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?