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The release of Sin City: A Dame To Kill For inspires James to look back at its film noir roots, and some classic examples of the genre...
We're at the shadowy back-end of the summer blockbuster season and darkness is entering the frame. Here comes ultraviolence, sleaze, crime and death, all beautifully shot in macabre high-contrast monochrome. Just when you thought you'd got yourself clean and were all peppy after some upbeat family-friendly popcorn thrills, here's Sin City: A Dame To Kill For to darken up the doorways. (And it will light up a cigarette in those doorways and spit out some tough dialogue from between its bloodstained teeth while it's lingering there.)
We're back in the Basin City of Frank Miller's graphic novels again, once more brought to vivid screen life by the comics creator »
It may be in 3D this time around, but Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s monotone, monochrome comicbook universe feels flatter than ever in “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.” Rare indeed is the movie that features this many bared breasts, pummeled crotches and severed noggins and still leaves you checking your watch every 10 minutes. But that’s the dubious accomplishment of this visually arresting but grimly repetitive exercise in style, set against a sordid neo-noir landscape populated almost exclusively by tormented tough guys and femme-fatale fetish objects. Nearly a decade after the first “Sin City” grossed more than $158 million worldwide, it’s doubtful whether the directors’ overlapping fanbases can muster the same level of excitement for a picture about which the best one can really say is, “It sure beats ‘The Spirit.’ ”
- Justin Chang
Movie or Blu-ray? Movie or Blu-ray? That's a tricky question when reviewing the new version of Double Indemnity, unquestionably one of Hollywood's great masterpieces and an absolute must-have for any serious film fans' collection. You can't do any better… despite the fact that the new Blu-ray is about as lazy and uninspired a product as one could hope for. Universal put together a terrific DVD package for the film a few years ago, then apparently decided that that was enough. Hit the jump for my full review. First the movie itself, penned by the great Raymond Chandler from a novel by James M. Cain and directed by Billy Wilder as a highlight of his storied career. It epitomizes the noir movement at its height, conceived by two of the genre's great geniuses and helmed by an auteur coming to grips with the depths of human evil. Wilder arrived in Hollywood »
- Rob Vaux
Film noir tropes have long been explored by film historians who are fascinated with the genre's stylish cinematography, multilayered characters and pessimistic tone. A 2009 BBC documentary on the genre is now online, exploring the world of the American thrillers and teaching us the rules of noir. Host Matthew Sweet explores the grammar of noir, starting with the rule: "Choose a dame with a past and a hero with no future." Films Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice demonstrate how "the blonder and brighter" a woman is on the outside, the more evil she is on the inside. Gotta love a femme fatale. Guests Paul Schrader and Roger Deakins help examine aspects of each film — of which there are many overall. Other rules up for discussion...
- Alison Nastasi
The Internet pretty much melted down yesterday with the news that a Sin City 2 poster featuring Eva Green in a very sheer gown has been deemed too explicit for public consumption by the MPAA. But who, exactly, does the French actress play in the movie?
When EW recently spoke with Green, she insisted that her character, Ava Lord is much more than a just a pretty, uh, face. “She’s a femme fatale,” she said. “She’s an archetype of the femme fatale, like in all the films that we know. Like Double Indemnity. She’s like an Ava Gardner or a Rita Hayworth. »
- Clark Collis
Don’t be fooled. At first glance, Lana Del Rey’s video for her slinky, retro new single, “West Coast,” looks like it’s the same video as the audio video that came out three weeks ago. To be sure, it opens with Del Rey frolicking on a Santa Monica beach with her boy toy, but then around the 1:30 mark, it takes a darker, creepier turn. It turns out that while she’s playing with her her tattoo love boy, she belongs to another man, a much older sugar daddy. In glamorous footage that recalls vintage movies of the past, we see Del Rey in the back seat of a chauffeured car with a man who is clearly keeping her in a style to which she has become accustomed. He touches her, but she’s thinking of her beach baby, and he knows it. The video, directed by Chris Sweeney and Sophie Muller, »
- Melinda Newman
A still from Lady from Shanghai
Noir Film Festival
American Center in collaboration with Cinedarbaar celebrates ‘Film Noir’ through screening of 8 specially curated movies.
By invitation/ Pass (information below)
American Center Auditorium
24, Kasturba Gandi Marg
New Delhi – 110001
About the event:
8 May, 3:30 pm
An insurance rep lets himself be talked into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses an insurance investigator’s suspicions.
8 May, 6:15 pm
Hit men kill an unresisting victim, and investigator Reardon uncovers his past involvement with beautiful, deadly Kitty Collins.
9 May, 3:30 pm
Fascinated by gorgeous Mrs. Bannister, seaman Michael O’Hara joins a bizarre yachting cruise, and ends up mired in a complex murder plot.
