Close Up

5 - 26 May 2008: Essential Cinema VII


Jean-Luc Godard
1960 | 90 min | B/W | Digital  

With its lack of polish, surplus of attitude, crackling personalities of rising stars Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg, and anything-goes crime narrative, Jean-Luc Godard's debut fashioned a simultaneous homage to and critique of the American film genres that influenced and rocked him as a film writer for Cahiers du cinéma. Jazzy, free-form, and sexy, Breathless helped launch the French New Wave and ensured cinema would never be the same.  

Andrei Rublev
Andrei Tarkovsky
1962 | 96 min | B/W | Digital  

Widely regarded as Tarkovsky's finest film, Andrei Rublev charts the life of the great icon painter through a turbulent period of 15th Century Russian history, which was marked by endless fighting between rival Princes and Tatar invasions. Made on an epic scale, it does not flinch from portraying the savagery of the time, from which, almost inexplicably, the serenity of Rublev's art arose.  

Red Beard
Akira Kurosawa
1965 | 172 min | B/W | Digital  

A testament to the goodness of humankind, Akira Kurosawa's Red Beard chronicles the tumultuous relationship between an arrogant young doctor and a compassionate clinic director. Toshiro Mifune, in his last role for Kurosawa, gives a powerhouse performance as the dignified yet empathic director who guides his pupil to maturity, teaching the embittered intern to appreciate the lives of his destitute patients. Perfectly capturing the look and feel of 19th-century Japan, Kurosawa weaves a fascinating tapestry of time, place, and emotion.  

A Man Escaped
Robert Bresson
1956 | 98 min | B/W | Digital  

Robert Bresson's 1956 masterpiece, A Man Escaped, is based on a book by André Devigny, a Catholic French Resistance fighter in WWII. The book recounts Devigny's true-life laborious escape attempt from the Gestapo's Fort Montluc prison in occupied Lyon in 1943. A Man Escaped was the filmmaker's first film with an entirely non-professional cast and it crystallized his mature aesthetic: automatic and barely-emotive performances, a heavy dependence on sound effects, isolated instances of music, brief dialogue, and elliptical editing that omits narrative detail in order to provoke mystery or avoid sensationalism.