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Melville, (Jean-Pierre) 
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Post Re: Melville, (Jean-Pierre)
calvero wrote:
anyone see The Good Thief? its a remake of Bob le flambeur.


I've seen both, and preferred Bob more. I'm a huge Melville fan; he's very, very stylish, but his films have a lot of depth.

In the case of Bob, I would give it a recommendation. It's not his greatest work, but it's interesting to see how he began developing his style with that film. Comparing it to Le Cercle Rouge or Army Of Shadows to see where he ended up is an interesting exercise.

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Mon Jun 28, 2010 11:17 am
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Post Re: Melville, (Jean-Pierre)
PeachyPete wrote:
Sure, on the surface it's about how all men become compromised and how innocence is temporary and fleeting, but what does that mean if these men have no idea who they even are? Or if they are constantly changing? Can they change at all? If they can't, how can innocence even exist in the first place? We can't be born innocent, then corrupted if we are unable to change, right?


Most of the characters are in transition -- the thieves are getting the feel of life out of prison, Yves Montand is working off a years-long bender, the police chief appears to be acclimating to a life of cat fancy... these aren't the kind of people that have much to lose or gain by anything. This isn't to say that the police chief could just as easily have been born a thief; Melville isn't after the existential dilemma of being but offering up a kind of scolding for those that don't do anything but practice the becoming. The title of the film has to mean something... not that a nearby Bhagavad Gita would put much perspective on the malaise malaise malaise.

The characers -- all of them -- in Le Cercle Rouge are all so sweetly pathetic. Watch the constable feed his cats! Watch Corey attempt to strongarm a man that could have him killed six times over! He thinks he's a tough guy (and he's got the mustache to prove it...).

Not that the movie is cute. Like Le Samourai, we're given a portrait of people just wanting to be something they may or may not be in the worst way. One man says he's a thief so he acts like what he believes a thief acts like, one man is a police officer that looks as if he's just plain exhausted with the performance. Only Jansen, given the same fate as the others involved with the robbery, seems to get a redemption -- only it's redeemed from something he had complete control over for the years up to his entrance in the film. That's the way it always seems to work. Little steps.

PeachyPete wrote:
It's a difficult story to tell. In order to create the morally ambiguous world Melville is aiming for, the criminals have to be sympathetic, but not too sympathetic. We still have to believe they deserve to be caught. But yet, still also want them to succeed. It's a very fine line to walk, but Melville does it.


Agreed, of course. I'd even go so far as to say that none of the characters are remotely sympathetic. The hero of the movie changes with each scene and it has nothing to do with their 'character' but their ingratiating pitifulness. Mostly I wanted things to be better for everyone but I was just as lost as to what 'better' might mean as they were. Not that it matters: fate is fate. Or so Melville would like us to believe he doesn't believe, right? Surely stupidity is stupidity.

And so it comes back to the style of the film and that's the thing that all the critics like to mention: it's so cool looking. And it is! The outdoor photography is shockingly great for a movie that features guys who'd rather be out of the great outdoors. Those greens are green and the fluorescent lighting has a creepy ethereal buzz that seems to infect old wings in hospitals and every county library. Awesome. If you know me you know I like my Sense of Place to be loud (why I love Romero's Dawn of the Dead so damned much) and Le Cercle Rouge looks as if it was filmed in places cultivated specifically for the creation of this movie. Not really, of course. But wouldn't it sad if I really believed that? Wouldn't it be a tragedy if I took my intentions to that level? Yes.

So Rififi has sympathetic thieves and Le Cercle Rouge has scurrilous losers that would be better suited to laboring on a high rise. Go with the underdog.

And also: YES! My campaign to promote the movie and get at least one person to see it has paid off with a second great post (both ram1312 and PeachyPete are now entitled to a pint of my blood, one per person) and further analysis of THE GREATEST F#*!ING HEIST MOVIE EVER! (My favorite heist movie, really... I'd like to cut off any list making at the get go)

And next up (brought to you by Mr. Pete)...

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Tue Jun 29, 2010 3:28 am
Post Re: Melville, (Jean-Pierre)
majoraphasia wrote:
Melville isn't after the existential dilemma of being but offering up a kind of scolding for those that don't do anything but practice the becoming. The title of the film has to mean something... not that a nearby Bhagavad Gita would put much perspective on the malaise malaise malaise.


