Joy of Learning ★★★

My starting point with any Godard movie is that he's 50% full of shit and 50% of the rest is worth engaging with, and most of the stuff in this register is so dense with ideas my MO is to just let the shit stuff (like his sloppy wet embrace of Mao or calls to bomb movie theatres for dubbing films or gratuitous use of nudity) pass you by and engage with the interesting stuff. It's interesting watching this in our current climate, as while questions of the role of art in a time of political struggle are perhaps evergreen, they feel particularly trenchant now. And yet there seems an abyss between Godard's "get on the front lines" rallying cries and the unfriendliness of the form he's chosen. (Something like half the movie, if not more, consists of a man and a woman talking on a soundstage, and when I say talking I don't mean MY DINNER WITH ANDRE but MY EXISTENTIAL PURGATORY WITH AGIT-PROP.)

With a film this thorny, it's almost a random draw which thorn might stick in your side, but for me it's this one: "From now on we no longer believe in blatant truths ... blatant truths belong to the bourgeoisie." I've been thinking a lot about truth lately, and how when I was growing up it was the conservatives who were lamenting the demise of objective truth as perpetuated by liberal college professors and the like. In our current condition, where strategic, demonstrable lying is the intentional methodology of the American President, I wonder about the things that the left let go of, and how their inability to reclaim them now is on account of the actions of the past. And how the actions of the present will inform the actions of the future.

Godard may not have foreseen all of that, but as this movie shows, he foresaw a lot. And for as dated and intermittently tedious as this film is, it's still more engaged than most anything being made today, and that's worth something.