With Armond White's gauntlet throwdown to Bresson revisionism, the 'Battle of Bresson' (or more accurately, the battle over him) comes to a new level. We've got at least one expression of support over at Long Pauses, but frankly I'm going to side with David Ehrenstein (not to mention my former instructor Brian Price, who wrote his dissertation on the color films) on this one. Are Bresson's films "nihilistic," as the conservators accuse the revisionists of insisting? Well, no, but we can't simply base our perceptions of Bresson and specifically his late work on the sole and overriding theme of Bresson's austere Catholic/Jansenist faith. Bresson was a complex individual with a lot going on, and yes, one aspect of that is very much spiritual and religious in address. But anyone who wants to shoehorn something like The Devil, Probably into a straightforward vision of the absent God's great presence is going to do have to do a lot of rhetorical gymnastics.
In this case, the revisionists are--contra the conservators--the ones arguing for both a bigger and more accurate picture of this unspeakably great artist, and Armond White is dead wrong to whine as he does about Bresson's reputation being under attack from degenerates and perverts.
And also, if anyone wants to tell me Ozu was, at heart, a unknowably zen and Japanese individual whose "slow" and "un-Western" films "break rules of film grammar," they can prepare to meet me on the field of honor (by the oak trees and the pond) Thursday morning come dawn.
More coming sooner or later this week. But because I can't wait to express it: One of many very pleasant aspects of my trip to Martha's Vineyard was seeing most of the corpus of BBC's The Office, which might be the best television show in recent years. Not that I'm anywhere near qualified to make such a statement. But what fun--merciless, awkward, insightful, low-key fun.