There’s quite a bit in store for noir and neo-noir fans in June with several new releases (and at least one reissue), several of them from across the pond, so if you don’t have a region-free Blu-ray player, now’s a great time to pick one up.
Disclaimer: unless otherwise indicated, all releases are Blu-rays (just one DVD exception this month). Region B discs from France or the UK are identified as such. I’ve stopped listing releases of French films that do not have English subtitles. Unless otherwise noted, the images are those displayed under each title’s entry at Blu-ray.com.
So let’s see what June has to offer…
Directed by Greg Kwedar
Produced by Molly Benson, Greg Kwedar, Clint Bentley, Nancy Schafer
Written by Greg Kwedar, Clint Bentley
Cinematography by Jeffrey Waldron
DVD – interlibrary loan (1:26)
“If you’re talking, you ain’t listening.”
The opening of Transpecos is one we’ve seen many times before, usually in cop “buddy” movies in which a seasoned, close-to-retirement cop is partnered with an eager rookie ready to eradicate all vestiges of crime in the entire town/city/region where they find themselves working. Transpecos differs in that we have three border patrol agents stationed at remote highway checkpoint between the Pecos River and the Mexican border. Two of the officers are veterans: Flores (Gabriel Luna, above center), a man who’s been on the job long enough to have seen most everything yet not long enough to have grown callous, and Hobbs (Clifton Collins Jr., right) who has been on the job long enough to have turned sour, angry, and suspicious of every car he stops. Thrown into this mix is a rookie named Davis (Johnny Simmons, left) who thinks he knows more than he does. (Don’t all rookies?)
“Tell the Truth.” That’s the text of the framed needlepoint hanging in the office of the Albuquerque Sun-Bulletin where Chuck Tatum (Kirk Douglas) is seeking to make his comeback, looking for a return ticket to the big city newspapers who wouldn’t put up with his style of “extreme sport” journalism. The audience at last night’s showing of Ace in the Hole – part of The Great Movies series at the Severna Park Library – met Tatum last night and if you want me to tell the truth, I don’t think Tatum made many friends. But then again, maybe he did.
I saw fewer films in April (35) than I did in March (51), yet somehow time slipped away from me and I didn’t get to explore them in much detail, or in some cases at all. So here is an embarrassingly abbreviated version of what I saw during the last part of April. (You can also check out Part I and Part II.)
In Lonely Places: Film Noir Beyond the City – Imogen Sara Smith
McFarland Press, 2011, 255 pages
Trade paperback, $45
The term “film noir” conjures up certain images, styles, stories, language, and certainly locations. For good or for ill, our visual thoughts about film noir often emerge from images of detectives in trench coats, seductive femmes fatales, and the darkened streets and alleys of cities. Yet film noir cannot be bound by cities, which is the starting point for Imogen Sara Smith’s excellent book In Lonely Places: Film Noir Beyond the City.
Smith explores just what noir is in the book’s masterful introduction, perhaps the best summation of film noir I’ve come across. Although many film noir movies are set in the city, Smith asks “…is film noir really inseparable from the city? (p.4)” Can noir’s plot elements, narrative and visual styles, and what I would call “worldview” (cynicism, pessimism, disillusionment, etc.) exist beyond the city limits?