12 February 2009 | Quinoa1984
it's not a comedy, it's not a drama, it's a 80s period Godard film... VERY 80's in fact
As usual the one thing to predict with Jean-Luc Godard is that he'll be unpredictable in maniacal and poetic ways. Luckily this isn't quite as holy-hell-what-in-sweet-Jebuz's-name-is-this like King Lear, which he also made that year. One might call it low-key if it weren't trying to be both zany or intensely deep. At the least, and if nothing else this is a plus, one can kind of follow what little of a story is going on here. Godard himself plays "The Prince", aka "The Idiot" out of Dostoyevky's novel, and oddly enough when Dostoyevsky's classic comes up as one of Godard's rumination-narrations it actually comes off interesting, for, well, all of two minutes. He's a filmmaker looking for financing for a project and takes a flight somewhere on a small plane. Meanwhile, a very, VERY 1980s rock/pop/techno band is working on a new album. And meanwhile, some menial worker who is a part-time caddy is going through some heartbreak and constantly has a dance with a naked woman who isn't really there.
So, as usual, that's the best one can gather from Godard is a cliff-notes summary. Since it is the name of the game that Godard will have his barrage of poetic thoughts and pondering, mostly about death and being in a certain place in time, and some of them fall totally flat with me (and I love poetry, and can usually dig Godard's sense of poetry, but here it's only marginally not as bad as his other late 80s work). The thing that makes it not as boring as it might have been, aside from the random shots of the man with the naked woman dancing, is the rock band. I've never heard them or seen them before, but they work very well when Godard cuts to them. In a sense this makes it like a companion, if not sequel, to Sympathy for the Devil which was Godard following the Rolling Stones in the recording studio putting together their hit.
Keep Your Right Up is not as good or interesting as that, even just as a piece of technical film-making; Godard is still terrific when it comes to compositions, but there isn't the same wonderment as in seeing tracking shots around the Rolling Stones. In this case it works just because of an unfamiliarity with the musicians and the music- some of it is kind of weak or just too slow, like a French Joy Division, some of it really, really good, like foot-tap kind of work. One almost wishes Godard would focus on just one thing and stick with it, but as is the way with a cranky and stubborn poet-madman of the French new-wave in his 50s it's his way or the existential highway. It's definitely not the worst he's done, nor the best... it's just 'there', more for die-hards than anyone else. 5.5/10