If you missed the Part I of The Beckie Project, you can discover what it’s all about here. It’s now time to move on to our second round of films:
Beckie’s pick for me: The ‘Burbs (1989) directed by Joe Dante
My pick for Beckie: Locke (2013) directed by Steven Knight
Out 1 (1971) Jacques Rivette
If I thought for very long about how inadequate I am to write intelligently on Jacques Rivette’s nearly 13-hour film Out 1: Noli me tangere, I probably wouldn’t even attempt it. But I’m going to try anyway.
If March was a pretty slim month for film noir releases on Blu-ray and DVD, then April is even more so. I might be stretching the definition of film noir and neo noir a bit for April, but I hope you’ll find something interesting just the same.
I guess it’s obvious to anyone reading this blog that I love talking about movies and will do it anywhere, anytime, even at work. I’ve often exchanged movies with co-workers, discussed them, and enjoyed the conversations that ensued. So when my co-worker Beckie expressed an interest in such an exchange, how could I say no?
Now Beckie knows the kind of movies I watch, which is practically anything, but I tend to favor film noir, classic movies, international cinema, or things that are slightly off (or far off) the beaten path. When I recently told her my intention to watch the 13-hour Out 1 (in French, with English subtitles), she sat in her office shaking her head and waving her hands. “I have the movie tastes of a 14-year-old boy,” she said.
Although it’s been mostly movies around here lately, I have been reading some pretty interesting graphic novels:
Bone Tomahawk (2015)
Directed and written by S. Craig Zahler
Produced by Iain Abrahams, Jonathan Feuer, and twelve more
Cinematography by Benji Bakshi
Editing by Greg D’Auria, Fred Raskin
Music by Jeff Herriott, S. Craig Zahler
Costumes by Chantal Filson
Caliber Media Company
(Amazon streaming; 2:13)
In discussing Johnny Guitar a few weeks ago, I mentioned that when the film was released in 1954, Westerns were already in a steady decline. At one time, Westerns reigned supreme in American movie theaters (and later on television). In 1952, 80 Western movies were produced in America. In 1953 that number slipped to 72 and in 1954 plunged to 52. We’ve seen Westerns make small comebacks over the decades since then, but – the Coen brothers and Quentin Tarantino notwithstanding – Westerns are pretty rare. If my research is accurate, only 12 Westerns were released in the U.S. in 2015. One of those is Bone Tomahawk, a Western far too many people haven’t seen, but should.
The Big Heat (1953) Fritz Lang (2x)
Twilight Time Blu-ray (1:29)
In the classic film noir era, they just don’t hit much harder and with as much vengeance as Fritz Lang’s The Big Heat. When a fellow police officer commits suicide, Detective Sergeant Dave Bannion (Glenn Ford, above right) smells something rotten. Pretty early in his investigation, Bannion learns that he’s ruffling some feathers in the criminal underworld, particularly those of mob boss Mike Lagana (Alexander Scourby). Soon the dead cop’s wife is silenced, Bannion’s boss tells him to lay off, and Bannion starts getting threatening phone calls. But Bannion’s not the type to give up.
Continuing to catch up with all the graphic novels I’ve read in 2016 so far. (You can read Part I here.) This list takes us up to March, which I’ll post later this month or early next month.
We’re halfway through March but this post just scratches the surface. Much more to come!
Eddie Muller: The Czar of Noir Steps from the Shadows (NF 2010) John Stanley
Creatures at Large/Star66 Productions/Film Noir Foundation (0:58)
I am an unapologetic Eddie Muller fan. My first encounter with him was listening to his commentary on the Fox Film Noir DVD of Road House (1948) several years ago. Road House was a film I didn’t initially think was that good, but after listening to Muller’s commentary, I learned how wrong I was. It also became clear after about 30 seconds that this guy knows his film noir inside and out. I began to pick up other DVDs containing Muller commentaries, whether I’d seen them before or not. Watching those films and listening to those commentaries is like going to Film Noir University. (You can find a list of Eddie Muller commentaries here, although it’s not an up-to-date list.)