Archive for May 1st, 2019

 © 2019 by James Clark

  One of the only things I don’t like about the endeavor of Ingmar Bergman, is his hatred of the work of Michelangelo Antonioni. On starting upon fathoming Claire Denis’ film, The Intruder (2005), I was more than pleased to realize that we’re both on the same page concerning this important matter.

It wouldn’t be Denis, if the launch-pad were not brimming with explosives of Bergman’s incendiary theatrical dialogue. But, in our film today, easily 95% of the action proceeds wordlessly. The wiring of Bergman’s film, The Seventh Seal (1957), has been expertly switched on. But, instead of honeys of dramatic sophistication, we end up with wilderness and a ticket to ride. Bergman, himself, was well aware that his disclosures would never reach the terminal decadence of normal respectability. This left him with a paradox which his sensibility would not ignite (on the order of rejecting, repeatedly, an exotic organ—a fully operating heart, for instance). Clearly seeing that problematic, Denis essays, in this production, to liberate the vehicles of acrobatics and juggling (stemming from The Seventh Seal) in a bid, endlessly demanding, to find in her art some life on earth which surfaces more than a few forgettable seconds.

Though it might, were such a thing possible, have him spinning in his grave, our adventure today—in full dedication to Bergman—invokes Antonioni’s L’Avventura (1960). You’ll recall, that The Seventh Seal reveals a medieval Swedish knight, Antonius Block, obsessed with reaching certitude about his eternal soul. As such, he stages a series of chess board events imagined to be opposing him in the form of a black-garbed, pasty-faced personification of death, who has seemingly promised him to open heaven itself if he can defeat the apparition. Thus distracted, Block falls short of cogent animation. True to form, our protagonist, Louis Trebor, a man of our century with great wealth and a track record of distant travels (Block having come to bear as just returned from one of the crusades), has become obsessed with the technology and accessibility of heart transplants. (more…)

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