306 Le samouraï

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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Martha
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306 Le samouraï

#1 Post by Martha » Mon Aug 01, 2005 1:38 pm

Le samouraï

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In a career-defining performance, Alain Delon plays Jef Costello, a contract killer with samurai instincts. After carrying out a flawlessly planned hit, Jef finds himself caught between a persistent police investigator and a ruthless employer, and not even his armor of fedora and trench coat can protect him. An elegantly stylized masterpiece of cool by maverick director Jean-Pierre Melville, Le samouraï is a razor-sharp cocktail of 1940s American gangster cinema and 1960s French pop culture—with a liberal dose of Japanese lone-warrior mythology.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Interviews with Rui Nogueira, editor of Melville on Melville, and Ginette Vincendeau, author of Jean-Pierre Melville: An American in Paris
• Archival interviews with Melville and actors Alain Delon, François Périer, Nathalie Delon, and Cathy Rosier
Melville-Delon: D'Honneur et de nuit (2011), a short documentary exploring the friendship between the director and the actor and their iconic collaboration on this film
• PLUS: An essay by film scholar David Thomson. The Blu-ray also features an appreciation by filmmaker John Woo and excerpts from Melville on Melville.

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#2 Post by Cinephrenic » Mon Aug 01, 2005 1:51 pm

Martha wrote:Mmm... Alain Delon.
I was hoping this one to be a 2-disc. Would be nice next to Le Cercle Rouge.

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#3 Post by BWilson » Mon Aug 01, 2005 2:17 pm

Outrageously good news! I can't wait. I heard New Yorker had the rights to this. This is easily one of Criterion's best "scores" from another DVD label.

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#4 Post by kieslowski_67 » Mon Aug 01, 2005 2:34 pm

Just found this out from the HVE site. This is the highlight of the Oct release as I don't care about the other Samurai movies at all.

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#5 Post by NoHayBanda » Mon Aug 01, 2005 5:39 pm

Wow! With this and an SE of Man Who Fell to Earth, Criterion is making me a very happy boy this fall.

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#6 Post by Martha » Mon Aug 01, 2005 5:45 pm

Gordon McMurphy wrote:Le Samoura� is definitely a film that needs to be seen to be appreciated. Basically, what makes it an enduring piece of Cinema, is the deft handling by Melville - nothing is rushed; the 'process of actions' is played out methodically, allowing the viewer to enter the character's mind and experience the inner tensions as well as absorb the material details of his actions. "Pure Cinema", as Hitch called it: the images do the talking.

Although Le Samoura� may sound like a typical crime thriller by a filmmaker who greatly admires American gangster pictures, it is anything but: Le Samoura� is an absorbing character study and, as I have stated, one of the great 'lessons in Cinema'. Few French thrillers of the last thirty-odd years have been as influential. Even if one doesn't 'like' Le Samoura�, one has to concede to its technical and cinematic mastery.

Also, an aspect of the film that is rarely mentioned is Fran�ois de Roubaix's score, which I find haunting and if you heard it in isolation before seeing the film, you would never imagine that it was the score to a 'hitman movie'. Melancholic organ is subtly played thoughout the 'processes of action' scenes, underlining the doom-layden atmosphere which surround the protagonist, perhaps indicating loss of some kind. Just like all other components of the film, it fits perfectly.

As far as I am concerned, you can't go on experiencing films until you have seen Le Samoura�!

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#7 Post by Martha » Mon Aug 01, 2005 5:45 pm

zedz wrote:I agree. Le Samourai approaches the essence of cinema: everything about it is stripped back and streamlined. There's hardly any unnecessary dialogue, characters are pared back to iconic status, the film technique is exquisitely functional - and the effect is transcendent, abstract, existential. I can't think of any other film (not even Melville's) that attains quite the same mood.

Unlike most posters in this thread, I'm not convinced of Delon's great acting ability, and for me he's most effective in roles like this (and L'Eclisse) where he is required to elegantly fill a space, and where his blankness can represent shallowness (as in the Antonioni) or inscrutability (as here).

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#8 Post by david hare » Mon Aug 01, 2005 6:51 pm

Let's hope Criterion doesn't screw up the color grading the way it did on Le Cercle Rouge. Frankly I am delighted with the Rene Chateau R2 and would be hard pressed to fork out for this again, even with the extras.

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#9 Post by cafeman » Mon Aug 01, 2005 8:26 pm

flixyflox wrote:Let's hope Criterion doesn't screw up the color grading the way it did on Le Cercle Rouge. Frankly I am delighted with the Rene Chateau R2 and would be hard pressed to fork out for this again, even with the extras.
I hope this doesn`t snowball off topic, but Criterion`s was the proper color grading. I have seen Le Cercle Rouge in a theatre, on TV and on VHS and they were all graded the way it is on the Criterion. Also, the color scheme on the Criterion is much more in accord, visually, with Melville`s other movies.

