• Drunk Napoleon

    “[A] quotation is a handy thing to have about, saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself, always a laborious business.”
    ― A.A. Milne, If I May

    What did we watch?

    • Drunk Napoleon

      The Shield, Season Four, Part One
      https://twitter.com/drunknapoleon/status/855035619982008320

      Poetically, I had to split season four in half as well because I made a bad decision last night in the heat of the moment that billowed out in ways I didn’t expect. Maybe I really am warping my mind doing this.

      “You got anything?”
      “Yeah, botulism.”
      Season four feels like stepping out of the shower – a huge refresh, with the presence of both Rawling and Antwon invigorating the series (which makes it delightful when they’re together). As far as using social issues for pure drama go, I think it works, though it does mean Vic stops being the protagonist of his own story for a while. It’s not quite the ‘year off the story’ I thought it was, but it’s close.

      “I didn’t want to play hard. But your boy was threatening to own us.”
      (Actual fucking Shield dialogue)
      The morality of the players is becoming clearer. Shane has three moral points, in ascending order:
      Pride
      Protect the Strike Team
      Protect family
      This season (and in fact, the episode I was up to when I wrote this, “Cut Throat”) shows his pride disintegrating in the face of having to attack the Strike Team. We also see damning proof that he’s really not that good at being a cop, let alone a dirty one. He makes the fatal newbie flaw of assuming he can automatically be the Vic of a duo without checking that his Shane is loyal enough.

      We also see Dutch’s morality:
      Pride
      Solve puzzles (a lot of his cases also fulfill pride, but not all)
      Protect Claudette
      In a way, this also makes him a bad cop – not a bad detective, a bad cop, who won’t look out for his fellow cop unless they’re Claudette.

      Conversely, Rawling has exactly one motivation,and here that makes her awesome in both the colloquial and the archaic senses of the term.

      “You could have hurt someone starting that fire, Cal!” – Vic, being a hypocrite
      The big downside of The Shield being underrated is that there are very few memes attached to it, as far as I know. I think you could get a lot of mileage out of having the theme song kick in after a moment of pure ownage.

      “I have come here to kick ass and chew bubblegum… And I’m all out of bubblegum.”
      JUST ANOTHER DAAAAAAAAA

      “When it comes down to it, who’s really signing this contract?”
      JUST ANOTHER DAAAAAAAAA

      “Thank you, young crone. Here is a purse full of monies, which I’m not going to give to you.”
      JUST ANOTHER DAAAAAAAAA

      Random observations: At one point, the X-excutioners remix of the theme is playing on a car radio. The prostitute Aceveda sees is figuratively and literally a fuckin’ professional. By the time we get to season four, the dialogue has crossed from crap to functional to sublime – it’s snappy, punchy, whatever you wanna call it. Gilroy’s funeral is nothing like what Vic’s funeral will be like.

      https://twitter.com/drunknapoleon/status/855044610027999233

      Film/TV Adjacent
      I secured tickets for Stranger With My Face International Film Festival, and I’m so delighted to have a place to report to this year. Last year I managed to see The Invitation at the same time as America, and The Love Witch and Girl Asleep several months before they were out in the States (as well as other great films). It was my first independent film festival, though I was friends with both the people running it and a lot of the people there, and having a whole bunch of people with a shared passion for film was a unique experience for me – I vividly remember walking out of The Invitation having a passionate discussion of the film with someone I had never spoken to before. I look forward to writing about this year’s festival here.

      • Just had a look at the programme, looks like a fun festival! I look forward to your write-ups.

        My local festival kicks off next weekend so I’ll also hopefully be reporting back on some interesting findings!

        • The Ploughman

          Yay festivals!

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Despite being specifically themed around both Gothic tone and women, it’s actually kind of a hub for the Tasmanian film industry, which is very open and friendly, mostly due to it being tiny and having no money. I wish we had at least one more festival to congregate around, actually.

          • I like specific themes and more cohesive festival line-ups – my local one is a bit all over the place and a lot of their screenings seem to struggle to find a decent audience, but the other one that I’ve been to with a more specific horror / sci-fi slant is always packed out and has a much better sense of community and friendliness.

            That said, I’m happy the local one exists at all, and I’m super excited about some of the screenings!

