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Christopher Webster [DVD News 07.22.08] movie news dvd

While my crusty old boss quietearth (well, he's not that old) may not always see the value in some of my more mainstream tastes, particularly along the lines of my almost infantile infatuation with the fantasy genre, we definitely both see eye to eye on the power of film noir and the amazing abilities of one Jean-Pierre Melville. From our favorite understated classic Le Samurai, to the satirical Bob Le Flambeur, to Le Cercle Rouge (which is currently set to be remade), Melville has an almost spotless permanent record. So we're both pretty jazzed that the still inimitable Criterion Collection has announced the release of two more Melville classics for October, Le Deuxieme Souffle and Le doulos. More on the releases after the break.

What criterion says about Le Deuxieme Souffle: With his customary restraint and ruthless attention to detail, director Jean-Pierre Melville follows the parallel tracks of French underworld criminal Gu (the inimitable Lino Ventura), escaped from prison and roped into one last robbery, and the suave inspector, Blot (Paul Meurisse), relentlessly seeking him. The implosive Le deuxième souffle captures the pathos, loneliness, and excitement of a life in the shadows with methodical suspense and harrowing authenticity, and contains one of the most thrilling heist sequences Melville ever shot.

What they say about Le Doulos: The backstabbing criminals in the shadowy underworld of Jean-Pierre Melville's Le doulos have only one guiding principle: “Lie or die.” A stone-faced Jean-Paul Belmondo stars as enigmatic gangster Silien, who may or may not be responsible for squealing on Faugel (Serge Reggiani), just released from the slammer and already involved in what should have been a simple heist. By the end of this brutal, twisty, and multilayered policier, who will be left to trust? Shot and edited with Melville’s trademark cool and featuring masterfully stylized dialogue and performances, Le doulos (slang for an informant) is one of the filmmaker’s most gripping crime dramas.

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