Monday, 6 February 2012

Greg Klymkiw's Fully Guaranteed ROBERT BRESSON MAN-CAVE™ Without question this is an absolute must for any man (woman or child) serious about one of the greatest film artists of all time. In preparation for the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) retrospective of Bresson, I have developed this unique ROBERT BRESSON MAN-CAVE™ that all may benefit from and enjoy!!!

There is no question that Robert Bresson is one of (if not THE most) important postwar French filmmakers who ever lived and his influence upon cinema is virtually unparalleled. For the first time in 14 years comes the most complete retrospective of his work, courtesy of the Toronto International Film Festival's TIFF Cinematheque. The retrospective is currently touring across North America and opened in New York to rave reviews. The inimitable Dave Kehr in the New York Times proclaimed that: "Every film is a must-see!" I heartily concur. An assertion that cannot be disputed in any way, shape or form, however, comes from the virtually peerless critic Jim Hoberman: "Bluntly put, to not get Bresson is to not get the idea of motion pictures." The Toronto engagement of this meticulously curated work from master programming genius James Quandt will unspool at the glorious TIFF Bell LightBox cinema complex from Thursday February 9 to Sunday March 18, 2012.

By Greg Klymkiw

Fuelled with the excitement of 13 Robert Bresson feature films (and one short) being screened in 35mm, I was inspired to tackle reviewing all of them. Since Bresson is, for me, not unlike the Jesus Christ of cinema and his films on a big screen not unlike worship in some grand Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, there was a part of me that felt it was absolutely necessary to prepare myself for this event in the most respectful and rigorous manner I could concoct. Like some medicine man on a spirit walk, I hit upon the notion that the only way to adequately prepare for this was to devise a mode of total and utter immersion. I wanted it to be a transcendent flexing of my Bressonian muscles. In so doing, I realized that I had in fact designed a full-proof approach to the Master of post-war French cinema and decided it needed to be shared, so that all might benefit from it.

The Greg Klymkiw Robert Bresson Man-Cave™ was the result of this journey.

Preparation is the key to all success and survival and here then, is the most unique Man-Cave on the planet. (Note: the Man-Cave is easily adaptable to the female of the species and even children, but with certain steps outlined below, slight modifications might be needed based upon gender, age and/or predilections.)

Without delay, here is all you need (with pictures taken by mine own hand) to create your own Robert Bresson Man-Cave™. Consider it a field guide to the necessary Man-Cave maneuvers of the Bressonian kind.
Your Robert Bresson Man-Cave™ must be located in total seclusion - preferably as far away from civilization as humanly possible. For those living in Toronto, a quick stop in Etobicoke on your way to North Country will yield some of the swankier Gentleman's Clubs for you to indulge in a final release (so to speak) which will be provided by recent landed immigrants from Eastern Europe. Then and only then will you be ready for your journey to seclusion and total immersion in your Robert Bresson Man-Cave™.

Film Bresson à contempler: Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne
Depending upon how long your journey will be, sustenance via the most healthy, cost-effective comestibles will be an absolute must. Popeye's New Orleans style fried chicken is the best bet for your night drive to Bressonian nirvana. They offer a wide variety of delicious choices. My sojourn takes a good five hours through snow-and-ice-packed single-lane northern highways and I usually choose a box of 20 pieces of chicken (10 regular pieces and 10 spicy pieces), the spicy Cajun french fries, a barrel of delicious spicy Cajun chicken gravy and an equally apportioned helping of sweet creamy coleslaw. This is my sustenance of choice.
The 7-11 Double Gulp is a most Heavenly bargain. The famed jingle, "Oh Thank Heaven For 7-11" will be music to the ears of Bressonophiles the world over. They allow you to reuse the same plastic cup for repeated visits and a delicious, refreshing refill is a mere $1.69 - HOWEVER, do not put ice in the drink as this will water it down and not provide the needed chemical purity. Try to stick to my beverage of choice - Coke or Diet Coke. The caffeine content will keep you awake so you will not hit a moose on the highway. You can also call yourself an environmentalist whilst whetting your whistle on the way to your Robert Bresson Man-Cave™.

