Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins:
Like most of us, I love movies.
My taste is a mixture of high-brow and low-brow that tends toward classic dramas, film noir, and documentary.
I revere Robert Bresson: Diary of a Country Priest (1951), A Man Escaped (1956), Pickpocket(1959). I’ve written here of Pasolini’s The Gospel According to Matthew(1964), named by the Vatican as “the best film about Jesus ever made in the history of cinema.”
That doesn’t mean I always worship at the feet of the greats. Last year, for example, I finally forced myself to sit through Bergman’s The Seventh Seal (1957), routinely hailed in critics’ circles as one of the greatest ten films of all time. It was torture. The whole thing, an allegory about death set in medieval times, was such a giant bore I was actually indignant by the end. I loved A Winter Light and The Silence. But The Seventh Seal?—come on.
Also worth pondering is the mystery of how the same director could make a masterpiece like The Gospel According to Matthew, and then devolve into the moral obscenity of, say Salò.
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