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Made In U.S.A. (free)

  • Vilas Hall 821 University Avenue Madison, WI, 53706 United States (map)

As with the other summer screenings in the "Westlake On Film" series at UW Cinematheque, Made In U.S.A. (1966) is being presented here on a vivid 35mm print. This benefits Jean-Luc Godard's markedly fragmented and wacky take on Donald Westlake's crime-noir novel The Jugger, which mainly serves as a parting vehicle for the French auteur's then-soon-to-be ex-wife Anna Karina. She plays the dazzlingly dressed and wistfully photographed Paula Nelson, who investigates the disappearance of her husband Richard in Atlantic City (France, that is). To anyone who may be fond of Godard's liberal method of literary or theatrical adaptation as seen in Contempt (1963) or King Lear (1987), Made in U.S.A. will likely prove to be another darkly delirious jaunt. Once summarized as "a Looney Tunes rendition of The Big Sleep gone New Wave," Made In U.S.A. is more an inherently political statement in execution, as a rampage of historical and Marxist references persistently flood the screen, particularly in terms of character names and real-life Moroccan anti-colonialist Ben Barka. Godard himself magnifies these allusions by assuming the booming voice of Paula's husband Richard, who appears solely via tape recorder. As he rambles through notated socialist rhetoric, Paula's unraveling quest begins to turn deadly. Ultimately, the film's appeal lies not in the impenetrability of this plot, a prelude to JLG's even more radical Week End (1967), but in all the amusingly subversive visuals that envelop and lambaste Hollywood iconography in a patriotic and primary-color palette. —Grant Phipps

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