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The View from the Tank: Le Cercle Rouge (The Red Circle) (1970) - Octopus Grigori **West** [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Octopus Grigori **West**

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The View from the Tank: Le Cercle Rouge (The Red Circle) (1970) [Mar. 12th, 2005|04:08 pm]
Octopus Grigori **West**
After years of delay, I finally saw The Red Circle, Jean-Pierre Melville's masterpiece, the critically acclaimed, highly influential, alleged pinnacle of noirish criminal cool. After all the critical hype I had been hearing for years, I was amped for this film. Sadly, it was not all that.

After a pretentious quotation from the Rama Krishna (scrolled next to a shot of a fat smiling jade Chinese Buddha (!?)), the movie sort of rolls out of bed and brushes its teeth, takes a dump, and scratches itself: it takes forever to get going.

It may be my own fault that I was bored by the sleepy throat clearing of the movie -- I am a rotted child of MTV and Nickelodeon. (Although my wasted attention span has not kept me from enjoying the paint-drying-on-the-wall slow Tokyo Story and The Fast Runner (both to be reviewed in this space, infra).) When the much vaunted climactic heist scene finally came, it was thoroughly, breathtakingly underwhelming.

This all may have been the apogee of cool, choreographed, wordless illegality back in 1970, but after Woo and Tarantino, it seems to me that we can't go back. The characters were not that cool. They were sort of dorky. The action was dorky, the scenes were silly and heavy handed. This general milieu of dorkiness was heightened by scenes such as the blue-screen driving scenes where Alain Delon nervously twitches the steering wheel back and forth as if he were navigating a minefield as the car cruises down a straight road.

Though it seemed dated to me, it's worth seeing this just to get a sense of what all the hype was about. It seems, in this case, that things have, happily, improved with time.