I couldn't agree more. My post started to veer off into the existential realm a bit too much. Melville isn't concerned with philosophizing about being and identity. After all, what's there to philsophize about? The characters in the film have such a minimal sense of identity, that attempting to make a statement about that is pointless. You're absolutely right in that they do nothing but become. These men are resigned to their fates, and more than willing to simply "become" whatever it is that they're supposed to become.

That last thought is how I interpret the title. These men follow this same path, or lead the same lifestyle, in some form, over and over again - Corey was on his way back to prison until he was shot and killed. Is Jansen's redemption permanent? He was taking whiffs of the flask after his big moment. The men may think they're powerless to change or to make their own fate, but Melville doesn't. It's like the good major said in his post:

majoraphasia wrote:
Not that it matters: fate is fate. Or so Melville would like us to believe he doesn't believe, right?


In one of the Criterion essays I read, the author talks about how many of the set pieces serve as red circles in the film. I think it's more of what those sets represent than the actual sets themselves. They're all opportunities where the characters can begin to make their own fate(s). They don't have to continue down the same path, yet they do. Why? Because they aren't interested in anything but following that path to its end. That's the criticism. These men have chances to change the course of their lives, yet they mindlessly (and yes, stupidly) continue down this path they know (or at least should know) won't amount to anything but death, or prison, or something equally as awful. Of course they're going to continue down that path when they essentially aren't people at all. They just try to act like them.


Tue Jun 29, 2010 9:14 am
Post Re: Melville, (Jean-Pierre)
Wow...you two.

You guys have taken my view of that film beyond my view of that film. Hell yeah. Le Cercle Rouge was a great movie on the surface (the surface that I was viewing)...and you guys went and made it deep. I'm even seeing this with Le Samourai, now. I seriously think that teaching high school math has made me dumber over these last eight (8?) years. Why can't I dig like this with film?

Anyways...I need suggestions for the next Melville film to watch.


Sat Jul 03, 2010 1:21 am
Post Re: Melville, (Jean-Pierre)
ram1312 wrote:
Anyways...I need suggestions for the next Melville film to watch.


Check out Army of Shadows. My reasoning is simple, I'm watching it tonight, so you should too.


Wed Jul 07, 2010 10:07 am
Post Re: Melville, (Jean-Pierre)
PeachyPete wrote:
ram1312 wrote:
Anyways...I need suggestions for the next Melville film to watch.


Check out Army of Shadows. My reasoning is simple, I'm watching it tonight, so you should too.


My favorite scene from Army of Shadows: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJG3cFrkkcc

Exciting! "Don't fuck with the babysitter!" I won't, Elizabeth Shue, I won't!

Seriously though, Pete, Army of Shadows can't be viddied soon enough by ye. Maybe JamesKunz and Zeppelin will offer some perspective on why the film resonates so well with young audiences... man, those guys are young.

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Wed Jul 07, 2010 11:39 pm
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Post Re: Melville, (Jean-Pierre)
What's that golden thing coming out of my head?

As for Army of Shadows, I don't think I'm a perfect example of why it resonates with younger audiences. Aside from being, you know, not that representative of the average 23-year-old movie goer (or so I tell myself), I'm a huge World War II buff who thinks resistance to the Nazis is an inherently fascinating subject. That said, it's an amazing movie and you should be watching it

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Thu Jul 08, 2010 9:06 am
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Post Re: Melville, (Jean-Pierre)
majoraphasia wrote:
My favorite scene from Army of Shadows: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJG3cFrkkcc

Exciting! "Don't fuck with the babysitter!" I won't, Elizabeth Shue, I won't!

Seriously though, Pete, Army of Shadows can't be viddied soon enough by ye. Maybe JamesKunz and Zeppelin will offer some perspective on why the film resonates so well with young audiences... man, those guys are young.


The Shue movie was more on in the background, than it was me watching the movie. Still, I deserve to be ridiculed. But, David Kahane is Thor! Thor!!! That has to count for something, right? Probably not.

If I recall, I don't think Zep was all that crazy about Army of Shadows. Good, but not great is what I remember him saying about it. That's disappointing, but since he shat in my brand name cereal last evening, screw him. Had he taken a dump in my bowl of knock off Fruity Hoops instead, all would be forgiven.


