The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, November 3-December 6


The Devil, Probably (1977)
Directed by Robert Bresson
Was the French New Wave murdered or was it suicide? Regardless, its ashes were scattered in the Seine with The Devil, Probably, the Apocalypse Now of French cinema, itself about the end of the road for a country’s national progress. Progressivism, like a moth, feels the punishing zap of nihilism. Godard is nowhere to be found. Truffaut has settled down. Paris is grey and quiet. “I proclaim destruction!” cries an organizer in the opening minutes of this paranoid, grotesque novella, followed by the death toll of the world’s animals thanks to pollution and deforestation. Humans are too wrapped up in their differences to begin tallying their own numbers. Bresson’s cinema of closed doors, vacant chairs and empty walkways, of hands clutching lone possessions, never felt more purposefully abandoned, more beautifully bleak. Destruction cannot be stopped, only reclaimed and repurposed, but who has the strength? The disaffected penitents of social revolution are Becketian ghosts in their waking life, with hardly the motivation to speak. Even the thrill of anarchy barely registers in their hollow eyes. The left can never get out of its own way, elbowing each other for ideological dominance while the earth gets smaller around them. Suicide almost seems like the only reasonable response. Scout Tafoya (December 2, 4pm, 8:30pm, 10:30pm at Metrograph’s Bresson series)


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