The Discreet Bourgeois

Possessed by an urgency to make sure all this stuff I love doesn't just disappear

The Last Ten Films I’ve Seen

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  1. Japanese Girls At The Harbor (Hiroshi Shimizu)
  2. Monte Carlo (Ernst  Lubitsch)
  3. Side Effects (Steven Soderbergh)
  4. A Fistful of Dollars (Sergio Leone)
  5. Procès de Jeanne d’Arc (Robert Bresson)
  6. Smashing The Rackets (Lew Landers)
  7. The Scarlet Letter (Victor Sjöström)
  8. Crack-up (Irving Reis)
  9. Pickpocket (Robert Bresson)
  10. Un condamné à mort s’est échappé (Robert Bresson)

 

Thoughts on Bresson: In the study of languages the term ‘isolate’ refers to a language that does not seem to have connections to any other known languages. Basque and Korean are examples. They are akin to other languages in that they use spoken sounds to communicate ideas, and there is some kind of grammar, but the similarities end there.  One could say that the films of Robert Bresson are ‘isolates’.  Yes,  editing, lighting, acting are all part of their makeup, but the similarities end there. The gorgeous austerity underneath which is a powerful tensile strength make these films like no other. The use of the music of Lully or Mozart underscore the classical rigor. The use of non-professional actors give the films their own patina. But more than anything it is the unflinching moral examination of the characters and their situations that make these films ‘isolates’. Usually his films are referred to as ‘rigorous’ which is a way of saying ‘I know I should be admiring this but it is really too dull’.  Au contraire.   The  austerity and rigor of the films are always in the service of the message, yet do not undermine their immediacy. Un condamné à mort s’est échappé  is as thrilling an escape film as any you can think of, but through the lens of Bresson’s rigorous moral examination, it is so much more. The redemption at the end of Pickpocket is profoundly moving because it does not preach. It grows organically out of the life of the young man we have been observing for the past hour and a half.

2 thoughts on “The Last Ten Films I’ve Seen

  1. Love your thoughts on Bresson, one of my all time favorites. Can’t wait for the new Critierion Blu-ray of A Man Escaped.

  2. I just finished watching it this morning for the first time and was blown away. Turner Classic Movies showed a bunch of them a few months ago so I am filling in a very necessary corner of my film knowledge. Looking forward to rewatching ‘L’argent’ which I have not seen since it first came out.

    I read your remarks about Bergman and why he doesn’t make your Top Directors of All Times list. In many ways, although he and Bresson deal with the same metaphysical issues they are so different. The cleanness of Bresson inspires me so. I love formalism, especially formalism with great heart, which I think is what we have here, no?

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