BUSINESS OF WORDS, UK READING & GODARD: A new podcast of The Business of Words is now available at Leisure Talk Radio featuring poet Mike Dockins. You can listen to the interview on your PC or download it to your iPod or an MP3 player of your choice. Mike is the author of the collection Slouching in the Path of a Comet and a featured poet in the 2007 Best American Poetry selected by Heather McHugh. If you're in Atlanta, you might want to mark your calendar for Sept. 22 when Mike will be one of the featured poets -- along with Cecilia Woloch, Megan Volpert, Khadijah Queen and Kodac Harrison -- at Voices Carry 4. More on that soon.
I blogged a few weeks ago about featuring at the Angel Poetry reading in London this November, so I'm thrilled to announce a second reading in the UK. I will be reading at the Lewes Library in Sussex on Nov. 2. I'll have more information on this in a few weeks, but I'm excited about the invitation.
I'm still trying to recover from DBF. I slept until noon yesterday then got up and subjected myself to Jean-Luc Godard's Tout Va Bien. I'm a Godard fan (Breathless, Weekend, etc.), but Tout Va Bien is a tedious 95 minutes and it's only saving grace is Jane Fonda, who didn't want to make the movie in the first place. Godard makes the case that the revolution created in 1968 by the student/worker protests has all but disappeared by 1972. It's also a polemic about the intellectuals role in class struggle and rampant capitalism. Fonda is an American reporter married to a gone-to-seed New Wave director played by Yves Montand who directs silly and flashy commercials for television. They are taken hostage in a wildcat strike at a sausage factory and Montand and Fonda's reactions to the situation rupture their already stale marriage. Montand laments his glory days and Fonda becomes more radicalized, looking for more political stories to cover. This culminates in the movie's best scene -- a 10 minute tracking shot of cash registers ringing up merchandise at a Carrefour, the French forerunner of the Wal-Mart Superstore. Fonda wanders along taking notes, while shoppers gorge on the cheap goods and an author hawks his book on why Communism works. It's brilliantly staged.
However, the whole movie becomes a turn-off when you watch the accompanying documentary, Letter To Jane, on the Criterion edition. Shortly after filming, Fonda would make her infamous visit to North Vietnam and Godard and his producer, Jean-Pierre Gorin, decided to use photographs of her there to market the film rather than clips from Tout Va Bien. In the ultimate kiss-off to his star, Godard proceeds -- for nearly an hour -- to dissect the look on Fonda's face in a specific photograph (pictured at left) taken in Hanoi. They claim that Fonda's countenance -- false pity and feigned interest bolstered by affected idealism -- is one practiced by Hollywood bourgeois since the beginning of filmmaking. While there is an argument for movie stars who take up causes to further their careers, Fonda was not one of them. Letter To Jane is a misogynist, hyper-critical and hypocritical harangue by two intellectuals against another. See Tout Va Bien for historical context, but skip the doc.