Sunday, June 26, 2011

LE CERCLE ROUGE (1970) - Jean-Pierre Melville


This one's been on the American remake chopping block for years. First there was talk of John Woo directing, but his slo-mo operatic style seems diametrically opposed to Melville's ruthlessly minimal action efficiency. I feared for The Red Circle's future-- one sure to involve someone flying through the air firing two guns at a time. Then there was mention of Johnnie To in the director's chair. My ears perked. Yes, Johnnie To! Now, you're in the style ballpark!

It doesn't matter. This movie is all about the Melville style, which no one will be able to approximate. Viewed again, the plot's really standard film noir/heist fare. What sets it apart is Melville really takes his time (the film runs 2 hours and 20 minutes), allowing you to linger over the details of prisoner escape, casing a jewelry joint, the intricacies of fencing stolen goods. It's almost documentary-like in that respect, and no studio today is going to greenlight an action movie with such a bloated run-time without jamming in a lot of extraneous plot. As far as I'm concerned Le Cercle Rouge is a closed loop as of 1970. Anything else is merely an unnecessary tangent.

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