Robert Dorfmann

Robert Dorfmann

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Forbidden Games Review


Excellent
Few scenes in motion picture history are quite as devastating as one at the beginning of Forbidden Games -- not when young Paulette's (Brigitte Fossey) parents are gunned down in the street by a Nazi pilot during a routine strafing run of the French countryside -- but rather a few minutes later. Paulette is riding on a cart to what we assume will be a new life, carrying her puppy in her arms. The old woman she's riding with looks down at the dog and tells her to get rid of it: Can't she tell the dog is dead? The old woman then picks up the pup and tosses it off the cart. As it plummets off of a bridge our hearts sink with it.

This singular scene is heart-crushing and yet it sums up the theme of René Clément's film perfectly: In war, you can't count on even the simplest joys in life. The world is full of horror, and war is hell in worse ways than you could imagine.

Continue reading: Forbidden Games Review

Forbidden Games Review


Excellent
Few scenes in motion picture history are quite as devastating as one at the beginning of Forbidden Games -- not when young Paulette's (Brigitte Fossey) parents are gunned down in the street by a Nazi pilot during a routine strafing run of the French countryside -- but rather a few minutes later. Paulette is riding on a cart to what we assume will be a new life, carrying her puppy in her arms. The old woman she's riding with looks down at the dog and tells her to get rid of it: Can't she tell the dog is dead? The old woman then picks up the pup and tosses it off the cart. As it plummets off of a bridge our hearts sink with it.

This singular scene is heart-crushing and yet it sums up the theme of René Clément's film perfectly: In war, you can't count on even the simplest joys in life. The world is full of horror, and war is hell in worse ways than you could imagine.

Continue reading: Forbidden Games Review

Le Cercle Rouge Review


Extraordinary
Movies about heists are gimmick-driven things, which is why so few are worth remembering. They live and breathe on some corny and forced plot twist at the end -- "The crook is really a cop!" "The cop is really a crook!" -- because the rest of the movie is usually obvious and boilerplate. There are standard-issue shots of men in masks breaking into the bank/mansion/store, led by some crusty old expert who's famous for his heists, though not so famous that the cops have caught on, but he's having second thoughts about being in the business, and so on. You don't even have to see The Score to know how it goes, and Heist is David Mamet's dullest film - so dull it didn't even try to come up with an interesting title.

So, fair warning: Jean-Pierre Melville's 1970 Le Cercle Rouge (in re-release by Rialto Pictures with a blessing by John Woo) is just a heist film. It has all the familiar elements detailed above. Why, then, is it a masterpiece?

Continue reading: Le Cercle Rouge Review

Papillon Review


Very Good
There's a lot to like about Papillon. Compared to the witless blockbusters of today, with their explosions and CGI trickery, Papillon is the type of outsized escapist adventure tale that Hollywood once had down pat. It's well acted, gorgeously shot, and generally exciting -- all of which makes its mediocrity an even greater disappointment.

The trouble lies in its placement in the evolution of the Hollywood action film. Papillon is a transitional species. At the same time it soars on old-fashioned virtue, it also suffers from modern vice. Its 150-minute running time, false endings, and mind-numbing repetitions make it an early predecessor of the indulgent blockbuster of today.

Continue reading: Papillon Review

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