It is easy to first focus on how Goodbye to Language is yet another film in Jean-Luc Godard's late career collection of essay films describing morality, culture, the state of modern Europe, how cinematic images produce and limit meaning, because that's what it is. It's not at all unlike a remake of his last feature, Film socialisme, in fact, only with a different form of moviemaking technology being turned inside and broken (prosumer cameras there, prosumer cameras and 3-D here), and less of a focus on audience-punishing impenetrability. And even that's not saying much, given that Film socialisme is about as impenetrable as anything Godard has made since the beginning of the 1980s.

The danger of over-emphasising that, though, is that it pulls attention for how disorientingly fun and funny Goodbye to Language can be, though I concede that one has to meet the film much more than halfway for that to be true, and even then it's a kind of fun that's certainly only for a very self-selecting audience. Although it has fart jokes, and not even, like, heavily abstract, theoretical fart jokes. Jokes wherein the punchline is, if a person is saying something very serious and philosophically impenetrable, it is funny to show them talking while gaudily foleyed-in wet farts play on the soundtrack.

While I think that the film has a plot - in fact, I think it even has a twist ending - trying to go back over it is grounds for nothing but a headache. Like most of Godard's "narrative" films in the last couple of decades (as opposed to his pure essay films), it's made up a series of vaguely united vignettes, during which complicated, self-referential conversations about theory play out between people who may or may not be capable of acting in other contexts, but really only serve as props here. The academics in the audience might be horrified by what I'm about to say, but I think the trick with most late Godard is to let the dialogue happen and catch what one can, but not really worry about working it all out. Not, at least, the first time, and while I look forward to spending many long years with Goodbye to Language, I've only seen it but the once, at this point. So if this is a bit of a thinnish review - well it will be, there's little doubt of that. But hopefully enthusiasm will count for the lack of depth.

The chief charm of Goodbye to Language is its interrogation of how cinema works in the age of digital media production, movies shot on phones and screened in tiny windows over the internet, and of course, 3-D. This overlaps a bit with Film socialisme, but where that was an angry work, trying to break the new medium, Goodbye to Language is a good deal more playful, trying to push the new technologies into extreme corners to find out what happens there. Even the politically and morally laden dialogues have a certain self-aware winking quality that makes this, at any rate, much more watchable than much of the director's recent work. It's still fairly pessimistic - that title didn't just come along out of nowhere, and it has exactly the implication of "goodbye to language, because pop culture has murdered you and the possibility of meaning along with you" that it seems to - but Godard's pessimism has been married to exhilarating cinematic experimentation at least as far back as Week End.

Not everyone would sign off on the word "exhilarating", I am sure - it's an inherently divisive movie - but for myself, I was delighted by Goodbye to Language fare more often than not, certainly more than I expected to be. Aye, delighted; with the giddy amazement of a baby looking at a Christmas tree. There are too many different things happening in the construction of the film's images for it to be pinned down to "the main idea", but one of the strongest ideas is to challenge digital 3-D as a medium and meaning-creating element, finding out what happens in its extremes. The most celebrated moment involves a long shot during which the two cameras capturing the image are split off the rig holding them in the correct relationship to capture a realistic 3-D image, each going one direction to record entirely different actions before being reunited. It's a spectacular moment, as viscerally dumbfounding as anything in the glossiest effects extravaganza, with different goals, of course - it's a basic Godardian gesture in reminding the viewer that movies are made because of cameras, that cinematic images are inherently fictitious constructions which are reconstructed in our minds as movement - and it's an experiment whose time had long since come. It's hardly pleasant, trying to reconcile the fact that your two eyes are seeing completely incompatible images, but it is pleasurable in its way, and makes stronger claims to seriously investigating how movies work than anything else in the year, or the decade, or probably the century.

But just because it's the film's most famous moment, doesn't mean it's the only great gesture in that direction. Later on - I wonder if this even deserves a spoiler warning, since I was surely excited to see it unawares - two static shots of still lifes are overlaid in much the same way, with each eye receiving totally different information, and a few moments later, the same two shots are combined using normal editing techniques, so both eyes receive the same flat double exposure. Comparing and contrasting the way that the two experiences work in the eye and in the brain is at least as telling as that first amazing break when the 3-D image splits.

Mostly, the film's struggle with imagery is of a much simpler sort: exaggerated moments of objects poking way the hell into the audience's space, making it impossible to look at the screen without your eyes watering slightly; nude bodies positioned in space to be as distracting as possible; hoary gags about objects interrupting three-dimensional space to interrupt what we want to be looking at, which are frequently nude bodies. Without being so angry about it as to turn into a provocation, the film invites us to consider how meaning can be swallowed by visuals, how words can be turned into buzzing noise that doesn't connect to image - goodbye to language, and goodbye to film language, in effect. With its nods towards YouTube culture in the preponderance of cute animal footage and low-res images breaking into digital blocks, and its implicit demonstration of how easily we can be distracted by a barrage of disconnected stimuli, it's an indictment of the shortened attention span of the 21st Century that also panders to that attention span, and not, apparently, in an ironic way.

It is a self-contained contradiction: it wants us to have constant fun while demanding at every step that we think about how terribly shallow it is to want to have fun constantly; it's a critique of dehumanising politics and culture that openly finds the dog to be the most interesting character. It's capital-A Art made by an angry old man, driven by a constant bro-ish fascination with "wouldn't it be cool if...?" moments. Most importantly, it's the single film I have seen from 2014 that most actively tries to find a new language for filmmakers to inhabit, and honestly, it might be the most consistently captivating one as well.