          • Drunk Napoleon

            Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love the themes of SWMF – there’s also a short film competition, and it’s fun as hell watching my friends force themselves to fit the horror film genre – I just wish we had more of a spectrum. A more upbeat genre to complement the horror.

          • I wonder if I’d like an even more curated one that doesn’t have a specific theme. Lord knows there’s a lot of variety in SIFF, and I probably like some of the weirder ones that wouldn’t have made the cut if it wasn’t as ginormous, but there is a bit too much to sift through.

          • The Ploughman

            This is pertaining to a specific aspect of film fests, but I’ve heard ambivalence around genre-themed shorts blocks by some genre filmmakers. On the one hand, it’s nice for audiences to be given a set of expectations going in. On the other, when you’re the fourth horror or comedy in a row, sometimes the bar has been raised so high or the audience so exhausted, there’s no oxygen left.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            That’s the thing I like about SWMF – Briony has a knack for choosing films that feel of a piece but are all radically different from each other (helped by the fact that she shifted down from ‘horror’ to ‘horror-ish’ last year). Part of her vision for the festival is showing unique visions of individual directors, which helps.

          • The Ploughman

            Shorts block programming is a skill not entirely unlike music conducting. Of the handful of festivals I’ve been to, the one that did it best was Omaha. I went to a comedy block a couple years ago that had the audience rolling for almost two hours straight. It was like being under the guidance of a particularly great party DJ – each film was funny, but similar humor styles were spread out. The lengths varied, and the weaker entries (of which there were only a couple) were placed where they would get appreciated as buffers between tour-de-forces.

          • I think if I was curating a festival I’d show a short before each feature rather than shuffling them into blocks – the quick-fire “here’s a load of ideas in a row!” programming very rarely works for me, and the three (three!) blocks of shorts at my local festival this year are pretty low on my priority list as a result. I’d really enjoy seeing one before each feature though, as a palate cleanser of sorts.

          • This is probably going to come up in a taco break next month, when the committee I’m on starts looking at how programming shorts function. I think a lot really depends on how flexible the genre or theme is.

          • The Ploughman

            I hope I didn’t step on a Taco Break for today. I didn’t see anything coming down the pipeline so I moved up the time on my post.

          • Nope. I needed sleep yesterday.

      • The Shield never got appreciated for its writing, because more and more “writing” has come to mean “dialogue” and “dialogue” has come to mean “number of memes generated.” Because Team Shawn Ryan follows the very Mametian rule of dialogue-as-action, it needs the context for the real effect. Even its most memorable line (something from season 5 that Michael Chiklis would like us to stop yelling at him in the dairy section) gets its force from the insaaaaaaaaaaane dramatic energy of the moment and the staging at least as much as the words itself. The Shield is too unified to lend itself to out-of-context memes.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          One of the delightful things about being your friend is always being surprised at exactly how you’re gonna respond to the stuff I post 😉

          Small upside of that Mametian dialogue that I noticed now that the Mexican CI lady that will team up with Kavanaugh has turned up: people who speak English as a second language can still fit in to the world. They definitely can’t fit into somewhere like Arrested Development, which is very wordplay heavy, but I’ve even seen fairly pedestrian dialogue that still required being able to say it right, if that makes sense.

          I have no idea if the woman who plays the CI lady is actually Mexican, but I’d guess she is, and the forceful dialogue still sounds right coming out of her mouth.

          • That would be the ever-amazing Onahoua Rodriguez; IMDb lists her as born in New York, but I’m guessing she’s Nuyorican or Central American; in any case she’s one more of the great finds of casting directors Rebecca Mangieri and Barbara Fiorentino, who I always call The Shield‘s secret weapon. (Rodriguez has a great little cameo in another Shawn Ryan production that I won’t spoil.)

            And thank you! I’m happy to let you and @ZoeZDean:disqus @ruckcohlchez:disqus and others take over Shield Is Awesome duties. Honestly, when I write extensively on something, I don’t feel like doing it again; I still love it but I’ve moved on to thinking about other things. You’re doing a great job here and I’ll occasionally chime in.

