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: Cinema Noir  ( 5372 )
Silenzio
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« : November 19, 2006, 09:30:12 PM »

Alright. I don't officially know the difference between Film Noir and Cinema Noir, but I have my own little explanation. I just call all noirs that weren't made in America or Britain to be "cinema noir" as opposed to their "film noir" counterparts. So here's a place to discuss those foreign noirs. Coming soon are my reviews for "Le Samourai," "M" (which is too early to really be a noir, but there are definite precursors and influences of the noir genre) and "Stray Dog."

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« #1 : November 19, 2006, 09:35:08 PM »

"Le Samourai,"


"Le Samourai" is certainly not a Noir. It's like the Kill Bill movies...paying homage to the genre of Film noir.




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« #2 : November 19, 2006, 10:02:35 PM »

Here's my first review:

Le Samourai



"There is no solitude greater than that of a samurai... except that of a tiger in the jungle.... perhaps."
 
                                                         -- Bushido (Book of the Samurai)

That's the line that opens Jean Pierre Melville's 1967 classic, "Le Samourai." Now, I didn't have to do a lot of research before I found out that that quote is utter and absolute bullshit (in it's purest form) and that the Bushido never says such thing, but it still is an effective opening for the film. This line, as well as the opening credits, are superimposed over a clip of the film's anti-hero, Jef Costello, lying on his bed and smoking, while his bird chirps in the background.

Basically, Jef is a contract killer who follows a strict code. He has meticulous techniques that he utilizes in all of his jobs, that make him practically untouchable. He weaves complex and intricate alibis with his girlfriend, and in doing so has no criminal record. The beginning of the film has him murdering a night-club owner. However, the club's piano player sees him come out of the room where he killed the man, and a few other people took notice of him, but didn't get nearly as much of a look at him as the piano player. Due to his great alibi, there was insufficient reason to arrest him, but the tenacious detective is convinced that Jef is the killer. What's worse, his old employers think he is incompetent and needs to be eliminated. So, he has the cops and his old employers dogging him.

The film has sparse dialogue and a deliberately slow pace, which creates a very nice atmosphere for the movie. Think of a slow pace (a leone-ish slow pace) in a noir environment, and the result is gold. The film may not have a ton of action (be warned Kurugen  ::)  ;) ) but Melville sustains the supsense  superbly. The jazz score is also worth mentioning, I enjoyed it very very much. And the climax of the film is very well executed and, in my opinion, marvelous.




****SPOILERS*****


 




If you've seen the movie, what did you make of the ending? He was obviously going in there to commit suicide, he knew the cops were there. And look at everything he does. He exaggerates all of the actions, the way he puts on his gloves right at the bar and approaches the piano player out in the open. He wanted to make sure everybody saw him, he drew as much attention to himself as humanly possible. But why empty the bullets in his gun? I think it was his way of telling the cops, "I never would have killed her anyway" even though he was dead. On Wikipedia it said that one interpretation that was by carrying out the assassination up the point of the actual killing, that he'd proved to the cops that he could have killed her if he truly wished to.





*****SPOILERS END*******










My official percentage rating: 93%


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« #3 : November 19, 2006, 10:03:15 PM »


"Le Samourai" is certainly not a Noir. It's like the Kill Bill movies...paying homage to the genre of Film noir.

Oh sorry, I meant to say Neo-Noir, lord forgive me. LORD FORGIVE ME.

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« #4 : November 20, 2006, 03:50:02 PM »

M is German Expressionism, worth checking out actually as alot of Film Noir directors and DP's came over from Germany (Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang anyone)


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« #5 : November 20, 2006, 03:51:59 PM »

M is German Expressionism, worth checking out actually as alot of Film Noir directors and DP's came over from Germany (Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang anyone)

What exactly is German Expressionism? I hear the phrase a lot, I just associate it with movies like "Nosferatu."

Speaking of Lang I should be watching "The Big Heat" eventually.

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« #6 : November 20, 2006, 03:58:25 PM »

period of German Cinema which originated after the war mainly associated with Silent films (like Nosferatu, Metropolis, Asphalt)  but spils into the early sound (M, The Testament of Dr Mabuse)

It mainly relates to the editing, cinematography (extreme angles, low key lighting).


