Splices: Bresson's Lancelot du Lac, Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne and more 

• Robert Bresson's movies are often described in ways that make them sound like liturgy: austere, somber, religious. There's some truth in that, at least in certain films, but none of those adjectives truly captures the sinewy strangeness of Lancelot du Lac, his 1974 take on the Arthurian legend. It seems at once post-apocalyptic and pre-Enlightenment: with the veil of courtly love removed, and Camelot literally godforsaken, the knights of the Round Table are reduced to clanking metal humanoids hammering each other with swords, their brain-jarring collisions so ritualized that Bresson shoots their jousting matches from the legs down.

With the director's preferred non-professional actors giving the stoic, uninflected performances he wanted, each gesture assumes the heaviness of movement in armor. At times it's as if Bresson had made a medieval robot movie, with only jets of blood to prove that tin can rolling on the ground ever encased a head. It's a fearsome and visionary movie, concrete in every evocative detail and sound, and not even Monty Python's spot-on burlesque of it (especially in their Black Knight sequence) lessens its power.

Part of The Belcourt's ongoing Bresson retrospective, it screens one time only, 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 20; Lynn Ramey, Vanderbilt associate professor of French and chair of the department of French and Italian, gives a talk on the film beforehand at 5:45 p.m. at Belmont United Methodist Church. Also showing this week in the series: one of Bresson's most entertaining films, his early 1945 melodrama Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne (7 p.m. Sunday, March 18).

• Opening Friday at Green Hills: In Darkness, Agnieszka Holland's Oscar-nominated drama based on the true story of a black-marketeer during World War II who helped Jews escape through the sewers under the Nazi-occupied Polish city of Lvov. The movie is in Polish, Ukrainian, Yiddish and German with subtitles. Also opening at Green Hills: Jay & Mark Duplass' comedy Jeff, Who Lives at Home, with Jason Segel, Ed Helms and Susan Sarandon. And if you haven't seen Andrew Stanton's swashbuckling sci-fi fantasy John Carter, it's much more fun than its pre-release Internet knee-capping led anyone to expect.

• Sticking around for weekend late-night shows at The Belcourt: Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie.

• At Vanderbilt's International Lens series 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 15, in Sarratt Cinema: Derek Koen's Beyond the Bricks, a half-hour documentary following the progress of two African-American teens through the Newark, N.J., school system. Sandra Barnes, Vanderbilt professor of sociology of religion and human and organizational development, will introduce the DVD screening, which is free and open to the public.

• 2 p.m. Sunday, March 18, at Regal Opry Mills and Green Hills: Herbie Hancock celebrating Gershwin in a pre-recorded broadcast with the L.A. Philharmonic under the baton of maestro Gustavo Dudamel. Or you can just wait and see the real thing Tuesday, March 20, when Hancock performs with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra at the Schermerhorn.

Email arts@nashvillescene.com.


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