The show out-noired noir by recognizing that the most extreme context for modern alienation was not the mean streets of the detective story but a white-collar bureaucracy that extended infinitely above the main protagonists — literally into space — and that threatened to control them without their knowing how or why.
The Killing. I’ve seen 2001: A Space Odyssey four or five times at least, and it’s fantastic, but watching The Shining a few years ago really killed my interest in Stanley Kubrick’s work. This one resurrects it. Awesome camera and soundtrack and a great set of characters. Multiple perspectives and time cuts. Also touches on some of the practical aspects of dealing with piles and piles of money.
The Long Goodbye. It’s all mood and meandering. I’m often okay with that sort of thing, but this one didn’t totally click with me. Gould is an excellent Marlowe, though. I think this is the only Robert Altman movie I’ve seen.
Thief. Hell yeah. Fun stuff. Some good writing here and a great Tangerine Dream soundtrack. I love how the camera kind of zones out every now and then and the movie is all form (like the welding climax). I also like that this thief isn’t an MI-style sneaky ninja techno-athlete (or some kind of capoeira breakdancer coughOcean’sTwelvecough). He’s an old man. He’s got a limp. He wants to have a wife and kid. He uses power saws and hammers and welding torches. I forget how cool James Caan is. And Willie Nelson is in it! You can definitely see the influence on Drive.
Here’s my rankings for Michael Mann films I’ve seen so far. Strong, strong work:
The Big Heat. Here we see the repercussions of a righteous anger, an uncompromising pursuit of justice. I love that our hero has a strong marriage and family life when he’s not on his beat. I haven’t seen that in film noir before. I really like this Glenn Ford guy (see also: 3:10 to Yuma, Gilda). Metropolis is the only other Fritz Lang I’ve seen. I should probably watch M at some point.
Out of the Past. Said it before, I’ll say it again:
OUT OF THE PAST. #greatestmovieofalltime
— Mark Larson (@mlarson) June 12, 2012
Part of what sets it apart is an incredible script.
Ann: Every time I look at the sky, I think of all the places I’ve never been.
Jeff: Yes, and every time you look up, they’re all the same.
A: You’ve been a lot of places, haven’t you?
J: One too many.
A: Which did you like best?
J: This one right here.
A: I bet you say that to all the places.
I fear that my feelings about the rest of Jacques Tourneur’s work mirror my feelings about about Larry McMurtry’s:
I realized I can’t read another Larry McMurtry novel because it won’t be Lonesome Dove. #librarytweets
— Mark Larson (@mlarson) May 25, 2012
To sum up, this is my reflex film. It’s what I turn to when there is no other hope. Though there are many very good reasons to love this film, my enthusiasm is now well beyond the bounds of rationality, and I won’t have it any other way.
Drive. Second viewing. (The first.) I told myself I was just going to watch the opening scenes again, but I kept going. This time around I find myself enjoying the directing and mechanics even more and the plot/characters so much less. I can’t handle the beach scene. Still, those first 20-40 minutes? That’s some good stuff.
T-Men. A B-movie mostly remembered for John Alton’s cinematography. Film noir is so mannered sometimes. Our modern sensibilities make many parts of this movie unintentionally funny, but of course that makes you like it more. Had a good mini-twist and a surprisingly touching death scene. This is the only Anthony Mann film I’ve seen, besides watching El Cid in high school Spanish class.
Sweet Smell of Success. It’s about information, and what you can get for it. This is a cynical film, but somehow you’re never far from a punchline. Awesome movie. Tony Curtis is truly incredible. (I really liked him in Some Like It Hot, too.) First time I’ve seen Burt Lancaster, though The Killers has been on my list for a while.
Gilda. This one is worth watching for Rita Hayworth. Gilda is a sad, sad, rebellious woman. The movie ends and you don’t feel good about this couple at all. I love Steve Geray’s role as a sort of one-man Greek chorus. Also great photography here by Rudolph Maté, who directed the superior D.O.A.. Reminds me of another excellent film with a lost woman that revolves around casino life: La Baie des Anges. And another good film named after and about an object of irrational obsession is Laura. Glenn Ford was also awesome in 3:10 to Yuma. Filed under: film noir; movies I’ve seen.
Following. Christopher Nolan’s first feature film set the trend for his later puzzle-piece, time-shifted narratives. Solid, modern noir. I like seeing early work like this without fancy production, pristine private sets, celebrity talent. My rankings of Nolan movies I’ve seen:
Yeah, after his last two I mostly lost interest in Nolan’s work. This one was good enough to get me curious about Insomnia and The Prestige, though. I’ve also done rankings for Hitchcock, Eastwood, Malick, Wes Anderson, and David Fincher, etc.