Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bob le Flambeur

This film separates itself from the normal "gangster" film in that Bob is inherently different from other gangsters - morally, fiscally, and in attitude. What i mean by this is that his actions and attitudes towards women, money, other men, and the police are different from the way a stereotypical gangster would approach said topics. For example, Bob is friends with Commissioner Ledru. They have dinner together and Ledru also has enough respect for Bob to pull him aside and tell him that his department is watching him and that he shouldn't do anything stupid. His attitude towards women is also very regal. When his rival in the film asks Bob for money, and Bob asks why, Marc says that he beat his girlfriend and needs money for the lawyers. Bob refuses, and hangs him out to dry. Also, when Marc starts to escort Anne around town, Bob tells her to stay away from him. Ironically, Bob never gets close to any of the women in the film. He even gives Anne a key to his apartment and she sleeps in his bed but he never takes advantage of her. Throughout the film she makes advances on him, but he is constantly refusing. A regular gangster film would probably have it the other way around, where a man would take advantage of whatever he could get. 
He is also a compulsive gambler but states in the film that he hasn't pulled a job or tried to do anything un-respectable in a long time. He dresses well, lives in a seemingly expensive apartment and carries himself very well. So when he decides to pull off this job, the film reflects his "subtle-gangster" persona. There is no stressful build up during the film, only a calm, cool approach in planning it. Everything was very carefully thought over and by the end of the movie, everything was in place and would work. The only problem was that the police were tipped off. The parallel between the way the film works and Bob's character works well in bringing the paradoxical form of a "gangster" to the forefront. The "heist" has no real action but the cool, calm way that Bob ironically breaks the bank at the end drives home the idea that you don't need guns and a new york accent to be a gangster.

Monday, September 15, 2008


This movie is a very real-world approach to what happens to a person when he becomes enamored with an image that can only be portrayed on film. The main character, Michel, is a small time thief that loves Humphrey Boggart films and imitates them in his own life. He dresses like a gangster, is very blunt, smokes like a chimney and makes decisions on the fly (which usually turn out to be bad choices). After he steals a car then kills a policeman, he is on the run in Paris with a girl from New York. During the film he is trying to get in touch with a man who owes him money so that he can go to Italy with his lady (Patricia) and stay on the run. The thing is, the entire time he has this attitude that doesn't really come with the experience of a seasoned gangster, but rather one that is trying to hard. He goes out into the open, and he doesn't try to cover his tracks. He is living in an illusion that provides a lot of false hope and security. The story never really gets inside his head. It doesn't need to because his attitude is all that needs to speak for him.
The film really portrays this single-mindedness. The jump-cuts signify how absent Michel is. He just talks and goes through the motions. He also needs a constant re-assuring of himself. He is always asking "if it was good" and never really answers any of Patricia's questions. Being this self-absorbed eventually leads to his downfall. Once he is shot and is dying, he says "Im a scumbag." 

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The 400 Blows

Antoine, the main character in The 400 Blows, is a boy who is looking for a way. And by a "way" I mean that he is looking for a place in life - as a man who has an identity. He doesn't find it in the world around him (school, at home) so he looks to being a vagabond as a way of not only getting attention but also as a way of discovering. His ultimate goal in the movie is to go to the ocean and see it. This can be taken as a metaphor or literally. He knows there is more out there than his school teacher and his parents, so he wants to discover it.
When the movie begins in the classroom, his teacher is portrayed as a crazy, stressed out overly angry adult who pays more attention to the kids misbehaving than to what they are learning. His mother is very demeaning towards him and is also having an affair. His step-father, who is a jokester, is too much of one and doesn't really guide Antoine in the right direction. So in his immediate life, there is no one to look up to. All the adults around him are suppressive and constrictive. They don't let him simply be a boy and grow.
Due to all of the negativity surrounding him, he takes on a surly, nonchalant demeanor throughout the whole film. He rarely shows emotion and when he does it is because he is being a kid - adventurous and wild (i.e. the "gravetron" or on the beach). So in a sense the movie is about a boy coming into his own, but more importantly it is about a boy knowing that there is more out there for him than what his surroundings present. 

Monday, September 8, 2008

Les Cousins

The film Les Cousins was a film about a naive, high-strung country boy (Charles) living in the city with his cousin (Paul) while studying for a very important exam. Paul is the sort of guy that would party on a tuesday night with a full set of classes the next day, but Charles is the kid that would stay in and try to shush everyone up while he was studying. The two personalities are a stark contrast in many aspects, including the way they treat Florence, Charles's love interest, and the way the approach the exam. 
Charles is a "mama's boy." He writes her everyday, and is set on making her proud. The way he interacts with Florence is apprehensive because his mom told him that "girls are evil." Paul on the other hand loves his women, booze and parties. He has guns hanging on the wall and a mischievous goatee - as opposed to Charles's clean-shaven boyish face. the way they approach the exam is also ironic in the sense that Paul passes with flying colors (when he doesn't study at all) but Charles, who stresses out about the exam to the point of a melt-down, fails the exam.
It is  this inability to relax that leads to Charles's downfall. He becomes so hung-up on the exam that he almost kills his cousin, but paul accidentally kills Charles out of good fun - not out of jealousy and rage.