Just a few updates today:

ïYes, Robert Bresson’s Au hasard Balthazar has finally opened at the Film Forum in New York and I can’t wait for its release in Los Angeles on December 12. In the meantime, check out J. Hoberman’s review here (“Robert Bresson puts the ass in classic with his 1966 masterwork about a saintly donkey”).

Dave Kehr offers a brief interview with its lead actress, a nonprofessional who grew up to be an author, here. An excerpt:

“When I first met [Bresson], I was very much impressed and fell very much under his charm,” Ms. Wiazemsky recalled, speaking in French from her home in Paris. “Because, even if he was an older man, he was really very, very handsome. He spoke very softly, with a slight stutter, and that made me laugh ó the seriousness of his speech, the beauty of this man, and then his little stutter. That made me feel at ease with him right away.”

ï I saw Mystic River this weekend, intending to write about it this week, but as with Lost in Translation, I felt its parts were better than the whole. Predictably powerful performances by Sean Penn and Tim Robbins, Clint Eastwood’s slick direction, and interesting themes about history repeating itself give the film considerable heft, but I found the “mystery” plot elementary, the tone too often heavy-handed, and its overall ambiguity fairly unproductive. In the end, it just didn’t move me that much. Any dissenting opinions?

ïHowever, I did get around to seeing Tengiz Abuladze’s Repentance (1984) via Ruscico’s new PAL DVD and was blown away by its sophistication and passion. (For those who are curious, my inexpensive all-region Cyber Home 500 DVD Player allows me to watch non-region 1 DVDs without a hitch.)

Repentance, a key film of Soviet (or more specifically, Georgian) glasnost personally promoted by Gorbachev in 1987 through sold-out screenings across the country, plays like a cross between Tarkovsky and late-Fellini: a spiritual parable about the horrors of Stalinism that is wildly anachronistic, surreal, and deeply rooted in accessible human personalities. I plan to write a lot more about the film later in the week…

ïAnd be sure to check out John Torvi’s final update for his Calgary International Film Festival capsule reviews, here. I’ve particulary enjoyed his commentary on the animated films he’s seen at the fest, and his latest entry is no exception.