orphan black, season one
ramblin' jack elliott, "912 greens"

what i watched last week

A Man Escaped (Robert Bresson, 1956). A great movie that admittedly snuck up on me. I’d only seen one Bresson before this (Au Hasard Balthazar), which I appreciated more than I liked, and A Man Escaped is often mentioned as the ultimate Bressonian work. It may well be. But it is engrossing throughout, which is not something you’ll hear before seeing it. (The people I read were more on the line of, “it’s great, but give it time, it’s slow, be patient, don’t quit on it too soon”.) It was fun to see how wrong those warnings were, at least for me. It’s a prison escape movie that strips things down to elementals, and sure, it’s nice to kick back once in a while with Steve McQueen and his motorcycle in The Great Escape, but A Man Escaped doesn’t need flamboyant action scenes. The tension the movie creates is entirely down to the nuts and bolts of the escape attempt. It’s almost like a caper film, where we see exactly how things are planned, then watch to find out what works and what goes wrong. #86 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of all time. 10/10. (I’m not sure I’ve seen a better movie than this from 1956, but the rest of the Top Five of ‘56 would include, in alphabetical order, Attack!, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Killing, and The Searchers.)

Comments

Phil

They had a Bresson series here last year, and I saw this for the first time. Knowing that Kael loved it, and that she wasn't big on Bresson in general, I had my hopes up. I didn't get a lot out of it, though. I've seen seven Bressons in all, and the only one where I felt anything more than detached interest was Quatre nuits d'un rêveur--which is in colour and sort of Truffaut-like and probably not liked much by devotees.

Steven Rubio

I've only got two under my belt, and as much as I liked A Man Escaped, I still felt my reaction to other Bressons would be more like what I felt after Au Hasard Balthazar: admiration but not love.

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