Due to having several projects in the queue, most of my thoughts on the movies I’ve watched lately will be brief. Hopefully there’s enough here to stir (or dispel) your interest. If you missed it, here’s Part I of what I’ve watched in October so far. And here’s more…
Photo: Film Riot
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. 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!
As far as new releases go, November 2017 isn’t exactly a barn burner… But Noirvember does offer a classic from Criterion, a nice UK Region B box set, and maybe a few other temptations for you. Let’s get started:
Washington DC (actually Silver Spring, MD, if you want to get technical) will be transformed into Noir City, complete with shadows, femmes fatales, and maybe a few fedoras. It all starts tomorrow at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center. Just look at all those great titles! You can find the complete schedule here. If that’s not enough to get you excited, film historian and noir expert Foster Hirsch will be on hand to introduce films on Oct. 14 and 15, and the Czar of Noir himself, Eddie Muller, will attend the following weekend.
My love for movies is so strong and intense that I frequently have to leave the room when someone’s discussing TV shows. Although I have taken some steps this year, watching four complete seasons of TV shows (which seems like a minuscule drop in a very large bucket), I can’t help thinking of all the time I could’ve been watching movies. Still, those shows are tempting, but not nearly as tempting as watching (and collecting) classic TV shows.
Gaslight (1944) George Cukor
AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center
It was a great pleasure not only to see a wonderful film like Gaslight (1944) at the AFI Silver, but also to hear a panel discussion afterward on an important topic: domestic violence in general and “gaslighting” in particular. If “gaslighting” is an unfamiliar term, it is “a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the target and delegitimize the target’s belief.” (Oxford Dictionary)
October is off to a good start with some classic horror titles, a rewatch of a 70s horror classic, a bit of film noir, and the movie everyone’s talking about. Read on…
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) (2x)
Directed by Tobe Hooper
Produced by Kim Henkel, Tobe Hooper, Jay Parsley, Richard Saenz
Written by Kim Henkel, Tobe Hooper
Cinematography by Daniel Pearl
Edited by Larry Carroll, Sallye Richardson
Music by Wayne Bell, Tobe Hooper
I was 12 years old when The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was released and my friends and I knew we somehow had to see it. The title alone was enough to scare the crap out of us. I grew up in the South where we all knew what a chainsaw was capable of doing. I am convinced most of our fourth grade vocabularies didn’t contain the word “massacre” before hearing about this movie. Although we were too young to see the film, we couldn’t escape it. Newspaper ads claimed “By far the most horrifying film ever made!” Radio and TV ads were brief, containing voiceover narration such as “What happened was true,” and “the most bizarre and brutal series of crimes in America,” followed by lots and lots of screaming. The film was highly controversial and was (at least for a time) banned in at least 11 countries. As far as I know, it never came to my hometown theater, which meant I’d have to travel to Jackson, Mississippi (about 35 miles away) to have any chance of seeing it. Although those chances were slim, I was both excited and terrified by the possibility of one day watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.