Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Elusive Existence 

Wednesday, Nov 26 2008
Comments
The groundbreaking French novelist and filmmaker Alain Robbe-Grillet, who died in February, was a sly and good-natured provocateur. His screenplay for Alain Resnais’ watershed 1961 romantic drama, Last Year at Marienbad, introduced the arthouse crowd to a strain of bemused existentialism that he polished to a fine point in his own movies. The curtain parts Dec. 4 on Enigmas and Eternity: The Films of Alain Robbe-Grillet with Trans-Europ Express (1966), a deliciously tongue-in-cheek yet heartfelt rejoinder to the early James Bond flicks. A stone-faced drug courier (the perfect, and perfectly handsome, Jean-Louis Trintignant) takes the train from Paris to Antwerp for his first assignment; the movie’s marvelous conceit is that Elias’ story is concurrently invented by a writer (the mustachioed Robbe-Grillet himself) and two associates on the same train. Miraculously, the director simultaneously delivers an engrossing (and kinky) underworld yarn while deconstructing the genre’s contrived situations and characters. His fascination with the elusiveness of experience, and modern man’s slippage between memory and fantasy, drives his 1963 debut L’Immortelle (screening Dec. 11). A French professor on leave in Istanbul falls for a mysterious and unobtainable beauty whose disappearance (or abandonment) pushes him dangerously out of his comfort zone. It’s a revelation to discover that Robbe-Grillet, whose films have long been all but unavailable to American audiences, was a bridge between and an inspiration to Luis Bunuel (That Obscure Object of Desire) and Michelangelo Antonioni (The Passenger).
Thursdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Dec. 4. Continues through Dec. 18, 2008

About The Author

Michael Fox

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Slideshows

  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"