9 May, 6:15 pm
Thieves Highway by Jules Dassin (1949), 94 Min
A war-veteran-turned-truck driver attempts to »
Written by Ketti Frings
Directed by Robert Siodmak
Cleve Marshal (Wendell Corey), assistant district attorney, arrives at the office of colleague and close friend Miles Scott (Paul Kelley) as the latter converses on the phone with Cleve’s wife Pamela (Joan Tetzel). The Marshals are experiencing rocky waters in their marriage, what with Cleve intentionally ducking frequent visits with his influential father-in-law, with whom he shares a strained relationship, a strain which has now soured life with his wife. His attempt to leave the frying pan lands him straight into the fire, however, as later that night, while drunk, Cleve is visited in the office by a beautiful woman named Thelma Jordan (Barbara Stanwyck). The visitor, under the impression that Cleve is actually Miles, explains that she and her wealthy aunt are regularly visited by burglars at night. This proves too great an opportunity for dissatisfied, »
- Edgar Chaput
This week involved a lot of movies at home, including the new Blu-ray for Double Indemnity, the new Blu-ray for William Friedkin's Sorcerer (read my review here) and, last night, I watched Werner Herzog's Aguirre, the Wrath of God on Fandor.com as I'll be reviewing 16 of Herzog's upcoming movies leading up to Shout Factory's release of Herzog: The Collection Limited Edition on July 29. The set includes Even Dwarfs Started Small, Nosferatu The Vampyre, Land Of Silence And Darkness, Fitzcarraldo, Fata Morgana, Ballad Of Little Soldier, Aguirre, The Wrath Of God, Where The Green Ants Dream, The Enigma Of Kaspar Hauser, Cobra Verde, Heart Of Glass, Lessons Of Darkness, Stroszek, Little Dieter Needs To Fly, Woyzeck and My Best Fiend and Fandor will be releasing one new title each week leading up to the release, each in HD. Of that lot, I've only seen Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo before, »
- Brad Brevet
Directed by Billy Wilder
The past few weeks have been good for Humphrey Bogart on Blu-ray. The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and The African Queen were recently rereleased and assembled for the Best of Bogart Collection, and now, Sabrina, one of the legendary star’s final films, has received its first American appearance on the format. Perhaps more importantly, if total number of titles available on Blu-ray is the basis for judgment, Sabrina also marks one of disappointingly few Billy Wilder titles available in the remastered form. That the film also stars the radiant Audrey Hepburn and the remarkably versatile William Holden confirms that the release is worth commending.
- Jeremy Carr
Moviefone's Top DVD of the Week
What's It About? Judi Dench stars as an Irish woman who wants to find the son she gave birth to as a teen sent to live in a convent; Steve Coogan co-stars as the posh journalist who wants to write a story about her journey.
Why We're In: Based on a true story about Philomena Lee's travels to find her long-lost son, this is a sweet drama with moments of levity, thanks to the chemistry between Coogan and Dench.
Moviefone's Top Blu-ray of the Week
What's It About? Ah, yes. Another tale by Lars von Trier about tormented love, sex, and religion! Stellan Skarsgård and Emily Watson play newlyweds who are forced into some rather extreme circumstances after he's paralyzed while working on an oil rig.
Why We're In: This tragic tale gets the full Criterion treatment, including select »
- Jenni Miller
Double Indemnity A wonderful film and most likely the next entry in my Best Movies features once I'm able to get around to this new Blu-ray. The last time I wrote about it was in July 2011 were I said it would be one of my personal "must own" movies on the heels of this post. I can't wait to revisit it in HD.
Touch of Evil I did get a chance to watch this new Blu-ray and it's an interesting presentation. I don't know how many times I've seen Touch of Evil, probably about three times before this latest viewing, and boy did this presentation seem darker. Gary over at DVD Beaver went into this too, comparing to the Masters of Cinema release, which looks to have maintained the film's grain structure to a higher degree. In this situation I'm not sure if either is necessarily the "correct" way to »
- Brad Brevet
Tom Woodruff, Jr., is a celebrated and award-winning special effects makeup artist, and now he’s stepping into the directorial arena with Fire City: Interpreter of Souls. Dread Central was lucky enough to get an exclusive look-see on a special day. (There were demon fights!)
At the lovely location (an art deco building and mini-campus) in Los Angeles, we not only got a chance to interview everyone and watch filming – we even got a bunch of cool photos you won’t see anywhere else!
Dread Central: You have been with this project for a while, right?
Tom Woodruff Jr.: Through a couple different iterations. The first time I was ever made aware of it was when (the writer-producers) Brian and Michael came to me a couple of years ago with a script, I believe it was Fire City: Demon in the Darkness. And the script was honestly hard to »
- Staci Layne Wilson
For the fifth consecutive year, thousands of movie lovers (and Geeks) from around the globe will descend upon Hollywood for the TCM Classic Film Festival beginning this Thursday, April 10 and running through Sunday, April 13.
