A rare moment of reprieve, a fleeting evocation of a particular mode of lyricism, from Alain Resnais' Muriel, ou les temps d'un retour, 1963. Viewed in advance of a New York Film Festival press screening of Resnais' latest, Les herbes folles.
Ida Lupino in a nicely expressionist frame from Nicholas Ray's 1952 On Dangerous Ground, which just played yesterday as part of NYC treasure Film Forum's Ray retrospective, which is ongoing and essential. If you missed this one, the Warner DVD is easy to find. One of the things I love about the picture is the intensity of all the relations between the characters, particularly that of damaged cop Robert Ryan and gentle, independent blind woman Ida Lupino—they go from zero to sixty in a matter of minutes, not romantically, but then again, it's not too dissimilar to the alacrity with which Bogart and Grahame begin their affair in In A Lonely Place. I know that when you were making low-budget pictures of durations of ninety minutes or fewer back in the day, it paid to get where you were going quickly, but with Ray you can always sense that there's more than expediency behind the urgency.
In Godard's 1965 Pierrot le fou, Ray's fellow Hollywood renegade Samuel Fuller sums up his definition of cinema with the word "emotion." A year later, Godard dedicated Made in U.S.A. to Fuller and Ray, for teaching him to respect sound and image. Wim Wenders named one of his early collections of essays and criticism Emotion Pictures. He cast Ray and Fuller to act together in his 1977 The American Friend. (They had never met before, apparently.) And so on...
Among the many fantastic extras on Criterion's terrific new edition of Last Year At Marienbad is director Alain Resnais' thoroughly lovely 1959 documentary short, Le chant du Styrene, a gripping account of plastic manufacture with a very clever (but of course) verse narration from the great Raymond Queneau. A colorful homage to the surreality of the industrial world that, like Marienbad, marries magnificent formal command to a quirky sense of play, it brims with eye-popping imagery, so much so that my customary single image for a day just wouldn't do.