Archive for July 24th, 2013


(c) 2013 by James Clark

When all is said and done, the impact of the cinema of Robert Bresson comes down to humanity, verging on empty shells, having a brush with their betters, off somewhere on the other side of the universe. A matter of speculation worth inserting here is why he wrapped things up for good, with our film today, L’Argent (1983). For, despite hard questions, of where his palpably challenging interventions could possibly go within the arts and entertainment galaxy, this was far from a project crippled by self-doubt and material desperation. We must come back to this puzzle, later on here, because it rests upon that heart of his discoveries which many other filmmakers, tracking right up to today (and undoubtedly beyond), have run with, often to magnificent (if largely overlooked) consequences.

Since we are extraordinarily drawn, in the case of this film of ours, to the defining features of Bresson’s remarkable career and legacy, let’s tear open this astonishingly rare gift with regard to a matter so quirky as to be persistently lost in those celebrated self-reliant doldrums seemingly prohibiting ingredients from beyond his Olympian heights. The preamble has put onstream fake currency (something Jackie Brown and the gentle woman in Certified Copy become obsessed with), and a gas delivery service man unwittingly accepts it in payment for his duties and products. We won’t, for now, grab on to the rapid and lugubrious course of events streaming out from there; but, rather, we want to highlight the simple manoeuvre of installing the dicey payment. He places the counterfeit French franc notes into a neat little leather pouch. The scene abruptly swings to a bistro window where a placard announces a boxing card. The single term, Boxe (in large case), hopes to get the ball rolling for passers-by. But in its conjunction with a leather container that could lead to monstrous trouble, we find ourselves signed into (that is to say, we could find ourselves signed into, but seldom do) a bout with Pandora’s Box. And if we should find something amiss in the English-tending word (where the French boite would seem far better) we have to face up to our oh-so-French auteur being devoted (like others of his compatriots dating from mid-century) to a Hollywood thriller, of all things. The spectre of the leather-bound-box containing nuclear explosives, in the noir, Kiss Me Deadly, had, many will be saddened to learn, deeply penetrated Bresson’s comportment toward the horrors of intent dominating his art and his whole existence (including that long theatre of non-filmic action following the release of L’Argent). (more…)

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