Jean-Luc Godard: Lights, Camera, Paradox!

Richard Brody offers a massive biography of the original auteur

Given the inordinate amount of material that had to be gathered and processed, some oversights and oversimplifications are inevitable, but some also make for unnecessary confusion. To contend that Akim Tamiroff's role in Alphaville was largely modeled on his part in Mr. Arkadin sounds shaky if this overlooks his presence in two later Welles films, Touch of Evil and The Trial. When Godard re-edited his Histoire(s) du cinéma in the mid-'90s for home-video release, Brody seems unaware that this was an obligatory move because of rights issues involving some of the clips, and when Godard showed three of its episodes at the Toronto International Film Festival, this was privately and in his hotel room—not publicly, as Brody implies.

On the other hand, it's fascinating to learn about some of Godard's wilder casting schemes, such as those involving William Faulkner and Richard Nixon. And overall, the amount of fresh information offered in Everything Is Cinema makes this hefty monument an unfailing page-turner.

"Godard's '60s"—a festival of the director's films from that decade—runs through June 5 at Film Forum. (See for schedule information.)

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