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Author Topic: French Neo-Noir Coup de torchon (1981)/Jim Thompson's Pop 1280.  (Read 179 times)
morrison-dylan-fan
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« on: April 17, 2017, 06:37:07 PM »


There are DVDs of it with no subs,but Criterion have put it out on a now oop DVD:

https://www.amazon.fr/Coup-Torchon-Criterion-Collection-Zone/dp/B000059H7Q/ref=sr_1_9/260-7039368-6442020?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1492475592&sr=1-9&keywords=Coup+de+torchon

9

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Despite seeing his name mentioned in connection with French cinema for a number of years,I've never had the chance to see a work from auteur Bertrand Tavernier. Getting set for a poll on the best films of 1981 on ICM,I took a look at French movies from the year,and was thrilled to spot to see Tavernier take on Jim Thompson!,which led to me flying the coup.

The plot:

1938-A French colony in West Africa.

Being one of the few "symbols" of law and order in the colony,police officer Lucien Cordier shows a disregard for the powers which matches the state of his personal life,where his wife Huguette has invited a "fake brother"/lover round to live with them,and Cordier himself tries starting an affair up with Rose Mercaillou. Treating black people as lower than dirt, Cordier overlooks any misdeeds with the mere fistful of a bribe. Annoyed at two pimps questioning his power,Cordier asks for advice from fellow officer Marcel Chavasson,who tells him to "act forcibly" which leads to Cordier using a bit too much force in the colony.

View on the film:

Appearing in Cordier's life like a flower in the desert, Isabelle Huppert gives an impeccable performance as Rose Mercaillou,with Huppert giving Rose pointed petals which get burnt by the simmering Noir frustrations of Cordier. Keeping her other lover secret, Stéphane Audran gives a great, consistently changing performance as Huguette Cordier,whose flirting with the toyboy Audran turns to stone at the mere whiff of her husband Lucien.

Stomping round the colony like a crusty warthog, Philippe Noiret gives a magnificent performance as Lucien Cordier. Wanting to do as little work as possible,Noiret gives Cordier an unsettling casual attitude to fights on the street,and signs of annoyance at even the suggestion of helping out black people in the colony. Taking officer Chavasson's advice, Noiret sands down to the Neo-Noir veins of Cordier,that are pulled with a friction over Cordier overstepping in the land.Dissecting the original US setting for a French African colony,co- writer/(with Jean Aurenche) director Bertrand Tavernier & cinematographer Pierre-William Glenn retain the Noir roots with a blistering evil under the sun atmosphere, that makes the sights of the local mob and Cordier gunning his own brand of justice clear to see,in the cold light of day.

Shot on location, Tavernier seeps the Noir mood with the grit and dry blood of the colony in elegantly held tracking shots following Cordier's descent into vicious contempt.Moving from the Deep South of Thompson's book,the screenplay by Bertrand Tavernier and Jim Thompson takes the racism over to deepest West Africa,where the horrific treatment Cordier and the whites lash out cover the screen in Noir vile. Filling Cordier's hands with dirty money that gets him to turn a blind eye,the writers brilliantly chip away at Cordier way of life and unveil a nihilism that Cordier is unable to drop back into the water and hide from the colony pop 1280.

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2017, 06:30:45 AM »

Your analysis, while good, hides the fact that Noiret is playing a psychopath. Cordier, a bumbler in his day job, decides he can kill in his off hours. That everyone believes he's incompetent gives him immunity.

His basis for killing? Essentially he takes out anyone he doesn't like. This can be either a white man or a black. After employing "Friday" to help him dispose of a white body, Cordier disposes of Friday. The prior exchange between the two is instructive.

Quote
[Friday realizes that Lucien Cordier intends to kill him]

Lucien Cordier: What's wrong? You know I have to.

Friday: But Captain, I trusted you. You're different from other white men.

Lucien Cordier: There's your mistake. You kissed too much white ass. You asked to get fucked. This is what I do with friends like you.

[Lucien Cordier shoots Friday]
A critique of the film that doesn't mention Irène Skobline is incomplete. Also, the fantastic score should be noted.

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« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2017, 01:59:42 PM »

I can't say it was a bad idea to move the Thompson'sPop. 1280 in space and time. The problems though are many.  In spite of his name Noir-et isn't convincing as a psycho killer (que'est ce que c'est?). Second, he speaks too much. I don't remember if in the novel the psycho argued so much about his actions but I don't think he gave so many reasons in his 1st person narrative (was it 1st person ot 3d person? I'll check later). I can't seem to remember there was an event, like here, with the change of personality, which made him an assassin.   Third, the comedy  touch, which doesn't rhyme with Thompson bleak visions (and plots) isn't helped by some of the secondary characters, especially the pimps and Mitchell. So the movie makes little sense, in the end, of the Thompson's nonsense with a sense. 5/10

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2017, 11:44:55 AM »

A thread for this already exists: http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=12924.0

UPDATE: Threads merged.

« Last Edit: May 02, 2017, 05:20:49 PM by dave jenkins » Logged


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