The Shape of Water (2017)
Written and directed by Guillermo del Toro
Produced by Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale
Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
Music by Alexandre Desplat
Cinematography by Dan Laustsen
Edited by Sidney Wolinsky
Production design by Paul D. Austerberry
Art Direction by Nigel Churcher
Set Decoration by Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau
Annapolis Bow Tie Harbor 9 (2:03)
Like Guillermo del Toro, I was too young to have seen the original release of The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), but I imagine that something of the magic those audiences felt translated to the emotions I experienced watching The Shape of Water, a film obviously influenced by the Jack Arnold monster/horror classic. Arnold touches on the concept of “otherness” in the 1954 original, but del Toro – with the advantage of having more freedom to explore such themes in 2017 – takes the viewer on a journey not just through the “otherness” of a human/monster relationship, but other journeys that venture out to far-reaching areas of – and perhaps beyond – humanity.
It’s such a simple idea, yet it’s a stroke of genius: pair up an “A” picture from the classic film noir era (1941 to 1953 in this case) with a “B” picture for an unbeatable noir double feature for each day of Noir City 16 at San Francisco’s historic Castro Theatre Jan. 26-Feb. 4, 2018. At last night’s Noir City Christmas at the Castro Theatre, which featured a double feature of Manhandled (1949) and Alias Boston Blackie (1942), Eddie Muller unveiled the full Noir City 16 schedule, which you can find here.
If you’re new to my monthly Film Noir Releases posts, 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. (I also tend – with one exception this month – to leave out films released in theaters from the last several years.) Unless otherwise noted, the following 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.
2018 may not start with a plethora of film noir releases on Blu-ray, but January’s line-up is rock solid with several must-own titles. Let’s get started:
2017 marks the fourth year that I’ve seriously started delving into film noir. I still consider myself a beginner as far as the number of films I’ve seen and my knowledge of noir, but I’m probably at least near the halfway point of having seen the established body of American film noir titles. I saw close to 200 film noir and neo-noir movies in 2017, but here I’m only going to concentrate on those from the established film noir era (1940-1959), although you’ll find one or two films on either end of that period. In many cases I examined some films in greater detail in previous posts. In those cases, just click on the title. Enjoy!
Missed Part I? Look no further. Now here’s more:
Lady Bird (2017)
Written and directed by Greta Gerwig
Produced by Scott Rudin, Eli Bush, Evelyn O’Neil
Cinematography by Sam Levy
Edited by Nick Houy
BowTie Harbor 9, Annapolis, MD (1:33)
On the surface, Lady Bird seems like a movie I shouldn’t relate to in any way. It’s about a high school senior (Remember, I’m in my 50s) at a Catholic school (I’m Protestant) in California (I’m from Mississippi) in 2002 (I graduated in the 80s). Plus, she’s a girl; I’m a guy. We have literally not one thing in common.
Although my family and friends cannot comprehend this, I frequently lament how few films I’ve actually seen in my lifetime. Expand that to world cinema and you’ll find enormous, cavernous spaces filled with all the international movies I haven’t seen. This year I tried to at least chip away at several of those non-English-speaking treasures. I’ll explore more of these films in Part II, but for now, here’s Part I:
Just a few days ago I realized I had probably seen enough British films in 2017 to create a separate category, but I had no idea just how many – over 20! Many of these (no surprise) are film noir or, as we like to say, “noir-stained.” I certainly want to explore more British films in 2018 so for those of you in or from the UK, I would love to hear your favorites or “must see” films I should explore next year. Until then, these are the British films I most enjoyed in 2017:
Something a little different today… I’ll discuss the movies I most enjoyed this year from the 2000s and beyond not including films from 2017, which will be a separate list closer to the end of the year. There’s some fluidity here, since many of the 2016 films had various release dates that were 2016 in some places and 2017 in others, but for the most part these are films that fall between 2000 and 2016, mostly in chronological order. Enjoy!
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
Written and directed by Martin McDonagh
Produced by Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin, Martin McDonagh
Cinematography by Ben Davis
Music by Carter Burwell
Edited by Jon Gregory
Bow Tie Harbor 9, Annapolis, MD (1:55)
“Anger begets anger.”
Lately I’ve been thinking about the movies that get nominated for awards, probably because we’re in the thick of awards season right now. Although I no longer watch awards shows and don’t consider them a valid indicator of a movie’s value, I find myself thinking about them more than I probably should. I sometimes wonder how many films are nominated due to the fact that they’re well-crafted works of art and how many are nominated due to their being timely, regardless of their artistic merit. No doubt some films are both. Both Get Out and Mudbound, for instance, deal with racism (certainly a timely topic) in very different ways, and yet both of those films are quite good. Yet Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri not only deals with racism, it also addresses justice and miscarriages of justice, police brutality, vigilanteism, divorce, broken homes, small town life, small thinking, and more. Does the film contain too many themes for the finished product to be effective? I thought so during the film’s first hour. But during the second?