Weekend Viewing Roundup: Le Samouraï and 1982 TRON

Happy Monday, all! Hope you had a fantabulous weekend… or at least an enjoyable one. Well it’s chilly over here, but that’s hardly news obviously… it’s Minnesota folks, if it’s warm in December then we have some serious climate issues on our hands 🙂 Well, did you get to the movies this weekend? Perhaps you went to see Tangled, which finally dethroned the latest Harry Potter movie from its box office reign. Or some of you probably saw Black Swan, which had strong opening on limited release according to Box Office Mojo. After reading my buddy Vince’s excellent review, was hoping to see The Red Shoes (did you read it yet?) which is on Netflix Streaming, but didn’t get around to it. Hopefully next weekend.

In any case, the genre jumping continues. On snowy Friday night, hubby and I ordered in and snuggled to watch Le Samouraï, which I mentioned briefly in last week’s weekend roundup. I’ve been wanting to see an Alain Delon movie, and this description of Delon’s character Jef Costello in This Guy’s list of Top 20 Badass Characters of Early Cinema intrigued me:

This is badass perfected. Costello is exacting, precise, he has the cold hard stare down pat, a man of very few words. He has the suave chicness of Bond, but remains as dark as any Noir antihero. He’s mysterious. Jean-Pierre Melville’s film is hip beyond belief, and no one could bring as much badassery to Jef Costello as the impeccable Alain Delon.

Well, that description is positively spot on. Costello is a free-agent assassin who brought the silent-but-deadly type to a whole new meaning. His glazed expression perfectly complements his impeccably tailored trench coat and stylish fedora… it’s as if they’re tailor-made to match his killer looks. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man wore a classic trench coat as flawlessly as Delon here, in fact, the style of this movie can spark a whole new blog topic on its own. Not just for Costello’s clothes and his spartan-like lifestyle, but also Jean-Pierre Melville’s stylish noir direction. Right from the beginning, we’re told that the main theme of this movie is solitude… “There is no greater solitude than that of the samurai unless it is that of the tiger in the jungle… Perhaps…” so says the quote attributed to an ancient samurai writing Bushido (though the quote is by Melville himself).

The French auteur is widely recognized for his tragic, minimalist film noirs (per Wiki), a genre I’m not too familiar with but always curious about. Le Samouraï is a fascinating look of that genre. Not sure I’d say that I enjoy it immensely though, I’d be lying if I said that. There were more than one occasion where the movie felt repetitive and tedious, overindulgent even. On the other hand, it’s also a nice break from the hurried pace of today’s movies where dizzying camera work and all kinds of special effects often ‘clutter’ the story and lessen the impact. In fact, the measured pace give the few action sequences more impact and Melville established plenty of tension in an effortless kind of way.

The gripe I have about it though, is the lack of character development. There’s little attempt to explain why Costello is the way he is… his reason for being a loner and his relationship with the girl who’s willing to risk her life to help him. It’s tough to feel any sympathy or any kind of connection with the character. The way the supposedly-perfectionist hit man conducts his business also leaves my hubby and I scratching our heads… a lot of them seemingly defy even the most basic common sense and there seems to be no real motive on his part — or any other character in the movie for that matter. In the end, Le Samouraï feels more of a style over substance and feels as distant and cold as Delon’s deadpan stare. Still, it’s worth a watch though once is definitely enough for me, but I might check out other Alain Delon movies, such as Purple Noon, which is his first major role.

The second film we saw this weekend, 1982 TRON, is practically a warm-up to one of my highly-anticipated movies of 2010, TRON: Legacy. I never saw this movie nor was I even remotely interested in it but my husband, who’s big fan, kinda sold me on it. He encouraged me to watch original before the movie comes out in 2 weeks, as the new one is a direct follow-up from the original story (one of the new posters even paid homage to the original).

The 1982 version showed hacker/arcade owner Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) and his friends’ quest to take back the concept that’s been stolen by a former colleague, which led him to a virtual world to battle with a ‘Big Brother’ type of program called MCP. TRON is an independent system security program created by Flynn’s ally Alan (Bruce Boxleitner), which holds the key to destroying MCP. In the new trailer, it shows that Flynn’s been missing for decades and now it’s up to his son to find his father and restores his legacy.

Y’know, I actually quite enjoyed this one, though towards the end I kinda became numb a bit from all the neon lights of the video game world 🙂 Sure it looks dated but this was made nearly three decades ago, where there was no such thing as graphical user interface and computer mouse wasn’t even invented in this pre-Internet era. So at the time, this was unlike anything they’ve ever seen and the concept is definitely intriguing and interestingly enough, still relevant to this day.