Film Bresson à contempler: Affaires publiques
Any self-respecting Man-Cave dweller knows, in the words of the immortal Mark Twain: "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society." That a true Man-Cave dweller has little or no use for society and therefore no need to influence it, wearing no clothing in said domicile of isolation is just fine. That being said, the ideal Robert Bresson Man-Cave™ is located in the coldest environment within one's immediate grasp and lack of proper accoutrements can result in exposed flesh freezing in less than thirty seconds. Ideal les vêtements de choix should include the colours brown and green. John Deere hoodies are especially Bressonian as is anything that provides camouflage.

Film Bresson à contempler: American Gigolo, Bresson acolyte Paul Schrader's most Bresson-influenced film.
Any self-respecting Robert Bresson Man-Cave™ is not complete without Man's Best Friend. My fidèle animal de choix is none other than Daisy, my trusty Mastino Napoletano. She is a loving companion who provides warmth, friendship and protection. The breed first surfaced in ancient Persia where it was used to protect sheep from lions. I kid you not. Lions!!! The sicko Romans perfected the breed. Every fighting officer in the Roman army had their own personal Neo-Mastiff who accompanied them into battle. They were the eyes in the backs of the heads of these brave soldiers and fought with considerable passion. Some of the neo-mastiffs were outfitted with harnesses that had blades affixed to them and they were trained to run under the charging horses of the enemy to slice open the bellies of the mighty equi. They're fiercely loyal and resemble manatees. They're great with kids and small pets. They will maim and/or kill on command.

Film Bresson à contempler: Au hasard Balthazar

A fine implement to accompany any Robert Bresson Man-Cave™ dweller is the Baikal .410 silenced-Russian-assault-rifle for those times one needs to scare up some chow and/or dispatch roaming bands of inbred poachers. If your retraite de Bresson is properly located in isolated locales such as the one I have situated mine in, there are plenty of places to dispose of bodies.

My specifications of choice are as follows:

Mechanism: Break-action, single-shot
Calibre: .410
Chamber: 3” / 76 mm
Overall Length: 50” / 127 cm
Barrel length: 24 1/2" / 61 cm
Moderator length: 33 5/8” / 85.4 cm
Weight: 6 lb 4 oz / 2.8 kg
Stock: Black synthetic
L.O.P.: 14 7/8” / 37.8 cm
Sights: Brass front bead

Film Bresson à contempler: Deliverance, John Boorman's stunning Bresson-influenced wilderness survival thriller.

Whilst journeying to your Robert Bresson Man-Cave™ you must ensure your vehicle (preferably an SUV with off-road capabilities) is in first rate condition. An oil change and, most importantly, a good lube job will make sure you actually reach your destination. If you let this go too long, you'll blow your engine out and need to have it rebuilt. Believe me, this is a pricey job. An oil change and nice lube job is anywhere from $30 to $50 and well below the cost of rebuilding your engine. A lube job is the act of greasing and lubricating moving parts in the drive train, suspension and engine bay and should not be confused with the manual stimulation that occurs during acts of what's commonly referred to as "maintenance sex". My lube job of choice is the Lubinator on the wild Saugeen Shores of Lake Huron. They do a great job making sure all the metal under my hood is well greased.

Speaking of the lubrication of metal, there are over 2000 uses for WD-40, and I cannot stress the importance of popping into a Canadian Tire and picking up a canister or two.

Film Bresson à contempler: Lancelot du Lac

Speaking of Canadian Tire, this fine vendor is replete with many clearance items. That said, if you choose a franchise in the middle of nowhere, you might be greeted with a placard not unlike the one featured above. You'll need to dig deeper for bargains, but you'll be presented with Bressonian options to help your fellow neighbours.

Film Bresson à contempler: Diary of a Country Priest

It is imperative that your Robert Bresson Man-Cave™ be situated near a Royal Canadian Legion that features a Meat Draw since you will require plenty of meat to see you through your Bresson immersion. The Meat Draw works thus. You purchase several raffle tickets at $1.00 per ticket. I suggest you get to the draw at least two hours in advance and space your purchases out prior to the drawing of the lucky numbers to allow for a decent spread (ensuring at least one win and ideally, more than one). This time will not be wasted as you will be able to consume vast quantities of Rye with chasers of beer and do so in the company of malcontent veterans. (Every so often they will speak. They will not remove their gaze from whatever jar of liquor is before them and mutter, "Well, what can you do?") The draw will begin promptly at 4:00pm.

