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The Moon in the Gutter (The Jean-Jacques Beineix Collection)

3.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

BETTY BLUE director Jean Jacques Beineix's terrifically atmospheric and vastly underrated adaptation of David Goodis' noir classic stars Gerard Depardieu as a raffish longshoreman who mourns his raped, suicided sister amongst the bars and sleazy dives of the seedy Marseilles waterfront. When mystery girl Nastassja Kinski goes slumming in his neighborhood, Depardieu is bewitched by her beauty and soon learns she may know something about the identity of his sibling's attacker. Updates writer Goodis' dark urban underworld into a color-coded dreamland of nightmarish regret and longing, yet still somehow faithfully retains the essence of the original novel. Delirious, audacious and unashamed of its breathtakingly stylized sets.

About the Director

A rabid movie fan when he was young, Jean-Jacques Beineix first studied medicine before entering the movie business. During the seventies, as an assistant director, he worked with Claude Berri, René Clément, Claude Zidi and even Jerry Lewis. But, like many assistants, Beineix' dream was to direct. His first effort was in 1977 with the short Le Chien de Monsieur Michel (Mr. Michel s Dog). A promising debut, it earned a César nomination for best short film. In 1981, he directed his first feature Diva, a stylish thriller based on a book by Delacorta. When it came out, Diva was not supported by French critics, but slowly the film gained momentum due to good word of mouth and positive reactions in various festivals like Moscow and Toronto. Ultimately, the film became a great success internationally, winning four Césars. His next film, La Lune dans le caniveau (The Moon in The Gutter), was an adaptation of a David Goodis novel, more radical than Diva in its deliberate artificiality. It premiered at Cannes in 1983. Beineix came back in 1986 with 37°2 le matin (Betty Blue), based on a Philippe Djian novel. Despite mixed reviews, the film was another international hit, won the top price at Montréal festival, and was nominated for best foreign film at both the Oscars and Golden Globes. It also earned 9 César nominations including best film and best director. In 1989, Beineix directed Roselyne et les lions (Roselyn and the Lions) (1989) followed in 1992, by IP5, which was known for being French actor Yves Montand's last role. Beineix then resurfaced where he was least expected with social documentaries. He did a film about children in Romania; one on obsession, Otaku, shot in Japan; and a piece for television on the French Elle editor, Jean-Dominique Bauby, who suffered a stroke that resulted in locked-In syndrome, Assigné à residence. In 2001, he returned to fiction with Mortel Transfert (Mortal Transfer), a psycho-thriller based on a Jean-Pierre Gattégno novel. In 2002, Beineix drew strong ratings with the made-for-TV documentary Loft paradoxe, an attempt to analyze the success of reality show Loft Story. With his intense focus on the power of images, Beineix paved the way for directors like Luc Besson, Leos Carax and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. A self-proclaimed misanthropist who never hid his contempt for producers and was often deemed excessive and irascible, he will go down in history as a director who raised controversy not for the subjects he tackled but for his stylistic approach. With Diva and 37°2 le matin, he directed two seminal French films of the eighties that engaged a worldwide audience. Jean-Jacques Beineix created his own production company in 1984, Cargo Films, in order to keep artistic independence. The company produces feature films and documentaries on a wide variety of themes from science to art, to women's rights to social problems. Several films have been made in partnership with national scientific organization such as CNES and CNRS. In 2006 he published the first volume of his autobiography, Les Chantiers de la gloire published in French only. This title clearly alludes to the French title of Stanley Kubrick's film, Les Sentiers de la gloire (Paths of Glory). Additionally, Beineix, is a painter, with several works available to view on his website.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Gerard Depardieu, Nastassja Kinski, Vittorio Mezzogiorno, Victoria Abril, Dominique Pinon
  • Directors: Jean-Jacques Beineix
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: French, English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Cinema Libre
  • DVD Release Date: October 20, 2009
  • Run Time: 137 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,307 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Moon in the Gutter (The Jean-Jacques Beineix Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Richard L. Jackson on September 6, 2008
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
This brilliant film is an example of existential angst wrapped up in a modern Noir type of packaging. It was not truly appreciated when released in the theaters but is well worth watching and owning. The film is so engrossing that the reading of the dialogue is not wearisome as some foreign films are. The directors stylistic use of images to hint at and suggest deeper themes is truly artistic. Not only that, the book it is based on is an often overlooked novel by one of America's less appreciated authors David Goodis. He has often been the author of books chosen for the films. His 1st novel DARK PASSAGE was, of course, a challanging vehicle for Bogart. You will not regret purchasing the film. But PLEASE read the book too. You will never regret the experience of seeing the lonely of the loser struggling against all odds just to survive as a descent man in a world set against him. Good acting by Gerard and Natasha as well. Money well invested.

