SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL (Jean Luc Godard, Britain, 1968) — 7
Does it count as a good movie if you hate an artist with a passion and he makes a film that so perfectly embodies all his myriad flaws that you find it enjoyable as an exercise in critical chuckling? In the “this is exactly the sort of crap that this fraudulent, pretentious pseudo-intellectual quack and his cult of windbag-enablers thinks is good” sense? Is there a film-criticism equivalent of Schadenfeude?
Honestly, if SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL¹ (aka ONE PLUS ONE) had been directed by (just a “for example”) me, as a parody of Godard’s work, I would consider that film one of the greatest of all time. Everything that I hate about this man’s films is here with a vengeance — the stupid pseudo-puns on the title cards,² the indifference to coherence, the desultory editing, the lengthy takes that mostly fill themselves with their own emptiness, the radical chic, the rambling on-camera preaching, the Maoist politics, the slapdash plotting rhythm.³ But I found myself … not exactly “engaged,” but critically amused in ways not unrelated to Mystery Science Theater 3000, and sometimes even interested in the material in spite of Godard’s best [sic] efforts. Honestly … if you reject Godard and all his works and all his empty promises, this is your film — it could almost be retitled SYMPATHY FOR GODARD.