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Masculin Feminin (The Criterion Collection)

Jean-Pierre Léaud , Chantal Goya , Jean-Luc Godard    Unrated   DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Juxtaposing images of pristine, romantic innocence with ones of mute, meaningless violence, Godard's Masculin-Féminin first lulls with a hypnotic, disjointed story line and then stuns with scenes of tremendous depth and meaning. This outrageous film follows the somewhat ineffectual courtship of Madeline, an aspiring pop singer, by Paul, an erstwhile journalist and interviewer but mostly groundless searcher. As in most Godard films, plot mechanics are secondary to elements such as dialog (generally marvelous, but sometimes a bit too pointed), lighting (bizarre and oversaturated, but never less than fascinating), shot framing (extraordinarily thoughtful), and performance. Godard allows his camera to linger on single faces, without cutting, for what seems by modern standards to be extremely long segments--perhaps even excruciatingly long--but the remarkably subtle cast members never disappoint, particularly the fantastically adept and frequently hilarious lead actors, Jean-Pierre Léaud and Chantal Goya. The filmmaker has little to add to our collective understanding of the relationship between masculine et feminine writ large; in fact, most of the female characters are uncomfortably stereotypical, framed as either willfully oblivious to the world or subtly (or overtly) deadly. But as an examination of a young generation faced with the prospect of war in Vietnam and the vagaries of French socialism, Masculin-Féminin proves remorselessly and chillingly trenchant. A towering influence, it would seem, on Whit Stillman's similarly themed Barcelona--but while Stillman lacks the conviction to follow his instincts to their logical, violent conclusions, Godard faces his uncompromising story with elegance and courage. In French, with subtitles that are occasionally difficult to read. --Miles Bethany