It’s pretty amusing to see the then 30-something Bridges and Boxleitner (who was the star of one of my favorite 80s show Scarecrow & Mrs. King) so young and fresh-faced. Bridges especially has that mischievous playfulness about him that’s so fun to watch. Both actors are reprising their roles in the new  movie, but of course the real star of the new show is the spectacular visuals, especially of those glowing lightcycles! 😀 A few street-legal replicas of those are apparently for sale. But before you shell out $55 K, keep in mind that these things—like Batman’s Batpod—only looks cool if you ride ’em fast (even better if you have a cape on you, too :D). The guy in the video is barely able to mount the thing, kinda looks ridiculous if you ask me 😀

In any case, just for fun, check out this fan-made original TRON trailer:

Well, that’s the roundup, folks. What movie(s) did you manage to see this weekend?

22 thoughts on “Weekend Viewing Roundup: Le Samouraï and 1982 TRON

  1. PrairieGirl

    Saw The Boys are Back, it was a nice little movie. rtm, did you review it on FC? I thought maybe you had, but didn’t come up with anything searching for it.

    Also Gable and Lombard (1978), with James Brolin as Gable. He was very good, could’ve been his twin. Jill Clayburgh was Carol but have never seen a Lombard movie, so don’t know how she compares. Very good from a period standpoint, but I went on Wikipedia afterwards and found out they took A LOT of liberty with facts. Am interested now to see No Man of Her Own (1932) the only film they acted in together.

    1. Yeah I reviewed it a while ago (https://flixchatter.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/dvd-picks-the-cove-the-boys-are-back-bright-star/) You can just type in Boys are back in the Search box above 🙂 Glad you like it. I probably like it more because of Clive.

      Oh interesting, Gable & Lombard were the golden couple back then, weren’t they? Heh, Brolin as Gable?? Goodness, I didn’t think he could hold a candle to such a legend, oh well. Btw, what did you think about Le Samourai? Are intrigued at all? I know you usually like classic movies.

      1. PrairieGirl

        Oh, didn’t know Le Samourai was a classic. Not sure if I’m interested, the pix of the “free-agent assassin who brought the silent-but-deadly type” looks quite boyish to me, not exactly like a cold-hearted killer, but maybe he does look and act the part in the film.

        Yes, I was very surprised James Brolin played Gable, but like I said, I surprised myself throughout the film whenever I realized he really wasn’t ACTUALLY Gable, he looked/acted/sounded/smoked exactly like him!

        Ya, I used your search box with boys are back but I must have not been paying attention, I liked Clive in in veery much (thanks for the link). Probably was daydreaming too much about getting one of Rufs audio books and hearing his enticing voice for hours on end… ;-D

  2. Ted S.

    Never heard of the first film you watched but it sounds interesting, might check it out someday.

    I saw the original Tron way back in seventh or eighth grade, didn’t really like it, probably because the special effects were so cheesy and this was the early 90s when I saw it. Not sure if I can sit through it today. The new one looks interesting, I might check out just to see it on the giant IMAX screen, the real IMAX, not the one in Southdale. 🙂

    1. Yeah, Le Samourai is worth a watch, you might like it if you like film noir genre.

      That’s what I thought too when I saw the trailer, Ted, but you know, surprisingly it kept my attention (well before the neon numbness set in :() The new one is worth checking out even just for the visual eye candy alone. Though after seeing the 1982 version, I hope the story is equally intriguing.

  3. yep, that’s what I think about original TRON as well. Although I’ve never really enjoyed it, you just got to have respect to something that was most definitely a breakthrough movie in those years. And I’m expecting the new one to be as revolutionary as the old one. All the trailers we’ve seen are very promising.

    1. Yep, that’s what I was trying to say, Dez. Obviously things made almost 3 decades ago will look cheesy now but at the time it must’ve been amazing. Yes the new one looks promising indeed, I hope it lives up to our expectations!

  4. I’m glad you enjoyed Tron!! It’s about time you saw it! 🙂 This weekend I watched The Next Three Days and I also streamed Centurion via netflix. wow. I enjoyed it. It’s kinda funny to see the ties that it could have to Tatum’s movie The Eagle, if they really wanted to.

    1. He..he.. better late than never, right? I’m glad I watched it, I think I’ll enjoy the new one much better now as I understand the background a whole lot more.