Richard Leo Jackson
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
The transfer used for this disc is of very poor quality and not representative of the quality of the photography of this film. It's not worthy of a Blu Ray release since it's even below good DVD quality. Calling it HD is misleading. There is no HD detail there nor the proper look and texture of 35mm film.
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Format: DVD
I really wanted to like this movie, since I'm an admirer of Diva and Betty Blue, and I'm a huge fan of the three leads (Gerard Depardieu, Nastassja Kinski, and Victoria Abril), but, despite the wonderful production design and the intriguing noirish setup for the storyline, there was no getting around the fact that the movie doesn't work as a whole in the current version. It's clear to see why it was critically panned upon release. As it is, the film is a series of beautiful but disjointed scenes, with exceptional acting, that drags at certain points and fails to fully develop its main characters.
Gerard Depardieu is at his best and he has rarely looked so hot in a movie. Beineix shot some of the most flattering close-ups I have seen of him. Nastassja Kinski was at the peak of her beauty, and as always is a striking presence, but sadly there's not much character development to her part. Best of all is Victoria Abril, rightfully nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Cesar, who brings an much needed energy to the film, even if she's playing a stereotype. The scenes between Depardieu and Kinski are the most visually beautiful, but the acting honors go to the ones with Abril and Depardieu. It's amazing that Kinski and Abril were so young (23?) when they shot this film, since they bring an emotional complexity and maturity, expressed in very simple gestures, that I cannot imagine in any contemporary young actress.
To sum up, I recommend checking it out for the visuals and the acting, but it's flawed. It would be wonderful if somehow the edited scenes were to be found somewhere and Beineix could do a better, longer edit, like he did with Betty Blue.
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Format: DVD
"The moon may be in the gutter, but the film is in the toilet," noted Gerard Depardieu, seeming to go along with the tidal wave of critical derision that met Jean-Jacques Beineix's The Moon in the Gutter on its disastrous premiere at Cannes. Up until that fateful night it was the hottest property in European cinema: Depardieu at the height of his cool, Nastassja Kinski at the height of her fame, a supporting cast including Victoria Abril, Dominique Pinon and Bertice Reading, Beineix fresh off the success of Diva with a novel by pulp poet David Goodis to play with... If ever there were a picture too cool for school and just riding for a fall, it was this one, and it fell hard.

As you'd expect from one of the creators of the cinema du look, it's a striking looking film, shot at Cinecitta on lovingly crafted not quite naturalistic sets in neon reds, greens and more muted orange and teals before the latter became a visual cliché, and the heightened stylisation extends to almost every aspect of the film. Thus Kinski's entrance is played at length to the accompaniment of a vivid piano concerto as she slowly walks into a bar, the camera slowly caressing her from a respectful distance as the director creates a bit of cinematic grand opera out of a character not actually doing very much, which sums up a lot of the film. It's a mood piece that's more about the filmmaking than the story or characterisation, the former anorexic, the latter striving for the iconic but settling for archetypes, and if you're not in the right mood it'll try your patience to the limit. Everything happens very slowly, very deliberately, allowing you to either wallow in the visuals or beat your head against the wall as you wait for something to happen. Very little does and even less is resolved.
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Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
For many years, the American noir writer David Goodis (1917 -- 1967) was more appreciated in France than in the United States. In 1960, Francois Trauffaut made a renowned film, "Shoot the Piano Player" from Goodis' 1956 novel "Down There". Then, in 1983, the French director Jean-Jacques Beineix made an equally ambitious attempt to film Goodis with "The Moon in the Gutter", a pulp paperback novel written in 1953. Beineix enjoyed large successes with his films "Diva" and "Betty Blue". In addition, his film of "The Moon in the Gutter" had two renowned actors, Gerard Depardieu and Nastassja Kinski, in the leading roles. Unfortunately, critics and audiences disliked the movie when it was released, but the film still has a following. Goodis' finally achieved deserved recognition in the United States with the publication of a Library of America volume of five novels, including "The Moon in the Gutter". David Goodis: Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and 50s (Library of America)

The movie follows the novel reasonably closely. Goodis set his book in squalid Philadelphia slums along the waterfront while the film transfers the setting to Marseille. Some of the characters' names are also changed, and I will refer to their names in the movie. The main character, Gerardo, is a stevedore in his mid-30's who lives in a cheap rooming house with his depressive father and brother, and his girlfriend Bella. Seven months before the story begins, Gerardo's younger sister had killed herself in an alley after being raped. Full of anger and grief, Gerardo vows to find the person responsible.
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