Coinciding with TCM’s 20th anniversary as a leading authority in classic film, attendees will be treated to an extensive lineup of great movies, appearances by legendary stars and filmmakers, fascinating presentations and panel discussions, special events and more.
TCM recently announced the tribute to Mickey Rooney, who passed away last weekend, will be Sunday, April 13 at 9am with a screening of National Velvet at the Tcl Chinese Multiplex 4. Eddie Muller will speak with Margaret O’Brien and read a poem written by Mickey Rooney, titled “Flesh and Bones” to close the tribute.
Fans of Rooney can watch a full day of his films this Sunday on TCM beginning at 6Am with Broadway To Hollywood. The »
- Melissa Thompson
There are two ways a film can swing when it sets out an incredibly modest set of parameters: It can either prove to be a bland and unambitious retread of the typical and the well-worn, or it can manage – through solid filmmaking and sheer force of will – to succeed within its limited boundaries. While it falls into the latter, Better Living Through Chemistry isn’t really its own movie, it’s more a lightweight mish-mash of American Beauty and Double Indemnity with a dash of Breaking Bad for good measure. It’s amiable, mostly forgettable, and it’s not going to change the world – but boy do I prefer it to alot of the dross out there.
- Dominic Mill
Sparks is a phenomenal new period superhero movie co-directed by Christopher Folino and Todd Burrows. It stars Chase Williamson as the title hero, Ashley Bell, Clancy Brown, Jake Busey, William Katt and Clint Howard. It is currently playing in limited theatrical release — and is well worth seeing in the theater — and streaming on iTunes.
The Underground Film Journal’s Executive Editor, Mike Everleth, attended a special screening on March 16 during the movie’s opening weekend, at which filmmaker Folino and stars Bell, Katt and Howard were in attendance. The photo above and those in the gallery below were all taken at this event.
Folino previously solo directed the award-winning indie comedy Gamers, which the Journal was a fan and supporter of back in the day. (Gamers is also currently streaming on Amazon.)
- Mike Everleth
In the midst of all the excitement over the Texas Film Awards and SXSW 2014, another film-related event took place recently: the first annual Noir City Austin. While free of a red carpet and movie stars in the flesh, this festival celebrated its inaugural weekend at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz from Feb. 28 to March 2.
Hosted by the Film Noir Foundation, Noir City Austin screened 10 films straight from the genre’s heyday, and featured many faces familiar to devoted noir fans, such as Shelley Winters, Peter Lorre, Ray Milland and Lizabeth Scott.
Yet rather than screening such noir staples like The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity and The Big Sleep, the foundation chose lesser-known titles that, though unknown to the majority of those in attendance, still contained all the necessary ingredients essential to any noir. More than that though, the movies selected tended to go beyond the conventions of the »
Sugar and spice and slice-and-dice.
Women are not natural born killers. That’s the commonly held belief, supported by crime statistics that show that 93% of all murders are committed by men. But, what about that 7% of women that do kill, the ones responsible for 16,000 murders a year? Are women killers different, somehow, than other women, or are they just regular women driven to acts of insanity by money, revenge or passion? Examining the motivations and methodologies of women killers is what makes our crime series Snapped (weekdays at 6pm Et/3pm Pt) so wickedly fascinating.
As in real life, violent female characters comprise only a small percentage of the perpetrators of violence depicted on the big screen, but the truly terrifying ones make a lasting impression on us. Here's our rundown of the most infamous female characters in cinema, women that snapped and resorted to violence and even murder to achieve their goals. »
- BJSprecher Sprecher
Guess what unforgettable movie about people wanting to forget is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary?
Have you ever thought about what your favorite shot from it is? Or which shot best represents the movie as a whole? Have you ever wondered how it can possibly be that the cinematographer Ellen Kuras has only done 4 narrative features in the ten years since?
You know where this is going right?!
Break out the bubbly because "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" returns on March 18th (We're moving it to Tuesdays at 9 Pm to give people the weekend to screen the movies and be ready!). If you're new to the blog or haven't yet experimented with actually participating, I guarantee a good time. Everyone who has participating religiously has said that they've gotten a ton out of it. Plus it proves the point 'the more the merrier' because the best episodes offer »
- NATHANIEL R
Film Noir. One of those few genres in which the words themselves manage to convey a sense for the genre itself. It evokes a black and white image of a world weary P.I. in a trench coat, scouring the back alleys of Los Angeles. The characters on both sides of the law are hardboiled and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
Everyone knows the classics of the genre, The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, The Big Sleep, The Third Man, or some of the great Neo-Noirs like Chinatown, Blood Simple, or Mulholland Drive. These are movies which represent the genre, and they’re some damn good ones too. But too often the rest of the genre is left at the bottom of the barrel, and there are great Noirs from the 1940s and 50s which slipped through the cracks of time.
These are films that stretch the genre to its limits, »
- Josh Hamm
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