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5.0 out of 5 stars Lost Generation of 1960's Dec 15 2003
Format:VHS Tape
My favorite Godard film is Pierrot Le Fou and Masculine/Feminine is usually considered alongside Pierrot because the two films do make for an interesting contrast. Pierrot Le Fou is the romantics Godard film and Masculine/Feminine is the realists Godard film. Both films deal with disaffected people at two different times in life. Pierrot stars Belmondo and Karina as disaffected adults -- when the two meet Belmondo is already married but Karina gives him an excuse to abandon his boring bourgeoisie existence and head off on a road trip where he learns through the helpful example of Karina what true freedom is. Maculine/Feminine -- starring Leaud and Goya -- is about younger people disaffected by their mundane lives but neither really knows what to do about it. They each have vague dreams but neither has much direction or any real hope and their time together leads neither toward any increased self-awareness. Pierrot Le Fou is filmed outside in the sun by the sea and the atmosphere inspires the characters who attempt to communicate but who for the most part remain trapped within themselves and their own private relationship with the world -- even though the two characters remain at an unclosable distance from one another there is a sense of shared adventure that gives the film its romantic feel. Ultimately in Pierrot le Fou increased freedom also means increased self-awareness and increased awareness of each persons singular nature so the film moves inexorably toward a tragic end. Masculine/Feminine takes place primarily indoors and there is no sense of adventure but rather one of the world closing in as they try to come to grips with what that unavoidable world they are confronted with is all about. Read more ›
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Format:VHS Tape
A great movie. An interesting stop in Godard's career. A pseudo-revolutionary and a pop singer have an odd relationship. It is worth it to watch this one alongside "Pierrot Le Fou," because the two movies are different yet at the same time quite fluid. In fact, if this one does not hook you, I would give "Pierrot" a try and then come back to "Masculin/Feminin." Jean-Pierre Leaud (from The 400 Blows) is particularly excellent in this film.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lost Generation of 1960's Dec 15 2003
By Doug Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
My favorite Godard film is Pierrot Le Fou and Masculine/Feminine is usually considered alongside Pierrot because the two films do make for an interesting contrast. Pierrot Le Fou is the romantics Godard film and Masculine/Feminine is the realists Godard film. Both films deal with disaffected people at two different times in life. Pierrot stars Belmondo and Karina as disaffected adults -- when the two meet Belmondo is already married but Karina gives him an excuse to abandon his boring bourgeoisie existence and head off on a road trip where he learns through the helpful example of Karina what true freedom is. Maculine/Feminine -- starring Leaud and Goya -- is about younger people disaffected by their mundane lives but neither really knows what to do about it. They each have vague dreams but neither has much direction or any real hope and their time together leads neither toward any increased self-awareness. Pierrot Le Fou is filmed outside in the sun by the sea and the atmosphere inspires the characters who attempt to communicate but who for the most part remain trapped within themselves and their own private relationship with the world -- even though the two characters remain at an unclosable distance from one another there is a sense of shared adventure that gives the film its romantic feel. Ultimately in Pierrot le Fou increased freedom also means increased self-awareness and increased awareness of each persons singular nature so the film moves inexorably toward a tragic end. Masculine/Feminine takes place primarily indoors and there is no sense of adventure but rather one of the world closing in as they try to come to grips with what that unavoidable world they are confronted with is all about. Even though Masc/Fem is about younger people these are people who live in the real world whether they want to or not. These two films as another reviewer mentioned make excellent companion pieces -- interesting to see Godards treatment of disaffected people from two perspectives, the poetic and the realist. At this phase in Godards career he was not overtly political but politics plays an increasing role in the way his characters relate to each other and feel about the world, especially in Masc/Fem where the masculine half of that equation shows a flicker or two of a growing political consciousness . In later films Godard will develop his own political ideas but this phase in his career remains my favorite. If the New Wave is all about the disaffected lost generation of the sixties then Godard is that generations Hemingway.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the children of marx and coca cola on the big screen March 12 2003
By Sarah_Aliza - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
A great movie. An interesting stop in Godard's career. A pseudo-revolutionary and a pop singer have an odd relationship. It is worth it to watch this one alongside "Pierrot Le Fou," because the two movies are different yet at the same time quite fluid. In fact, if this one does not hook you, I would give "Pierrot" a try and then come back to "Masculin/Feminin." Jean-Pierre Leaud (from The 400 Blows) is particularly excellent in this film.
25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The French "New Wave" at its height Aug. 12 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
Amazon's review is right on the money concerning this film.
What I would add is that this film best shows the change that female sexual liberation had on society. The boy, totally in love, has nothing of value to give to a girl who considers sex an everyday occurance -- a big change from the going-steady days of the late fifties and early sixties when sex was the culmination of a protracted courtship. The masculine and feminine roles changed forever and continue so to this day. Goddard was there first. In 1966, this film was cutting edge. In 1999 it remains an important work with a lot to say to the present generation concerning the battle of the sexes that has, apparently, been won for good by the ladies.
I saw it in 1966 on a first date with a very conservative girl who was convinced after we left the theatre that I was a sex pervert. Unfortunately for me she was as yet unwashed by the New Wave.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Boy Meets Girl Feb. 11 2005
By MICHAEL ACUNA - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
Jean-Luc Godard's "Masculine -Feminine" first opened in Los Angeles 38 years ago but it's charms and timeless tenderness are as insinuating and thoughtful as they were in 1966.

Jean-Pierre Leaud as Paul, Godard's hero is passionately in love with Madeleine (Chantal Goya) but Paul is also passionately in hate of the war in Vietnam and the De Gaulle government. Godard is making a love story but he is making it in the real world of France, 1966: student riots, a world that Godard describes as "the world of the children of Marx and Coca Cola."

Godard is not making a docudrama though and he lets us know this with his formal structuring of the plot: he divides Paul's story into chapters to make sure we understand that this is a movie that we are watching and that he is a film maker arranging and conducting the scenes.

Despite all this though: Godard has made a thoughtful and touching film about fervent young love and the blind, maybe even mis-guided righteousness of the young and foolish.

"Masculine-Feminine" is real and superbly made and it a pleasure to re-discover it's many charms and to experience once again it's enchanting and vulnerable love story.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The innocence of sex Nov. 6 2005
By G. A. Kaufman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Excellent movie. Jean-Pierre Leaud is playing the same insecure but dogmatic, innocent but manipulator, sex-obsessed but sex-ignorant character that he played so well for Truffaut, and he fits perfectly in this story as well. He as Paul falls crazily in love with Madeleine, who is insecure but open-minded, innocent but risk-aware, sex-interested but also sex-ignorant enough to be afraid about being - and to get - pregnant.

The script of the 60s is there: the young discover affluence and idealism, light entertainment with the heavy duty of changing the world, and exploration of sexual freedom. Boy-meets-girl and discover a new, uncertain world together.

Simply delicious...
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