On topic, this is the single greatest movie in the Collection, as far as I`m concerned.

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#10 Post by david hare » Mon Aug 01, 2005 9:39 pm

Let's stay OT for a while - although I like the transfer very much I am inclined to agree with the Beaver that the BFI transfer of Cercle which is bluer is more correct in terms of color grading. (Until I had seen this I was perfectly happy with the Criterion, and certainly the package.) Anyhow the Rene Chateau transfer of Le Samourai is extremely cold in tone and dominated by blue and green schemes, with fleshtones quite pallid, even in the interiors. So is my DTV copy of L'Armee des Ombres. It is impossible to miss the bluer balance of Melville's color compositions and the Criterion Cercle while quite beautiful is too red. Getting back to Samourai, it all depends who they source thier print from I suppose.

(Criterion is also guilty of getting color Ozu's wrong as well, vide Floating Weeds - again too red biased, as Michael Kerpan has pointed out elsewhere.)

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#11 Post by david hare » Mon Aug 01, 2005 9:43 pm

I should have added Le Samourai had a theatrical reissue here about two years ago and again the color balance was the same as the French disc. There are lengthy arguments here and there about Melville's use of blue/s and the PAL editions of these movies (and TV prints) conform to this aspect of his mise-en-scene.

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#12 Post by clutch44 » Tue Aug 02, 2005 2:32 am

I also believe Criterion will have quite a challange beating the great transfer of the French René Chateau DVD of Le Samourai. I won't bet against them as they seem to rise to the occasion time and time again.

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#13 Post by unclehulot » Wed Aug 03, 2005 9:20 am

clutch44 wrote:I also believe Criterion will have quite a challange beating the great transfer of the French René Chateau DVD of Le Samourai. I won't bet against them as they seem to rise to the occasion time and time again.
Hmm... I find that disc a bit cranked up brightness-wise. Certainly not bad looking by any means, but I had the urge to fiddle with my calibrated settings to get it too look less video-ish.

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#14 Post by cafeman » Wed Aug 03, 2005 2:30 pm

I`ve seen all 13 Melville`s feature films projected theatrically, and his bluest film is Un Flic. Its transfer on the R1 is great but is still a shade too blue. As for the other films, the colors that dominate are more earthy, like deep green, orange and such. Of course, there is also oftentimes a blue, but nowhere nearly as staggeringly present as on the BFI of Le Cercle Rouge.

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#15 Post by Gordon » Wed Aug 03, 2005 7:05 pm

--Choke!--
[Heart-attack] :shock:

This is absurd good news! Where do I begin?

The René Chateau DVD has a gorgeous anamorphic 1.66:1 transfer, but the darker scenes are are not solid - a bit blockey, poor delineation, perhaps, but razor-sharp and blemish free.

I am really surprised that Criterion are not including Jean-Pierre Melville: A Portrait in Nine Poses made thru Cinéma de notre temps in 1973, which I have on DVD-r from a subtitled VHS. It is easily the premier visual document on JPM. It's kind of crazy! Melville's attitude as a filmmaker is unique and it shines through here. Perhaps the music ("Every Body's Talkin' ") and clips from Midnight Cowboy have kept it from official release over the years. But the "excerpts from archival interviews with Melville, Delon, and others" will be great, I'm sure. Production Designer, François de Lamothe is still alive.

Ginette Vincendeau will surely be one of the critics interviewed. Her book, Jean-Pierre Melville: An American in Paris is essential for Melville fans.

Rui Noguiera greatly admires Melville and his Melville on Melville has been OOP for way too long.

Wow, this is great, great news. I emailed New Yorker last month and was informed that Criterion held the rights, but I took it with a pinch, but talk about a fast turn-around! What a coup for Criterion. I honestly thought that we'd see L'Armee des ombres first thru Rialto, but not so. Hopefully, we'll it soon, also; such an amazing film.

Oh, joy!

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#16 Post by cafeman » Wed Aug 03, 2005 7:21 pm

Gordon McMurphy wrote:I am really surprised that Criterion are not including Jean-Pierre Melville: A Portrait in Nine Poses made thru Cinéma de notre temps in 1973, which I have on DVD-r from a subtitled VHS. It is easily the premier visual document on JPM. It's kind of crazy! Melville's attitude as a filmmaker is unique and it shines through here. Perhaps the music ("Every Body's Talkin' ") and clips from Midnight Cowboy have kept it from official release over the years. But the "excerpts from archival interviews with Melville, Delon, and others" will be great, I'm sure. Production Designer, François de Lamothe is still alive.
This is already available on the Criterion DVD of Le Cercle Rouge. I`m still hoping they`ll include Melville`s short '24 Hours in the Life of a Clown' on this, or on L`Armee des Ombres. I`d prefer it here, but, from what it seems, this title won`t get the extras and the attention than it so richly deserves, but, anyway, I`ll be extatic to finally own this cinema milestone.

