Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bob, je t'aime

The number of films I can converse about intelligently but have never seen is vast. Ditto for bands, plays, novels...why don't I just come out and admit that I can fake cultural knowledge when I want to? (I went to a college that graduates people who are good at that.)

So I'd certainly heard about the 1956 Jean-Pierre Melville film Bob le Flambeur, and probably nodded knowingly when someone praised it...but I'd never seen it. Never ever.

But now I have seen Bob, thanks to Netflix, and I am in love. Bob, played by Roger Duchesne, is a compulsive gambler. Taking risks is in his very nature. Although he's on a losing streak, he insists that he is lucky, and eventually he does win again, although not in the way he has planned. The film is moody, dark. There's little dialogue, as Bob accomplishes business--whether it's helping a young streetwalker, pushing his protege to watch his step, or planning a major heist--with very few words. He's cool, like a gangster, but it's a Zen kind of cool that takes in all things and is surprised by nothing. Bob has no expectations, only a belief in his own power...and that's all he needs.

After waiting a respectful period of time, I watched Melville's Le Samourai, a policier with a similarly suave, Zen hero in Jef Costello, played by Alain Delon, and a mesmerizing nine-minute opening sequence with no dialogue or voiceover. Jef is cool.

But Bob has spoiled me.

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