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Goodbye to Language 3D contains some impressive, if visually battering, overlapping imagery.

2 out of 4 stars

Title
Goodbye to Language 3D
Written by
Jean-Luc Godard
Directed by
Jean-Luc Godard
Starring
Héloise Godet, Kamel Abdeli, Richard Chevalier

There's an old improv drill in which students imagine they're using an object (a hammer, for instance, or a telephone). Then they're asked to find another use for that tool/object. Invariably, they end up miming the brutal assault of a classmate with the hammer or phone or whatever it is. In its stupidity, the exercise is instructive: A thing, it seems, can only ever be what it is, or a weapon to attack that exercise itself.

So it is with art-film master Jean-Luc Godard, whose movies always feel weaponized, revolting against whatever musty assumptions of the medium we may possess: that editing should be invisible, that dialogue should be comprehensible, that an ostensibly narrative film should even make sense at all.

In an irony, Godard's certainly aware of (after all, he constructed it), Goodbye is noteworthy for being shot in 3-D, a calling card of the cookie-cutter Hollywood movies it couldn't have less to do with. This results in some impressive, if visually battering, overlapping imagery, as well as a bit of sculptural full-frontal nudity.

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Compared with Captain America or whatever, Goodbye is "revolutionary." But so what? Implicit in any rhapsody for the movie is that specious idea that revolution for revolution's sake is inherently valuable – like a T-shirt that aligns silhouettes of Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao, as if they share anything beyond their clustering in a Wikipedia hierarchy.

Goodbye's free play of ideas, images and philosophical footnotes point back, in boring po-mo fashion, to nothing much more than their own referents: the idea of neoliberalism, the idea of the cinema and, most of all, the idea of Godard, himself. In its narrowness of conception and even slimmer appeal, Godard has essentially precluded any broad, radical potential, cut-and-pasting yet another late-career film collage for his stalwart base of aesthetes who like to play revolutionaries for 70 minutes at the movies.

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