Thu Jul 08, 2010 9:30 am
Post Re: Melville, (Jean-Pierre)
PeachyPete wrote:
If I recall, I don't think Zep was all that crazy about Army of Shadows. Good, but not great is what I remember him saying about it. That's disappointing, but since he shat in my brand name cereal last evening, screw him. Had he taken a dump in my bowl of knock off Fruity Hoops instead, all would be forgiven.


Yeah, sorry about that. I would've shat in your Fruity Hoops but it didn't occur to me to look for brands until after the shitting. I just saw the cereal and dropped trow.

And in regards to Army, "Good, but not great" might as well be an exact quote. Don't ask me to defend that opinion either, because I'm not sure I could. I can't remember anything wrong with the film, it just didn't stick for some reason. Not to mention the fact that James' excuse could apply just as well to me. I'm not exactly an average 18-year-old film-goer.

If you are looking for a good argument though, you good try the piece the A.V. Club did on Army of Shadows for their New Cult Canon feature. I don't remember if it covers its reception among the young 'uns, but it's worth a shot.


Thu Jul 08, 2010 2:49 pm
Post Re: Melville, (Jean-Pierre)
Army Of Shadows is quality. I've only seen it once, a couple years back, but it's stuck with me. Especially the scene where:

[Reveal] Spoiler:
the main character is captured and he is forced to run down a tunnel with other prisoners while the Nazis gun them down.


Just chilling stuff. I'm also a big WWII buff, and I find stories revolving around the French Resistance fascinating.

Anyone checked out Flame & Citron?


Thu Jul 08, 2010 3:07 pm
Post Re: Melville, (Jean-Pierre)
Blonde Almond wrote:
Army Of Shadows is quality. I've only seen it once, a couple years back, but it's stuck with me. Especially the scene where:

[Reveal] Spoiler:
the main character is captured and he is forced to run down a tunnel with other prisoners while the Nazis gun them down.


Just chilling stuff. I'm also a big WWII buff, and I find stories revolving around the French Resistance fascinating.



Your "Especially the scene" scene is one of the highlights of 60s cinema. It's just as surreal and terrifying as anything else out there.


Fri Jul 09, 2010 1:07 am
Post Re: Melville, (Jean-Pierre)
I could not let this slide by without chiming in. I hope everyone is fine.

Each time I meet the work of JPM he slldes further up my list of favorite film directors.

Whilst Bob le Flambeur is an early minor work it's still worth seeing. I gave it 7/10

However, Army of Shadows, Le Cercle Rouge, Le Doulos and Le Samourai are all great movies IMHO. My 2 faves are Le Doulos and Le Samourai. I would argue that the cinematography in Le Doulos maybe unequalled in the world of noir. le Samourai is a sensational study of a loner.

I have yet to see Le Douxieme Souffle and Les Enfants Terribles, but can't wait.

Many of these films are over 40 years old but they retain an intensity and freshness that is rare in today's movies. I had never even heard of Melville until about 5 years ago and now I'm a complete convert.

I convinced my girlfriend to watch Le Samourai on her recent trip and she loved it. Alain Delon is not exactly hard to watch either.

Rob


Fri Jul 09, 2010 5:14 pm
Post Re: Melville, (Jean-Pierre)
Le Doulos will be airing on Sundance Channel several times over the coming weeks. It's a nice place to start in on Melville and features a great performance from Jean-Paul Belmondo. Check it out if you can. http://www.sundancechannel.com/films/500337455/

Le Doulos on Sundance (All times Eastern):

Saturday July 10 at 8:05AM
Saturday July 10 at 3PM
Wednesday July 14 at 6:40AM
Wednesday July 14 at 12:25PM
Friday July 23 at 7:35AM
Friday July 23 at 12:45PM


Fri Jul 09, 2010 9:49 pm
Post Re: Melville, (Jean-Pierre)
majoraphasia wrote:
Le Doulos will be airing on Sundance Channel several times over the coming weeks. It's a nice place to start in on Melville and features a great performance from Jean-Paul Belmondo. Check it out if you can. http://www.sundancechannel.com/films/500337455/

Le Doulos on Sundance (All times Eastern):

Saturday July 10 at 8:05AM
Saturday July 10 at 3PM
Wednesday July 14 at 6:40AM
Wednesday July 14 at 12:25PM
Friday July 23 at 7:35AM
Friday July 23 at 12:45PM


Thanks for the heads up. Set to record on Wednesday.


