Our Great Movies series at the Severna Park Library continues to bring in enthusiastic crowds and last month my co-host Julia and I were delighted to have five or six teenagers in the audience, members of a local high school film club. I’m not sure how large the full group is, but I tracked down their contact information and invited them all to our next event this Thursday.
The world has lost another great creative force, director Jonathan Demme, who died yesterday from complications from cancer. He was 73. Many people will remember Demme primarily as the director of The Silence of the Lambs (1991), some erroneously thinking that was his first film. It wasn’t; at that point he’d been making films for close to two decades.
The Changeling (1980)
Directed by Peter Medak
Produced by Joel B. Michaels, Garth H. Drabinsky
Written by Russell Hunter, William Gray, Diana Maddox
Cinematography by John Coquillon
DVD – interlibrary loan (1:47)
Quite possibly the best ghost story you’ve never seen, The Changeling (not to be confused with the 2008 Clint Eastwood film starring Angelina Jolie) will not overpower you with an abundance of special effects, but it’s atmosphere and creepiness instead seep into your pores, causing an uneasiness that you can’t quite shake off. Much of this is due to the wonderful set design of the large Victorian era mansion where composer John Russell (George C. Scott) goes to live in Washington state (actually filmed in Vancouver) after the deaths of his wife and daughter.
Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan
Produced by Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward, Chris Moore, Kevin J. Walsh, Lauren Beck
Cinematography by Jody Lee Lipes
DVD – library (2:17)
Given enough time, I will eventually see all of the Oscar-winning movies from the previous year. Casey Affleck, of course, won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Lee Chandler, a handyman working for an apartment complex in Quincy, Massachusetts. As the film opens, Lee goes about his routine tasks, saying little when tenants complain about the building, or ask his opinion on plumbing issues. Later Lee loses it by cursing at a tenant and starting a fight at a local bar. Clearly something’s going on.
Unfortunately you’ll find very few Blu-ray or DVD releases in May from the “classic” era of film noir, but next month does offer some nice neo-noir titles and a couple of complete TV series sets. Let’s get started:
Kill List (2011)
Directed by Ben Wheatley
Produced by Claire Jones, Andy Starke
Written by Ben Wheatley, Amy Jump
Cinematography by Laurie Rose
DVD – interlibrary loan (1:35)
For its first fifteen or so minutes, Kill List looks and feels like a domestic drama. It soon turns into something else, then goes in another direction that catches you totally by surprise – or maybe not, if you’ve been paying close attention. During the final fifteen minutes of the film, nothing short of an earthquake is going to pull you away from the screen.
Some of these are pretty short… So much going on… Regardless, I hope you’ll find something of interest here:
The guys over at Pure Cinema Podcast recently covered their top neo-noir movies, pairing them with classic film noir titles that share some type of connection whether it’s plot, theme, or some other common element. It’s a great show and I highly recommend listening to it. I enjoyed it so much that I was inspired to come up with my own list of neo-noir/classic noir pairings: