Au Hazard Balthazar, Robert Bresson (1966)

I’m generally near the front of the line when it comes to gushing over pretentious French films, but I’m not quite ready to get behind this quasi-Catholic parable about good and evil about a girl and her donkey. Both girl and donkey are extremely sympathetic and cute, but if I want a somber meditation on the pathos of innocence starring a mystical waif, I’ll take Dreyer; and if I want creepy small town boys dancing to rock and roll radio and frightening/enticing young girls, I’ll take Welles. Sorry, but the specter of the French hoods on their mopeds just made me laugh out loud.

Alert to DVD renters: The best part of the Criterion Collection edition is the inclusion of a French TV program which coincided with the movie’s release. Do NOT miss this; it contains priceless footage of Jean-Luc Godard (who looks furtive and sweaty as a child molester), Louis Malle, and, best of all, Marguerite Duras, who is simply mesmerizing to watch (Wendy sez: “She’d fit right in walking down a sidewalk in Manhattan in 2008.”).

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