Sunday, October 30, 2005



Robert Bresson, 1959

NW Film Forum, October 24


Not, to my mind, quite the equal of Au Hazard Balthazzar or Diary of a Country Priest (my entire previous Bresson viewing experience). The title character's crude Nietzschean ramblings struck me as a bit dated. Other than that, I admired the way the clues to his character and motivation were strewn about for us to try to put together. The very last scene didn't really work for me, but it didn't bother me terribly either.

Balthazzar and Country Priest should be seen by all people serious about film because they're works of near-perfection--everything comes together conceptually, visually, and emotionally to make those films work so well. Pickpocket, also, should be on a must see list as well, but for different reasons: the scenes of the pickpockets at work contain several moments of jaw-dropping technical prowess. Three pickpockets work in tandem--one manages to open a button to prepare the way for the next; one lifts a wallet out of a breast pocket and drops it, while other catches it walking the other way; and so on. The work of the pickpocket is momentarily elevated to high art, and the swirling, swooping, always knowing where to look camera is just as skilled as they are, making us the only one if the crowd with a clue. These scenes are the product of a near-complete mastery of rhythm, camera placement, and editing.

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