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Le Cercle Rouge

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Tittle: Le Cercle Rouge

Director: Jean-Pierre Melville

Release Year: 20 October 1970


The button of the jewellery store’s security system has JPM, the director’s initials, on it.

The heist scene lasts 25 minutes, with no word being spoken.

Runtime: 140 min


There is something very enjoyable about a good heist film .This a classic in the genre and a incredible well done one at that .The film follows Corey played by Alain Delon. While he is in prison he is told about a heist opportunity by a prison guard. The story then cuts a group of mysterious men as they race through the street .The men are detectives moving a suspect  the suspect  they are transporting escapes the escapee called Vogel is played by Gian Maria Volontè   and the police officer hunting him called Le Commissaire Mattei  is played by Bourvil  apparently a famous musician and comic in his last screen role. The two men meet  then meet one on the run and the other fresh out of prison they recruit Jansen  an expert marksman  played by Yves Montand  to complete their crew for the heist. I don’t want to give too much away about the film this one especially if you are a fan of cinema this is a must watch.


The whole concept of the film along with the title is a kind of fated meeting .That when people are destined to meet they will .And the characters in the film are very much like that and you get a sense of fate from their meetings. There is a title card that reads:

Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, drew a circle with a piece of red chalk and said: “When men, even unknowingly, are to meet one day, whatever may befall each, whatever the diverging paths, on the said day, they will inevitably come together in the red circle.”


This is a masterful film from the cutting to the shooting. There are numerous scenes of silence when we observe the minute actions of a character in a scene .and it is enthralling from casting bullets to unlocking cuff the small well timed scenes really draw you in. The camera movement is masterful as well there is a pull-out from the train to a helicopter shot that is fantastic and a real technical achievement. There is less flashy but functional use of the camera that is some of the best I have seen .One scene in the office of the head internal affairs investigator the camera moves fluidly  from a single to a wide to a two shot. This subtle sequence pushes the scene along and tells the story very visually.


The film has a laconic and kind of a feeling of sadness to it. The main characters ooze cool and confidence and everyone is dressed as if it was a 1950’s detective film trench coats and hats feature prominently throughout. This is another film that shows how the French could take ideas and stylistic choices from American cinema and give them their own unique take on the subject.

This is Melville’s biggest success at the box office and the second last before he died of a heart attack. If you have never heard of him or this film you are in for a real threat the 25 minute heist film done with only the sounds of the environment is pure cinema .And of course it draws comparisons to the heist in Rififi which is one of Melville’s favourite film.

If you have a list of classic films that you have to watch than this one have to go to the top of the list this film is a master class in cinema



list of shame

Tittle: Fitzcarraldo

Director: Werner Herzog

Release Year: 10 October 1982


A real 340-ton steamship was moved over the mountain with a bulldozer, without the use of special effects.

Was shot in English, since many of the actors on the set couldn’t speak German.

Runtime: 158 min


One of the directors whose name I was very familiar with but had never seems any of his films was Werner Herzog. And after watching this film along with the documentary about the making of the film .I have the utmost respect for the man the heart break and setbacks he encountered in the making of this film could break anybody. What is the film about though it follows a failed entrepreneur in the middle of the amazon as he comes up with a new money making scheme. His money making scheme is to transport a huge ship over a mountain to exploit a large amount of rubber trees.He is a dreamer who dreams of bringing an opera to the small town in the amazon .I don’t want to give away too much but that’s the main thrust of the story.



The film is very enjoyable with a frantic energy  with an amazing performance from Klause Kinski. The film contrasts the difference dreamers and business men and the contrasts between idealists contrasted with capitalists. The film has a quote that sums up one of the central idea “our everyday life is only an illusion behind that is the reality of dreams.

One element that is related to the film that is touched on is the documentary “The burden of dreams” this film deal with the production from start to completion .It shows the massive struggle and real dangers faced by the cast and crew. Intermittently throughout the documentary they speak with Werner he is an incredible intelligent and articulate man who can justify anything and is very entertaining when recounting the events. Near the end of the documentary he rails against the jungle and the problems he has encountered and it’s worth watching just for that scene alone.


I would have to recommend both films and the documentary afterward and it will make you marvel at the film even more. One small thing that surprised me was I always assumed the ship they transported over the mountain was a creation of the art department .make from plywood or paper and made to looks like a real ship. But in reality it was a real full sized ship .In many ways Werner and Fitzcarraldo are the same Person both dreams with visions that they pursue relentlessly .Be sure to check it out.

The Battle of Algiers

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Tittle: The Battle of Algiers

Director: Gillo Pontecorvo

Release Year: 3 September 1966


The only film in Oscar history to be a nominee in two separate non-consecutive years. It was a foreign film nominee for 1966, and then a nominee for screenplay and direction for 1968.

