Raymond Borderie

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Children Of Paradise Review


Good
People (mostly French people, I presume) have called Children of Paradise a French Gone With the Wind. It's equally epic in scope, but good luck following along. Filled with the haughty arrogance of 1940s France, even the title of Children of Paradise is something of an over-your-head joke. The gaggle of characters hardly live in paradise -- they populate the "Boulevard of Crime," working as mimes, thieves, or hookers. And they're all in love -- four of them, in fact -- havin fallen for "actress" (read: prostitute) Garance (French actress Arletty, way ahead of her time with the one-word name thing).

The rivalries over Garance become so fierce that a man actually ends up nearly killed. That's the entire first half of the movie (which runs a dizzying 3 hours, 10 minutes). Of Garance's lovers, we are meant to root for the mime (Jean-Louis Barrault) (and there are endless scenes of pantomime), but in part two, we find he and Garance both trapped in loveless marriages to other people. They eventually meet again. Tragedy ensues. Three hours to reinvent Romeo and Juliet without any of the color.

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Le Samouraï Review


Essential
When I was a little child with red cheeks and a head of curls, I wanted to grow up to be a hitman. Fireman? You couldn't pay me enough and I seriously could never grow a mustache that big. Doctor? I can find plenty of work not involving holding a man's genitals and asking him to cough, please. Nope, give me that mystery and the danger of the stone-faced hitman, where the only real needs of the job are not getting caught, handle a gun and kill the mark. One wonders if Jeff Costello had any dreams of becoming anything else besides a hitman dressed like Humphrey Bogart.

Jeff (Alain Delon) is the main character in Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Samouraï, a nuanced, surprising crime film from the days of the French New Wave. The film takes a minimalist look at a hitman's doomed existence, following Jeff through a hit and the unexpected outcomes of that action. He is picked up and questioned by an uncompromising police inspector (Francois Périer) and is let go after exasperating tests and questioning. The only witness to his crime is the piano player, Valerie (Caty Rosier), who denies seeing him at the club at all. Jeff doesn't squeal, but his employer sets a price on his head which is almost carried out, but not to full expectations. He offers Jeff another hit worth $2 million. Carrying out this hit ignites a strange but enthralling chase scene and ultimately leads him to his doom.

Continue reading: Le Samouraï Review

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