    • Things to Come (1936) – HG Wells’ “future history” depicted in three different time periods – a world war in the 1940s (pretty far-fetched, IMO), a dystopian city ruled by a brute, and the rise of a new scientific society obsessed with progress. The plot is a little creaky but it looks AMAZING, with the final section rivalling Metropolis for beautiful future-city images (while admittedly borrowing from it quite a bit) and some exciting wartime footage earlier on. Flawed but super interesting and a lot of fun.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      Treasure of the Sierra Madre – like Huston’s later The Man Who Would Be King, a perfect balance of adventure and human tragedy/folly. Walter Huston is fantastic but Bogart is arguably the highlight here, his sweating, hateful face seeming at least ten years ahead as a deeply naturalistic performance. The shot of Fred C. Dobbs murmuring guiltily as the flames appear to overwhelm the camera, as if summoning him to hell, will stay with me for a long long time.

      • glorbes

        That John Huston fella seems to know what he’s doing, eh?

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          I tell ya he’s going places.

          • clytie

            Have you seen his Moulin Rouge? It never seems to get discussed as one of his great movies, but it’s my favorite.

    • ZoeZ

      The Leftovers, “Penguin One, Us Zero.” A little bit of a step down from the pilot, mostly because it spends more time with Wayne, who needs to seem powerfully charismatic and instead only seems like someone you would back away from slowly as they advertise their services in the middle of a mall. But I liked Kevin slowly caving to the worry that he might be losing his mind–I’m glad he got vindicated by the bagel, if nothing else–and I liked everything with Jill, her friend, and Nora, from the awkward, all-too-public speculation (I also had wondered if anyone had killed a family member and blamed it on the Departure, so you and I are alike in that, Jill’s friend) to the awkward thrill-stalking to Nora’s clear-eyed compassion (that may not be as legitimate as it seems, although that seems like the kind of lie it would be really, really easy to quickly disprove).

      As a side-note: okay, the AV Club reviews for these first two episodes are decidedly not great, filled with off-kilter interpretations that imply that only very spotty attention was paid at any time.

      • I haven’t watched The Leftovers or read the reviews, but I’ve noticed that some of the weekly TV reviews at the AV Club increasingly seem like an afterthought.

        • clytie

          They basically admitted that it is because advertisers want more eyeballs, and TV reviews are just read by the same people over and and over.

          • Yay for the AV Club. Yay for the economics of the contemporary internet.

          • clytie

            There used to be an excellent website called Crime Library, which featured long form articles about, well, crime. Unlike most true crime site, it didn’t just feature the same handful of famous serial killers. There were pieces on, terrorists, spies, con artists, etc. The articles were often written by well-known true crime authors, and also had extensive bibliographies, so one could research crimes/criminals that interested them further. It was for true crime junkies what the AV Club once was for pop culture obsessives.

            After it was shutdown, a former managing editor for the site posted on Reddit (https://www.reddit.com/r/serialkillers/comments/35mhu6/crime_library_is_gone/) that after they were purchased by TruTV, which had several regime changes and ousted the people that liked the site. Then the site was pressured to produce more clickbait.

          • Ugh. The devolution of the internet as a place for obsessive and niche interests is one of the minor tragedies of the past 10 years.

          • clytie

            Since such sites often help influence new obsessives (my discovery of Crime Library turned me from just having an interest in true crime to being an obsessive), now that there will be less of those, sites have even less insensitive to produce in-depth content.

            The saddest thing about the end of Crime Library is, that after both O.J. series were such hits last year, everyone started making documentaries and series about 80s and 90s crimes, which if it were still around, would certainly bring readers to the site.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Sonya did not care for the series and I think that kind of showed in her reviews (I think she made some good points about the whiteness of the series but it sometimes felt sloppy).

        Also the next one is a doozy.

      • Hoo boy, wait until you get to episode nine review, where something led to a full-scale meltdown on the part of almost everyone, especially SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIMS!

    • glorbes

      A couple of episodes of Buffy Season Five. “Real Me” did…not endear me to Dawn. At all. Though I love how neatly Giles as a Magic Shop Owner fell into place. I will miss him being a librarian, as it’s always amusing to me to have a fictional representation of my job.

