Diary of a Country Priest

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Gary Tooze, Sep 18, 2001.

  1. Gary Tooze

    Gary Tooze Producer

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    Diary of a Country Priest

    Well, I watched it last night. And will do so again this weekend. The film had such a profound aura as I watched another unique cinematic style, not unlike my first Antonioni, it was like a new discovery. My first Bresson film, and I am hungering for more... I had my eyes glued to the set for the entire 115 minutes... because of the spiritual makeup and heavy dealings of faith I was reminded very much of Dreyer’s “Ordet”... I loved the pacing of this film, my mind never drifted even once... I felt the priests physical deterioration was mimicking his spiritual collapse... and much of the dialogue and images were very poetic... the philosophical arguments were so well written... great imagery, minimal dialogue... it was SO amazing. After the lauding I’ve read from Tarkovsky in his diary, my expectations were quite high, and I was not disappointed at all. After the next viewing it will be fitting somewhere in my http://www.hometheaterforum.com/uub/Forum9/HTML/007528.htmlGary@2ze.com
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  2. Pascal A

    Pascal A Second Unit

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    I guess, I'll post my thoughts here as well:
    The quick blurb on Diary of a Country Priest (the only Kino title, by the way) is that it is one of the Interama titles that Kino acquired (along with Becker's Montparnasse 19, Franju's Eyes Without a Face, and Renoir's A Day in the Country, for example). As such, they only have VHS distribution rights, and not DVD distribution rights. New Yorker Video has the bulk of Bresson's films (Pickpocket, A Man Escaped, Lancelot of the Lake, L'Argent, A Gentle Woman, The Devil, Probably), with the notable exceptions of Four Nights of a Dreamer and Au Hasard Balthazar, which no one has distribution rights to in the US. Mouchette is distributed by Hen's Tooth, and the atypical Dames du Bois de Boulogne is a Home Vision Cinema title.
    I recommended Diary of a Country Priest first because it his most accessible film. From here, the two prison films: Pickpocket and A Man Escaped, are a good way to familiarize yourself with his work. There's also L'Argent in this category. Honestly, they're all great, except Dames du Bois de Boulogne, which was clearly a "chore" film to cut his teeth in the industry. My favorites, of course, are Mouchette and Au Hasard Balthazar.
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  3. Doug D

    Doug D Stunt Coordinator

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    Wow, what a great film. It's probably my favorite Bresson, although I've only seen it once, several years ago. (I actually got into Bresson through Hal Hartley, who claims Bresson and Godard as his two principal influences.)
    I've only seen PICKPOCKET, COUNTRY PRIEST, and A MAN ESCAPED, but now I remember that I need to see more.
    Of the two others, A MAN ESCAPED made a slightly stronger impression, perhaps because it was the first I saw. But they're both excellent. You could probably flip a coin. Or watch them back to back.
     
  4. Darren H

    Darren H Second Unit

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    Since I've yet to see a Bresson film, I can't add much to that particular discussion. But, Doug, I do have a request for you (and anyone else who might be willing and able to help). I have tried, with little success, to understand the appeal of Hal Hartley. I just could not make it through either Amateur or Henry Fool. Something about those films irritated me to no ends.
    Any pointers? Good Internet resources? Though I probably won't return to him in the immediate future, I would like to at least understand his aesthetic, even if I'm never able to embrace it.
    Thanks
     
  5. Tom Meyer

    Tom Meyer Second Unit

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    Of the 6 Bresson films I've seen & studied, my favorites are "Diary of a Country Priest" and "A Man Escaped". With apologies to Pascal, I found "Mouchette" & "Balthazar" extremely tedious and had a hard time staying awake for "The Devil, Probably", probably due to the "models" used in the film. "Priest" & "Escaped" at least are more traditional and are probably the best place to start.
     
  6. Tim Raffey

    Tim Raffey Stunt Coordinator

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    I saw Diary... at the only art-house here (in 35mm, as part of a retrospective on religion in cinema; Bergman's The Virgin Spring and Bunuel's The Milky Way also played--the latter introduced by Guy Maddin) a couple months ago. It was a nice introduction to Bresson, which I, for some reason, haven't followed up yet. One thing I noticed was that (especially for the era) the characters were all amazingly true to life; not one person in the film screamed "written!".
    I can't wait to see more, but I'm afraid that as nice as the screening was, my access to his films is limited.
     
  7. Doug D

    Doug D Stunt Coordinator

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    Darren,
    There is a very theatrical flavor to Hal Hartley's work that is hard to come to terms with for some people. I think the transplanting of a lot of Euro-cinema ideas to American film doesn't always come together as well as it could.
    For me, the core Hartley films are SIMPLE MEN, TRUST, and SURVIVING DESIRE. (None of which are on DVD, unfortunately.) If you don't like these, you shouldn't bother with anything else (except the idiosyncratic BOOK OF LIFE, which is shot on DV with a unique visual flavor). AMATEUR is kind of a digression (it's his first attempt at "genre" film), and HENRY FOOL is just incredibly polarizing with its attempt to mold his earlier style and the "gross-out" scenes.
    In the end, I think so much of the "Hartley project" comes down to his dialogue: you either love it or hate it. I'm less enraptured by it than I was immediately, and more impressed by his influences than I am by his films. But the three aforementioned films will always have a special place in my heart. If I were to recommend just one, I'd say TRUST.
    For more reading, check out this Hal Hartley fan page (which is now slightly out of date, as MONSTER has been retitled NO SUCH THING; by the way, the trailer looks awful): http://www.best.com/~drumz/Hartley/index.html
    (Don't let your feelings about Hartley put you off of Bresson, by the way. The lineage is not at all obvious.)
     

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