ROBERT BRESSON CLASSICS AT METROPGRAPH
The Metrograph in New York's Lower East Side is a gem of a repertory theatre, with gorgeous interior and yummy bites. And the fine folks down that end of tiwn are indluging in another round of Robert Bresson classics in 35mm and DCP format. Here's the lowdown from the Metrograph folks;
"Every now and again we at Metrograph feel compelled to go back to Bresson. Why? Because doing so clears out the cobwebs, reminds us of what is necessary and beautiful in films. Because while reputations ebb and flow, his films remain imperturbable, beholden to nothing save their creator’s unshakable faith that the essence of film art was still to be discovered."
THE DEVIL, PROBABLY (1977 / 35mm Print)
Friday June 9th
3:00pm, 5:00pm, 7:00pm & 9:30pm
As The Devil, Probably begins, we see newspaper reports of a teen found dead by gunshot wound; the film then flashes back to chart the march toward death of this nihilistic, atheistic youth, as he indifferently rails against a corrupt, wretched world. This uncompromising late career masterpiece from Bresson is deeply disturbing yet strangely elating, and one of the greatest works by one of the greatest directors.
MOUCHETTE (1967 / 35mm Print)
Friday June 9th 5:15pm
Bresson was an artist preoccupied with faith and redemption, to be sure, but he also looked long and unblinkingly at suffering and despair as few filmmakers ever had or would. His second Bernanos adaptation, beginning a long engagement with the question of suicide, tells the story of a neglected and impoverished girl (Nadine Nortier) hemmed in on all sides by her brutal provincial milieu. In Bresson’s hands her sorrow becomes sacred, though perhaps no moment is more heartbreaking than her brief glimpse of joy at a country fair.
L'ARGENT (1983 / DCP)
Saturday June 10th 1:15pm & 10:00pm
"In L’argent I sense an unconditional surrender to despair and disgust. One can hardly argue that contemporary humanity does not deserve its full quotient of despair and disgust. And it is not even a matter of this social system or that. The rottenness seems to have plunged very deeply into the universal psyche. The artist, however is still obligated to search for order amid the chaos, for beauty amid the ugliness, for truth amid the falsehoods, and, above all, for hope amid the despair…That a filmmaker can lift us to these levels of contemplation and speculation is proof enough of that filmmaker’s greatness” —Andrew Sarris
THE TRIAL OF JOAN OF ARC (1962 / 35mm Print)
Saturday June 10th 5:15pm
Among the least-circulated of Bresson’s films, The Trial of Joan of Arc is his most supremely spare, skeletal production, stripped down to the essential elements. The script is a distillation of the actual records of the Maid of Orleans’s trial for heresy, a text whose beauty and pathos greatly moved Bresson. This documentary basis helps to reveal a Joan both extraordinary and yet very human, a young woman of plainspoken conviction bravely facing up to unspeakable hypocrisy.
DIARY OF A COUNTRY PRIEST (1951 / 35mm Print)
Sunday June 11th 3:30pm
The film in which the mature style Bresson would continue to pursue and refine through the rest of his career—non-professional “model” performers, affectless performances, scenes fragmented into unexpected shot sequences—emerged fully formed. Adapting Georges Bernanos’s novel of the same name, Bresson depicts the physical deprivation and the inner bounty of a young priest (Claude Laydu) freshly arrived in a new parish, trying to tend to his flock as he himself wastes away.
UNE FEMME DOUCE (1969 / DCP)
Sunday June 11th
3:30pm, 5:30pm & 9:30pm
In his first color film, Bresson uses a subdued but quietly seductive, even dreamy palette, transposing a Dostoevsky short story to modern-day Paris. Dominique Sanda, one of the relatively few Bresson “models” to continue in acting, is a young woman whose suicide causes her tightass pawnbroker husband to reflect on the course of their meeting and marriage, the insoluble mystery of her despair pursued in a series of flashbacks which include an unforgettable Bressonian production of Hamlet.
Program notes by The Metrograph.