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At the Movies

Michael Wood: The Devil and Robert Bresson, 5 June 2008

Le Diable, probablement 
directed by Robert Bresson.
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... The devil is in the detail, they say, and this is certainly the case with the films of Robert Bresson. And if the devil is there, God can’t be far away. Or can he? These are very curious details, bits of the real but not part of any attempt at realism, pieces of a puzzle that may not even exist. Feet, legs, hands, sand, straw, mud, laceless old shoes; dulled or hallucinating faces staring past the camera at some lost version of infinity; countless shots of the backs of persons walking away from us, or figures whose heads are out of the frame most of the time; sound effects that threaten to take over the whole movie; an old tweed suit that moves us far more than the fake blood on a man’s face; passing cars that are more interesting than a couple going through the motions of an embrace in the foreground; acting that is not so much unprofessional as non-existent, a mere reciting of lines from a too perfectly written book ...

Who does that for anyone?

Adam Shatz: Jean-Pierre Melville, 20 June 2019

Jean-Pierre Melville: Le Solitaire 
by Bertrand Teissier.
Fayard, 272 pp., €22, October 2017, 978 2 213 70573 6
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Jean-Pierre Melville, une vie 
by Antoine de Baecque.
Seuil, 244 pp., €32, October 2017, 978 2 02 137107 9
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... film is based. The pages of the novel reveal the credits: a device, as André Bazin noted, that Robert Bresson borrowed for his 1951 adaptation of Georges Bernanos’s Diary of a Country Priest. Melville’s early films were bookish, and rather talky. But in the early 1960s he began to hone back his dialogue. The first seven minutes of Le Samouraï ...

Nothing to Do with Me

Gaby Wood: Henri Cartier-Bresson, 5 June 2014

Henri Cartier-Bresson 
Pompidou Centre, until 8 June 2015Show More
‘Voir est un tout’: Entretiens et conversations 1951-98 
by Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Centre Pompidou, 176 pp., €19.90, January 2014, 978 2 84426 639 2
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Henri Cartier-BressonHere and Now 
edited by Clément Chéroux.
Thames and Hudson, 400 pp., £45, March 2014, 978 0 500 54430 3
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... Pompidou Centre in Paris, a two-hour wait will get you ‘priority access’ to the Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibition. It’s available only to friends of the museum, members of the press, and those who bought tickets in advance and naively thought they’d walk straight in. As the American woman behind me remarked, it’s the kind of queue that would be ...

Just How It was

Anne Hollander: The work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, 7 May 1998

Tête à Tête: Portraits by Henri Cartier-Bresson 
edited by E.H. Gombrich.
Thames and Hudson, 144 pp., £32, February 1998, 9780500542187
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Henri Cartier-BressonEuropeans 
edited by Jean Clair.
Thames and Hudson, 231 pp., £29.95, January 1998, 0 500 28052 5
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... Like Titian’s, Cartier-Bresson’s work began as the mirror of one epoch and is ending as that of another, simply because he invented the best mirror and kept polishing it Cartier-Bresson’s influence has been immense since his beginnings, not just on photography but on cinema and photojournalism, so that he has been largely responsible for 20th-century notions of what a superior realistic camera image should look like ...

At the Whitechapel

Peter Campbell: ‘Faces in the Crowd: Picturing Modern Life from Manet to Today’, 6 January 2005

... this the truth? Or is the truth to be found in the nuanced available light of René Burri, Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa? ‘Truth’ not just in the sense of true to appearances. Are human beings like Weegee’s excited grinning bystanders? Or are they like Cartier-Bresson’s ...

Everybody’s Joan

Marina Warner, 6 December 2012

... Florence Carrez, played the title role in Le Procès de Jeanne d’Arc, the classic film made by Robert Bresson in 1962; Delay became a writer not long after her role in Bresson’s film, and is now an académicienne. She drew attention to Péguy’s dream of fusing faith, hope and charity with the three Republican ...


Robert Tashman, 9 March 1995

directed by Robert Altman.
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... a big business, but not, as it is now, a corporate power that crosses national and class borders. Robert Altman’s new film, Prêt-à-Porter, is like La Dolce Vita grafted onto Funny Face. The unaffected and trusting Hepburn and Astaire would be marginalised or crushed in the fashion world portrayed here. Altman has never enjoyed a sustained period of ...