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#17 Post by david hare » Wed Aug 03, 2005 7:35 pm

Gordon is right that the Rene Chateau is VERY slightly marred by some compression aretecting in only a couple of scenes - and this is only visible on high end, large screen displays.

As for the blue isssue - I have to repeat I would have been perfectly happy with the Criterion Cercle Rouge until I saw the BFI version. The color balance in the Criterion pushes too much contast into the image. And given the vagaries of re-release prints I for one need to research more scholarly sources for a definitive opinion on color balances in Melville, but certainly Henri Decae's photography is always distinguished by emphasis on maximum light and minimum contrast, almost definitionally favoring the color blue. Interestingly Sacha Vierney's "look" if you can call it that is more lush and contrasted. A trawl through his 60s and 70s work such as Belle de Jour, Plein Soleil, Muriel and of course Cercle Rouge may evince an argument for a more saturated image for the Melville in this case (but I now find the Criterion slightly dark, if still quite beautiful to watch.)

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#18 Post by Andre Jurieu » Thu Aug 04, 2005 1:51 am

Gordon McMurphy wrote: I emailed New Yorker last month and was informed that Criterion held the rights, but I took it with a pinch, but talk about a fast turn-around! What a coup for Criterion. I honestly thought that we'd see L'Armee des ombres first thru Rialto, but not so.
I do believe New Yorker lost the rights to the film sometime last year. At least, that was the first time someone around here mentioned that New Yorker lost the rights. Naturally, that turned into speculation that Criterion was able to get their grubby little hands on it, though nothing was confirmed back then.

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#19 Post by Gordon » Fri Aug 05, 2005 4:32 pm

cafeman wrote:
Gordon McMurphy wrote:I am really surprised that Criterion are not including Jean-Pierre Melville: A Portrait in Nine Poses made thru Cinéma de notre temps in 1971...
This is already available on the Criterion DVD of Le Cercle Rouge.
I do not own the Criterion edition of Le Cercle Rouge (I own the BFI edition) but I believe that the Criterion merely has excerpts (27 minutes?) from A Portrait in Nine Poses, which actually runs a full 53 minutes.

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#20 Post by Gordon » Fri Aug 05, 2005 4:42 pm

Andre Jurieu wrote:
Gordon McMurphy wrote:I honestly thought that we'd see L'Armee des ombres first thru Rialto, but not so.
I do believe New Yorker lost the rights to the film sometime last year. At least, that was the first time someone around here mentioned that New Yorker lost the rights. Naturally, that turned into speculation that Criterion was able to get their grubby little hands on it, though nothing was confirmed back then.
Rialto owns L'Armee des ombres (Army in the Shadows): http://www.rialtopictures.com/catalog.html

It's an amazing film; very powerful and deftly executed by Melville in audacious style. It may actually be his best film, I'm not sure, but it is the best film ever made about the Resistance. Rialto also own, as you will see from their site, Melville's, Le Doulos and Léon Morin prêtre, both of which are superb films. I have the BFI editions, which have excellent transfers and extras.

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#21 Post by Andre Jurieu » Fri Aug 05, 2005 5:21 pm

Gordon McMurphy wrote:Rialto owns L'Armee des ombres (Army in the Shadows): http://www.rialtopictures.com/catalog.html

It's an amazing film; very powerful and deftly executed by Melville in audacious style. It may actually be his best film, I'm not sure, but it is the best film ever made about the Resistance. Rialto also own, as you will see from their site, Melville's, Le Doulos and Léon Morin prêtre, both of which are superb films. I have the BFI editions, which have excellent transfers and extras.
You kind of quoted me out-of-context there. My comments were in regards to your comments about Le Samourai, and Criterion's turn-around time with the title. I'm saying New Yorker lost the rights to Le Samourai some time last year, not last month. I have Rialto's website among my "favorites" here at work, so I frequently check in on their catalogue.

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#22 Post by Gordon » Fri Aug 05, 2005 5:36 pm

Oh, sorry, Andre! :oops:

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#23 Post by Andre Jurieu » Fri Aug 05, 2005 5:41 pm

Gordon McMurphy wrote:Oh, sorry, Andre! :oops:
Wow, I even get an exclamation mark. No worries.

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#24 Post by david hare » Sat Aug 06, 2005 5:33 am

Struth Andre!!!!!

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#25 Post by cafeman » Sat Aug 06, 2005 10:16 am

Gordon McMurphy wrote:I do not own the Criterion edition of Le Cercle Rouge (I own the BFI edition) but I believe that the Criterion merely has excerpts (27 minutes?) from A Portrait in Nine Poses, which actually runs a full 53 minutes.
I e-mailed Mulvaney back when it had yet to be released and asked what`s this whole 'excerpts' bit, and he responded that it`s the entire thing minus the clips to which rights couldn`t be cleared. I watched it, and it seems complete. It also seems longer than 27 minutes to me, though I may be wrong.

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