Miami Vice. This second time around, I was more struck with 1) the noir-iness of the whole thing, and 2) the emphasis on non-verbal communication (gesture, expression, eye contact exchanges, posture, observation & reaction) instead of dialogue. It’s pretty compact storytelling. My first review – I might bump it to number 4 or 5 in my Michael Mann rankings now. Roderick Heath’s review is a must-read.
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.
In the Dark: Looking back at The X-Files on its 20th anniversary
Out of the Past. OUT OF THE PAST! Virginia Huston has a small role, lines-wise, but it’s our identification with her that’s the heart, the emotional pivot for the whole thing. Sigh. Why can’t we be better?
Killer’s Kiss. Pretty conventional noir with beautiful photography. The ax stuff at the end make me think of The Shining and the mannequins, A Clockwork Orange. I think I’d rank it #5 of the Kubrick films I’ve seen so far. Short and to the point.
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.
Detour. Spoiler: This guy is so screwed (see: film noir). This movie also features one of the most intimidating wrecking balls of a femme fatale you’ll find.
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:
- Thief (not far behind)
- The Last of the Mohicans
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:
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:
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.
Dark City. Thoroughly enjoyable. Great sets and costuming and general noiriness. Bonus points for sparing us hours of dialogue about how the movie works (see: The Matrix, Inception, etc.).
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.