Jim Dooley’s review published on Letterboxd:
There are truly spectacular movies out there that cause people to say, “You MUST SEE this!” The phrase means that the movie is so exciting, absorbing, or just plain cool that you’ll be blown away and highly entertained.
Then there are the movies that are recommended to me with the phrase, “You SHOULD SEE this.” That means it is a difficult show and that I’ll need to constantly work if I am to have any hope of enjoying it. To my surprise, I’ve enjoyed many of them ... and, yes, I’ve had to go so far as reframing my perspective to even begin to approach their proper wavelength.
ALPHAVILLE has been frequently presented to me as a “SHOULD SEE” film, usually by film scholars in magazines known for their careful analysis of cinema. The expectation is that I would have an “Ah, ha!” moment, gain new insight, and become an “in the know” champion of the film. Frankly, I knew about the plot from these various articles and I saw many “stills” from the show. ... Okay, they made me want to see more of Anna Karina. But, I just had trouble generating any other enthusiasm to watch it.
Learning that ALPHAVILLE would be leaving The Criterion Channel at the end of this month, I decided that now was the time to see it. Thank goodness I didn’t force others to give up HAMILTON on July 3 to watch this instead!
I’m sure someone is thinking, “He just didn’t get what it was trying to say.” Yes, I did. But, to paraphrase Goethe, “Was it worth saying?”
Two aspects strongly bothered me:
* Imagine BLADE RUNNER shot in the downtown section of your city without special effects ... even in-camera ones! I couldn’t “buy into” this world for more than a few seconds at a time. Great Zot ... I’ve seen homemade films from Monster Movie Kids shot on Super 8 stock who put more effort into creating their reality!
* Yes, there was a philosophical commentary interwoven through all of this. However, the dialogue construction sabotaged it over and over again.
This is not to say that I found nothing to be worthwhile. A bit of dialogue that was repeated multiple times, “I’m very well, thank you. You’re welcome,” is said in response to silence. It is often a standard response to the question, “How are you?” that is automatically asked and no one really listens to the response. Yes, I thought that was wonderfully insightful.
But, the only lesson that I learned from ALPHAVILLE was not to begin watching it if you are the slightest bit tired.