Movie Diary 8/29/2018

First Reformed (Paul Schrader, 2017). I can’t think of anybody else who would make a film like this circa 2018. From the very first moments, you are watching an impeccably seen universe: a slow creep in on a historic church in upstate New York, the sort of camera movement that usually prepares us for a horror movie – and maybe that’s what’s happening. The horror, however, is the sort found in Bresson’s Diary of a Country Priest and Bergman’s Winter Light, two films that are explicitly referenced here. I am fascinated by this movie because on the one hand it very eloquently looks at the dilemma between living life and observing it, and on the other hand (although really it’s the same hand), it’s got something to do with cinema itself – it’s the summation of a certain kind of film that will, I think, no longer be made after this point. The generations that lived closely and intensely with Bresson and Bergman films are passing on, and from now on all of that will be a museum (as people describe the ill-attended church where pastor Ethan Hawke ministers to a dwindling flock – meanwhile, all the crowds are going to the multiplex – er, the megachurch – down the road, which in fact owns the quaint old churchhouse). The cast is superb, down to the smallest roles. Remarkable movie.

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