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Entries in film noir (33)

Thursday
Jul112019

75th Anniversary: Double Indemnity

by Eric Blume

This week marked the 75th anniversary of Billy Wilder’s seven-times Oscar nominated noir classic Double Indemnity (1944).  If you haven’t seen this movie -- and I surprisingly never had, despite not one but two film noir courses in college -- rush post haste to view it:  it’s a classic noir that holds up powerfully.

Fred MacMurray is the patsy, an insurance guy who is convinced by Barbara Stanwyck to murder her husband and cash in on the double indemnity clause in the policy they conspire to have him secretly sign.  The performances by MacMurray, Stanwyck and Edward G. Robinson (as the insurance boss) have incredible force.  Yes, this style of acting went out less than ten years later, but the raw power of their acting is undeniable...

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Monday
Apr012019

"London Fields" and Bad Movies as Palette Cleansers

Please welcome new contributor Tony Ruggio...

Have you ever wondered why Film Twitter is more fickle than critics? If you spend a reasonable amount of time there you’ll find deep pockets of hate among many non-professional critics for critical darlings as varied as Birdman, La La Land, even Black Panther. Critics, often dismissed as snobs or "the elite", actually appear to enjoy more films per year than other journos, pundits, and regular Joe or Jane cinephiles on social media. Critics are the only animals in our film bubble ecosystem who are forced to watch everything, even the bad ones. Others might skip the latest Adam Sandler romp or Netflix original dump, but critics (many of them anyway) see it all and I'm here to argue that it gives them perspective. Bad movies have a place, and can serve an under-discussed purpose, and that purpose is encouraging a greater appreciation for what the Inarritus and Andersons of the world are putting out there.

Art is subjective, yes, but most of the time we know a BAD movie when we see it. On the heels of SXSW, I was drowning in good cinema. Between Captain Marvel the week before, Jordan Peele’s near-masterpiece Us, and a few little gems I could find nowhere else, the festival had given so much yet deprived me of a proper palette cleanser. London Fields was it, a gonzo film noir so inept and ill-advised that I was left more than a little awestruck...

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Friday
Jan252019

Say A Prayer For "Serenity"

by Jason Adams

Although I don't think it's ever spoken in the film it's hard not to have the "Serenity Prayer" -- God grant me the serenity, wisdom, change, courage, check and etc -- echoing in your cavernous, more cavernous by the second, head while watching Serenity, writer-director Steven Knight's nervous-breakdown-put-to-film. Starring Matthew McConaughey as the hard-drinking and hard-sexing good ol' boy in paradise called Baker Dill (and really we all knew it was only a matter of time before Matthew McConaughey played a character called "Baker Dill" right?) watching Serenity is, well, an experience that calls for prayer. Any prayer. An exorcism, even.

I realize at this point, with these balls-deep references to demon possessions and nervous breakdowns, you're probably thinking that Serenity sounds like a miserable experience. It's not...

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Monday
Aug202018

Wednesday
Jun212017

Q&A: "Strong Female Characters" and Future AFI Honors

Okay last round of reader questions before we have to ask for a new batch. These are culled from the last "Ask Nathaniel" column as well as the open thread. Let's talk Wonder Woman and Oscar, "Strong Roles for Women," and more.

MARIE: Who are the next 3 women that should win the AFI Life Achievement Award?

NATHANIEL: A timely question since Diane Keaton just won hers. But I had to look back at who has previously been nominated to come up with an answer. Living female winners number only five: Diane Keaton (2017), Jane Fonda (2014), Shirley Maclaine (2012), Meryl Streep (2004), and Barbra Streisand (2000) with the other twelve winners in this new century being men (both actors and directors have won). It's actually a tough question because they have to be alive and *really* famous to get this honor and also elderly (though Streep was young for this honor taking it when she was 54ish I think). They also have to be American (for the most part) so I looked only at people who are almost 60 or older and this is what I came up with...

 

I would probably choose from among these five next:

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Monday
Nov282016

Veronica Mars: Noir Hidden in Teen Angst

by Jorge Molina

The thing about noir is that, at its purest, most classic, most Maltese-Falcon-iest form, it’s a fairly recognizable genre. The character tropes are clear, the themes are evident, and the stylistic elements jump off the screen. For the most part, you know a film noir when you see one.

However, the more interesting members of the genre are those that won’t have a smoky detective office telling you that what you’re about to watch. They either subvert the learned expectations of the noir, or they hide them in original packaging...

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