Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Army of Shadows coming to Indy

To say I am excited about Jean-Pierre Melville's Army of Shadows coming to Indy would be an understatement. I have been jealous of friends in other cities who have had a chance to see this for months now. I checked the website weekly to see if there was any addition for an Indy showing, but nothing. It's not even noted on there now!

But, I check Key Cinema's website and there it is. Coming this Friday! Outstanding.

This film was made in 1969 and was not seen in America till this year. Some of Melville's work predated the the French New Wave, though this was made at the end of the 1960's as Godard was going off his rocker into Marxism and the FNW was sort of dying out. Yet, Melville is cited as an influence on the New Wave and is likely one of the most revered directors of the last 50-60 years for good reason.

At any rate, here is a description from Rialto Picture Website...

(1969) France, The Resistance:an escape from the Gestapo, so sudden and hairsbreadth as to leave the toughest of tough guys gasping with the icy sweat of terror and relief; two brothers remain unaware, to the end, of each other’s clandestine activities; patriots who, in relentless pursuit of traitors, must steel themselves to the most brutal of face-to-face violence. Lino Ventura (Elevator to the Gallows, Classe Tous Risques, etc.), aided by compatriots including maitresse of disguise Simone Signoret, goes underground in face of the German Occupation – but the price of heroism can be truly horrific.

Precursor of the New Wave and legend of the French gangster film Jean-Pierre Melville (Bob Le Flambeur, Le Cercle Rouge, Le Samourai) realized the dream of a quarter century when he adapted “the book of the Resistance,” written by Joseph Kessel (Belle de Jour) in the white heat of immediacy. Melville turned the detached, unblinking gaze of his film noir classics on these memories of his youth – he himself served for years underground – adding a jarring finale of his own, so stoically uncompromising as to reduce Kessel himself to sobs on his first viewing. But Army of Shadows shared in the general U.S. indifference to Melville's now-acclaimed-as-classic oeuvre and was never released here – until now. Original cinematographer PierreLhomme personally supervised this superb new 35mm color restoration.


Tim Froh said...

This is an amazing movie and is, along with his first film, the amazing Le Silence de la Mer, Melville's finest picture. I don't remember if you've seen any of Melville's films before but stylistically, this has more in common with Le Samourai, Le Cercle Rouge, or Le Douxieme Souffle. However, story wise, this film fits in more with his earlier features that paid more careful attention to character psycology and motivation.

In other Melville news, Rialto is producing new prints of Melville's Leon Morin, Pretre and Le Doulos, both featuring Jean-Paul Belmondo. In the first he plays a priest (!), but it's a film rarely seen, if at all in this country, and barely even available in France. Le Doulos is Melville's second foray (after Bob Le Flambeur) into the crime and noir genres. It's really at the crossroads between his early and late career.

scot said...

I've seen Bob Le Flambeur and sbsolutely loved it. I have Cercle Rougue and Le Samourai both in my netflix queue hovering somewhere around 20. I am sure they will likely be bumped up after seeing Army of Shadows.

I gotta see Belmondo as a preist. That is hilarious. Thank you, Rialto!

Tim Froh said...

Yeah, it's actually a very serious movie and apparently Belmondo is excellent. Melville's great, but he's something of an acquired taste, especially his later films. I actually hope to have a total retrospective up on my blog in a few weeks (maybe three weeks to a month).