The Mesrine Films (2008) Jean-François Richet

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Mesrine: Killer Instinct (2008) Jean-François Richet
Music Box Films DVD, library (1:53)

Mesrine: Public Enemy #1 (2008) Jean-François Richet
Music Box Films DVD, library (2:14)

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In Mesrine: Killer Instinct we see the end from the beginning. In an opening that recalls the brief but unmistakable split-screen craze of 70s cinema, we see a man and a woman carefully exiting a Paris building, taking great care to make themselves aware of their surroundings. For several moments, these split-screen shots are photographed simultaneously from different angles, watching the characters’ every move, until an act of brutal violence ushers in what would normally serve as the finale of a crime film. Yet we’re just getting started. We never really understand why this split-screen technique is used until we arrive at the very end of the second film, Mesrine: Public Enemy #1, where we come full circle. In between these scenes lies one of the best crime films I’ve seen in a long time.

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The Beyond the Cover Blogathon: Thieves Like Us and They Live by Night

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This post is part of the Beyond the Cover Blogathon running April 8-10 over at Now Voyaging and Speakeasy. I hope you’ll enjoy this post as well as the many other entries.

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When you think about the time, effort and people involved in bringing a novel to the screen, it’s a wonder adaptations happen as quickly as they do, or even at all. Sometimes the process is relatively short. (Two years is pretty quick, even these days.) In extreme cases, the original creators have departed this world long before their film is ever released. Other productions fall somewhere in the middle. Edward Anderson’s novel Thieves Like Us was published in 1937 during the final years of the Great Depression, but the the story wasn’t filmed until 1947. Even after it was finished, the film sat on a shelf for two years and might have sat there even longer if not for some enthusiastic filmgoers in the UK. But timing is a strange thing, and in some cases it’s everything. Had Nicholas Ray’s They Live By Night remained on the shelf, Alfred Hitchcock would likely never have seen Farley Grainger to cast him in Rope and Strangers on a Train, we probably wouldn’t have Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde (at least not in the same style), and the entire canon of film noir would have been without one of its finest, most unique pictures.

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An Uncommon Woman in Woman on the Run (1950)

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NOTE: This post is part of a multi-week Detectives and Dames blogathon hosted by Flicker Alley to celebrate the upcoming Blu-ray/DVD releases of Woman on the Run (1950), which costars Dennis O’Keefe, and Too Late for Tears (1949). The main blogathon page may be found at Flicker Alley here, and this tribute is cross-posted at the Flicker Alley site here.

Woman on the Run may be preordered from Flicker Alley here and Too Late for Tears right here. Both are outstanding film noir movies with some great extras, including commentary tracks by the Film Noir Foundation’s Eddie Muller (Woman on the Run) and Alan K. Rode (Too Late for Tears).

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