      “The Replacement” worked a lot better for me, and I’ve warmed slightly to Xander as the show wears on and he’s less of a creepy douche with regard to Buffy. It was a funny episode, to be sure.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I can’t say if I LIKE Dawn but as you’ll see her role in the series and how she’s introduced is ingenious.

        • glorbes

          I’m trusting to that. I feel like the show is playing a long game, and Buffy as a show has a real knack for subverting expectations. I just like to express my honest in the moment reactions as a first time watcher. You seasoned veterans of the show reacting to my brief responses is one of the funnest things about this whole watch.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Oh no, your in the moment reactions were mine at the time!! I think I was just kind of annoyed and confused that this was happening. Glad you’re getting a kick out of them.

    • A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night–Mighty stylish and cool, but I don’t feel like it has a ton of substance beyond some surface-level thematic work. Still, this along with Only Lovers Left Alive seem like good evidence for the argument that the best 21st-century application of vampires involves them just sitting around listening to music.

      • ZoeZ

        I liked this when I saw it and can now only really remember the visuals very distinctly, so I’m inclined to concur.

      • glorbes

        Only Lovers Left Alive is essentially how my brother and his spouse live. They’re both artists and musicians, and neither of them have conventional jobs that require them to work during the day. It’s one hell of a life I tell ya.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          Is there some sort of device where I can swap lives with them?

          Also fuck I love that movie. Literally made me do a 180 on immortality and now I think it really wouldn’t be so bad.

          • glorbes

            The first thing you can do is not have kids, move from a hot housing market to a less than hot housing market, and find a job working from home where you set your hours. Or be immortal.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            Hey, I’m a third of the way there!

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            I’m moving out of Boston in September so step 1 is almost underway (for a city with not much nightlife that gets derided for being small, it is too goddamn expensive).

          • Who the hell calls Boston small? Isn’t it like in the top 20 most populous cities in the country?

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Its sort of a mini-city because all the neighborhoods are semi-far apart and its not super populous really. I think the main reason it gets derided as such is just that the party scene is done by like 12 or 1, which is irritating.

          • I think I’m just coming at this from my Knoxville, TN perspective, but 700,000 sounds pretty populous to me. At least for American cities.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            No you’re correct, but for New Yorkers or LA folk thats tiny (if it helps I HATE New York).

          • Freakin’ New York/LA.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            Probably why they made movies about escaping both of them.

          • But then you escape them and complain about everything else not being like New York/LA!

          • pico79

            Probably why they made movies about escaping both of them.

            Shut down the internet; you have won it today.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            I am going to San Diego for a week to check it out so I’ll see if I like Southern California. Really though NY is a horrible place.

          • Son of Griff

            Let me know when you’re out this way.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            May 16th to the 22nd!

          • Son of Griff

            Cool. As you mentioned the possibility of moving here, i’d love to meet up and give you some tips about the county. Ironically, in context of the conversation, I’m going to be in New York and Massachusetts the following week.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Sure thing! That’d be great. Hit me up sometime. I’m on facebook and let me know if you want my email.

          • BRONX PIZZA 4-EVA. I have some tips as well if you move.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            In San Diego?

          • Yup. The owner moved there from NYC and opened the place in the mid90s, still in its original location, almost the original menu–the Throg’s Neck pizza (seafood) was discontinued after a few years. New York and boxing memorabilia are all over the walls. It’s just fantastic, both food and atmosphere.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Writing that down! I’ll be staying in Ocean Beach but I wanna tool around, try some stuff. I also heard about a cannabalism museum that looks great.

          • Son of Griff

            One of the museums in Balboa Park got stuck with an exhibit of medieval and Renaissance era torture gadgets when the owners went bankrupt. I don;t know if its still there, but if it is, or you can’t find the cannibals, it’ll do.