Spread upon the pool tables will be a wide array of meats - everything from prime rib roasts to a package of wieners, and in between there will be steaks, roasts and briskets of every imaginable grade and cut. Sometimes there will even be exotic fare like headcheese, tongue, hoof and all manner of juicy viscous innards. The animal of choice is cow, but there will, on occasion be pig, lamb, buffalo, horse, emu and chicken. You will have been able, during the preceding two hours, to peruse the offerings and make detailed lists of your favourites in the order which best reflects your meatly desires. Ideally, you want your lucky number to be called as early in the proceedings as possible. If, for example, your number is called first, you'll be able have first pickin's. Most people in this hallowed spot will immediately snatch up the prime rib roast. As the numbers are called, the most prime choices are secured by the happy winners until all that's left are the dregs.

That said, in my neck o' the Bressonian Woods, there's one family, the Pincock brothers from the bush, who purchase their tickets as a team. If they get selected first, you breathe a sigh of relief as they're apt to happily select the package of wieners. They do this because they are the most flagrant result of inbreeding in Northern Bresson County. A more salient example of the Pincock brothers' collective lack of grey matter is the time they had a job burning off a huge pile of brush during a wind storm. The fire wasn't actually going too badly, but Curly, the eldest Pincock brother was getting impatient as he (ironically) feared they would be late for the Meat Draw at the Legion. He marched over to their half-ton and secured a plastic milk carton full of gasoline. He popped the cap and tossed a spray of fuel in the direction of the smouldering fire just as a huge breeze blew in their direction.

As the first droplets of gasoline hit the fire, the wind carried a blast of flame back into his face. As he continued grasping the still-half-full plastic milk carton of gasoline, it exploded in his hands. While his younger brothers, Enoch and Harold, also went up in flames, Curly got it the worst. He ran back to the half-ton, burning to a crisp and screaming. This was probably not a good idea as there were several milk cartons full of gasoline in the back of the pickup truck and a full tank of gas (not to mention several barrels of the Pincock Brothers' fine home brew). Oh, and have I mentioned yet the box of dynamite? The Pincock boys use it when they go fishing as it's much easier to set charges in hand-crafted waterproof containers that explode in the clear blue of Lake Huron and allow for hundreds of stunned fish to float to the surface, thus allowing the Pincocks to handily scoop them up into their boat. In any event, it's a miracle Curly Pincock and his siblings lived to tell the tale.

Prior to this accident, none of them were an especially pretty sight, but these days it's no wonder most of the Legion's malcontent veterans try to keep their collective eyes focused on their mother's milk of cheap rye - it's surely a more palatable sight than the Pincock Brothers with their post-apocalyptic visages. We're all thankful they survived, though. Someone has to choose the package of wieners and better the Pincocks than any of us. Besides, their inbreeding guarantees their early departure from the Legion once they win - so thrilled are they, that an immediate dash to the backwoods for a weenie-roast is in order. This somehow also makes looking at the packages of raw meat a bit more pleasing in their absence.

Film Bresson à contempler: Le Diable probablement
A trip to the liquor store is perhaps the most important sojourn you'll make prior to your immersion in Bresson. In my neck of the woods, the one and only place to purchase Labatt's 50 Ale, Jägermeister, Stolichnaya Vodka, Captain Morgan Run and Gimli Goose Sparkling Wine (my suggested spirits to accompany any Bresson-o-rama) is always open for two hours past the Meat Draw at the Legion.

Film Bresson à contempler: Les Anges du péché.
Hopefully you will have a liquor store with more reasonable parking policies than mine. 15 minutes of parking time is quite a challenge to stock up enough booze to fortify my Robert Bresson Man-Cave™. Luckily, there is a convenient handicapped parking spot to allow for the most expedient position to offload the booze.

Film Bresson à contempler: The Trial of Joan of Arc.
Be sure to keep an eye open for work crews. The local constabulary live for road crew speed traps. Keep to the speed limit and try to drive in a straight line. Remember, you've ingested two hours worth of rye and beer, plus you have open liquor in your car to fortify the final leg of the journey to your Robert Bresson Man-Cave™. Nothing spoils an immersion in Bresson more than having to bribe the police.

