Movies Watched in April 2015

I knew it would be impossible to top last month’s explosion of films (including the Annapolis Film Festival), so it’s no real surprise that April was a bit light. But hopefully you’ll find something here to strike your interest.

prowler-4

The Prowler (1951) Joseph Losey
(1:32)
VCI Blu-ray

The Prowler is a powerhouse of a story written by Robert Thoeren and Hans Wilhelm with a screenplay by Hugo Butler and an uncredited Dalton Trumbo. This one certainly deserves a full review, but trust me: if you’re a fan of film noir, you will not want to miss this one.

Susan Gilvray (Evelyn Keyes, above R) suspects a prowler creeping around and calls the police to investigate her home. Her husband works nights and she’s there all alone, so when one of the cops, Webb Garwood (Van Heflin, above L) arrives, he’s more interested in investigating the wife than the prowler.

Shenanigans ensue, but The Prowler probably doesn’t go where you think it’s going. The film features extremely frank treatment of sensitive subjects and it’s a wonder it slipped past the Production Code Administration in 1951. The Prowler boasts excellent performances by all the actors and nice cinematography by Arthur C. Miller. I highly recommend the recent Blu-ray release from VCI which includes a commentary track by Eddie Muller, which is reason enough to buy the disc.

4.5/5

hr_Gone_Girl_1

Gone Girl (2014) David Fincher
(2:29)
Amazon streaming (rental)

I’ll be honest: I read about 50 pages of the Gillian Flynn novel and gave up, not giving a rip about any of the characters. I didn’t like any of them in the film either, but Fincher was able to make me at least care about what was going on with a missing woman (Rosamund Pike) and the investigation to find her.

4/5

runaway

Runaway Train (1985) Andrei Konchalovsky (2x)
(1:41)
Arrow Blu-ray (UK)

I saw this film during its initial release and will never forget the feeling of exhaustion I felt after it was over. I didn’t get that same feeling this time, 30 years later, but the film remains powerful, thanks mainly to an excellent (and Oscar-nominated) performance by Jon Voight (above) and a criminally underrated performance by Eric Roberts as two escaped convicts who inadvertently hop on an out-of-control train. The film also contains an excellent score by Trevor Jones, which – although it’s a very 80s score – is still effective.

4/5

blue4

Blue Velvet (1986) David Lynch (3x)
(2:01)
Amazon streaming (rental)

Previous thoughts here

5/5

kansas-city-confidential

Kansas City Confidential (1952) Phil Karlson
(1:39)
Amazon streaming

Phil Karlson is quickly becoming one of my favorite film noir directors. He sure knows how to tell a story and his films are never boring. John Payne (an actor who never, in my opinion, gets enough credit) plays Joe Rolfe, an ex-con who gets framed for an armored car robbery. Joe tries to track down the real culprits, a trio of bad guys played to the max by Lee Van Cleef, Neville Brand and Jack Elam. The Amazon streaming version leaves a lot to be desired as far as picture quality, so if anyone has viewed the HD Cinema Classics Blu-ray edition, let me know if it’s worth picking up.

4/5

babadook

The Babadook (2014) Jennifer Kent
(1:33)
Amazon streaming

The Babadook is a mostly effective little Australian horror film about a single mom (Essie Davis) and her son (Noah Wiseman) who believes a monster has come into their house. The atmosphere is generally good but the film is most effective when it focuses on the strained relationship between mother and son (which seems to be something of a commentary on all parent/child relationships). The film was also enormously overhyped on the Internet, so perhaps I was expecting more.

3.5/5

Bob-Dylan-007 No-Direction-Home-2005-720p.mp4_snapshot_00.27.12_2014.03.10_07.00.25

No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (doc. 2005) Martin Scorsese (3x)
(3:28)
DVD

I had forgotten how good this documentary is, definitely one of the best music documentaries I’ve ever seen. Scorsese starts the film with Dylan touring London in 1966, having now “gone electric” to the dismay of many of his fans. They’re clearly upset with the change from acoustic to electric, but they still come out in droves.

Cut to a very young Dylan from 1961, an unknown who traveled from Minnesota to New York, playing in coffee houses and absorbing everything he saw and heard. How did a young “folk” singer go from obscurity to rock stardom in only a few short years?

The documentary contains many great clips, concert footage, and interviews with the people who were there in all this, including Dylan himself. Even if you have little to no interest in Bob Dylan, you’ll want to see this for the cultural, social and artistic influences that still affect us.

5/5

citizen-kane

Citizen Kane (1941) Orson Welles (3x)
(1:59)
AFI Silver Theater, Silver Spring, Maryland

Previously discussed here

5/5

nightcrawler-movie

Nightcrawler (2014) Dan Gilroy
(1:57)
Library DVD

Previously discussed here

4/5

girl-walks-home-at-night_612x380_1

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) Ana Lily Amirpour
(1:41)
Netflix streaming

Previously discussed here

3.5/5

Please let me know what you watched in April.

(Photos: Mike’s Take on the MoviesNorth Park Theater, The Movie SceneAll Things CrimeMubiSlateBlog de CineThe Creator’s ProjectTaste of CinemaEntertainment Weekly)

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One thought on “Movies Watched in April 2015

  1. Pingback: Best Movies of 2015: Film Noir | Journeys in Darkness and Light

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