A terrific encapsulation of the philosophies and techniques behind the cinematic masterpieces of Robert Bresson, from the...

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BRESSON ON BRESSON

INTERVIEWS, 1943-1983

Reflections of a cinematic grandmaster.

Robert Bresson (1901-1999) was one of the few directors of France’s cinematic old guard to be taken up by the iconoclastic French New Wave filmmakers, as the upstarts admired his exacting and poetic aesthetic and his commitment to the idea of pure cinema. In these short interviews, Bresson, who was given to such gnomic proclamations as, “sound cinema invented silence,” proves to be a deeply analytical thinker who nonetheless puts a premium on intuition and instinct. In landmark films including Pickpocket (1959) and The Trial of Joan of Arc (1962), the director famously eschewed theatrical notions of “acting,” casting nonprofessionals in the interest of capturing authentic behavior. Measured, austere, and elegant in their simplicity, Bresson’s films produce profound emotional effects. The extent to which the filmmaker was conscious of every aspect of his craft in achieving those effects, as well as his enduring, passionate dedication to better understanding and expanding his tools, is on illuminating display in these conversations. Most compelling is an extended exchange with New Wave enfant terrible Jean-Luc Godard, whose interrogation of Bresson reveals a penetrating and nuanced appreciation of the older man’s films and provides a poignant reminder of the heady, collaborative, intellectual community that was the film culture of the mid-1960s. Bresson’s monklike devotion to his idea of “pure” cinema wavers not a bit over the course of the four decades represented here, but it is his optimism and faith in his medium that inspire the greatest admiration. The book ends with this statement from Bresson, made in 1983, with 40 years of revelatory cinema behind him: “The cinema is immense. We haven’t done a thing.” That’s not an admonition; it’s an invitation.

A terrific encapsulation of the philosophies and techniques behind the cinematic masterpieces of Robert Bresson, from the man himself.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68137-044-6

Page Count: 296

Publisher: New York Review Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2016

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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