It is currently Mon Jun 26, 2017 1:21 pm

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 57 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3
Author Message
PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2016 8:01 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am
It's tough for me to discuss the--for example--"ease" with which Michel navigates Paris. In all aspects of Bresson's attempt at portraying the life of a criminal, I feel it utterly clumsy, and a film that I look at with admiration and laughter. There's almost a complete lack of authenticity in the rendering of the Michel character.

Nothing feels real to me in Pickpocket--the only thing that reads authentic to me about the protagonist in Pickpocket is the solitude, the completely withdrawn life of the pickpocket. And the fact that he's not a jive talking, colorful street character like his opposite number in the Fuller. Many many professional criminals who go out and commit crimes on a daily to weekly basis for sustenance are not tattooed greasers, but bland--often drug addicted, often highly intelligent; some coming off like dullards but having a natural cunning for beating the rhythms of common folk and able to walk away with a small yet big enough score to sustain them for 1-5 days. They're withdrawn as a survival method and because it's impossible to explain their hours, their lack of work water cooler stories, and because of all this, and the person they have become, they find comfort in sitting alone in a shabby SRO night after night.

But everything else about Michel, the actualities of his persona, are almost absurdly naïve to me. His silly, childlike discussions with the cop (and the utterly ridiculous cop himself). His fast glances to the floor, then up, then to the floor, then splitting with a vacant look on his face when with his pal or girl--it's almost like watching a sexless prepubescent boy afraid of grown men and women running from a sexual social life.

Now yes, I'm aware of the gay subtext that some see in this film--and if you take what I've written as codified into the film being about a gay subtext . . . well run with it. But then the ending must be dealt with.

Then, amidst these boyish machinations you get these voice overs about him falling in with a bunch of other criminals, or about spending his money on wine and women . . . holing it up in England to lush it up . . . this guy doesn't even close his door all the way. He's a pickpocket with swag in his wall and he has a lock on his door which is literally like scotch taping it shut.

To me the film is an exercise in rhythms. It was very very bold for its time, and stands today as completely fascinating, and utterly unique because of the complete and total freshness of the cinematic universe on display. But as for the narrative itself, it's already so strangled off . . . then you add the stuff that strains the narrative credulity.

It's unique to have such a (for me, all for me) narratively silly film still be so compelling and often thrilling to watch. But I have a tough time comparing it as a narrative to something as--in strictly narrative terms, all cinematographic tours de force put aside a moment--narratively superlative as Il Posto.

And sure, Domenico is manipulated by his environment. The film is a sweet little song to the anonymous people of the world, slogging their way to work every day, and feeling their life force sucked away bit by bit as they go along... until they wind up totally dehumanized like to poor soul who wants his desk in the front. They start out sweet and uncorrupted like Domenico and his cutie opposite female number... then wind up half nuts with a wandering eye. The pretty girls, the poor souls, the good and bad food, it's all there and we simply observe it all through Domenico's eyes.

And the Lust for life is within the voice of the film itself, in its narrative poetry. Domenico is not an outwardly lustful character. But the film loves him very much, it follows him with great affection, and picks out the good and the bad and the awful of life with beautiful poetry. That's the lust I mean.


Top
 Profile  
 

PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 12:32 am 
Bringing Out El Duende
User avatar

Joined: Mon Dec 06, 2004 6:53 pm
Location: New York City
HerrSchreck wrote:
In all aspects of Bresson's attempt at portraying the life of a criminal, I feel it utterly clumsy, and a film that I look at with admiration and laughter. There's almost a complete lack of authenticity in the rendering of the Michel character.

Well, that's a first. I've never heard such a critique of this seminal film. And why is it seminal? To my mind, the detrmination with which Michel attempts to avoid human contact is what's really interesting - whether it's through the aforementioned pickup sequences, slipping by authorities or avoiding the intimacy of friends. Now, he's no master; in fact, as you rightly say, he is terribly immature and he often bungles his way in an effort to become some kind of alienated superman . But the movie is utterly relentless in illustrating his failure despite his attempts. It gives the viewer no breather. This intensity is one of the hallmarks of Bresson. Also, I think Bresson's spiritual considerations go a bit beyond the moral criticism you're aiming at Michel. That's really a topic for the Pickpocket thread, but it does seem interesting to consider the ways in which the spiritual and emotional tragectories of both Domenico and Michel are diamectrically opposed despite their relative immaturity - and which of the two end the more "enlightened" (if I can put it that way) despite the innocence of one and the worldiness of the other.

Quote:
To me the film is an exercise in rhythms.

Absolutely. And Il Posto is also film of rhythms as any film should be. Are you saying that Pickpocket is primarily an excercise in rhythms?


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 10:29 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am
Quote:
Also, I think Bresson's spiritual considerations go a bit beyond the moral criticism you're aiming at Michel.

I don't know what "moral" criticisms I'm aiming at Michel. I'm mostly suggesting that the actualities of the portrayal are a bit naïve.

And strange. He goes to England. Disappears. And returns . . . wearing the exact same clothes right down to the shirt and suit jacket. Looking like five minutes have passed since the previous scene.

And I have read and heard these criticisms of the film before--they're not entirely new.

As for rhythm, I'm saying for me the film operates most compellingly as a very gripping experiment (for its time) in Bressonian unfolding, a great breakthrough for him after Cure de Compagne and Escaped, via a new kind of narrative tempo that Bresson was searching out with bits of audio visual input grabbing little pieces of information to comprise the overall assembly. What Bresson chooses to let you see and hear in Pickpocket is only just as important as those things that he does not allow you to see and hear--these are ideas he worked with in Diary and Escaped, but far more subtly and never in a way that will alienate a viewer as some indeed are by his post-Man-Escaped (but not in that film itself) technique of acting, shooting and cutting. The technique in Pickpocket is far more interesting to me than the narrative itself, which, as I've expended a lot of keyboard tapping trying to explain, reads clumsily naïve to me in its rendering of its milieu.

