TABLE OF CONTENTS

First Communion

IN THE EARLY ’80s, a friend invited me to a screening of Robert Bresson’s The Devil, Probably, on the condition that, no matter what, I not say a word about it afterward. He claimed that Bresson’s films had such a profound, consuming effect on him that he couldn’t bear even the slightest outside interference until their immediate spell wore off, which he warned me might take hours. He was not normally a melodramatic, overly sensitive, or pretentious person, so I just thought he was being weird —until the house lights went down. All around us, moviegoers yawned or laughed derisively; some even fled the theater. But, watching the film, I experienced an emotion more intense than any I’d ever have guessed art could produce. The critic Andrew Sarris, writing on Bresson’s work, once famously characterized this reaction as a convulsion of one’s entire being, which rings true to me. Ever since,

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