If you missed Part I from September, look no further. Part II is going to go by quickly, sometimes with brief commentary, so here we go…
If you’re a film noir fan who lives in the Baltimore/Washington DC area, you’re in for a big treat next month as Noir City comes to the area. From October 14-26 you’ll find a total of 21 great film noir titles to enjoy at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, MD. Noir expert and film historian Foster Hirsch will be on hand to introduce several films during the festival’s first weekend and the Czar of Noir himself, Eddie Muller, will attend during the second weekend.
I experienced Noir City DC for the first three years ago which whetted my appetite for more noir, leading me to the flagship Noir City festival in San Francisco. The San Francisco festival is the pinnacle of noir gatherings, but if you can’t make it to that festival (Jan. 26 – Feb. 4, 2018), Noir City DC is a great gathering as well. You’ll find great films shown in a terrific theater, great merchandise and other ways to support the Film Noir Foundation, and other great film noir fans to meet.
I’ll be talking more about the festival as it gets closer, but I do hope you’ll consider attending. I’m planning on being there for at least three or four days, so maybe I’ll see you there.
(My Noirvember films from 2016)
My Twitter friend Christopher recently asked to compile my Top 25 Film Noir movies to prepare for Noirvember so I’m glad to present this list, not of 25, but 30: one for each day of Noirvember. Christopher is an avid film fan, so I’m sure he’s already seen many of the films listed here, but I hope he’ll find some new ones to explore.
These films (listed in no particular order) aren’t necessarily my favorites (although some are), but film noir movies I’ve enjoyed fairly recently. You’ll find some classics, some neo-noir movies, some color, some international; a little bit of everything. Most should be available on DVD or Blu-ray. A couple might be tricky to find (one in particular, which I’ll note), but if you don’t see them on disc or streaming, try your local library or YouTube.
With each movie, I’ll list where or how I saw it and will provide either a link to my review of the film (in some cases you may have to scroll down) or a short bit about it. I hope this helps Christopher (and anyone else) in their Noirvember planning. Enjoy!
If you’re new to my monthly film noir releases post, welcome! My goal is to cover all the first-time releases to Blu-ray and DVD, usually passing over reissues unless there’s a good reason to include them. Unless otherwise noted, these are all North American Region A Blu-ray discs. I often use the terms “film noir” and “neo-noir” rather loosely, so while you may quibble with some of my choices, I hope these are films you’ll at least consider. As always, if you know of any film noir or neo-noir films I’ve left out, please let me know in the comments below. And thanks for reading!
It should come as no surprise that October is ruled by horror releases, but there are still some nice noir titles to be had including a motherlode box set that will excite most any noir fan provided they can speak and understand French (and own a region-free Blu-ray player). Let’s see what October holds…
September is off to a rather slow start, due mainly to watching a few TV series, one of which you’ll read about below. I hope you’ll find something here to explore. If not this time, well, there’s more on the way…
Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Season One (1955-56)
It seems odd for someone like me who loves classic TV anthology shows (The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, etc.) to have seen so few episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1962) or The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962-65), but such is the case. Stranger still that I’ve been a Hitchcock fan since I saw my first Hitchcock feature film (Spellbound) when I was a kid. But there’s a reason I resisted this show until now.
Directed by Tim Hunter
Produced by Tim Zinnemann and Ron Miller
Screenplay by Charles S. Haas and Tim Hunter
Based on the novel Tex by S.E. Hinton
Cinematography by Ric Waite
Music by Pino Donaggio
Edited by Howard E. Smith
DVD – library (1:43)
There was a time in the early 80s when Disney as a motion picture company was trying to both rediscover and redefine itself. You’d see several movies that seemed to promise more of what they’d already been doing for decades, films like Herbie Goes Bananas and The Fox and the Hound, but you’d also see darker sf/fantasy films like Tron and Something Wicked This Way Comes. You’d even see some real head-scratchers like The Devil and Max Devlin and Condorman, movies that made you wonder “What were they thinking?”
Directed by Paul Verhoeven
Produced by Saïd Ben Saïd and Michel Merkt
Screenplay by David Birke based on the novel Oh… by Philippe Djian
Cinematography by Stéphane Fontaine
Edited by Job ter Burg
In French with English subtitles
DVD – library (2:10)
“Fortunately I have faith. What’s it for if not to get through the tough times?”
These two lines come from two different female characters in two different scenes in Elle, a film that critic Sheila O’Malley at Roger Ebert.com calls a “demented and exhilarating experience” as well as “a high-wire act without a net.” A.O. Scott at The New York Times says “It’s a psychological thriller, a strangely dry-eyed melodrama, a kinky sex farce and, perhaps most provocatively, a savage comedy of bourgeois manners.”
After reading all that, you might wonder “Just what is this film?” Seemingly it cannot be any one thing. Elle comes from Paul Verhoeven, who’s delivered movies audiences typically either love or hate (RoboCop, Starship Troopers, Basic Instinct, Showgirls) and with Elle, he gives us yet another film that pulls no punches. No one is surprised that a Verhoeven film can be called disturbing, divisive, repugnant or offensive. Yet I think there’s something there – possibly several somethings – that deserve closer examination.
The Night Of (TV 2016)
Directed by Steven Zaillian, James Marsh
Written by Richard Price, Steven Zaillian
Based on the British television series Criminal Justice by Peter Moffat
HBO DVD – library (8:51)
I live in something of a cinematic vacuum. My friends and co-workers often seek to set me free from said vacuum by tempting me with current TV shows, assuring and often promising “You’ll love this show!” They’ve attempted to lure me into the television universe with Game of Thrones, Orphan Black, Orange is the New Black, Fargo, The Leftovers, Big Little Lies, Westworld, and many more. I’ll usually ask them if the show is ongoing or if it’s ended. Is it one season or two? More? How many episodes? How long is each episode? When I start doing the math, I figure out that I can usually watch anywhere from five to eight movies during the same amount of time it would take me to watch one season of just about anything. So I usually pass.
But one of my co-workers told me that I might like the HBO series The Night Of, a self-contained season with eight hour-long (give or take) episodes. I’d heard positive things about the show but also knew it wasn’t being talked to death nearly as much as a show like Game of Thrones, so my interest level increased a bit. I had a long Labor Day weekend coming up, so I decided to give it a try.
In late July I mentioned on Twitter that I wanted to watch several of the unwatched movies I’ve had on my shelf for at least a year. That brought up an interesting discussion of how many unwatched DVDs and Blu-rays my Twitter friends have, so I know I’m not alone. I decided to tackle as many of the films as I could from the photo above. My main purpose was to purge, freeing up some valuable shelf space. Were these films I’d keep or get rid of? I’ll start with my original review/mini-review, followed by my verdict on whether to keep or to purge. We’ll see how I did…