          • Son of Griff

            Definitely checking it out–thanks for the recommendation

          • pico79

            If you make it up to L.A. while you’re there I’d also be happy to show you around.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            I’ll be there at least one day! Tell ya what here’s my email for you and @sonofgriff:disqus cmcrockford1@gmail.com

          • Miller

            Boston and the entirety of Massachusetts, all 351 towns of it, is weird in the sense that it was settled long enough ago that you could just go five miles down the road and create your own damn town if you were annoyed by your neighbors, so municipalities are belligerent and numerous. Boston today is still fairly small as far as large cities go and that’s after annexing West Roxbury and Roxbury and Allston-Brighton etc., as late as the 19th Century (Brookline held out, hence the weird knife they occupy in the rest of the city’s heart). Conversely, you have surrounding towns like Cambridge and Somerville that are quite populous (probably 250,000 between them) and relatively small, they would fit into a larger city’s area (like a Houston) but are still their own separate entities. Metro Boston, the city proper and surrounding areas, is about 2.5 million.

          • Miller

            Just move to a lame area, like Melrose! Although that’s pretty hot now too, I think.

          • ZoeZ

            Okay, their immortality tips: would they recommend bathing in the blood of a virgin, or would being the subject of a wager between Dream and Death work? Just asking for a friend.

          • pico79

            I think Peter Thiel might have an opinion on that.

        • I was about as lukewarm on Lovers as I was on Girl Walks Home, but I freaking loved the parts that involved them just chilling and making music.

      • lgauge

        I don’t think it was trying to have much substance to be honest. It’s definitely a thin film, but that’s what it’s going for it seems to me. I really liked it for what it is, though I can see why it leaves some feeling a bit malnourished.

    • They Live – None of the movie was a mystery to me – most all had been spoiled for me long ago. But the awesomeness and ownage still shone through like the divine glow of our beloved Carpenter. I wasn’t expecting the portrayal of the forgotten underclasses at the beginning, which really drove home anti-capitalist message. Those aren’t people you often see in movies. And for being evil alien invaders, so many just wanted to go about their daily lives, shopping, banking, watching TV, a passive complicity we’re all too guilty of. There’s a lot going on for a movie whose premise is “pro wrestler kicks alien ass.”

      • glorbes

        Kick ass.

        Chew bubble gum.

        All out of bubble gum.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          I love how that line makes just as much sense in context.

          • glorbes

            The flat delivery is why it’s so awesome.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        The fight is the big thing I didn’t really get spoiled on and I fucking love how it goes on for as long as possible til it gets kind of tired and then its so dragged out and dirty that its funny again.

      • pico79

        I say this a lot, but I can’t think of another film that even acknowledges Los Angeles’ tent cities, much less gives them a supporting role. That’s including even the grittier takes on the city.

        Also one of my favorite movie quotes ever: “You? You’re okay. This one? Real fuckin’ ugly.”

        • Drunk Napoleon

          My favourite line in the movie has always been:

          “You look as ugly to us as we do to you.”
          Impossible.

          (Mainly for the utterly cocky delivery)

    • lgauge

      My “yesterday” is a bit of a blur, since I crossed over into another day without sleeping due to intercontinental air travel. I watched a couple of movies on the plane though.

      Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: It turns out you can make Eddie Redmayne bearable by having the always great Katherine Waterston to balance things out. Otherwise, this has some of the production and action-wise pedigree of the Potter films, but lacks its more interesting material. It’s okay, but hardly seems like something to build a new major franchise with. But that’s how it goes in big budget filmmaking these days I guess.

      The King’s Choice: Some (historically imbued) powerful stuff early on, but way too much time is wasted by uninteresting personal drama within the royal family, so clearly trying to make a mainstream “movie” out of this historical event. A lot of biopic-itis. It also does way too much to make everyone except the king into cowardly and/or incompetent fools. This is a piece of history that on its own proves that the monarchy isn’t all bad, but maybe let that speak for itself instead of making this Great Man Standing Up Against The Idiots narrative? It makes everything boring and is so lazy, even without the political implications. This movie is visually competently directed to be sure and continues a line of recent (last 5-10 years) projects showing that big budget Norwegian movies don’t need to be embarrassed about surface details. Now, if we only could get the writing of these projects sorted out, maybe people elsewhere would start giving a shit?

    • Two episodes of Amazing Stories. I really didn’t like this show as a kid, outside of the awesomeness that was Brad Bird’s Family Dog episode. I suspected it was a family friendly Christian anthology show (that logo screams “Bible Shit” to me). It’s not that Christian-oriented, but it is still family friendly. It’s like a G-rated version of Tales From the Crypt. This whole adventure started with Quinn Bailey pointing out that there was a Paul Bartel-directed episode of Amazing Stories (there are multiples, in fact), and that it was a remake of The Secret Cinema…starring Mary Woronov and Paul Bartel! Oh. Well, I’m there.