Included among the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”, edited by Steven Schneider.

Runtime: 121 min


Of all the films I have watched so far on the list of shame this is one of my favourites. It follows the revolution in Algeria from 1954 to 1962This film is more relevant today than ever before. It shows in a brutal way the activities of the terrorist or freedom fighters and the tactics employed by the French to supress the revolution. It follows the character of Ali La Pointe played by Brahim Hadjadj. From the very start of the revolution to his induction into the FNL and the major event he takes part in .The story leaves him at times to follow other characters for other events but the film is mostly about his character.

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The film has a very real feel to it. They used non actors in the parts and they were chosen for their similarity to the actual people .The films fly’s along with a great pace taking the audience with it. One of the triumphs of the film is how even handed it feels its shows the faults with both sides the innocent people caught up in the revolution .And the extreme tactics used by the French bombing and torture to  get revenge and extract information. The films at times feel like a documentary with exceptional access it shows the inner working of the terrorists and the government forces.

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What is genuinely striking about the film is the relevance to modern conflicts in the Middle East. If you changed the name of the country to Iraq or Afghanistan you could use the same script. The organisation of the terrorist there tactics and the response form the authorities are playing out time and time again. I suppose the saying is true if we don’t learn from the mistakes of history we are doomed to repeat them.

This is a must watch of any fans of cinema. It’s not only masterfully shot and acted with an amazing script .The fact that is based on actual events makes it even more remarkable. And the score by Ennio Morricone and Gillo Pontecorvo is fantastic.

Tokyo Story

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Tittle: Tokyo story

Director: Yasujirô Ozu

Release Year: 3 November 1953


Included among the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”, edited by Steven Schneider.

Voted the greatest movie of all time in Sight & Sound’s 2012 director’s poll.

The film is notable for its use of the “tatami-mat” shot, in which the camera height is low and remains largely static throughout.

Runtime: 136 min


One of the giants of cinema and a director who is considered one of the greatest Japanese directors Ozu has a very unique style .He normally shot his films on a 40mm prime where normally a film would have many different primes. A prime is a set focal length for example an 18mm or a 50mm prime would have a set field of view where a vari focal lens like a zoom or the canon kit lens can go from 18mm to 50mm.The lens closest to a normal human vision would be a 5omm. He is also known for using very little camera movement in this film he moves the camera just once.I wonder what Ozue would think of this scene from Taken Three

Watching one of his films is more akin to a documentary or a play you are watching a scene unfold no fancy movement or camera tricks just the acting and the story to carry the scene. The film follows Shūkichi played by Chishū Ryū and Tomi Hirayama played by Chieko Higashiyama.  As they visit with their five children .What they find is indifference and they are treated like a burden .The film follows there trip and the tragic turn as they leave.


The film has many themes which it explores the differences between generations .The relationship between parents and children’s and the nature of family. This is a very well done film that explores a snap shot in a characters life. It’s a simple story that allows them themes to be explored. It’s worth watching but be warned it does have quite a slow pace compared to modern movies .It takes its time but does not drag .

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

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Tittle: Sunday Night  Saturday Morning

Director: Karel Reisz

Release Year: 27 October 1960

Trivia: Morrisey (lead singer of The Smiths) says this is his favourite movie

The house used as the filming location for the Seafords’ house was owned by Alan Sillitoe, the author of the novel on which the film is based.

Included among the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”, edited by Steven Schneider.

British rock band the Arctic Monkeys were heavily influenced by this film. The title of their debut album “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” is a direct quote from the movie

Runtime: 89 min


The film is one of the first of the social-realist or kitchen sink dramas and it was at the fore front of the British New Wave. It is defiantly not a polish idealised look at the working portrays closer to reality there is no singing chimney sweeps or friendly shop keeps. The film follows Arthur Seaton   Played by Albert Finney Over the space of a few weeks. In this short space of  time he has to confront an unexpected pregnancy with a married woman he is seeing on the side and a new relationship with a young women . We see what kind of life he lives the factory he works at and the excessive drinking he partakes in at the weekend.

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The characters are very real they curse and lie and are for the most part portrayed as flawed people but overall as good peolpe. The main character is more akin to an antihero who seems to seek his own downfall. His catchphrase is “Don’t let the bastards grind you down!”   And he seems to be very anti-establishment and rebellious anti-government, business the entire system really .Speaking about his parents he says “They have a television set and a packet of fags, but they’re both dead from the neck up”. But it’s not a real rebellion he plans on settling down living in a small house with his wife just like his parents he criticising.

The films overall feeling is one of bleak life crude but in the genuine warmth between family and lovers. The film is an interesting snap shot of the times .The small terraced houses with the factory the whole town works at .The kind of factory that when it shuts dons devastates the area. For  fans of British New Wave cinema it is a must watch .The cast give a great performance all round and feel for the most part naturalistic almost like a documentary observing the everyday life of this man.