      Centurion was better than I expected. I didn’t expect much as another blogger said it was awful but maybe ’cause I like Fassbender that I like it better than I thought 🙂 I don’t think I’m interested at all in The Eagle though. Channing Tatum, meh! It’s better that Jamie Bell get the lead role.

  5. Not sure I want to see Tron Legacy, the trailer doesn’t really do much for me and you always have to wonder how good a sequel can be when the original got such mixed reviews in the first place. Hopefully, it will be a mega-flop 😛 At $320 million in production, it might help change this remake mania in Hollywood…

    1. You’ll be missing out Castor 🙂 I don’t think it’s going to flop given all the buzz, but of course we shall see. Normally I’m in your corner about remakes, but I make an exception for this one. Despite the critical dud of the original, I think the concept is pretty interesting, so a follow-up isn’t a bad idea if they improve the execution, which judging from the trailer, looks like they have indeed.

  6. My personal favorite French noir is “Touchez Pas au Grisbi”, but I’m a huge fan of the star, Jean Gabin. There are lots of French noirs I like and a lot that I’m sort of “meh” about. Pepe le Moko, also starring Gabin, had (seemingly) a big influence on Casablanca. It’s another of my favorites. There’s also Le Cercle Rouge, which (to borrow your phrase) felt tedious at times. Breathless is great, as is Shoot the Piano Player.

    Sorry to ramble. I love French movies.

    1. Hey, ramble away, John. French movies aren’t my genre so I don’t know any of the titles you mention 😦 Vince and I were talking about Breathless just yesterday so I might check that out soon, that’ll be the first Goddard movie I’d watch.

      Btw, have you seen Purple Noon? I’m curious to see another Delon movie where he isn’t so stoic 🙂

      1. I’m a bit limited with Delon because he worked so much with Antonioni… who was my favorite director’s nemesis (Bergman). With Delon, I’ve seen “Le Cercle Rouge” (which is a lot like Le Samourai) and “Rocco and His Brothers”, which I enjoyed quite a bit. I’m not even sure I remember him being in that last one, though.

  7. MY fav french movie currently is The Piano Teacher(i feel like i mentioned this movie in my blog or in a comment, or both, not sure). It can be hard to watch at times(Particularly during the later half), and the protagonist isn’t always likable, but i feel its a interesting movie. Its basically about a piano teacher who’s repressed sexuality prevents her from having a normal healthy relationship with a piano student who catches her eye. What i liked was that even though the movie can be graphic at times, it still felt repressed. I felt it explored sexuality in a interesting and refreshing way that i think Hollywood is afraid too

    Another french movie i liked is The Apartment. Basically a guy sees his ex-girlfreind(or thinks he dies) and gets rather obsessed with her. The protagonist isn’t all that likable(especially since he has a fiance) but i still think it is a good movie. I liked how it used Rashomon to unveil more of the plot. I will say that i wasn’t a fan of the ending, but i still recommend it.

    1. Yeah, I remember you telling me about it but I think it’s a bit too risque for my taste. Do you have a link to the second one (The Apartment)? It’s not the one by Billy Wilder I take it.

        1. Oh y’know what, I think my friend Vince might’ve talked about this once before (or maybe I’m confusing that with something else). Vincent Cassel is married to Monica Bellucci I think, I reckon they star in several movies together. You’re right, movies about infidelity generally don’t interest me, but there’s always exception.

          1. Well you can always take a chance, and since its on netflix you don’t have to spend a whole bunch of money to see it. I took a chance on Definitely Maybe because i don’t normally watch romantic comedys but i saw it get good reviews so i checked it out and honestly i really liked it. One of the few romantic comedys i reccomend.

            Thats one of the benefits of netflix i think. Its much easier to take a chance when your not paying theater ticket price for a movie

  8. Hmm I think I’ll check out Le Samurai, sound great especially with your recommendation.

    I had a talk with Rob (formerly of G-S-T) this morning and we talked about Tron. Sure it’s dated but it was ahead of it’s time and over all, it still kind of fun (and we’ve only seen it recently for the first time so not endeared to it). The ending didn’t make a whole lot of sense and then it was wrapped up with little resolution.

    Tron Legacy is chronologically a sequel but as it has nearly 30 years of time in between stories, this will feel very nearly like a standalone since there’s entire generations of people who haven’t even seen the original let alone know what Tron is. Yeah Disney didn’t make this sequel for old fans, they did it to bring in new ones:P

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