This list was inspired by a conversation on the March 2nd/9th editions of Mark Kermode & Simon Mayo's film review, where…
Bank robbery in small town ends with one of the robbers being wounded. The loot from the robbery is just a asset for the even more spectacular heist. Simon, gang leader and Paris night club owner, must also deal with police comissaire Edouard Colemane, who happens to be his good friend.
Were it not for a couple glaring, uh, budgetary limitations (I hate to be the type of person to complain about production value but it really does represent a grasp for Melville's reach to exceed a couple times, and not in a fun way), this would probably be my favorite Melville film. The movie's central train-based set-piece is a marvel for his signature patiently-constructed suspense (maybe Melville was a little too patient with the special effects people, OK I'll shut up about it now), all the more so for its seemingly taking place in real time.
The cinematography is as silvery and steel-cold as you could possibly wish from a nihilistic crime drama, with some really stunning camerawork (watch the…
Please note this is a review of a movie, not a law enforcement officer. Please see my account at Blotterboxd for police reviews
The world as seen through the blue eyes of Alain Delon's frighteningly cold detective. The criminals are introduced as fedora wearing silhouettes in a car, a powerfully mysterious image that sets the quiet, cool tone of everything that follows. My favorite scene is a very long take of a man changing clothes and hiding evidence as part of an elaborate train heist. I know this is the kind of thing that drives some people (hi Matt!) crazy with boredom, but to me it shows such a respect for criminal enterprises as a skilled trade, as labor.
Faisons attention là.
Jean-Pierre Melville's final film, and the second one of his that I've seen after the fine Le Cercle Rouge, was an unexpected slog that only really felt like half a film.
In fact, it's one of those frustrating films that isn't even close to being 'bad' but in fact seems completely aware of how great it could be. However, living almost entirely off the back of two wonderfully shot and constructed robberies, Un Flic then leaves the rest of its running time to get by off the back of half-developed relationships, incomplete exchanges and encounters, and irrelevant plot points.
That is really why this felt like half a film. It felt like it should have been at…
And with this, my Jean-Pierre Melville marathon comes to an end. Un Flic may not be the best way to end a memorable career that included such gems as Army of Shadows, Le Doulos and Le Cercle Rouge, as it just feels like more of the same for Melville: Bunch of guys pull off bank heist, a cop starts hunting them down and they plan one last big score.
The big heist itself isn't especially original or unique and the use of miniatures is screamingly obvious at times, which takes you out of the movie. It drags along a bit towards the end, but Un Flic is ultimately an acceptable (if uninspired) final entry into a very good director's filmography.
Melville's final film... i almost want to call it his TO THE WONDER, despite not having seen TO THE WONDER. this isn't exactly the forum for vetting the unfounded bullshit that wanders through my mind during a movie. Melville seems a bit caught up in the inertia of his own craft, or maybe i'm just put off by such scattered messiness from a man best known for fetishizing precision. here he again explores the moral equivalency of a world so cold that i can't imagine a trench coat ever managed to keep someone warm. Catherine Deneuve with a pistol clutched to her ribs helps finds Melville's jazz noir stylings already in the process of being reborn as kitsch, charmingly helped along by silly analog effects (like the helicopter heist, which disguises its model work about as well as the opening scenes of THE LADY VANISHES some 4 decades prior).
Such beautiful heist scenes, with one that is the centerpiece of the film and possibly shot in real time. Set pieces that play out brilliantly. Great, low-key acting from Delon, Crenna and Deneuve. And at least one real helicopter. Actually, definitely only one real helicopter.
Why is this judged so harshly? It's the ultimate in icy modus operandi, Melville's forte, with an introductory heist set against an epic Omaha Beach front, mounting a windy, near entrancing audio track over the mute, azure color palette in what, for my money, is as tense a scene as any in the Melville catalog. Then cut to Delon's routine, almost parallel in dress, intonation, and resonance as Crenna. The theme is invariably Melville, but it's resized for the short running time, the moot, existentialist happenings ending in literal nothingness, as the cop and criminal become totally indistinguishable. And while the models used in the train heist were rather shoddy, they more than serve their purpose for the white knuckle robbery. Albeit Catherine Deneuve is wasted, and the brutality is OTT (especially in the inexplicable transvestite bit).
Pretty good crime film. Train robbery sequence was the best part of the film. The criminals were much more interesting than the cops, especially Delon's character.
Good actors, but extremely confusing.
In Melville's final film before his premature death just a year later, the 'flic' in question is a weary looking Delon, trawling the nighttime streets of a wintry Paris searching for clues in his pursuit of a coterie of crooks. The two lengthy set pieces of a bank robbery in a rainswept seaside town and the daring raid on a train by helicopter are masterfully handled. Even the shoddy model work can't spoil this one..
Jean-Pierre Melville's final film certainly doesn't stray from his style and recurrent themes. Unfortunately, the ambitious attempt to open up and expand these themes fails--in one particular scene almost laughably--and one gets the feeling we've been here before and it was more striking the first time around. It seems this gets decent admiration from American critics, but I find it difficult to recommend to all but the most fanatical J-P Melville fanboy. Like Michael Mann,
A little undercooked, even in style, but this is still a fairly engrossing, slow affair from Jean Pierre Melville with another great performance from Alain Delon. It never seems to come together as a story but it's made up of great moments, like Catherine Deneuve dressing up as a nurse in order to assassinate someone. Richard Crenna makes for a soft, almost bland villain but Delon's complete lack of emotion gives this enough of an edge. The heist scene on the train is bizarre due to the special effects they chose to use, but it adds a certain surreal charm to the whole thing.
Good classic Melville. Not his best I've seen but I feel like I never give his movies the complete attention they deserve when I finally watch them. A good, cold, gritty cops and robbers movie with alot of standout sequences and I'd like to rewatch it again someday.
I don't know entirely why, but stylistically, Melville's films still seem relevant today. He has sequences full of rapid cutting but also isn't afraid to have a several minute shot to build suspense. Melville knows how to build tension with details lesser directors would cut out for being to mundane.
I was a bit torn on Jean-Pierre Melville's Un Flic, but the two exquisite robbery scenes won me over in the end. The story could have definitely used some work, and considering some of Melville's previous work Un Flic pales in comparison. But as the film was expiring on Netflix I wanted to check it out and in the end I'm glad I did.
- North by Northwest
- The Birds
- The Offence
- The Interview
- Zero Effect
- Out of the Blue
Week six is time for the crime category. Due to its potential similarity with the thriller genre I'm going to…
- Rabid Dogs
- The Big Racket
- The Offence
- Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion
- The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
Now I know this might seem like a shameless way to get other people to find loads of 1970s crime…