So I think this 5 movies over a couple of weeks mini festival thing I am doing works pretty good. I can’t guarantee weekly updates, but at least twice a month. I am also posting these reviews individually, usually right after viewing the films. I want to keep doing some reviewing, and eventually maybe also some book reviews....
I usually do quick reviews on my Goodreads page, so I will figure out how to crosspost those reviews. I am toying with also doing some comic reviews/panels of the week, again. I’m trying to slowly increase my writing output, until it is something I am doing most of the time, eventually finding a way to make it pay whatever meagre pay it can.
But on to my latest mini festival “Noir Fest 2014”
I chose 5 noirs that I either hadn’t seen, or hadn’t watched in quite some time. A fairly random group actually. I am trying to decide on my next mini fest genre... I may do an actor (Yul Brynner has been suggested to me) or a director, I definitely will always have some vague theme.
I will also be posting some new release reviews as I watch the odd few of of those, here and there, as well.
The first film I watched was one that I thought I hadn’t seen before:
"I Wake Up Screaming," Directed by Bruce Humberstone. Victor Mature, Betty Grable and Carole Landis flop between melodrama and witty banter like it's old hat. Laird Cregar makes a standout performance as the creepy cop 'heavy' in the picture. Masterful performances all around, especially from Cregar.
Interestingly, I thought I had never seen this film, but in fact, watching it I realized I had seen it when I was a kid, and all I remembered was the creepy Peeping Tom cop. It has all the stark film noir shadows, and a lightness that you see in little noir, outside John Huston's Ouevre. A romp of a noir; almost of "Laura" quality.
Great start to my noir fest, and I've put a name to a performance/movie that's haunted me since I was a kid.
9.3442 gals slingin hash waitin to get discovered by Victor Mature and his 1940's speedo outta 10
Film number two in the Film Noirs I haven’t seen, or at least seen in a while is Robert Siodmak’s 1949 heist noir “Criss Cross”
Burt Lancaster is young, holy cats, so young, but maybe not as young as Yvonne DeCarlo, who plays the ex-wife/femme fatale that still has him wrapped around her little finger. He’s a stand up guy, until he falls in with her gangster husband, a great Dan Duryea relishing the darker role. Lancaster is always great, but Duryea steals every frame he’s in, except the ones DeCarlo steals. Super cameo from Alan napier as a random heist expert. Double crosses galore, and moody cinematography add up to a swell B-Picture with a “A” cast. I had seen this a few times over the decades, but as I was watching, I realized it’s been maybe 14 or 15 years since I last saw it, on vhs. It holds up nicely.
8.2325 jazz flute rhumba bands outta 10
Haven't seen it since film school daze(sic). One of those movies I've ever only seen in 16mm! (there's a list I need to make)
Solid Fritz Lang effort, shadows, mirrors. Another great performance as a baddie from Lee Marvin and his black hair. That dude could wear a suit!
Lots of great tough talk from everyone in this picture. Sassy gals, wise guys, Glenn Ford kickin' ass and being a stand up guy. Great protracted death scene for Grahame. some good character acting from a familiar cast, especially Alexander Scourby as the local crime boss, and a sour but tough Jeanette Nolan as a cop's widow.
8.2222 socks to the jaw outta 10
The second to last entry is one that is not really that well known, but so worth knowing. A bare bones masterclass in low budget low light film making from an actual maverick Director, Ida Lupino, one of the very few actresses in the “Studio” era to direct anything.
Heck, there aren’t so many today, though that’s something that is hanging. Anyway, the movie holds up to my few years ago, more beers ago viewing. Liked it better this time. I’d forgotten how good the actors playing the hostages: Edmond O’Brien, and Frank Lovejoy. were. they built this slow boil of rage as their hitchhiker/kidnapper taunts them with his gun.
There is a great film school essay to be written about the very homoerotic vibe that this slow boil creates, and in the end they walk off into the dark arm and arm. The two in the front seat are very much a couple. Maybe an innocent Bro-couple, but a couple nonetheless.
The plot, and story telling are barebones, and a lot is said with no dialogue, it’s a brisk 70 minutes of Noirgasm.
8.3453 villains who look like they were drawn by Steve Ditko outta 10
My last entry in the Noirfest 2014 is:
John Boorman's Point Blank, a colour noir that is one of those end of era beginning of a new era pictures. it's equal parts gritty shadowy noir full of nothing but dubious characters, and equal parts grimy on location 70’s crime flick.
Lee Marvin is his usual bundle of restrained living chaos as Walker, a guy who was double crossed by his friend Mal (John Vernon in his debut role)...and just wants the money he stole from the mob, back from the mob. Angie Dickinson slap fights her way through this picture even more perfectly than I remembered. Great supporting suited thug cast with Lloyd Bochner, Carrol O'Connor, Keenan Wynne and a snarky James Sikking.
I saw this film way back in film school first year. One of those movies that helped me decide to be a film major.
9.111 punches in the nuts from Lee Marvin outta 10