Monday, January 16, 2012

Artistic Consumption Log, Jan. 9, 2012 - Jan. 15, 2012: "Robert Bresson Immersion" Edition

NEW YORK—As you could probably glean from the log below, this past week in artistic consumption was dominated mostly by Robert Bresson, as a complete retrospective of the legendary French director's work rolls along at Film Forum. A fuller consideration of Bresson's singular art perhaps awaits here on this blog; for now, I'll just offer these two observations/thoughts:

  • Apparently Bresson pretty much had, if not his style, then his thematic concerns figured out right from the get-go with his first "official" feature, Les Anges du Péché, with its nunnery setting, its anti-psychological approach and its preoccupation with themes of spirituality and religious transcendence. But the difference stylistically speaking between that film and The Devil, Probably—the latest Bresson feature I've seen thus far—is vast indeed.
  • So far, my favorite Bressons of the ones I've seen are two consensus faves, Au Hasard Balthazar and Pickpocket. To my surprise, though, the aforementioned The Devil, Probably is, as of now, not running too far behind. I'm still not entirely sure what to make of its take on one youth's societal disconnection, but at the very least, I found it more consistently engaging and fascinating to ponder than Lancelot of the Lake (great in its own way, though I admit to finding some stretches rather tedious). Plus, it has this brilliant piece of montage in the middle (though its brilliance might make more sense in context and with more than a passing familiarity with Bresson's late style).

The other major highlight of my week? Seeing the Brooklyn Art Song Society perform all 114 of Charles Ives's 114 Songs in one four-and-a-half hour marathon. It's quite a rich collection of tunes, ranging from Americana to settings of French/German poetry, playful little ditties to reflective religious meditations, and from tonal melodies to dissonant impressionistic evocations. Thankfully, there's enough variety in these songs to make those four-and-a-half hours pass by fairly quickly. I had never heard of the Brooklyn Art Song Society before hearing about this event through New Yorker classical-music critic Alex Ross's Twitter feed; I will have to investigate their music-making some more, after this well-wrought feat.

Oh...and the Golden Globe Awards were mostly a snooze. I didn't watch Ricky Gervais's controversial hosting job last year, but I guess I missed out on an edgier performance than what he offered last night. Plus, there weren't a great many surprises in any of the film categories. And that's all I have to say about that.

The log, please...

Pickpocket (1959)


"Bresson," all films directed by Robert Bresson, seen at Film Forum in New York:
Les Anges du Péché (1943)
Lancelot of the Lake (1974)
Pickpocket (1959)
The Devil, Probably (1977)


High Time (1971, MC5)

Please (1986, Pet Shop Boys)
Actually (1987, Pet Shop Boys)

Charles Ives: 114 Songs, performed by Brooklyn Art Song Society at Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn, N.Y.


The 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards, seen on NBC in Brooklyn, N.Y.

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