One of the many powerful things about The Image Book is how it so aggressively rejects any sort of gloss or neat packaging. The telling is the story.
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More media installation than movie, The Image Book bemoans a vapid world well into the process of disintegration, and his film is engineered to simulate that process in visceral terms.
Everything seems designed to disturb or perhaps infuriate the viewer.
The Image Book if nothing else, is inestimable, in that it defies normal estimation or assessment; to encounter a film this intransigently confrontational by an artist who shows no sign of softening will be a nightmare for many, but yes, for many a privilege and a pleasure.
Our world, in The Image Book, has finally caught up to Jean-Luc Godard’s doom-laden dream of it. He seems to be saying that we all have a choice: to change it, or to sit back in our TV armchairs and watch.
It is bewildering. I’m not sure I understood more than a fraction and of course it can be dismissed as obscurantism and mannerism. But I found The Image Book rich, disturbing and strange.
There is something quite reassuring about the fact that — infuriating as it sometimes may be — he has not lost that particular passion nor that roving eye, and that maybe, though he might not admit it, that love of images, too.
If it’s hard to understand exactly what Godard is trying to say in this brief scrapbook scamper—it clocks in at one hour, 25 minutes—just watching it is a strange, melancholy pleasure, and an open window into the world of things that worry its creator.
Make no mistake: This is an angry movie, both in form and in content.
One imagines Godard spending whole days playing with dials, switches and buttons to discover the very moments he wishes to emphasize in his clips, and a good many of them are passingly arresting.