Trouble Finding the Edges

Trouble Finding the Edges

4

Dec

2014

One should never be surprised, exactly, that a person showing talent in one field shows equal talent in another.  Most creative people, after all, are individuals of restless imagination, and have no trouble imagining themselves as having the potential to create great works in music, cinema, visual art, or whatever other f ...
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A Threat to Justice Everywhere

A Threat to Justice Everywhere

16

Nov

2014

When I went to sleep last night, Ferguson, Missouri was on fire.The (highly unusual) decision of a grand jury not to bring Officer Darren Wilson up on charges stemming from his killing of a young black man named Michael Brown was, while not unexpected -- one could, indeed, infer from its timing as well as the decision to ra ...
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Noirvember: Follow Me Quietly

Noirvember:  <i>Follow Me Quietly</i>

14

Nov

2014

Everybody's got to start somewhere.  Richard Fleischer, who would become a Hollywood fixture without ever reaching star status among directors, had a very curious beginning to his career:  after the usual short subjects, he directed a critically acclaimed WWII documentary, a tight little noir picture written by a young Ro ...
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Noirvember: Blonde Ice

Noirvember:  <i>Blonde Ice</i>

12

Nov

2014

Blonde Ice announces right off the bat what kind of movie it's going to be when we drop in on the wedding of society reporter Claire Cummings (Leslie Brooks) to well-heeled Carl Hanneman (John Holland).  A handful of her male co-workers at the newspaper are wondering how a woman who was in the steno pool only a few years ...
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Noirvember: High Wall

Noirvember:  <i>High Wall</i>

10

Nov

2014

Portraying insanity in the movies is a pretty tricky proposition, particularly when it comes to protagonists.  You want to make your characters crazy enough to be interesting to the audience, but not so vividly mad that they become impossible to identify with, or that they seem to be cruel caricatures of the mentally ill t ...
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Noirvember: Nightfall

Noirvember:  <i>Nightfall</i>

8

Nov

2014

Nightfall was David Goodis' metier.  It was his primary compositional material, his inspiration, his preferred period to work.  Of all the noir writers of the classic period, he was perhaps the darkest; while his books didn't feature the raw, violent edges or the grotesque details of Jim Thompson, no one could touch him f ...
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Noirvember: Hell’s Half Acre

Noirvember:  <i>Hell’s Half Acre</i>

6

Nov

2014

Today's Noirvember entry carries on a few themes from the last review of The Prowler:  the presence of Evelyn Keyes (who I am assured ran a kicky newspaper column in the 1980s in Los Angeles full of takes on debauched Hollywood), the use of exotic locations (it's the only classic-period noir I can think of that takes plac ...
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Noirvember: The Prowler

Noirvember:  <i>The Prowler</i>

4

Nov

2014

The Prowler, a taut and cruel thriller that's both insightful and deeply disturbing, begins with an unsettling scene that can't help but remind viewers who have seen both of Michael Powell's Peeping Tom:  Susan Gilvray (Evelyn Keyes) is preening in front of her vanity when she spots a creep lurking outside her bathroom ...
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Noirvember: The Man Who Cheated Himself

Noirvember:  <i>The Man Who Cheated Himself</i>

2

Nov

2014

If nothing else, The Man Who Cheated Himself -- released at Christmas in 1950 and capably directed by Felix Feist -- is a good reminder of what, exactly, most noir films were supposed to be:  cheaply made B-grade crime pictures to be stuck in second or third place before the main attraction.  Although it was helmed by J ...
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The Monster Math

The Monster Math

30

Oct

2014

MONSTER:  DraculaREAL NAME:  Vladimir T. Dracula, Jr.COLLECTIVE NAME:  DraculaePOWERS:  immortality, flight, mental domination, control over vermin, moodinessPET PEEVES:  inability to eat aïoliFAVORITE WU-TANG CLAN MEMBER:  RZAMOST R ...
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Don’t Wait for Answers

Don’t Wait for Answers

28

Oct

2014

One of the few pleasures of growing older, from the perspective of cultural criticism, is watching America mythologize itself.  Sometimes you have the enjoyment of seeing this happen just as it develops, as H.L. Mencken spotted in his observation of the immediate aftermath of the Dempsey/Carpentier fight; other times, it ...
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Carrie That Weight

Carrie That Weight

26

Oct

2014

What can possibly be gained by comparing the two film versions of Stephen King's first novel, Carrie?  Beats me, but their recent and sudden appearance on Netflix streaming, combined with vague curiosity and less vague boredom, led me to find out.  I'm an unapologetic booster of Brian De Palma, and a big fan of his 1976 ...
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Heaven and Hell: The Architect

Heaven and Hell:  The Architect

24

Oct

2014

It was famously said by a man who had never been there that Hell is other people. Like most epigrams, it’s more clever than it is accurate. Hell is other people, yes; but not many. The energy and logistics involved in getting a dead man’s shade into Hell are so vast and complicated that it’s a fate generally reserved ...
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WWATFM

WWATFM

22

Oct

2014

It is a complicated world, and today's worker, student, and/or working student intern has to memorize more data points than ever to prove useful to his instructor/employer.  In the internet age, when all data is instantly accessible to everyone at all times, you might think that rote memorization would be increasingly less ...
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Just Give It to Me Raw

Just Give It to Me Raw

20

Oct

2014

I’m a guy who likes his meat. I figure I have incisors for a reason, and if there’s a dead animal I wouldn’t enjoy eating, I haven’t encountered it yet. More than that, though, I love to cook. A vegetarian diet – or even, may the fishmongers of Seattle forgive me, a vegan one – is fine with me, as long as I can ...
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