Category Archives: Film Noir

“Blood Simple” (1984) at Film Forum

Frances McDormand in "Blood Simple," at Film Forum, July 1 - 14.

Frances McDormand in “Blood Simple,” at Film Forum, July 1 – 14.

June 27, 2016.  From July 1 – 14 Film Forum will present a 4K restoration of the Coen Brothers’ tremendous 1984 debut film, “Blood Simple.” (“4K” is a high definition video format that is the current standard for film restoration. Simply put, it’s a really great copy of the movie, just as good, if not better, than when the film was released on actual film).

Often, when I attend Coen Brothers’ movies (brother Joel directs, brother Ethan produces, both write the screenplays), I feel as if there is a joke that everyone in the audience is in on…except for me. Fellow audience members seem to laugh at things which I just don’t get, or, if I do get them, I don’t find them to be funny. Maybe I’m just not “hip” enough (or maybe my fellow audience members are just acting “hip” since they are at a Coen Brothers’ movie and feel the need to act like a “hip, indy” type of audience). That having been said, maybe there is hope for me after all, because I really like “Blood Simple.” In fact, I will go so far as to say that “Blood Simple” is the Coen Brothers’ best film (“Big Lebowski” fans may start sending me their “hate” emails now). Read the rest of this entry

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Fritz Lang on Netflix

Director Fritz Lang

Director Fritz Lang came to America, from Germany, in 1934.  The story he liked to tell, which may be true or which he may have told because it made for a good story, is that Joseph Goebbels, the Third Reich’s Minister of Propaganda, met with him to talk about Lang making movies for the Third Reich.  Lang said he accepted the offer but that, following the meeting, he caught the next train to Paris, eventually making his way to America.

Once in America Lang began working within the studio system in Hollywood.  An autocrat, used to having his way in all things movie-wise, Lang quickly made enemies and burned bridges left and right.    After all, in Germany he was “the man” with access to big budgets and casts of thousands.  He was frustrated with the constraints placed upon him by American studios and what he perceived to be the overly simplistic nature of American story telling in movies. Read the rest of this entry

The Square

"The Square" is a tense Aussie noir exercise that delivers

For those of you who have not yet been down to the Sunshine or up to the AMC Empire to see “The Square,” go.  While I am usually wary of movies claiming to be modern day exercises in film noir this Aussie entry gets it.  First time writer/director Nash Edgerton pulls the rug out from under us, and then the floor.  Edgerton (a movie stunt man) knows when and how to ratchet up the tension, throw in a few well-placed “red herrings” and then hit us with the real thing.

Anyone who has seen “The Postman Always Rings Twice” or “Double Indemnity” knows the set-up: A wife and her lover want to put something over on her boorish clod of a husband.  In the latter and former they want to kill the husband.  Here they just want to take his large, hidden stash of no doubt illegally obtained money.  They don’t want to kill anyone but a cell phone losing power and a few wrong conclusions later all Hell breaks loose as fate intervenes, as it always does in film noir.  “The Square” is a tense “nail biter” where even the most innocuous conversations take on incredible tension.  The film is a cross between “Indemnity,” “Postman,” “Blood Simple,” “A Simple Plan” and “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.”  Edgerton knows their rules well and bends them into a story that is original, suspenseful and terrifying.

“The Square” is preceded by “Spider” a diabolical, funny short film, also made by Edgerton.

The Square, Director Nash Edgerton, 2008,

Apparition, 105 minutes

Brit Noir at Film Forum

John Crawford in Val GuestÕs HELL IS A CITY (1959). Courtesy PhoI once had a smug definition of the Film Noir genre.  I used to say a movie was a good example of Film Noir if I could not understand it.  Granted some Film Noirs are exercises in style rather than story-telling.  Today though, Film Noir is one of my favorite genres.  What happened?  Several years ago, during a period of under-employment, I spent a lot of time at a Film Forum series on Film Noir.  My “noir” horizons were greatly expanded.   Now I get it, although I still have trouble following “The Big Sleep”.  Among many great films I discovered one of my favorite movies, “Night and the City” (1950),  to be included in Film Forum’s new “Brit Noir” series, which runs from August 7 – September 3.  Read the rest of this entry