Sat Jul 10, 2010 9:19 pm
Post Re: Melville, (Jean-Pierre)
Now on to Army of Shadows...sort of. I have to tell you guys, I'm rewatching this as soon as I can. Which probably won't be until Monday since I'm off and will be all alone most of the day. Should be the perfect time.

A movie this deliberately paced (not slow, but not exactly fast moving, either) with a dreary, gloomy, overcast atmosphere should be viewed only when wide awake. The fact that the movie is shot in shades of blue and gray doesn't help either. Of course, it all makes sense with what Melville is trying to accomplish and adds to the bleakness and sadness that permeates the production, but it doesn't help a man working on three hours of sleep to focus. Ok, enough with the excuses and on to my abbreviated thoughts.

The opening with the Germans marching by the Arc de Triomphe and into the camera is shockingly awesome. I thought that was a great way to open the film. The oppresive force marching, in unison, by one of the most important landmarks in the enitre country.

What really struck me about the film was the way the members of the Resistance interacted with one another. Bonds weren't formed between the men (and woman) as individuals. In fact, they seemed to dislike each other most of the time. Yet, they were all fiercely loyal and dedicated to helping one another. They all seemed to be operating more for the cause than for any real sense of loyalty to the other individuals. They were always incredibly serious and task/goal oriented, never stopping to enjoy life or one another. Of course, given their situation it makes plenty of sense.

Melville paints a picture of a sad, worn down, and almost hopeless Resistance. There's a sense of sadness coming from everywhere in the film - the characters, the music, how the film was shot, color schemes used. In that way it reminded me of McCabe and Mrs. Miller. Both films have an almost unbearable amount of sadness within.

The folks in Melville's version of the Resistance aren't romanticized or glorified. They're fighting the good fight, but they aren't the best of people. They do disgusting things, which seem to get easier for them to do as the film progresses, but ultimately they're a loyal, honorable bunch. The murder of Mathilde is one of the more morally conflicting acts you're likely to come across.

I found the film a bit cold and detatched for the first hour and a half (my girlfriend quit on the film and started playing on the internet at that point). It was tough to get into and I didn't think the narrative was building towards anything. I guess it took me a while to realize the narrative was about the members just surviving and what that means. The last hour I found simply amazing, with scene after scene showing just how horrific noble life the Resistance led was. They maintained what humanity they could, but how could you not lose some in that world?

Like I've been saying, I need a rewatch. The film deserves one. I'm sure I missed a ton of great stuff and I'm sure the last hour will be even better the second time around. Not an ideal film to watch when you can't fully focus. Hopefully I'll be able to give a better analysis after I see it again.

I'm still curious to hear Mark's, and anyone else's, thoughts. Have at it.

Also, someone please slap me for calling these abbreviated thoughts. Or get me an editor. Either one should work.


Tue Jul 13, 2010 12:28 pm
Post Re: Melville, (Jean-Pierre)
Remind me to respond to Pete's post... it's too late and I'm too tired to pay my respects right now.

Too late and too tired... too late and too tired... hey! I sound like I could be a character in Army of Shadows! They're all so angry and tired. I know the feeling but don't even have a French Revolution to excuse it. See you in hell, Philippe Gerbier.


Wed Jul 14, 2010 12:15 am
Post Re: Melville, (Jean-Pierre)
majoraphasia wrote:
Remind me to respond to Pete's post... it's too late and I'm too tired to pay my respects right now.

Too late and too tired... too late and too tired... hey! I sound like I could be a character in Army of Shadows! They're all so angry and tired. I know the feeling but don't even have a French Revolution to excuse it. See you in hell, Philippe Gerbier.

This is me reminding you.

I saw Le Cercle Rouge earlier today. I admit that I did not watch it in the best conditions; it was on a large CRT in a room with glare. This was the best I could do at school, short of turning off the lights completely and making it look like the room I was watching was actually not open. (I can provide details if that's unclear.)

Anyway, I liked the film a lot. I've read most of the posts in the thread and most of them have sharpened my opinion rather than influenced it. I can't agree with everything people have said. (Intentional or not, those checkpoints where Corey's car got checked were awfully convenient. I also hate wipes.) I can, however, offer strong opinions on why Le Cercle Rouge is as meaningful as anything Melville has done.