At the Barbican

Liz Jobey: Strange and Familiar , 2 June 2016

... taxonomy, People of the 20th Century, were it not for their local insignia. Henri Cartier-Bresson, for the purposes of this exhibition, is cast as a royal reporter. In 1937, his first year working for the French communist daily Ce Soir, he covered the coronation of George VI, turning his back on the royals to capture the event through the reactions of ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: How We Are, 5 July 2007

... on the nature of the photograph than on where and how it was seen. The work of Weegee and Cartier Bresson had a first life as news, in papers and magazines, and a second in books, as art. In classic photographic monographs, a form established in the mid-20th century, most images have a page to themselves. Captions are reduced to a list at the end. If there is ...

In Transit

Geoff Dyer: Garry Winogrand, 20 June 2013

... pools of unexpected calm. But he wasn’t simply a New York photographer-novelist. Convinced that Robert Frank had missed out on the real story of America in the 1950s – the story of the suburbs – he made his way across the country, and his travels put him in an entirely different relation to photographic and physical space. He left New York for ...

Concini and the Squirrel

Peter Campbell, 24 May 1990

by John Allen Paulos.
135 pp., £12.95, November 1989, 0 670 83008 9
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The Culture of Print 
edited by Roger Chartier.
351 pp., £35, September 1989, 0 7456 0575 3
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Symbols of Ideal Life 
by Maren Stange.
Cambridge, 190 pp., £25, June 1989, 0 521 32441 6
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The Lines of My Hand 
by Robert Frank.
£30, September 1989, 0 436 16256 3
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... are without the frivolity, irony, formalism or obliquity of Europeans like Kertez, Cartier Bresson or Sander. By putting the American work in its context, however, Stange is able to show that, however direct they may seem, they were as integral a part of the manipulation of the political will as the lampoon on Concini had been. Riis’s newspaper ...

Seventy Years in a Colourful Trade

Andrew O’Hagan: The Soho Alphabet, 16 July 2020

Tales from the Colony Room: Soho’s Lost Bohemia 
by Darren Coffield.
Unbound, 364 pp., £25, April 2020, 978 1 78352 816 5
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... took a taxi, unless she hadn’t a penny, even for the Tube, whereupon she walked, as the painter Robert Colquhoun did on the evening of one of his openings, from the Colony Room to the Whitechapel Gallery, three miles in the pouring rain.Francis Bacon​ was 39 when he tipped up at the club in 1948. He was introduced to it by Brian Howard, the poet and ...

Dreams of the Decades

Liz Jobey: Bill Brandt, 8 July 2004

Bill Brandt: A Life 
by Paul Delany.
Cape, 336 pp., £35, March 2004, 0 224 05280 2
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Bill Brandt: A Centenary Retrospective 
Victoria & Albert MuseumShow More
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... on Buddenbrooks for life among the haute bourgeoisie in prewar Germany and Swiss sanatoria, and Robert Musil’s Young Törless for possible events during Brandt’s schooldays. Where there is no proof, there is supposition. For example: ‘There is ample evidence that Brandt suffered a psychic wound in his school days, something so hurtful that it affected ...

Building with Wood

Gilberto Perez: Time and Tarkovsky, 26 February 2009

by Nathan Dunne.
Black Dog, 464 pp., £29.95, February 2008, 978 1 906155 04 9
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Andrei Tarkovsky: Elements of Cinema 
by Robert Bird.
Reaktion, 255 pp., £15.95, April 2008, 978 1 86189 342 0
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... in, and she enters the crypt alone. ‘Three kinds of space dominate all Tarkovsky’s films,’ Robert Bird writes: ‘nature, the home, and the shrine or cathedral.’ The ‘cathedral space is demonstrated most fully at the beginning of Nostalghia . . . in the rigorously geometrical yet disconcertingly elusive space of a columned crypt’. One reason ...

Loafing with the Sissies

Colm Tóibín: The Trials of Andy Warhol, 10 September 2020

Warhol: A Life as Art 
by Blake Gopnik.
Allen Lane, 931 pp., £35, March, 978 0 241 00338 1
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... opened in 1941 and for the next six years put on work by Calder, Cornell, Berenice Abbott, Cartier-Bresson, Klee, Cocteau and Duchamp. It also had an exhibition of silkscreen prints and showed art movies.Warhol often pretended not to know anything about anything, asking questions like ‘what was the First World War all about?’, but this may have been a ...

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