Last Year at Marienbad

Back in the day, literal-minded audiences had great fun pretending to be baffled by this artiest of European art films. In Alain Resnais’ 1961 Last Year at Marienbad, politely avid “X” (Giorgio Albertazzi) pursues the mysteriously diffident “A” (an irresistible Delphine Seyrig) through a huge, mirror-encrusted château. X insists, against A’s protestations, that a year ago she’d promised to leave her husband for him. Hopelessly retro, eternally avant-garde, and one of the most influential movies ever made (as well as one of the most reviled), Marienbad is both utterly lucid and provocatively opaque—an elaborate joke on the world’s corniest pickup line and a drama of erotic fixation that takes Vertigo to the next level of abstraction. It’s a movie of alarming stasis—elegant zombies positioned like chess pieces in a hypercivilized haunted house—and unsurpassed fluidity. The hypnotic dollies elaborate on those of Resnais’ earlier Hiroshima Mon Amour; the montage effortlessly synthesizes past and present, flashback and flash-forward, svelte shock cuts and shock match cuts. (The movie runs Fri., July 18–Thurs., July 24, and is not rated.) SIFF Cinema, 321 Mercer St. (McCaw Hall), 448-2186, www.siff.net. $5–$10. 2 and 8 p.m.

J. HOBERMAN

July 19-24, 2 p.m., 2008

 
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