Join us every week for a trip into the weird and wonderful world of trailers. Whether it’s the first teaser for the latest instalment in your favourite franchise, an obscure preview for a strange indie darling, whether it’s good, bad, ugly or just plain weird – your favourite pop culture baristas are there to tell you what they think.
Perhaps my experience of watching Jules Dassin’s Rififi for the first time would have been different, or at least more smooth, if I’d remembered its original French title: Du rififi chez les hommes. The English title, especially if you (like me) don’t know what the word ‘rififi’ means. The film is kind enough to provide something of an explanation, in the form of a song performed in a nightclub to an audience of gangsters, hoodlums and molls: rififi is brouhaha, trouble, especially the kind that goes on between gangsters over money, women, the size of their guns. But without that knowledge, the title Rififi sounded like a cocktail, a musical style that makes you snap your fingers, or a Mediterranean resort town. This together with the film often being described as the quintessential heist movie made me expect something jazzy, breezy, stylish. Something fun.
So when fifteen minutes into Rififi the main character makes his former girlfriend strip and then brutally beats her with a belt because she’d gone off with another man while he was serving five years in prison, I was taken aback – especially when the film in the scenes following the violence seemed to shrug and go, “Well, that’s what men are like, that’s what women are like, and that’s how everyone likes it.” I was ready to press STOP, eject the disk from the Blu-ray player, put it away and never think of Rififi again.
We’ve all been there. You find yourself in your late teens or early twenties with a profound sense of existential malaise. You’ve been to school for most of your life and you could go to school for a bit longer, but why? What for? To prepare for a job that, at best, bores you if it doesn’t outright depress the hell out of you? To lead a life of quiet desperation? Some try to escape by means of alcohol, drugs or sex, but not you. Oh, no.
Instead, you do you. You try to give your life a sense of meaning by organising an insane art heist with the aim of stealing the ultra-rare books on display at your university’s library. It’s obvious if you think about it.