Le SamouraÃ¯ Blu-ray
Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville
Written by Jean-Pierre Melville
Starring: Alain Delon, Francois Perier, Nathalie Delon, Cathy Rosier, Michel Boisrond
Release Date: October 25, 1967
Criterion Blu-Ray Release Date: November 14, 2017
– Why, Jef?
– I was paid to.
A simple line of dialogue like this has a tremendous amount of substance behind it. The hitman’s ruthless, taciturn response here embraces the rigid mentality of almost all of French director Jean-Pierre Melville‘s characters. In essence, they all remain true to their word. His characters are obsessively dedicated to their particular craft or talent, rendering them masters at what they do.
Just like some of his most memorable ones, such as the priest in Leon Morin, Priest, the gangsters in Le Circle Rouge, the resistance fighters in Army of Shadows, and the Nazi officer in Silence de la Mer, the hitman in Le SamouraÃ¯ is governed through an austere, lonely landscape by an inexorable code they must adhere to. His code and his talent as a scrupulous assassin are everything he owns.
Come and See Directed by Elem Klimov
Starring: Aleksey Kravchenko, Olga Mironova, Liubomiras Laucevicius, and Juri Lumiste
U.S. Theatrical Release Date: February 6, 1985
Available on FilmStruck
Often my daughter comes running to me in a state of pure excitement prompting me to either “come and see this” or “come and see that.” She’s undoubtedly enthralled by whatever it is that seems to have captivated her for that specific second. She’s a child with boundless wonder, finding everything very fascinating.
A similar childlike wonder is on display in the 1985 Russian film Come and See, which documents the ruthlessness of the Nazi forces as they tear their way through Belarus villages in 1943. Aptly titled, writer and director Elem Klimov‘s film is told totally from the perspective of a child. It just so happens the child, Florya (Aleksey Kravchenko), roughly 12 or 13 years old, is completely enraptured by war and the valor and courage that he believes comes with it. He can’t wait to tell his mom to “come and see what I’ll be doing.”
High Noon Directed by Fred Zinnemann
Starring: Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Lloyd Bridges, Thomas Mitchell, Lon Chaney Jr., Katy Jurado, Ian MacDonald, Lee Van Clef, Robert J. Wilke, Sheb Wooley
Theatrical Release Date: July 30, 1952
Available now on Blu-ray
There it is, that faint, catchy tune written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington, and sung by Tex Ritter that continuously makes its way back in High Noon. It’s beautiful, it’s in nearly every frame, and finally is pervading the entire film, pretty much conquering it. Do not forsake me oh my darling. There it is again. It’s a most haunting tune that astonishingly places us inside the head of Will Kane (Gary Cooper), a well respected marshal of a well established Wild West town desperately seeking to maintain its civilization rather than succumbing again to barbarism.
Across the Universe Now available on: 4K Ultra HD | Blu-ray | Digital
Directed by Julie Taymor
Starring Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess, Dana Fuchs, Martin Luther McCoy, T.V. Caprio
Original release date: October 12, 2007
Fathom Events screenings: July 29 & 31, August 1, 2018
Thanks to Fathom Events and Columbia Pictures, I got to see one of my favorite films, Julie Taymor‘s gorgeous 2007 musical drama Across the Universe, in theaters again. Finishing up a 3-day run on August 1, the limited-edition screenings included a special exclusive introduction from Taymor celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love in 1968.
Across the Universe uses the spectrum of classic Beatles songs to take our characters through the turbulence of late 1960’s America as we fought the unpopular Vietnam War abroad and waged cultural wars at home. Starring Jim Sturgess and Evan Rachel Wood, the film allowed Taymor to showcase her artistic style, and the array of songs by arguably the greatest band of all time show the wide range of human emotions that that era was dealing with.
Night Moves (1975) Blu-ray | DVD | Digital HD
Directed by Arthur Penn
Starring: Gene Hackman, Melanie Griffith, Janet Ward, James Woods, Harris Yulin, Anthony Costello, Susan Clark, Edward Binns, and Jennifer Warren
Theatrical Release Date: June 11, 1975
– Who’s winning?
– Nobody. One side is just losing slower than the other.
By the time this dialogue occurs you begin to wonder why it took so long for it to be uttered. In 1975 America was striving to overcome the Vietnam War and still reeling from the pungent behavior of those corrupt individuals involved in the deceitful doings of Watergate. The influence of these events were inescapable, thus creating turbulent times all around, especially in cinema.
Night Moves, where the aforementioned quote is from, in particular, directed by Arthur Penn and scripted by Alan Sharp, is a feverish noir that was fully aware of the incessant confusion and mournful distress swallowing up our world at that time, rendering the population hopeless. It’s this kind of cinema, so inextricably tied to its era, that still manages to achieve a sense of timelessness. That’s because of its inquisitive nature to discern truth even if it means losing every now and then.