Noir City 16 Starts Tomorrow! Here’s a Preview…

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It’s almost here… Noir City 16, that is. Although I’ll only be able to attend the first half of the festival, I’m so excited I probably won’t be able to sleep tonight (which may work to my advantage, since my flight is super early tomorrow morning). When I return, I plan on reporting back on the films I saw, the places I went, and the people I hope to reconnect with as well as those I hope to meet for the first time. But on to the films:

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The 2018 Academy Awards – Best Picture Nominations

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The Academy Awards nominations were announced yesterday and soon after followed rejoicing, anger, predictions and the inevitable oddsmakers. For many (including scores of movie lovers) this information means absolutely nothing. I’ve actually refused to watch the ceremony for years, but might have to give it a look this year. I’ll have more to say on the Oscars as we get closer to March 4, but in the meantime, I’m pleased to say that I’ve seen seven of the nine nominees for Best Picture and have reviewed five of them. You can find those links below. No predictions or favorites for now, just reviews:

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Phantom Thread (2017) Paul Thomas Anderson

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Phantom Thread (2017)
Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Produced by Paul Thomas Anderson, Megan Ellison, JoAnne Sellar, Daniel Lupi
Cinematography by Paul Thomas Anderson (uncredited)
Costume design by Mark Bridges
Music by Jonny Greenwood
Edited by Dylan Tichenor
Focus Features, Universal Pictures
AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center (2:10)

“Whatever you do, do it carefully.”

The same admonishment could’ve been used by Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) to one of his assistant dressmakers, or by his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) to one of her underlings, or by anyone in a position of authority over someone beneath that authority. I’m reminded of John 13:27 when Jesus spoke to Judas, “What you are going to do, do quickly,” knowing that Judas was going to betray him. It’s not quite the same as what Alma (Vicky Krieps) tells Reynolds early in the film, but the thought flashed through my mind while watching Phantom Thread: Who really holds the position of authority in this relationship?

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Film Noir Releases in February 2018

Film NoirNew Releases on Blu-ray and DVD

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 to leave out “newer” films 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.

February is a pretty light month, yet it contains at least one must-own film right off the bat. If you own it on DVD, it’s probably time for an upgrade. If you’ve been waiting for a Blu-ray (like me), wait no longer. Plus I’ll have a few other temptations for you. Let’s get started:

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The Post (2017) Steven Spielberg

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The Post (2017)
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Produced by Steven Spielberg, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Amy Pascal
Written by Liz Hannah, Josh Singer
Music by John Williams
Cinematography by Janusz Kamiński
Edited by Michael Kahn, Sarah Broshar
DreamWorks Pictures, 20th Century Fox
Annapolis Bow Tie Harbour 9 (1:58)

One should never learn one’s history from the cinema, at least that’s what we’ve heard over and over ever since cameras first began documenting any era other than our own. Accurate historical narratives and pure entertainment simply have a difficult time co-existing. In most cases (unless we’re talking about documentaries – another discussion for another time), something’s got to give. Not only does Steven Spielberg’s The Post both entertain and give us a history lesson, it also invites (if not demands) us to examine our own times and situations in light of it. I’m not sure any film could tackle all three of those aspects and come out a winner in each category, but Spielberg gives it his best shot. The question is, is that shot good enough?

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The Sea Wolf (1941) Michael Curtiz

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The Sea Wolf (1941)
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Produced by Hal B. Wallis, Jack L. Warner, Henry Blanke
Screenplay by Robert Rossen, based on the novel by Jack London
Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Cinematography by Sol Polito
Warner Archive Blu-ray (1:40)

The recent Blu-ray release of The Sea Wolf deserves at the very least a parade down the streets of Hollywood, or the 21st century equivalent: a potpourri of tweets, shares, postings, and good old fashioned word-of-mouth praise. Not only have the fine folks at Warner Archive given us a beautiful 4K scan of the film, they’ve also restored 14 minutes of missing footage cut from the film’s 1947 re-release. And let’s not forget that this release also provides us with yet another example of the greatness of director Michael Curtiz.

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