March is looking to be a record-breaking month here at the blog, especially considering that the Annapolis Film Festival is coming up next week, so I thought I’d go ahead and get the first installment of my March movies up and running:
The Dead Rider (2015) Kevin Ferrara (Dark Horse)
Trade Paperback, 122 pages
If you remember those great horror western comics from magazines like Creepy and Eerie, you’re going to want to check out this amazing graphic novel from Kevin Ferrara. I just reviewed it over at The Comics Alternative, so I hope you’ll consider adding it to your comics stack this week. Enjoy!
Any collector of books or movies (and Lord help you if, like me, you collect both) will tell you that eventually there will come a time when you either have to purge your collection or buy a bigger house. Storage units aren’t really an option; you need immediate access to your stuff, right? So we try to cram things in tighter, maybe even double-stack or stack books/movies in front of other books/movies, store them on staircases, in bathrooms, etc. My wife has a rule (which I violate all the time): no books/movies stacked horizontally on any books/movies arranged vertically. She’s got a point; my collection looks much better her way. But I can still purge and run into trouble because – as we all know – publishers and companies keep putting out new stuff all the time.
I listen to several movie and comic book podcasts where people discuss the number of books/movies they own and are buying. And I see photos on Twitter and Instagram of peoples’ collections of comics, graphic novels, books, and movies. When I hear those podcasts and see those photos, I usually don’t feel quite so bad, but I know it’s only a matter of time before I’ll be in a similar situation.
So what do you do?
Here’s what I do (but I warn you, it sounds morbid):
Running on Empty (1988) Sidney Lumet
Warner Archive DVD
The first time we see 17-year-old Danny (River Phoenix) he’s swinging a bat at high school baseball practice. He easily strikes out, then announces to one of his teammates, “Baseball is my life.” He’s either the most cynical kid on the team or he’s trying to hide something. Maybe Danny actually is good at baseball, but he can’t let anyone know it. That would draw too much attention to himself and that would draw too much attention to his parents, Arthur and Annie Pope (Judd Hirsch and Christine Lahti), and that must never happen. It’s not that Arthur and Annie are shy people; they’re wanted by the FBI for bombing a napalm lab in 1971.
99 River Street (aka Crosstown) (1953) Phil Karlson
Edward Small Productions/United Artists
You could certainly be excused for watching the first 10 minutes of 99 River Street dismissing it as just another “coulda been a contender” flick about a down-and-out fighter trying to cope with life outside the ring, but if you stop there, you’ll miss one of the most neglected film noir firecrackers of all time.
I must admit, I go on this rant from time to time, stewing over films that have yet to be released on Blu-ray. I always keep a running list of titles and also keep my fingers crossed. I’m not including any film noir titles, however, since more and more of those seem to be coming out on a fairly regular basis (mainly thanks to Olive Films; keep up the good work, ladies and gentlemen!).
So here are a few of the films on my Blu-ray wish list. (Please feel free to share yours!)
Possessed (1947) Curtis Bernhardt
Warner Archive Blu-ray
A strange, frightened, forlorn woman (Joan Crawford) wanders the streets of Los Angeles, asking everyone she meets if they’ve seen “David.” Eventually she awakens in a hospital, where doctors learn that her name is Louise Howell, a disturbed woman who slowly, reluctantly tells her story in flashback.
Locke (2013) Steven Knight
Amazon Instant Video
The cast of Locke includes 12 actors, but we only see one of them, Tom Hardy as the title character, Ivan Locke, making the film – for all practical purposes – a one-man show. I didn’t know this going in and from the many negative reviews on Amazon (356 one-star reviews as of this writing) , most other people probably didn’t either. The pity is that so many people apparently stopped watching after the first 15 minutes, missing an incredible performance by Hardy and a superb film.
Blackout: World War II and the Origins of Film Noir (2005) Sheri Chinen Biesen
The Johns Hopkins University Press
Paperback, 243 pages
Photos, notes, index
I’ve only read a few books on film noir and most of those have been overviews, giving readers information on several of the most prominent characteristics, themes, directors, styles of cinematography, budgets and more. While all those books have proved helpful in understanding this group of films I love so much, none of them have really explained the hows and whys of film noir. Most of them claim that film noir grew out of post-WWII America, but Sheri Chinen Biesen proves otherwise.