Saturday, February 20, 2010

Claude Chabrol Collection (part 1)

Claude Chabrol is considered as the French Alfred Hitchcock. Since I liked Alfred Hitchcock's works and French movies in the 60-70's, I knew that this box-set was not to be missed. What I like about this box-set is with the price of 1, I can get 8 movies at once.

1. Le boucher (1970)

After reading all 8 summaries, I decided to watch this one first. I like tales of serial murders. In Le boucher, the story is more focused on the relationship between Helene (Stéphane Audran), the local headmistress, and Popaul (Jean Yanne), a butcher who recently returned home after serving in Algeria and Indo-China. They become good friends and soon he tells her that he loves her. When a young girl is found dead, the village becomes vivid. The villagers find something to talk about. There is an interesting comment by Popaul who has seen much misery in the wars: why bother so much over a body when in a war "We counted bodies by the lorry-load". However, in a little village, a murder "is savagery". "War is horrible, but it's a job to be done." says an old villager. It's not clear why the murders start. The culprit only mentions that "It's like a nightmare. I can't breathe until I've stuck my knife." Not all butchers who have gone to wars start butchering young women after returning to their homeland. I also don't quite understand why Popaul takes the lighter from Helene's drawer; why not leave it there? -but I also don't catch the meaning of Helene's laughter when Popaul can show her that he still has the lighter. Is Helene thinking that she is wrong? "Oh, the lighter I found was not his." or she realizes that he is too smart that he has bought another one. She must have noticed that he just came back from town, where he bought the cherries in brandy.

2. Les biches (1968)

The movie opens with a rich lady named Frédérique (Stéphane Audran) picks up a street artist, Why (Jacqueline Sassard). Frédérique takes Why to her villa in St. Tropez where they meet an architect, Paul Thomas (Jean-Louis Trintignant). Why spends a night with Paul, but Frédérique wants him for herself. Paul seems cannot decide between the two, but he ends up with Frédérique because of her strong personality (or maybe her money). The relationship among the 3 is complicated because of the strange love between Frédérique and Why. Why begins to wear Frédérique's clothes and imitates her style, the way she talks, etc; like Tom Ripley imitates Dickie Greenleaf. However, if Tom Ripley deals with the difficulty to hide the body and cover his traces, this one ends with the death of Frédérique, and a happy ending for Why, and perhaps also for Paul.

3. Les noces rouges (1973)

Lucienne (Stéphane Audran), wife of the mayor (Claude Piéplu), is having an affair with his deputy, Pierre (Michel Piccoli). Pierre's wife is ill, while the mayor never loves Lucienne - that is what Lucienne and Pierre say to justify their doing. The mayor himself is not a saint and is trying to make personal profits with the people's expenses. Pierre kills his wife and helps Lucienne to get rid of her husband. The police and every body else suspect nothing, until Lucienne's daughter writes them a letter about her mother's affair. She is a strange daughter, I must say, because if I wanted my mother to be happy, I would have stayed silent. The scene where they murder the mayor reminds me of The Postman Always Rings Twice, especially when she comes back to get her handbag.

4. Nada (1974)

I enjoyed this one very much. Was also surprised to see Fabio Testi in this, because I only watched L'important c'est d'aimer yesterday. The story is fast paced and very thrilling. I think when it was released it must have made an excellent box office hit. Members of a leftist group, Nada, kidnap the American ambassador for France from a brothel and takes him to an isolated farm. They only want to make their point to the recent government and if the police come to raid the farm, they prepare to surrender. However, the head of the police, has his instruction from the Minister of Interior's right-hand man, determines to kill all the kidnappers, is even ready to danger the ambassador's life so that Nada gets the blame and loses the sympathy of the people. Interesting this one is, shows you how dirty politics is. If anything goes wrong, just point someone to become the scape-goat.

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