Chungking Express

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Tittle:  Chungking Express

Director: Kar Wai Wong

Release Year: 1994

Trivia:  Quentin Tarantino signed a deal with Miramax specially to start his own releasing company so that he could get Chungking Express (1994) out to a wider public.

The film was shot in 23 days.

The title is an amalgamation of two “landmarks” in Hong Kong. Chungking Mansions, a drug-filled, rundown hostel. And Midnight Express, a Indian fast food store in Lan Kwai Fong, a major bar district

Runtime: 102 min


This is a film many people seem to be fond of .And it’s easy to see why. The film revolve around two separate couples The first story is about  a love sick detective named He Zhiwu played by  Takeshi Kaneshiro meeting a mysterious drug smuggler .The smuggler is known in the credits as Woman in blonde wig played by Brigitte Lin. The second story follows a beat cop named Cop 663 played by Tony Chiu Wai Leung meeting a quirky girl called Faye played by Faye Wong who works in a local food stall. Both sections of the film shares similarity the sense of loneliness and the inability to connect in a metropolis and for both of the male characters the longing for the way things where and past loves.

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The film has an amazing sound track with music as varied as resident of Hong Kong where the film is set. Everything from Indian inspired music to a Chinese language cover of the cranberries dreaming of you and in the second half of the film the repeated us of the mama and the papa California dreaming. This adds to the films frantic and cosmopolitan setting

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The film has a very French new wave vibe .Not just in the story but also in the cinematography .It has a very loose almost documentary vibe at times we follows the characters at their shoulders through busy street or view them from afar in airport .This type of guerrilla film making suits the kind of films of the early new wave especially Godard. The film feels like homage to films like Breathless or  Bande à part but without being cliché. The story as well have a very French vibe as well wistfully remembering past lovers and a  female femme fatale in the drug smuggler dressed in a mac sunglasses and a wig at all times day and night  . Over all it is a very enjoyable film with interesting characters, striking visual and a fantastic musical score.

The Jazz Singer

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Tittle: The Jazz Singer

Director: Alan Crosland

Release Year: 1927

Trivia: First feature-length movie with audible dialogue.

The movie’s opening line and quote, “Wait a minute, wait a minute. You ain’t heard nothing yet” was voted as the #71 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100), and as #57 of “The 100 Greatest Movie Lines” by Premiere in 2007.

Included among the ‘1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die’, edited by Steven Jay Schneider.

The first film musical.

Runtime:1 Hour 20min


There are few films  with as much significance in film history as the Jazz singer. It’s the first musical the first feature film with dialogue .It would signify the end of the silent era and the beginning of the talkies. And since its release it has been remade three times and when the original film was released it was a smash hit. But what’s the film about it’s a pretty straight forward the film it depicts the fictional story of Jackie Rabinowitz, played as a young boy called Robert Gordon and later in the film by the lead actor Al Jolson they both play a young man who defies the traditions of his devout Jewish family. After singing popular tunes in a dive bar he is whipped by his father, a cantor(A member for the Jewish clergy who leads religious ceremony’s along with a host of other duties), prompting Jackie to run away from home. Some years later, now calling himself Jack Robin, he has become a talented jazz singer. It is during his first performance that the now famous line is spoken between two musical numbers. “Wait a minute, wait a minute I tell yer, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet” the first synced dialogue in a feature film and the end of the silent era. The film follows him as he attempts to build a career as an entertainer but his professional ambitions ultimately come into conflict with the demands of his home and heritage.


The third act of the movie is where the dilemma arises .He has to choose between performing in a big Broadway review or to sing cantor in place of his sick father. The film is very economical with its story telling as was normal for the time. The ending does feel a little rushed but overall the film is well paced. The musical numbers are fantastic and hold up well years later.

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It would be impossible to talk about the movie without looking at the use of blackface for the character. Looking at the poster you could imagine he spends most of the film in blackface .But in reality there are only two small passages in the movie where he is in blackface .It comes out of know where and seems alien and unneeded he was of course performing jazz numbers but there was no character who was African American he was Playing apart from adopting racist mannerisms,. He could have easily performed in his normal clothes and without make up his singing is the star of the show not his costuming .I would be curious to see how the remakes handled the performance aspect as I doubt they have the main actor in blackface. Overall its defiantly worth a watch not just for its historic significance but because it a well told tail slight melodramatic and manipulative .but these films are really at the forefront of modern cinema .Released the same year as metropolis a breakthrough in cinema effects and a film with a dazzling breath and Underworld which is considered the first gangster movie. It was a vibrant and creative time in the history of cinema with every new film bringing a new concept or idea to the table.