Random Film Monday: MEETIN’ WA (Jean-Luc Godard, 1986)

meetinwa

By 1986, Woody Allen was still going strong, while Godard had comfortably started to share his faux hatred of cinema. Why would the latter direct a 25-minute interview with
former? Meetin’ WA was made in place of a Woody Allen press conference that was to follow his Cannes premiere of Hannah and Her Sisters that year. It is a curious anomaly, but neither a short film nor an interview. It is impossible to remember anything they talk about – it is also hard to even care about whatever they talk about.

Both men are similar in appearance. They both have roughly the same amount of hair on their head, wear glasses, dress similarly and embody the same type of intellectual character. But Godard comes across as more loose and irreverent, while Allen is awkward and soft-spoken. Neither man appears to be too interested in the project, and both are perhaps a little disappointed with by the meeting.

Of course, this Godard once again is obsessed by the theme of communication or lack of thereof. The exposes the farce of the interview format by putting on clownish poses while asking Allen question. Allen can barely follow the reasoning behind these questions, which is perfectly understandable, and his answers are cut short or stopped abruptly in post-production. Even the cinematic language is messed around with – not only with its editing but also the camerawork, with random zooms and awkward camera angles, evidently breaking some of the most basic rules of filmmaking.

In between, Godard recites some monologues in a letter form to Allen, addressing him as “my old friend,” even though the two have never met before and perhaps never will again. But these are also close to being ramblings of a madman, and it would not be out of place to ask yourself once again whether Godard even cares.

We must not forget, however, that this film was made to be screened in Cannes as a replacement for a press conference, and this is a significant consideration, given Allen’s disdain for competition in film (his pictures have never been screened in competition of film festivals and he has refused to accept awards for them in the past), while Godard hates… well, everything, it would seem.

Cannes also famously elevates “stars” above films themselves, so perhaps the beauty of this forgotten Meetin’ WA is that it shows how uninteresting even the greatest of auteurs are compared to their films.

Meetin’ WA (1986) from cinematheia on Vimeo.

 

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