Fitting for an artist whose most enduring contribution to history is the nouveau romain, even the title of this BAM retrospective—The Immortal Alain Robbe-Grillet—is a language game, a play on Robbe-Grillet’s overdue election to the ranks of the Académie Française’s so-called “immortals.” As novelist, Robbe-Grillet toyed endlessly with perspective, with surfaces—both of people and of elaborately, repetitively described objects—and with the unreliability of his own medium; in these respects, he was destined to become a filmmaker, and his first script, for Last Year at Marienbad (1961), was a Picasso-sized sensation the year the film was released in France. Essentially a riff on the most ancient and tired of come-ons (“Didn’t we meet at Marienbad last year?”), the resolutely art-house Marienbad is less difficult than dizzying. BAM screens this film and new prints of four of the pictures Robbe-Grillet directed himself (including Trans-Europ Express, 1966, in which he starred) in the wake of the avant-gardist’s death in February of this year.

July 10-15, 2008