WILD GRASS (Alain Resnais, 2009)

We glean from Georges Palet’s thoughts, which we hear as voiceover (intermixed with some omniscent voiceover), that he has a problem: he has killed, has been incarcerated for it, and must work steadily at suppressing an urge to kill again. The shot of a multitude of working timepieces at the jeweler’s to which he has […]

PROVIDENCE (Alain Resnais, 1977)

How does one evaluate Alain Resnais’s first English-language film, which he directed haplessly from a tricky, overwritten script by playwright David Mercer that includes, however, a coda that soars? At night a portentous camera slowly roams the grounds of Providence, the luxuriant estate of dying British author Clive Langham, who, indoors, is imagining his new […]

SONG OF THE STYRENE (Alain Resnais, 1958)

“An Olympian film, of matchless gravity.” — Jean-Luc Godard, reviewing Alain Resnais’s Le chant du Styrène With witty commentary written by Raymond Queneau, Le chant du Styrène was Alain Resnais’s last documentary before Hiroshima, mon amour (1959) launched his ongoing career in feature films. It was commissioned by a company, Péchiney, intent on singing the […]

ALL THE MEMORY OF THE WORLD (Alain Resnais, 1956)

“The [Bibliothèque Nationale de France] is a model memory, stockpiling everything printed in France.” Alain Resnais’s wondrous documentary, marred a bit by Maurice Jarre’s jarring score, surveys France’s national library, which Resnais depicts as a world inside the world, a prison for books. During the film’s twenty-one minutes, voiceover narration indeed refers to the books […]

I WANT TO GO HOME (Alain Resnais, 1989)

Alain Resnais’s films possess rigor, a quality notably lacking in his mostly English-language I Want to Go Home, a comedy about the gap between an estranged father and daughter and, also, French and U.S. attitudes and culture. The father, a septuagenarian cartoonist (beautifully played by Adolph Green—yes, that Adolph Green), is in Paris for an […]