      So, I watched that episode and the one following – Gail and Kevin Parent’s Hell Toupee – and…well… The Secret Cinema worked well within its G-rated confines, with Paul Bartel in the clownish pseudo-sitcom mode that defined the weirdness of Eating Raoul. Bartel is the director of the movie within the movie of Jane’s life, and Mary Woronov plays all the special guests within the episode. She’s the male waiter telling Jane that she very well did order the turkey, and the nurse who does up Jane’s hair in a bright orange fright wig. Instead of satirizing underground cinema using Frederick Wiseman-esque Cinema Verite as its stylistic base (as with the original), the Amazing Stories version is launching off the Candid Camera style, where everything is created for a big laugh track. It’s also weird as Griffin Dunne appears as Jane’s fiance who dumps her and then makes out shirtless on a circle bed in a nightclub (maybe it is PG-rated).

      Hell Toupee, though, was second-hand Tales From the Crypt. A wig has an evil spirit and causes people to kill lawyers who advertise affordable rates. That’s the extent of the joke. Wah wahhhh.

      Still, Joe Dante, Tobe Hooper, Danny Devito, Robert Zemeckis, Clint Eastwood, Irvin Kershner, Lesli Linka Glatter, and even Martin Scorsese pop up as guest directors. I’m gonna have to see if any of theie episodes transcend the format.

      • The Ploughman

        “The Family Dog” was big ol’ deal in the household (Ploughsehold?… too much) when I was a kid. Don’t think I’d seen my Dad laugh so hard at anything on TV.

        • I haven’t seen it since I was a kid. I loved it back then. S2 is not streaming, however.

      • Defense Against The Dark Arts

        I must have seen this series at the right time in my childhood because so many episodes have stuck with me over the years. The Spielberg directed “Ghost Train” (“Thank you, Mr. Coffee. Much obliged.”) “The Sitter” about a babysitter who uses magic to outwit to troublemaker kids, “Gather Ye Acorns” with Mark Hamill as a collector of worthless junk that turns out to be not-so worthless. Kind of makes me want to watch it now.

    • Man with a robot arm

      Sullivan’s Travels – There are at least three Coen bros. films in this one. They’ve mined the s* out of it.

      • The Ploughman

        This is on the “want to have seen it yesterday” list. I know about the O Brother Where Art Thou connection. What are the other two?

        • Man with a robot arm

          I would say, Hail, Caesar not that Sullivan’s Travels deals with religion or how women were managed in Hollywood, but Caesar pays tribute to Hollywood much in the same way ST does. Barton Fink wants to write about the ‘common man’ and ‘suffering humanity’ much like John Sullivan.

          • pico79

            But wait: there’s more! Sullivan’s Travels is reportedly based on the life of actor John Garfield, close friend and interpreter of Clifford Odets, who the Coens used as their model for Barton Fink.

    • clytie

      I didn’t watch anything. I’ve lately been occupied by stuff in my professional life (which is why I dropped posting on here for a bit), but I finished the big part of it last night and next week I will be FREE!

      I do have a question:
      Inspired by The Narrator watching The Grifters, what are everyone’s favorite 90s neo noirs?

      My top 10:
      1. The Last Seduction
      2. The Grifters
      3. Lone Star
      4. Miller’s Crossing
      5. Lost Highway
      6. One False Movie
      7. L.A. Confidential
      8. After Dark, My Sweet
      9. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
      10. The Limey

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Red Rock West is a very good subversion of the “slimy protagonist” trope by making Cage’s character a fundamentally honest, decent man caught in a messy situation.

        • clytie

          I like that one too (it was difficult to par down my list to 10). There’s a truly awful Oliver Stone film called U-Turn that has the same essential plot, but made every character as disgusting as possible, so it doesn’t have nearly the same impact.

      • I really love Bound, Devil in a Blue Dress and Homicide, in addition to most of the ones I’ve seen from your list (The Grifters didn’t really do it for me for some reason).

