Classic Movie Review: Le Samouraï (1967)

Le Samouraï
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 Samouraï 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.

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Classic Movie Review: A Woman Under The Influence

A Woman Under the Influence
Directed by John Cassavetes
Starring: Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk, Katherine Cassavetes, Lady Rowlands, Fred Draper, Eddie Shaw
Theatrical Release Date: November 18, 1974
Criterion Collection Release Date: November 4, 2008

American director John Cassavetes once stated that “marriage isn’t a romance totally. Very sparse moments do you have to be romantic in a marriage.” His 1974 film A Woman Under the Influence beautifully reiterates his philosophy tremendously. The idea of love and relationships always had an enormous impact on all of Cassavetes’ pictures. While watching A Woman Under the Influence while being familiar with the aforementioned quote you realize how little romance is shown in the quintessential romantic way.

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Classic Movie Review: Taipei Story

Taipei Story
Directed by Edward Yang
Starring: Hsiao-Hsien Hou, Chen Tsai, Su-Yun Ko
Theatrical Release Date: April 22nd, 1985
Criterion Collection Release Date: May 30th, 2017

There is such an abundance of longing lingering within each frame of Edward Yang‘s 1985 film Taipei Story. It is impossible to neglect since each scene that passes tends to be more sorrowful than the last.

The Taiwanese nights, filmed impeccably and beautifully by Wei-Han Yang, tend to be grieving and pulsating with life. Still, nothing seems to truly satisfy the city (it always wanting more on its way to modernity and being globalized) or the characters (who are not pleased with the present). Hence, their infinite longing. There is always going to be a particular something, be it the past, a career, or an ex-lover, that will be in the way of not only happiness but of contentment as well.

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Classic Movie Review: Only Angels Have Wings (The Criterion Collection)

Only Angels Have Wings
Blu-ray | DVD
Directed by Howard Hawks
Starring: Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Rita Hayworth, and Richard Barthelmess
Criterion Collection Release Date: April 12, 2016

The treacherous landscape of a South American village is where our adventure takes off. Nothing new here. Chameleonic director Howard Hawks has an unmatched affinity with environments that have such an immediate influence on his characters. Sometimes rendering them helpless and other times it influences his characters to rise to the occasion. Think of the ruthless wild west evidenced in Rio Bravo, the unforgiving terrains in Red River, the extraordinarily corrupt neighborhood in The Big Sleep, or the abundance of violence running amuck everywhere in Scarface. All of his films are completely disparate when it comes to genres and themes. The one commonality all of them abide by is the ferociousness of their landscape. 1939’s Only Angels Have Wings is no different.

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Blu-ray Review: The Red Shoes (The Criterion Collection)

The Red Shoes
The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray Edition
Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
Starring Moira Shearer, Anton Walbrook, Marius Goring, Leonide Massine, Robert Helpmann
Theatrical Release Date: September 6, 1948

How would you define ballet, Miss Neston?
Well, one might call it the poetry of motion perhaps, or…
One might. But for me it is a great deal more. For me it is a religion. And one doesn’t really care to see one’s religion practiced in an atmosphere…such as this.

In what seems to be a film paying the highest tribute possible to the world of ballet, we are taken aback when the film ends when we realize what it really has been about the entire time. The Red Shoes is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s tale about a girl who finds a pair of red slippers, puts them on, and cannot stop dancing. The film’s narrative approaches that subject and then ventures away from it.

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