disk
Jul 17, 2009 By: Mathew Plale
2 or 3 Things I Know About Her order
Director:
Jean-Luc Godard

Actors:
Marina Vlady
Rogert Montsoret
Jean Narboni

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
In Jean-Luc Godard's 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her, consumerism, the Vietnam War, and prostitution all play a role in developing 1960s Paris.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
2 or 3 Things I Know About Her is one of Jean-Luc Godard’s last films during the French New Wave era of his career before he ventured off and directed a chunk of political films that are largely forgotten. The central plot developed from a newspaper article titled “The ‘Shooting Stars’”, which shed the red light on Parisian housewives who paraded themselves as prostitutes to help pay for her family’s rising bills. The rest stemmed from a response letter from “Stella,” one such shooting star recounting her experiences.

The Her of the title is Juliette Jeanson, a fictional call girl. The Her is also her real-life counterpart, Marina Vlady. And the Her is also, finally, the city itself. When we first see Her, Her, and Her, cranes are helping build new high-rises, an allusion to the changing future of Paris.

From here, Godard’s 1967 film is a narrow criticism of consumerism (look how eye-catching that Ajax box is!), the Vietnam War (courtesy of a toddler‘s oh-so-poetic metaphorical take on the conflict), and corporate rivalry and downfall (two women don Pan Am and TWA tote bags over their heads, blindly bumping into one another). All of these, we acknowledge, are American all over.

Maybe Godard hates America--or at least its culture. That’s okay, he’s kind of got a point here. We’re littered with advertisements and a bullying attitude. We’re better, and we’re louder about letting you know it. Our billboards are bigger, our airlines faster, and our wars have bolder headlines.

So take that, World! Vietnam was a good idea, and we had our best politicians to sell it hard! And Pan Am and TWA were hardly a setback, because we still got your smelly French ass out of the States!

But no, my sardonic tone is leading me off topic (sort of). What is Godard trying to say here? After all, he’s not only the director, but the narrator, whispering about “the substance of reality” and “jumbo-sized brainwashing.” Something about the, eh, necessity of prostitution--that much we can assume. And there are many jabs at even the idea of consumerism (and damn you for buying this new DVD, too!), and, um…culture. Yeah, culture, that word looks good in a review.

2 or 3 Things I Know About Her was shot simultaneously with Made in U.S.A., and it shows. Take the (in)famous coffee scene, where the camera fixates on the light brown bubbles in the cup, while someone gabs about something. We imagine Godard mumbling “Action” and then walking off set to tinker with his other screenplay.

Others find it symbolic. Of what? Who the hell knows. Maybe my only true delight of the whole thing--Raoul Coutard’s colorful widescreen presentation--is distracting me from The Point. We Americans, I’m tellin’ ya…
THE EXTRAS
Audio Commentary featuring film scholar Adrian Martin: In this track, recorded in 2006, Martin provides insight into the later work of Jean-Luc Godard, how 2 or 3 Things… was developed, the ideas and themes, the (in)famous coffee scene (even laughing at an out-of-focus shot), the film’s significance in the Godard canon, and more. A very good track.

Archival Footage: The first, from the television program Cinèma (7:33), features star Marina Vlady working with Godard and discussing working with the New Wave filmmaker. The second, from an episode of Zoom (13:10), has Godard debating with Jean St. Geours, a French government official, on the topics of economic woes and prostitution, two explored ideas in 2 or 3 Things…

Interview with Antoine Bourseiller (15:12): The theater director, actor, and author discusses his friendship with Godard. Bourseiller touches on Godard’s relationship with actress Anna Karina, severing ties with his close friends, his Maoist leanings, and more. A brief but personal look at Godard’s life.

2 or 3 Things: A Concordance (9:48) is a helpful featurette that observes the many references throughout the film and how they fit into the film, such as the occasional close-ups of book covers, the endless nods in the café scenes, and the final shot.

Original Theatrical Trailer.

Also included with this Criterion Collection DVD is a 16-page booklet with an essay titled “The Whole and Its Parts” by Film Comment and Sight & Sound contributing editor Amy Taubin, and the letter that inspired the film.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
2 or 3 Things I Know About Her, though highly regarded, is a jumbled look at life in 1960s Paris. Its DVD debut is likely to sell well with Godard aficionados, who will love this Criterion Collection disc, which boasts excellent features on the disc.
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