        Still need to see some of the big ones though, including your #1!

        • clytie

          I can’t believe I’ve never sen Devil in a Blue Dress, because my love of 90s Denzel Washington is equal to my love of 90s neo noir!

          • I have seen way too little Denzel, but he’s VERY good in Devil in a Blue Dress, as is Don Cheadle!

          • Son of Griff

            I was thinking of an L.A. festival based on the concept of of arrival, settlement and departure, and DEVIL is arguably the best in the second category. Possibly Washington’s most versatile performances too. Cheadle, in a role almost unlike anything he’s done since, simply blows Denzel off the screen though.

      • Son of Griff

        Great List!! The 90s marked a strong return for noir overall, and this list really shows off the diversity of the sensibility.

        • clytie

          Yeah, the 80s had a lot of great noir, but those movies tended to follow the more conventional tropes of the genre. The 90s had no many interesting takes on it.

          • It was a decade like a bookstore with a huge Hard Case Crime section.

          • Son of Griff

            I fondly remember seeing BLOOD SIMPLE and INTO THE NIGHT back to back in the same multiplex. Great movie night out.

          • Into the Night will get a write-up from me at some point. It’s a companion piece to Miracle Mile, a lower-stakes, more fun journey through the West L. A. nightscape, but Goldblum’s performance turns it into something else. The climactic scene (“why can’t I sleep?”) is one of the great sucker-punch moments in all film, where he reveals this incredible depth of pain. It’s the first panel of Goldblum’s great Nerd Triptych of the mid-1980s, with The Race for the Double Helix and The Fly completing it.

          • Son of Griff

            It’s always on my list of overlooked American films from that period, as is MM. It’s the only John Landis film where the editing, photography and production design are coordinated to sustain a langorous, quirky mood.

          • Landis hits me as director who has a shit-ton of talent and rarely bothers to use it.

          • Son of Griff

            From the late 70s through the early 80s his movies hit consistently hit a populist note that I didn’t much appreciate at the time. They’ve grown on me a bit as I’ve become less snobbish but I don’t have much nostalgic warmth for them, and I don’t think that his most beloved films are that particularly well made. INTO THE NIGHT was outside of his comfort zone, and the indifferent reception it received didn’t do much to inspire him to try something different again until he got into documentaries about a quarter of a century later.

          • Animal House is a remarkably tight, well-crafted film about a buncha slobs (everyone remembers Bluto, but Eric Stratton is the movie’s real presiding spirit. Damn glad to meet him) and An American Werewolf in London is an equally tight horror classic, ending at exactly the right moment. The Blues Brothers is a mess, but I absolutely do not want an non-overstuffed version of that.

          • Son of Griff

            I think that home video had a big effect on reviving noir in the 80s, as it could be filmed quickly, stylishly but inexpensively so as to meet increasing demand for product. In the 90s noir filmmakers reconnected more to the genre’s history, playing with the tropes and themes in a more playful manner. RESERVOIR DOGS popularized this, but MILLER’S CROSSING and BLOOD SIMPLE (from 1984) really got the ball rolling on this trend if you ask me.

          • clytie

            There’s a bit of overlap with the 90s trend of erotic thrillers, which owed a lot of their popularity to the rise of VCRs.

          • Son of Griff

            Erotic thriller’s are the dominant trend in 80s neo-noir as I remember it.

          • clytie

            Same. There were a lot of good ones (House of Games, Angel Heart, etc.) but I’m hard pressed (so to speak) to think of one that doesn’t have an erotic undertone.

            There’s a terrific book called The Erotic Thriller in Contemporary Cinema that talks about how over-the-top they got in the 90s. The less noir-y ones like Indecent Proposal are just ridiculous.

      • Babalugats

        It depends on how narrowly you want to define neo-noir, I useally get pretty pedantic about it. Here’s my top ten, ranked by degree of Noirishness with a bunch of movies left off for reasons that barely even make sense to me.

        1. Heat (1995)
        2. Fargo (1996)
        3. LA Confidential (1997)
        4. Bad Lieutenant (1992)
        5. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
        6. The Big Lebowski (1998)
        7. Basic Instinct (1992)
        8. Hard Eight (1996)
        9. Carlito’s Way (1993)
        10. The Wrong Trousers (1993)
        11. Jackie Brown (1997)
        12. Cop Land (1997)
        13. Seven (1995)
        14. The Insider (1999)
        15. Snake Eyes (1998)

        • Upvoted entirely for The Wrong Trousers.

