Jacques Rivette's near-mythic 13-hour serial, Out 1, begins in the constrictive certainty of routine: While two dueling theater groups rehearse plays by Aeschylus (Seven Against Thebes and Prometheus Bound), two solitary individuals (Juliet Berto and Jean-Pierre Léaud) wander the Parisian streets, hustling the populace for cash. Rivette establishes a clear dialectic at the outset: each character or collective inhabits their own space, which we come to know intimately over a successive series of very long takes. It's practically four separate films in one, but the boundaries begin to blur in the climactic moment of the first episode (there are eight in total) when Berto's sleepy-eyed con artist Frédérique nonchalantly pulls out an antique revolver. As per the individual episode titles (for example, "From Lili to Thomas"), this soon-to-be-smoking gun is as much a promise of transference as release, but think of it also as the catalyst that propels us (characters and viewers both) through Rivette's enigmatic narrative roundelay, which takes on some darkly conspiratorial shadings with the second installment introduction of the mysterious, Balzac-derived shadow group The Thirteen. The group's intentions, as well as its members, are never entirely clear; they're a fictional construct as ephemeral as any of the two theater troupes' increasingly off-point improvisations (the play, it would seem, is not the thing), but even as the plottings become quite intentionally muddled, the persons involved—and their connections to each other—come more crisply into focus. Out 1 is an extended anthropological discourse, a dissection of the dashed dreams and hopes of a counterculture destroying itself from within due to a misunderstood threat from without. Yet it is also a vivid document of a particular moment in time, ultimately hopeful in its belief that the human comedy, whatever its fallacies and failures, is always granted continuance.