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A Missive from the Master 

Upon seeing Film Socialisme, you will belong to one of three camps -- those who walk out after seventeen minutes in disgust, those who are flummoxed but politely stay till the end, and those who "get it." There is both nothing and everything to "get" in this perfectly discombobulated and nonsensical essay on European imperialism in three movements (or A Supposedly Fun Thing We'll Never Watch Again). Cinema is dead, says director Jean-Luc Godard, and here's proof: English subtitles only illuminate a third of what is said onscreen; the fractured missives tumble across snippets of a banal cruise ship voyage, a llama at a petrol station, a girl meowing at YouTube, and Patti Smith, all of these interspliced with shots of exquisite bodies of water and glitchy camera-phone video. But there is genius here too: The sparse subtitles offer glimpses into Godard's leftist agenda ("AIDS is a tool for killing Blacks"), and he weaves a living historiography of Europe (4 August 1789, 1839 Palestine) in punchy non sequiturs ("Strange thing, cinema. Jesus invented it"), and wrenching shards such as "discover war once, life several times." Imposing as it is isolationist, you'll be glad you stayed, even if you never know why you did. Film Socialisme screens at 3:30 p.m. Saturday and at 8:30 p.m. Sunday (November 19 and 20) at Plaza Frontenac Cinema (1701 South Lindbergh Boulevard; www.cinemastlouis.org). Admission is $10 to $12.
Sat., Nov. 19; Sun., Nov. 20, 2011

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