Gangster philosopher, king of celluloid cool, anti-capitalist dynamo. Before hitting terminal velocity and detonating the entire medium in 1967’s Week-End’s cannibal apocalypse, Jean-Luc Godard rocked cinema with a recklessly inventive seven-year burst of 15 films. Three of them are here.
Shot in steely black-and-white, chic pseudo-doc Vivre Sa Vie (1962) follows Anna “Mrs Godard” Karina – a bored married woman who dreams of being an actress but winds up a whore – with utter rapture. It’s daring, autobiographical, allusive, illusive... and strangely touching. Pre-Dogme teen pic Masculin, Féminin (1966) goes one better with a Swedish grot-flick parody of Bergman’s The Silence, as “the children of Marx and Coca-Cola” (communist Jean-Pierre Léaud and real-life pop singer Chantal Goya) chat endlessly about sex, politics, sex, pop culture and sex. Hardest work, and the most rewarding, is Two Or Three Things I Know About Her (1966). Swinging in on Brechtian quote-marks, Godard whispers daft and dazzling ideas about language, consumerism, image, politics and ‘Nam. Wait for the staggering espresso cup close-up. Cosmic coffee? It could only be JLG.