One of his last films, Melville clearly wanted this film to display mastery. (He's said so himself.) You can see that effort bleed into the frame. The film features an extensive use of zooms and pans (and both) that are used to both heighten and disorient the viewer. Melville does this, to my understanding, because he wants you to get a sneak peek at what it's like to be these people. There's a lot of subtle paranoia going on, but you wouldn't know it because the characters are trying so hard to be professional. And cool. We have some antiheroes in the film, sir. There's something about watching criminals in their element, working so hard to do their thing that you wonder why they don't just become normal members of society. Then you remember why.

"Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, drew a circle with a piece of red chalk and said: 'When men, even unknowingly, are to meet one day, whatever may befall each, whatever the diverging paths, on the said day, they will inevitably come together in the red circle.'" You may be interested to find out that the Buddha never said this. Melville wants you to believe he did, though. Why else include his image?

The composer is of the opinion that, "It's an icy film about people’s trajectories." He's right. People make choices and sometimes these choices are popular ones. The three robbers aren't exactly sympathetic and what they do over the course of the film is probably worth frowning upon. In a sense, their fates have been sealed from the first time they appear on screen. Le Cercle Rouge is about the journey there, and making that journey as meaningful as possible. Meaning doesn't necessarily translate into gumdrops and fairies. It translates to the things you do time and time again.

And that's all I've got for now.


Sat Oct 16, 2010 1:40 am
Post Re: Melville, (Jean-Pierre)
Pedro wrote:
majoraphasia wrote:
Remind me to respond to Pete's post... it's too late and I'm too tired to pay my respects right now.

Too late and too tired... too late and too tired... hey! I sound like I could be a character in Army of Shadows! They're all so angry and tired. I know the feeling but don't even have a French Revolution to excuse it. See you in hell, Philippe Gerbier.

This is me reminding you.

I saw Le Cercle Rouge earlier today. I admit that I did not watch it in the best conditions; it was on a large CRT in a room with glare. This was the best I could do at school, short of turning off the lights completely and making it look like the room I was watching was actually not open. (I can provide details if that's unclear.)

Anyway, I liked the film a lot. I've read most of the posts in the thread and most of them have sharpened my opinion rather than influenced it. I can't agree with everything people have said. (Intentional or not, those checkpoints where Corey's car got checked were awfully convenient. I also hate wipes.) I can, however, offer strong opinions on why Le Cercle Rouge is as meaningful as anything Melville has done.

One of his last films, Melville clearly wanted this film to display mastery. (He's said so himself.) You can see that effort bleed into the frame. The film features an extensive use of zooms and pans (and both) that are used to both heighten and disorient the viewer. Melville does this, to my understanding, because he wants you to get a sneak peek at what it's like to be these people. There's a lot of subtle paranoia going on, but you wouldn't know it because the characters are trying so hard to be professional. And cool. We have some antiheroes in the film, sir. There's something about watching criminals in their element, working so hard to do their thing that you wonder why they don't just become normal members of society. Then you remember why.

"Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, drew a circle with a piece of red chalk and said: 'When men, even unknowingly, are to meet one day, whatever may befall each, whatever the diverging paths, on the said day, they will inevitably come together in the red circle.'" You may be interested to find out that the Buddha never said this. Melville wants you to believe he did, though. Why else include his image?

The composer is of the opinion that, "It's an icy film about people’s trajectories." He's right. People make choices and sometimes these choices are popular ones. The three robbers aren't exactly sympathetic and what they do over the course of the film is probably worth frowning upon. In a sense, their fates have been sealed from the first time they appear on screen. Le Cercle Rouge is about the journey there, and making that journey as meaningful as possible. Meaning doesn't necessarily translate into gumdrops and fairies. It translates to the things you do time and time again.

And that's all I've got for now.


Are you a Buddhist? You kept that secret at the weekend :-)
Yay!
Rob


Sat Oct 16, 2010 1:46 am
Post Re: Melville, (Jean-Pierre)
Wow Pedro. This bump made me realize what I missed while I was down in Costa Rica during these months of certain comments.

Army of Shadows must be watched soon.


Sat Oct 16, 2010 2:03 am
Post Re: Melville, (Jean-Pierre)
and today Criterion announces .....

Army of Shadows Blu Ray in January

to add to Cercle Rouge

Rob


Sat Oct 16, 2010 2:18 am
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