I find later works like Balthazar and A Gentle Woman far more satisfying examples of Bresson's style as it matured, as he took these newly developed techniques and integrated them more successfully (for me) with his formidable (in the previous films) narrative skills.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 6:36 pm 
Bringing Out El Duende
User avatar

Joined: Mon Dec 06, 2004 6:53 pm
Location: New York City
HerrSchreck wrote:
I'm mostly suggesting that the actualities of the portrayal are a bit naïve.

In strictly acting terms I don't know what you're suggesting by actualities of a portrayal. There are as many ways to portray a human being as there are grains of sand on a seashore. And that number isn't necessarily decreased significantly because the subject is what some would consider "a criminal". Unless a filmmaker (or actor) is considering a historical personage why would he or she even give such a consideration? Even in a narrative based on an actual life what would be the benefit of recreating the reality of which no one knows but the person who lived it! At most it's speculation. I'm not sure if any particular actuality is what an actor is asked to render.
HerrSchreck wrote:
And I have read and heard these criticisms of the film before--they're not entirely new.

??? Why read? If you think what you're reading is entirely new it only means you haven't read much. Yes? :P
HerrSchreck wrote:
The technique in Pickpocket is far more interesting to me than the narrative itself, which, as I've expended a lot of keyboard tapping trying to explain, reads clumsily naïve to me in its rendering of its milieu.

Ah, but to me the narrative and the technique are indistinguishable. I don't see how in either film the exposition can be separated from the execution - or the way in which both films proceed.
HerrSchreck wrote:
I find later works like Balthazar and A Gentle Woman far more satisfying examples of Bresson's style as it matured, as he took these newly developed techniques and integrated them more successfully (for me) with his formidable (in the previous films) narrative skills.

Topic for the Bresson thread, granted, but yeah; I find his later stuff incredibly difficult to watch. By time he got to The Devil Probably his style was not only unmistakable but downright suffocating! You have to go into his later films with NO expectations - be completely silent - in order to discover something. He's a demanding filmmaker, no doubt.

Olmi likes the immediate surprise where Bresson innundates you with ritual- like behavior from his models until a breakthrough occurs. In that light Domenico's POV, as you point out, is absolutely crucial to the narrative in Il Posto. In Pickpocket the voiced overdub, which functions as Michel's POV, is clinical to the point of being a sidebar or header, framing the sequences, but is otherwise almost dispensable in terms of the narrative (an arguable point). Yet the inner experiences of both lead characters are effectively conveyed. I find it a marvel how such disperate approaches can be equally as poignant.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2016 5:04 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am
Now I remember you.... :roll:

ando wrote:
HerrSchreck wrote:
And I have read and heard these criticisms of the film before--they're not entirely new.

??? Why read? If you think what you're reading is entirely new it only means you haven't read much. Yes? :P
.

Okay you have just stepped off of the SS Herp to kiss the ground of . . . Tiresome.

My above reply to you was in reply to your statement:

Quote:
Well, that's a first. I've never heard such a critique of this seminal film.

"Why Read?"

I can see that you're not a giant fan of the practice. But while expending such energy on the practice of Writing, particularly when this typing exercise is in response to an interlocutor, it's generally a fabulous idea.

As for what you have said, you seem determined to state the obvious, rather than actually discussing the film's substance: "there are many ways to portray a human being as there are grains of sand on the seashore..."

One would think that since you joined a film discussion board, you would be more inclined to defend the specifics in the narrative that cause it to fall flat for me in narrative terms, rather than go Gobi dry with sarcasm. If someone is navigating an interior design board, and someone says "The elements of that wall - couch combination don't work for me in a legal/professional environment: the pink walls clash with the atmosphere that a criminal law firm typically wants to cultivate, and the plastic slip covers with the lime green crushed velvet couch make me feel like I'm in a 1970's horror movie," would you reply "In strictly harmonious terms I don't know what you're suggesting by 'elements.' There are as many ways to decorate a firm as there are grains of sand on the seashore..." or would you suggest why it works for you?

I'm not looking to convince you... I'm explaining why it does not work for me in narrative terms. A film board kind of thing. But this is as engaging as bobbing for apples in a vat of dried concrete. Ciao my good ando.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2016 6:30 pm 
Bringing Out El Duende
User avatar

Joined: Mon Dec 06, 2004 6:53 pm
Location: New York City
HerrSchreck wrote:
As for what you have said, you seem determined to state of the obvious, rather than actually discussing the film's substance: "there are many ways to portray a human being as there are grains of sand on the seashore..."

Well, I was hoping you'd reveal the standard against which you judge the portrait of Michel. If you agree that there are innumerable ways of conveying any reality than I suppose you're simply discounting much of what goes on in Pickpocket. The suspension of disbelief factor, I'll assume, doesn't pull you through experiences that you find implausible. Forgive me for the summation but I'm not asking you to convince me of anything but to simpy provide a perspective with which to empathise.
If you simply don't buy the premise of Pickpocket (meaning, the world as Bresson presents it) then, you're right, there's nothing more to discuss.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 2:36 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2010 3:33 pm
Location: Grand Junction, CO
I (finally) watched these on FilmStruck, my first Olmi's, and their style seemed vaguely familiar, like... Roy Andersson! Slightly absurd interior scenes like the dance halls slowly filling up; mannered and ridiculous workplace environments as Kafka would have described them, playing out with little or no dialog, reminded me of "You, the Living" and "A Pigeon Sat on a Branch...".


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 57 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group




This site is not affiliated with The Criterion Collection