The legendary Robert Bresson remains one of the greatest directors in the history of cinema. His portraits (often harrowing, yet poetic) of humanity being tested, continues to be a benchmark/influence for later filmmakers, especially with their own versions of humanisitic struggles. Mouchette, Bresson's 1967 masterpiece, is one of his best and most unsettling tales of how bleak and grim life can really be, especially for children.
The film tells the heartbreaking story of Mouchette (Nadine Nortier), a young girl trying to survive in the French countryside. Her mother is on her deathbed, her father is absent, and her baby brother needs constant care. Because of this, she looks for other means of finding love, away from her demeaning daily routines. Despite the increasing series of humilitations she faces, she remains silent and stoic. Things get even more dire, as she thinks she has found relief in the form of Arsene, the village poacher, who believes he has murdered the local policeman. He basically uses her only as an alibi, which leads to tragedy for everyone involved, especially for Mouchette.
Bresson pulls no punches with this masterwork of international filmmaking. He doesn't sugercoat Mouchette's unlimited sorrows. He puts her squarely in the center of one emotional punishment after the next. In this case, life in general, simply has no mercy for anyone, not even children. Nortier, with her expressive face and quiet grace, truly understood the plight of her character, with more observation than dialogue. Her performance and the film itself, remains one of the most definitive in not just the history of French cinema, but for cinema overall.
The new Blu-ray upgrade from Criterion contains a new 4K restoration, with still viable (if not new) supplements, such as a 2006 audio commentary by film scholar Tony Rayns; Au hasard Bresson, a 1967 documentary, featuring Bresson on the set of the film; segment of a 1967 episode of the French television series Cinéma, featuring on-set interviews with Bresson, Nortier, and actor Jean-Claude Guilbert; and an original theatrical trailer, cut by Jean-Luc Godard. There is also the original essay by critic and poet Robert Polito.
If you don't already happen to have the DVD edition (released in 2006), then is another definite must-have for any dedicated film lover's collection!
Other notable releases:
Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Two Takes by William Greaves (Criterion) contains pioneering filmmaker Greaves' 1968 landmark fiction/documentary hybrid, Take One and its 2005 equally fascinating follow-up, Take 2 1/2.
Cinema Paradiso (Arrow): A new 4K release of director Giuseppe Tornatore's 1988 Oscar-winning classic about a filmmaker who recalls his youth, when he fell in love with the movies at his village's theater, and forms a deep bond/friendship with the theater's projectionist.
Possessor: Uncut: Brandon Cronenberg (son of David) crafts a highly disturbing and graphic tale of an agent who works for a secretive organization that uses brain-implant technology to inhabit the bodies on other people, ultimately causing them to kill for rich clients.
The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone: A new 30th anniversary cut of the final film in the legendary Godfather trilogy. It contains a new beginning and ending, music, and shot changes, as well as a newly restored picture, to create a more appropriate, mostly satisfying conclusion to the often maligned third film in the franchise.
Total Recall (4K): A new 30th anniversay edition of Paul Verhoeven's 1990 wild but iconic scifi action thriller, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a construction worker who is haunted by dreams of Mars. Against his wife's (Sharon Stone) chagrin, he goes to a company that implants false memories where he discovers that he is really a secret agent from Mars, or is he?