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« #7 : November 20, 2006, 04:01:31 PM »

period of German Cinema which originated after the war mainly associated with Silent films (like Nosferatu, Metropolis, Asphalt)  but spils into the early sound (M, The Testament of Dr Mabuse)

It mainly relates to the editing, cinematography (extreme angles, low key lighting).

Yeah, whenever I hear the term the first thing I think of is just the lighting and the cinematography. I was wondering if there was anything on a larger scale that it was associated with.

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« #8 : November 20, 2006, 04:04:38 PM »

I guess there are the reasons of German Depression after the defeat of The Great Wat which affected many other art forms not just cinema. Hitchcock was an early devotee of the German Expersionistic movement after studying in Germany in the late 20's.


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« #9 : November 21, 2006, 12:14:20 AM »

Would "The Cabinet of doctor Calugari" be considered German Expressionism?




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« #10 : November 21, 2006, 01:55:44 AM »

Would "The Cabinet of doctor Calugari" be considered German Expressionism?

Oh yea, probably the prime example of it.


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« #11 : November 21, 2006, 11:21:05 AM »

I have never heard of the word "Cinema Noir". The term "Film Noir" was created by French. It mainly refers to melancholic crime movies made in Hollywood from early 1940s to late 1950s. Its mood and lighting are influenced by German Expressionism.

The first German Expresstionist film was 1919 "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" by Robert Wiene. It was a reflection of the social-psychological state of unstable German of that era. Wiene's successors in German Expressionism are directors like F. W. Murnau and Fritz Lang.

The inventors of the term "Film Noir" made their own Noir films and they are called French Film Noir. Directors of that genre are Jacques Becker, Henri Verneui, Jean Pierre Melville, Jose Giovanni, Jean Herman to name a few.

Melville's "Le Samourai" is definitely a French Film Noir and one of the best in that genre. It is a crystalization of Melville's view on solitude, dignity, loyalty, code and betrayal. He studied Film Noir (made in Hollywood) extensively like Leone studied Hollywood westerns. If you are familiar with Film Noir, you can see influence of films like "This Gun for Hire" and "Asphalt Jungle" in "Le Samourai".         

But what's not to be confused is that "Le Samourai" is not just an homage to Hollywood Film Noir. Melville created his own world and established his own style with his own philosophy. He probably understood the spirit of Bushido (Way of Samurai) better than Hollywood movies that dealt with samurai in the past.

This is my understanding of the ending of "Le Samurai". The ending of "Le Samourai" shows the hero's dilemma. Jeff feels he owes to Valerie (pianist) because she saved him. In the meantime, his client ordered Jeff to kill her. And when he is paid, he always has to follow his job through. That's his code as professional. And when he cannot follow that, it means his own death. It may sound absurd to some, but that's the strict code of Melville. After all, Bushido is summed up as "The way of the Samurai is found in death."

« : November 21, 2006, 11:33:40 AM Sanjuro »

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« #12 : November 21, 2006, 12:33:44 PM »

Playing for a moment smartass, the label german Expressionism should be applied to only one movie, which is not Caligari  (which is expressionist only in parts) but to Von Morgen bis Mitternacht (great movie, BTW) where all the scenographies are in expressionistic style. Thta's what some student of that great movie age hold forth. In fact most of the german movies (and i've seen lots of them) made in those years can hardly be classified as expressionistic. 


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« #13 : November 21, 2006, 06:31:41 PM »

I have not seen the film you mentioned but you don't consider the set design of "Dr. Caligari" expressionistic? And top of all,  do you deny the acclaim of the film as the forerunner of German Expressionism in the film history?

« : November 21, 2006, 06:39:46 PM Sanjuro »

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« #14 : November 22, 2006, 07:47:44 AM »

The madhouse sequences have not a expressionistic set. That is why, BTW,  one can even interpret what the madman says as a dream of his. Of course Caligari was the forerunner, but, strictly speaking, only of the other movie I quoted.


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