Film Bresson à contempler: Pickpocket.
I cannot speak for your neck of the woods, but in my neck of the woods, the Ontario Provincial Police (O.P.P.) take drinking and driving seriously. You will need to be carrying a good wad of cash if you get stopped by these paragons of decency. Keep in mind that on Meat Draw days, the Legion hosts a popular event that features D. J. Scubalicious spinning tunes and the local police, being only human, will need booze money to trip the light fantastic later in the evening with all the single welfare Moms and ply them with enough liquor and Rohypnol to make it all worth it. You have been warned.

Film Bresson à contempler: Mouchette.
Film Bresson à contempler: Monte Hellman's Bresson-influenced Two Lane Blacktop starring Warren Oates and James Taylor
We're getting ever-closer to the Robert Bresson Man-Cave™. Can you taste it yet? Or is it the taste of Ukrainian mayo on your palate?
Whatever you do, don't forget the mayo.
Film Bresson à contempler: L'Argent
Make sure you've invited plenty of Ukrainians. They love Bresson. They'll be sure to bring plenty of booze, food, cigarettes and women.
Film Bresson à contempler: Une femme douce
Don't forget your trusty Mastino Napoletano. She will keep the Ukrainians in line.
Film Bresson à contempler: J. Lee Thompson's Bresson-influenced Taras Bulba starring Yul Brynner and Tony Curtis
Be sure to regard the natural beauty around you. It's the last you'll be seeing of the great outdoors that God gave us to enjoy before you step inside Greg Klymkiw's Robert Bresson Man-Cave™.
Film Bresson à contempler: Charles B. Pierce's Bresson-influenced The Legend of Boggy Creek the classic Bigfoot docudrama from the 70s.
Do NOT - I repeat, DO NOT forget to pay your respects at the old grave of at least one long-dead pioneer resting on your property. This is ideal karma to take with you into full Bresson immersion.
Film Bresson à contempler: Four Nights of a Dreamer

THE GREG KLYMKIW ROBERT BRESSON MAN-CAVE (view from outside). Please note: Woodchipper in honour of Bresson and the Coen Brothers' Bresson-influenced Fargo. Please note: Every movie ever made is influenced by Bresson.
THE GREG KLYMKIW ROBERT BRESSON MAN-CAVE (view from inside). Please note: Table to view Bresson and related works on computer and plenty of room for ashtrays to accommodate residue from chain-smoking.
THE GREG KLYMKIW ROBERT BRESSON MAN-CAVE (side view). Please note: Table to view Bresson and related works on computer and plenty of room for ashtrays to accommodate residue from chain-smoking, aforementioned woodchipper, boxes full of books to bone up on Bresson and related items.
THE GREG KLYMKIW ROBERT BRESSON MAN-CAVE. Any self-respecting MAN-CAVE will be full of movies - especially when immersing oneself in Bresson. His influence was so wide-reaching that you never know what movie you will need to reach for and when and why. Please note: A bust of Caesar from the original Arthur P. Jacobs production of the Planet of the Apes movies - all, no doubt influenced by Bresson - watches over the Man-Cave and has a secret compartment which houses every single Planet of the Apes movie, TV series, cartoon series and making-of documentaries. Some might consider this pathetic, but Robert Bresson wouldn't.
THE GREG KLYMKIW ROBERT BRESSON MAN-CAVE. Robert Bresson was French. All French people smoke. In fact, many French people are born with cigarettes in their mouths. Any self-respecting Robert Bresson Man-Cave will be full of the natural carcinogens inspired by smoking. While you immerse yourself in Bresson and watch his movies and the movies which he influenced, which are all of them (even those made before his birth) - you must SMOKE as if your life depended upon it. We are all French. We are all Bresson. He is the Son of Man and He is in all of us. Bresson is Lord.
Film Bresson à contempler: A Man Escaped

Look up to the Heavens. Robert Bresson is looking upon you.

Come back often to KLYMKIW FILM CORNER between the hallowed dates of Thursday February 9 to Sunday March 18, 2012. Every single Robert Bresson film will receive its own full-length, in-depth review. "The Poetry of Precision: The Films of Robert Bresson" organized by James Quandt and the TIFF Cinémathèque is presented at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. To get tickets and read James Quandt's expert program notes, visit HERE