Local Hero (1983)
Written and directed by Bill Forsyth
Produced by David Putnam, Iain Smith
Music by Mark Knopfler
Cinematography by Chris Menges
Warner Bros. DVD (1:51)
“We’ve been invaded by America. We’re all gonna be rich!”
One of the best parts of starting another year of college was catching up with my roommate Mike, talking about the movies we’d seen over the summer. Mike had seen a little movie one summer called Local Hero that sounded interesting. I told him I’d try to track it down, but I never did. 35 years later, I finally saw the film. I suspect Mike’s life has been at least a little bit richer for having seen it; mine, a little poorer.
If you live in Anne Arundel County, Maryland (or anywhere, really), I’d like to invite you to tonight’s film in our Great Movies series, The Elephant Man (1980) directed by David Lynch. (This was a film we had to reschedule due to inclement weather back in January.) The movie starts at 6:15pm, but come early for the cartoon and a door prize. (We love to give stuff away!)
Maybe I think about movies too much… A few nights ago I dreamed I was watching a movie in which Edward G. Robinson could levitate, fly, and travel between dimensions. This wasn’t the Edward G. Robinson who played mob boss Rico Bandello in Little Caesar (1931) or the raging Pete Morgan from The Red House (1947) or even the relentless insurance investigator Barton Keyes of Double Indemnity (1944). This was simply Robinson as an average Joe, neither dangerous nor a dandelion, a guy mostly content with his lot in life. If I had to pick a role like the Robinson in my dream, it would be Chris Cross from Scarlet Street (1945), only without the nagging wife (Rosalind Ivan) or the femme fatale (Joan Bennett). And with the ability to levitate, fly, and travel interdimensionally.
The Last of Sheila (1973)
Directed and produced by Herbert Ross
Written by Anthony Perkins, Stephen Sondheim
Cinematography by Gerry Turpin
Viewed on FilmStruck
“Civilization is but a thin veneer stretched across the passions of the human heart.” – Bill Moyers
I have a good friend whose brother is a Hollywood screenwriter. I won’t tell you his name, but you’ve probably seen his work. My friend has related several horror stories about his brother’s experiences with the writing life in Hollywood. None of these stories have been very surprising; they simply confirm what I’ve suspected for years about the way things work and how people behave (or rather misbehave) in the industry. I have no doubt there are some very nice folks working in Hollywood, but I’m also sure the place is filled with rude, narcissistic, arrogant, petty, crass, and generally unlikable people, exactly like the characters in The Last of Sheila. Maybe we actually look forward to one (or more) of these self-centered jerks meeting their comeuppance?
“And when he (the Lamb of God) had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with the sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” Revelation 6:7-8 (KJV)
Although some may dismiss these verses as improperly applied words never directly referenced in the film, I have to believe Elem Klimov had them in mind when he directed Come and See (1985), one of the most devastating works of art I’ve ever experienced in any format. To watch it, you might want to take a day off from work and have your favorite comedy or comfort movie nearby for afterwards. I’m totally serious. Yet anyone undertaking the film will soon realize that all the Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, or works from any other comedy masters will never erase the power of this film. Unless you do not possess a heart, Come and See will leave you shattered.
This past weekend, the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Maryland launched a series called Directed by Michael Curtiz, running March 17-25. Alan K. Rode, author of Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film, was on hand to introduce The Breaking Point, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Sea Wolf, and to participate in a panel discussion with Meredith Hindley (Destination Casablanca) and Noah Isenberg (We’ll Always Have Casablanca) on Casablanca. I was able to attend yesterday’s screening of The Sea Wolf, a film I saw and reviewed back in January.
Chance, Season One (TV 2016) created by Alexandra Cunningham and Kem Nunn
The TV series Chance was recently cancelled by Hulu after two seasons and having only seen the first, I think I know why. The cancellation probably had little to do with the show’s quality, but rather with its being misunderstood. Chance is totally noir, completely disturbing and dark, dark, dark. Yet many of what we’ve come to accept as typical noir trappings – shadows, chiaroscuro lighting, rain-soaked streets, darkened alleys – have become so caricatured we often find it difficult to identify noir by any other touchstones. Chance is noir of the soul, a deep examination of desires and motives, actions and consequences, risks and death. Total noir.
Although I recently reported the slim pickings in April, I’ve uncovered a few more March releases for your consideration. For the March listing, I included Don’t Bother to Knock (1952), which has been updated to include the correct cover for its March 20 Twilight Time release.
Also releasing on March 20:
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 more recent 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.
I hope you picked up enough film noir titles from last month to tide you over the very lean month of April. A big thanks goes to ClassicFlix and a couple of Region B releases, otherwise you’d be looking at a blank page right now. I’m sure more April releases are forthcoming and when they’re announced, I’ll be sure to update this post. In the meantime, here’s what April has to offer:
Several weeks ago, in celebration of Valentine’s Day, The Magic Lantern Podcast posted an episode called “The Birds and the Bees,” focused on how we learned about sex at the movies. This episode made me recall some of the film experiences that were part of my own cinematic sex education. (Don’t worry – it’s not going to get too salacious…)