REVIEW Rialto Pictures founder Bruce Goldstein will scoop up the Mel Novikoff award at this year's San Francisco Film Festival, but local audiences have a chance to sample his good work before then during the Castro Theatre's run of Rialto's freshly struck 35mm print of Jean-Luc Godard's widescreen, red-white-and-blue firecracker Made in U.S.A. (1967). If the picture seems a helter-skelter jumble of contingencies, it's important to remember it was but one of four Godard movies to wash up on these shores during the otherwise turbulent 12-month period slicing through 1967 and 1968 (the other three were 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her, La Chinoise, and Week End). Of these, Made in U.S.A. gives the fullest demonstration of Godard's aim to create a cinema that could take part in the jagged incongruities of modern life. Listing the film's tangled referents its confluence of aesthetics, politics, and violence crucially hinges on American hardboiled pulp and the real-life murder of Moroccan leftist Ben Barka doesn't begin to describe Made in U.S.A.'s unexpected pathos. For all its agitprop overtures and modernist complications, the film is also a reflective, conflicted goodbye to the writer-director's formative romances with American culture and Anna Karina. The porcelain actress, already divorced from Godard by the time the picture was made, gives a fragmented, emotional performance almost entirely in close-up. As the long day closes on Made in U.S.A., an old confidante tells Karina's Bogart-like investigator that obsolete categories of Right and Left cannot adequately address political problems, to which she responds, "Then how?" That broken question, the neutron star of Godard's career, shows no sign of letting up.
MADE IN U.S.A. opens Wed/1 at the Castro. See Rep Clock.