        • Son of Griff

          Upon reflection it appears that the self reflexive 90s neo noir cycle continued to flourish well into the next decade, with MEMENTO, THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE, and MULHOLLAND DRIVE continuing to push the movement forward for at least another half decade.

          • clytie

            You know what neo noir from the 2000s is really underrated: The Lookout.

            It’s third act is a little weak, but it’s not bad and the first 2/3 of the movie is incredible.

          • Son of Griff

            It struck me that an important character and plot point was poorly introduced in the last third, but the movie overall is a strongly told traditional crime film in the noir mold.

          • clytie

            The last third also follows a lot of boring conventional thriller tropes.

          • Son of Griff

            That’s a big problem with neo-noir in general. I lot of writers and directors, I expect, are drawn to this sensibility because they find something reassuring in the way genre internalizes an exterior morality of sin and consequence to a specific code of narrative conventions. In a more non-genre narrative, They would be forced to acknowledge a longing for either metaphysical intervention or psychological closure. Both values cut against the romantic self image and the visage of “cool” provides. The tension between the performance of detached fatalism and yearning for a just world is what draws me back to noir. Cliches and tropes, unfortunately, come with the territory.

            If you haven’t done so already, you must get on the Ellroy train.

      • Miller

        Patron saint of neo-noir John Dahl has an early movie starring then-couple Val Kilmer and Joanne Whalley, it is not his best but it’s worth a watch. Great list, especially Seduction and Move (Crossing is a gangster movie for me, but if you want neo-retro-noir, give me The Man Who Wasn’t There).

        • clytie

          I’ve meant to watch Kill Me Again for years and I just checked and it’s on Amazon Prime! Yay!

    • The Narrator

      The Spook Who Sat By the Door: Maybe the ultimate “How the fuck did this get made by a major studio?” movie, with its straight, no-bullshit message encouraging black uprising and unceasing focus on that. I will say that the comments I’ve read about it simply existing to get across that message and it not being entertaining did not prepare for me for it actually being at least semi-conventionally entertaining, with some parts even resembling a black nationalist spin on Ocean’s Eleven. Great Herbie Hancock score, too (and it’s an early credit for Spielberg’s go-to editor Michael Kahn).

    • Ordet (Carl Theodore Dryer, 1955): An absolutely beautiful contemplation on the differing ways theology can impact people. The whole cast is aces but Preben Lerdoff Rye as Johannes is a particular standpoint, providing the movies entire heart and soul in one moving performance.

      La Jetee (Chris Marker, 1962): What a great time travel yarn, with an incredibly unique way of telling its tale visually (by entirely relying on still images) that gives it its own unique aesthetic.

      Fargo (season 3, episode 1): Fargo is back baby and off to a rollicking good start! Ewan McGregor is already disappearing into the two dual lead roles and Mary Elizabeth Winstead is also already establishing herself as a bananas loose cannon. I also liked the slightly more stylized production design this time around that occasionally reminded me of a Wes Anderson movie for some reason. Absolutely cannot wait to see what comes next!

  • I’m really fascinated by these shorts that try to innovate to create offbeat textures. This feels like Daughter of Michel Gondry, with a touch of that anything goes spirit. It’s fascinating how the cardboard intersects with the real world and the sense of scale. Admittedly, there isn’t as much “How did she do that?” here, as some of Gondry’s better productions are truly mind boggling in their skill. But, this is a promising start.

    • The Ploughman

      Decker gets that spirit right, which goes a ways in making up for technical aspects. This feels like an adult being given access to kids’ faculties. Gondry is a kid being given the abilities of an adult. Just like it sounds, that gets a litle tiresome after a point.

      Since making this short Decker has directed two tiny-budget features with the increasingly delightful titles of Butter on the Latch and Thou Wast Mild and Lovely. I’ve seen neither but apparently Indiewire described the latter as “an unholy marriage between Ingmar Bergman and David Lynch” so, yes please.

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