A searing story about the circulation of a counterfeit five-hundred-franc note and the moral ruin it leaves in its wake, Robert Bresson’s thirteenth and final feature, L’argent (1983), stands as one of his most urgent spiritual testaments, eventually focusing in on a truck driver who winds up on a path to violence after passing the bill. In adapting Tolstoy’s The Forged Coupon, and transplanting its action from czarist Russia to modern-day Paris, the director continued to hone many of his signature stylistic gestures and thematic concerns, further paring down his elliptical editing and stark compositions to conduct this piercing inquiry into greed and transgression. In “L’argent,” A to Z, a video essay on our new edition of the film, scholar James Quandt goes through the alphabet, examining some of Bresson’s most enduring preoccupations through their expression in the filmmaker’s swan song. Reflection and repetition are the watchwords in the excerpt below, in which Quandt discusses the play of transparency and deception in the film’s preponderance of glass surfaces as well as the rhythm established by Bresson’s frequent rhyming of images and sounds.
The Hope That Fueled Bowling for Columbine
How much can a film turn the tide on American violence? Michael Moore and archivist Carl Deal reflect on the moral urgency that gave rise to one of the most talked-about documentaries of all time.
Bringing the Grit to Philippine Cinema
For Philippine master Lino Brocka, casting a mix of nonprofessional and professional actors was key to achieving his brand of unvarnished naturalism.
This Kiss: Filming an Intimate Moment in The Virgin Suicides
What goes into staging the perfect on-screen kiss? Director Sofia Coppola and actors Kirsten Dunst and Josh Hartnett look back on shooting a passionate make-out session in The Virgin Suicides.
“Perfect Imperfection”: Neil Young Improvises Dead Man
Jim Jarmusch filmed Neil Young recording the score for his 1995 revisionist western. Watch a bit of the never-released footage here.