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?
Miracle Mile (1988*)
Written and directed by Steve De Jarnatt
Produced by John Daly, Derek Gibson
Cinematography by Theo van de Sande
Music by Tangerine Dream
Kino Lorber Blu-ray (1:27)
(mild spoilers initially – more later)
As I mentioned in my recap of the movies I watched earlier this month, I have absolutely no recollection of Miracle Mile coming out in theaters, on cable, or on VHS. If not for Brian and Elric at Pure Cinema Podcast, I probably would’ve never seen it, so many thanks to the guys for recommending a title that has immediately become one of my favorite movies from the 80s.
Continuing with movies I watched this month. (You can find Part I here.)
(Please see the end of this post for an August UPDATE)
We’re not seeing as much film noir from the “classic” era (roughly 1941-1958) being released on Blu-ray and DVD these days, at least not as much as I’d like, but rest assured there are more classic noir titles in the pipeline. Still, you’ll find plenty of good stuff this month including several neo-noir and “noir-stained” titles (although some of those connections might be a bit tenuous). You’ll also notice a few previously announced releases that were delayed for various reasons. As always, the following discs are in the Blu-ray format for U.S./Canada Region A players unless otherwise indicated.
I saw fewer films in April (35) than I did in March (51), yet somehow time slipped away from me and I didn’t get to explore them in much detail, or in some cases at all. So here is an embarrassingly abbreviated version of what I saw during the last part of April. (You can also check out Part I and Part II.)
The Changeling (1980)
Directed by Peter Medak
Produced by Joel B. Michaels, Garth H. Drabinsky
Written by Russell Hunter, William Gray, Diana Maddox
Cinematography by John Coquillon
DVD – interlibrary loan (1:47)
Quite possibly the best ghost story you’ve never seen, The Changeling (not to be confused with the 2008 Clint Eastwood film starring Angelina Jolie) will not overpower you with an abundance of special effects, but it’s atmosphere and creepiness instead seep into your pores, causing an uneasiness that you can’t quite shake off. Much of this is due to the wonderful set design of the large Victorian era mansion where composer John Russell (George C. Scott) goes to live in Washington state (actually filmed in Vancouver) after the deaths of his wife and daughter.
Kill List (2011)
Directed by Ben Wheatley
Produced by Claire Jones, Andy Starke
Written by Ben Wheatley, Amy Jump
Cinematography by Laurie Rose
DVD – interlibrary loan (1:35)
For its first fifteen or so minutes, Kill List looks and feels like a domestic drama. It soon turns into something else, then goes in another direction that catches you totally by surprise – or maybe not, if you’ve been paying close attention. During the final fifteen minutes of the film, nothing short of an earthquake is going to pull you away from the screen.
The guys over at Pure Cinema Podcast recently covered their top neo-noir movies, pairing them with classic film noir titles that share some type of connection whether it’s plot, theme, or some other common element. It’s a great show and I highly recommend listening to it. I enjoyed it so much that I was inspired to come up with my own list of neo-noir/classic noir pairings:
Man, what a month March was with 52 movies total, which may not be a lot for some, but is record-breaking for me. I’m going to zip through this list pretty quickly. I hope to revisit some of these films with longer reviews, but for now it will be brief. Hope you’ll find something to enjoy!
The movies are piling up in March, probably my most productive movie-watching month ever. You can link to the other parts of this crazy month below, then check out my 10 latest movies.
And now, on with Part IV: