Gentlemans Butler is partnering with The BFI for the Jean-Pierre Melville, Visions of the Underworld film season. To live an enriched life it is healthy to go into unknown, but with more than a hint of that you will like it. Given that he is greatly admired by Tarantino (among many others), Melville’s movies are mostly immediately recognisable as his: they depict a distinctly ‘Melvillian’ universe in a distinctly ‘Melvillian’ way. Gentlemans Butler certainly concurs with his viewpoint.
Part Two (September)
“[Le Samouraï] is masterful in its control of acting and visual style”
With the sole exception of L’Armée des ombres (which meant a great deal to Melville, who was proud of his years in the Resistance), from Le Doulos onwards the writer-director worked exclusively in the crime genre. Mood and visual style were consistently influenced (albeit in a knowing, slightly distanced way) by American noir; thematically, the films returned repeatedly to questions of trust, codes of courage and honour, shame and guilt – in short, the correct way to live… and die. Within these formal and narrative constraints Melville composed a remarkably diverse and fruitful series of variations, so while Le Deuxième Souffle can seem almost documentary-like in its detail, Le Samouraï and Un Flic feel mythic, almost abstract. He was undoubtedly one of the greats.
The world we live in increasingly does not allow for the unknown but if you are creative or love creativity then try something new. As a younger man living in London, starting a career in the commercials world I lived in a flat of film lovers and in a rather romantic way we would head out to watch all sorts of films at the BFI both on London’s Southbank and at BFI Stephen Street which you can hire out for screenings. In fact, for many years I was a member and to some degree filled in some blanks from not attending film school by attending a whole series of lectures from sound to cinematography along with talks from actors and directors alike. For pure enjoyment, I loved watching black and white films and drifting away on a sleepy afternoon. So, if you have not or have not for a while follow the BFI at @BFI for Facebook and Twitter and @britishfilminstitute for Instagram.
Gentlemans Butler has associated themselves with this director for his beautifully stylised approach as a master of mood best known for his stylish tales of loyalty and betrayal.
Renaming himself after his favourite novelist Herman Melville, Jean-Pierre Grumbach was both a cinephile and an Americanophile – which partly explains the laconic, noir-ish mood of his magisterial, highly influential variations on the gangster film. Yet he was also a profoundly personal and very ‘European’ artist,
Above all, he was proudly independent – making him an acknowledged progenitor (and hero) of the French New Wave – and a true original.
In August and September, the BFI will be hosting a Jean-Pierre Melville season. The BFI is hosting the season to mark JPM’s Centenary . The season is being hosted in collaboration with Cine Lumiere (The French Institute) in South Kensington.
See the Jean Pierre Melville listings
in all there are a total of 35 screenings throughout the two months with an introductory talk on the 8th August “Jean Pierre Melville, Man of The Cinema” which should be a nice introduction to the season by the BFI’s head of programming.
A number of venues across the UK will, thanks to support from the BFI Film Audience Network, screen films by Jean-Pierre Melville in August and September, including the re-release of Le Doulos; venues will include HOME Manchester, Edinburgh Filmhouse, and Watershed Bristol.
Head out for a stroll, see something different, talk, wander, eat and then sleep but do enjoy.