Things will be a bit on the quiet side for awhile here at Journeys in Darkness and Light, but in the meantime, I hope you’ll check out some of my older posts, and also request a sample copy of The Dark Pages: The Newsletter for Film Noir Lovers. You can do that right here.
June was interesting, not quite what I’d planned… Read more here.
The guys over at the Just the Discs podcast recently discussed import Blu-rays and region-free players, so I thought I’d talk a little about my own region-free journey, which you can find on my new website. Enjoy!
There’s a moment in Richard Linklater’s 2008 film Me and Orson Welles where Welles (Christian McKay) tells another character, “Ambersons is about how everything gets taken away from you.” That scene – which takes place in 1937, years before Citizen Kane – is meant to convey not only a theme from the novel, but also Welles’s own future. Reading the Booth Tarkington novel The Magnificent Ambersons, you can see why Welles was so attracted to it as a young man and how it served as a painful reminder of his own life in later years.
If you’re new to my monthly Film Noir Releases posts, welcome! My goal is to cover all the first-time releases to Blu-ray and DVD, usually passing over reissues unless there’s a good reason to include them. (I also tend to leave out more recent films from the last several years.) Unless otherwise noted, the following are all North American Region A Blu-ray discs. I often use the terms “film noir” and “neo-noir” rather loosely, so while you may quibble with some of my choices, I hope these are films you’ll at least consider. As always, if you know of any film noir or neo-noir films I’ve left out, please let me know in the comments below. And thanks for reading.
If you’re not already planning on it, July might be a great month to go on vacation. July might prove to be the slimmest month for new film noir Blu-ray releases since I’ve been covering them. Still, I’ve found a few things that might be worth your time. Let’s take a look…
El Aura (2005)
Written and directed by Fabián Bielinsky
Produced by Ariel Saúl, Victor Hadida, Cecilia Bossi
Music by Dario Eskenazi
Cinematography by Checco Varese
Edited by Alejandro Carrillo Penovi, Fernando Pardo
IFC DVD (2:18)
One of the things I appreciate most about film festivals and shows like TCM’s Noir Alley is the presenter’s ability to convey how film noir developed organically from events happening in the culture at the time those films were made. Those who excel at such presentations help audiences understand how post-WWII fears and anxieties greatly contributed to a sense of cynicism in films produced in the 1940s and 50s. Add to that the variations of what we once accepted as well-defined male and female roles in our society, the threat of communism, the problems of veterans returning home to a different world, and much more. Without these presenters as guides, it’s often difficult to navigate our own history while trying to understand the stories behind the stories, much less the experiences of filmmakers working in other countries. I explored some of this with El ángel desnudo (1946), the first movie discussed in the book Argentine Cinema: From Noir to Neo-Noir by David George and Gizella Meneses. Today, I’ll look at El Aura, a more recent Argentine noir which draws heavily from its cultural background.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (2000) edited by John Belton
Cambridge Film Handbooks, Cambridge University Press
trade paperback, 177 pages
(includes Alfred Hitchcock’s motion picture filmography, reviews of Rear Window, select bibliography, and an index)
Each volume of the Cambridge Film Handbooks series focuses on a single title*, including essays by film scholars and critics. Although I’d never previously read any of the other titles in this particular series, I’ve read similar books from various publishers. Such volumes are usually a mixed bag containing valuable information as well as an assortment of minutia, overflowing accolades for the director, and plenty of academic gasbaggery. Thankfully, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, edited by John Belton (Professor of English at Rutgers University) is an above-average collection of essays from people who know their stuff and can skillfully communicate it.