Jean-Pierre Melville is GFT's latest CineMaster
This September the ice cool cinema of Jean-Pierre Melville will be lighting up Glasgow Film Theatre’s screen as part of its ongoing CineMasters series
Cinema doesn’t get any cooler than that of French director Jean-Pierre Melville. His films were concerned with tough guys in trench coats who don’t say much, but have plenty on their minds. He was the stetson-wearing godfather to the generation of Nouvelle Vague upstarts who followed in his wake, and his fat-free crime movies would become action templates for future action poets like Walter Hill, Michael Mann, John Woo and Quentin Tarantino.
Melville was born in Paris in 1917, and cinemas up and down the land have been marking this centenary with retrospectives of his movies. Glasgow Film Theatre is the latest to pay tribute to Melville and will be crowning him their CineMaster for September.
GFT’s season kicks off with Le Doulos, where Melville’s love of American film noir is writ large on screen. The great Jean-Paul Belmondo is magnetic as an ambiguous crook playing both sides of the law, while Nicolas Hayer’s black and white cinematography paints the Paris streets and back alleys in gorgeous, inky shadows.
Next up is the intoxicating Les Enfants Terribles. Based on a Jean Cocteau novel, it follows two adolescent siblings with a dangerously incestuous rapport, who entertain themselves through a series of enigmatic games. The film’s style and real location shooting was a huge influence on François Truffaut, and was practically remade by Bernardo Bertolucci in the form of The Dreamers in 2003.
Perhaps the quintessential Melville film is his fine-tooled crime movie Le Samouraï. Alain Delon plays the lonely killer of the title, a beautiful hitman who stalks the dark streets of Paris and who finds himself on the wrong end of a gun when one of his powerful clients turns on him. The wordless opening might be the best in all cinema.
The CineMaster season rounds off with Melville’s brilliant Bob le Flambeur, which follows a gambler on a stinking losing streak that’s left him broke. As his luck shows no sign of returning, he plans a heist of a casino to get back in the black. As well as a gripping crime picture it’s one of Melville’s most tender works, with Bob’s relationship with his protege and his new lover forming the heart of the movie.
Jean-Pierre Melville: CineMaster runs at Glasgow Film Theatre throughout September. Both Les Enfants Terribles and Le Samouraï screen on 35mm, while Le Doulos plays on a mint fresh digital print released by Park Circus. Screening dates are below; for tickets, head to http://glasgowfilm.org
Le Doulos: 8-10 Sep (times vary)
Les Enfants Terribles: 10 Sep, 2.50pm (on 35mm)
Le Samourai: 17 Sep, 2.15pm (on 35mm)
Bob le Flambeur: 25 Sep, 6pm