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Contempt (Le Mépris)

Director – Jean-Luc Godard – 1963 – France – Cert. 15 – 103m

*****

Review originally published in What’s On In London when the film was reissued in 1996 – reprinted here to commemorate Godard’s passing on Tuesday, 13th September, 2022

Made back in 1963 in the latter days of the French New Wave, Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt (Le Mépris) anticipates J.G. Ballard’s seminal novel Crash, David Cronenberg’s controversial film of which currently awaits a British distributor. Alongside a director in a film studio (Godard casts the great Fritz Lang, who famously made the silent classic Metropolis at UFA in 1926 before a subsequent career in Hollywood on westerns and crime thrillers), Contempt boasts a central protagonist obsessed by his wife’s sexual peccadilloes, not to mention bleak, domestic, modernist architecture and mythical car crash aftermaths.

The camera lingers lovingly over the latter to George Delerue’s unforgettable and heavily romantic score, but (as apparently in Cronenberg’s Crash) pays little attention to the actual moment of impact.

It’s one of Godard’s best films and possibly his most accessible. Director Lang struggles to film The Odyssey at CineCitta with unsympathetic producer Jeremiah Prokosh (a towering Jack Palance) who waxes lyrical about life and art while seducing Camille (a stunningly contemptuous Brigitte Bardot), wife of hired screenwriter Michel Piccoli.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Souad

Director – Ayten Amin – 2021 – Egypt, Tunisia, Germany – Cert. 12a – 96m

***

Home truths are revealed about a 19-year-old, social media-obsessed, Egyptian girl in this small independent film – out in cinemas on Friday, August 27th

Starting and ending with a (different) young woman riding a bus, this slice of life drama takes a look at the lives of teenage girls in Egypt. The older generation live according to traditional, Islamic values, including the subjugation of women to men, while their younger counterparts like many Generation Z-ers around the world have more contemporary Western concerns.

For Souad (Bassant Ahmed), 19, it’s all about fashion, boys and looking cool on and off social media. Riding on the bus, she regales fellow travellers with tales of her boyfriend whose identity changes as she talks to the next woman sitting next to her. She visits a clothes shop and successfully shoplifts an item of headgear.

Having established her as either a teller of tall tales or a pathological liar, we see her giving her younger sister Rabab (Basmala Elghaiesh), 16 going on 17, a pretty unreasonable grilling when the later complains, understandably, that Souad is late picking her up.

When Souad unexpectedly vanishes from the story, her shaken sister travels to Alexandria to meet and get to know better her sister’s former boyfriend Ahmed (Hussein Ghanem) in an attempt to find out more about sides of Souad’s life she didn’t really know.… Read the rest