Daily Archives: December 5, 2022

Endless Love [NIGHT AND DAY]

From the Chicago Reader (March 26, 1993); reprinted in my collection Movies as Politics. — J.R.


NIGHT AND DAY **** (Masterpiece)

Directed by Chantal Akerman

Written by Akerman and Pascal Bonitzer

With Guilaine Londez, Thomas Langmann, François Negret, Nicole Colchat, Pierre Laroche, and Christian Crahay.

Considering all the oppositions that inform the work of Chantal Akerman — such as painting versus narrative, France versus Belgium, being Jewish versus being French and Belgian, and the commercial versus the experimental — it’s only logical that both the plot and the title of her recent Night and Day, one of her best features to date, should reflect the same pattern. The situation it refers to is so simple that it’s hard to describe without making it sound singsongy: Julie (Guilaine Londez) and Jack (Thomas Langmann) — an infatuated young couple from the provinces who’ve recently come to Paris — live in a small flat near Boulevard Sebastopol. During the day they make love; at night Jack drives a taxi and Julie walks the summer streets, singing happily to herself. One night they meet Joseph (François Negret) — another isolated newcomer to Paris — who drives Jack’s cab during the day. Jack heads for his shift; Julie goes walking with Joseph, and they quickly fall in love. Read more

Robert Bresson: A Passion for Film — Tony Pipolo

From Cineaste (Summer 2010, Vol. XXXV, No. 3). — J.R.


Robert Bresson: A Passion for Film

By Tony Pipolo. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. 407 pp. Hardcover: $125 and Paperback: $29.95.

“I do not like to show sex crudely on the screen,” Orson Welles declared in a 1964 interview, pursuing an argument that he also made on other occasions. “Not because of morality or puritanism; my objection is of a purely aesthetic order. In my opinion, there are two things that can absolutely not be carried to the screen: the realistic presentation of the sexual act and praying to God. I never believe an actor or actress who pretends to be completely involved in the sexual act if it is too literal, just as I can never believe an actor who wants to make me believe he is praying.”

It’s an argument that frequently comes to mind when I ponder a certain critical impasse that we often face in considering the films of Robert Bresson, largely due to the dearth of biographical information that we have about him. For a filmmaker whose erotic and spiritual preoccupations seem equally pronounced, Bresson frequently poses the conundrum of how we fill in certain psychological blanks in his characters as well as how we describe and understand matters of the flesh as well as the spirit, as we perceive these matters through what he liked to call his cinematography. Read more

Riddles of a Sphinx

From the Chicago Reader (January 12, 1998). — J.R.

From the Journals of Jean Seberg

Rating **** Masterpiece

Directed and written by Mark Rappaport

With Jean Seberg and Mary Beth Hurt.

For most of the remainder of this month the Film Center is presenting the U.S. theatrical premiere of Mark Rappaport’s From the Journals of Jean Seberg, and using this occasion to show some other important programs as well. We had revivals of Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless, featuring one of Seberg’s key early performances, and Carl Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), both important touchstones in Rappaport’s film — the second as a cross-reference to Seberg’s first film, Saint Joan. This week, in addition to seven showings of From the Journals of Jean Seberg (to be followed by four more over the next couple of weeks), there are two screenings of a brand-new print of one of Rappaport’s best narrative features, The Scenic Route (1978), along with his remarkable 36-minute tour de force Exterior Night (1994) — a noirish narrative about film noir in which actors filmed in color walk around inside vintage black-and-white Warners sets and locations from the 40s and 50s, shot originally on high-definition video in Germany, and recently transferred to 35-millimeter film. Read more