image borrowed from bing
“Bushido can only be realized in the presence of death--chosing
death over life, accepting this as truth, as closure.”
Sometimes we approach much heralded & celebrated art like school children, only hearing the parroting praise, only seeing what was already described by the experts, the critics, the intellectuals, and that represents a sadness, a shame, almost hypocrisy for the individual unable or unwilling to liberate their own opinions on what they have experienced--because as ill-equipped as some of us might be to discuss opera or Op Art, or the fecundity of O’Keefe’s sexual flower paintings, or the emotion found in the dangerous drippings from Pollock, or Klee’s bi-polar linear madness, still we need, we must share, accurately and honestly, the rage, bile, or rapture we felt post-exposure to a painting, performance, pantomime or film.
Case in point, the classic French film Noir, LE SAMOURAI (1967), showered with accolades, with a rare 100% critic’s approval, & a high 93% audience approval, considered an essential existential crime drama, influencing John Woo’s THE KILLER, & Jim Jarmusch’s GHOST DOG, & Luc Besson’s LEON, & Walter Hill’s LAST MAN STANDING; directed by Jean-Pierre Melville, a veteran crime drama creator--this film being considered his best, finally released in the original French version, after we all suffered in 1972 with the American release, severely truncated, re-edited, & overdubbed, & wearing the lame title of THE GODSON.
This is a very dark tale of a meticulous assassin, who lives alone in a rundown secluded apartment, inconspicuous, hiding in plain sight, a Spartan existence, with a monk’s simplicity & a strict adherence to his own vocational code--with only one spark of life in this black on gray domicile, a bird in a cage. This is a color film, but most of it was shot in deep shadows & at night, giving it a Noir feel & essence.
A film like this, with its sterling reputation, held in such high esteem, was a movie I expected a lot from. The lexicon of Assassin films is lengthy, dark & deep, so I hoped to see something fresh, gritty, & original, something deeply rooted to yakuza, bushido, & samurai traditions. There was an existential component to it as we watched Alain Delon maneuvering himself into a full tilt tragic end, but I must say, as flat-affected, dull, & insipid as the movie turned out to be, the primary weakness of it was the casting of Delon in the lead. His matinee good looks, his rumpled Bogart/Columbo raincoat, & his strained attempts at coolness seemed wrong, off-center, out of balance.
I wanted, needed to see Jean Reno, Yves Montand, or Gerard Depardieu as Costello; someone with a lived-in face, deeply lined chiseled, with life’s weariness in his slight stoop, in his heavy shoulders, with the potential for believable violence springing from his killer sinews, effortless toughness rather than Delon’s stiffness, effeminate posing & pretenses that emerged as awkward sophomoric shuffling.
I needed, wanted to see an accurate realistic portrayal of pain, a propensity for violence behind his fierce stare, a rage, an anger predicated on a misspent youth, time in the joint, death deep in his eyes, a string of victims implied, strung out in piles of bodies in unnamed alleys, left in dumpsters & shallow graves, the coldness of a professional mechanic coupled to zero guilt, misplaced pride, and a fondness for firearms & martial arts; a Bronson, Statham, Palance, Widmark, Marvin, or even Ladd--I pined for sharing some time with Willis in a dirty T-shirt cleaning his weapons behind a pile of new ammunition, for some connection to bushido, some whisper of Kurosawa, one or two Mifune stares, a Nakadai burst of perfect violence, a Katsu hiss of killing blades--but instead received just cover boy Delon operating in a vacuous state of disbelief, posing in Borselinos & expensive suits, standing stilted in shadows, & prancing in & out of stolen Citroens.
Posted over on dVerse Poets MTB
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