Friday, January 29, 2010

Noir City no. 1: Opening Night

"If she's your sister then I'm a boa constrictor in heels."
Shelley Winters, Larceny (1948)

I could compose this post purely of quotes from Larceny, the second feature to kick off Noir City 8, and not only would it be completely, satisfyingly entertaining, but better than any review I could come up with. Sadly, I was too caught up in the savvy screenwriting to grab a pen and paper, and, even more sadly, this film is not available on DVD to hear those brilliant wisecracks again. You will just have to take my word for it, and base my fervent proclomation that this is one of the funnest smack talking noirs I've ever seen on the quote above. (And the fact that Shelley Winters plays said smack-talking dame.)

Now that the festival has officially ended I can safely say this double bill was one of my favorites. I'm not saying these were superbly made films, or on par with classics like Pickup on South Street (1953) or The Big Heat (1953) [what a fabulous year], but they were fun, intriguing, typically noirish in some ways and unconventionally noirish in others, and they were an excellent pairing. Kudos to the programmer on this one.

I admit I was a bit suspicious of Lizabeth Scott playing the good girl for a change (she's just too good in Dead Reckoning (1947). But I was both mistaken and surprised by her convincing subtlety. She and Powell had wonderful chemistry, and Jane Wyatt and Raymond Burr (in an appropriately creepy early role) were strong supporting characters. I'm anxious to discover more Andre de Toth films as his handling of noirish and adulterous themes was both refreshing and well thought out. This is a film that has aged incredibly well; you could tell by the lack of giggles and titters from the audience.

Larceny, on the other hand, was so full of corner-of-the-mouth dialogue you couldn't help but completely let go and enjoy yourself. This was a great pairing, and a fantastic opening night.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Jean Simmons 1929-2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

Play time with Tati.

The first time I saw this film I couldn't wait to see it again, and before I knew it 7 years went by. Recently, it came to my hometown and was as fresh and wonderful as I remembered. Tati's creation of a sterile, cold and ultra-modern Paris nearly bankrupted him, but I like to think he felt it was worth it. The enormous set presents a conformist, industrial vision of the City of Light devoid of any originality or creativity. Office workers sit in boxes within boxes, all in perfectly aligned rows, the janitor stares blankly at immaculately clean floors, and families live in fully exposed apartments that more closely resemble shop windows than homes. It's a wonderful poke at the modern world and technology posing as progress. Play Time (1967) also happens to contain one of the best party scenes on film (think Holly Golightly's soiree x 10) and is delightfully brightened by Tati's popular character Monsieur Hulot--bumbling and struggling to make sense of it all. In the end, Tati leaves us with a congregation of buses and cars trapped in a roundabout. With nowhere to go they circle round and round and round.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Noir City 2010

For months I have been telling myself I would write a new post soon. There's been no shortage of new or repeated screenings worth talking about; namely Ball of Fire (1941), Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948), and Notorious (1946)--the latter at the gorgeous Castro Theatre. Today I was shocked to realize this inner dialogue has been going on, ignored, for almost a year, and while I don't have the time or energy to try to recall the freshness of previous viewings I feel like if I don't post something now, right this second, heavy make-up wearing Germans might be done for. So this post is designed to give me a little kick in the butt, albeit a kick of motivation, and let myself and any of you lurking readers out there (who every blogger fantasizes are there) know that I intend to give more dedication to this thing called blogging. The fabulous poster above should give you a hint as to what's to come in the next few weeks.