Film Noir : Neo-Noir Quest 2

Re: Thief (1981)

So glad you loved it Pimpin. It kicks as for sure.

Gentrification? Good word usage mein friend.

You are making big profits from my work, my risk, my sweat.

Thief is written and directed by Michael Mann, who adapts the screenplay form the novel "The Home Invaders" written by Frank Hohimer. It stars James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Robert Prosky, James Belushi and Willie Nelson. Music is by Tangerine Dream and cinematography by Donald Thorin.

Frank (Caan) is a tough ex-con and expert jewel thief. He's working his way out to a normal life, but after being lured to a big job for the mob, he finds plans on both sides severely altered.

For his first full length theatrical feature, Michael Mann announced himself to the film world with some distinction, and in the process showed everyone what style of film making makes him tick. Thief is a film of stylised grit, visually, thematically and narratively. Set and filmed in Chicago, Mann, aided by Thorin, shoots the story through pure neo-noir filters.

At nighttime it is all a beautifully neon drenched haze, where the streets shimmer with dampness, a dampness brought about by the rain and god knows what else! By day there's a sweaty hue, a feeling that the heat is well and truly on, that even in daylight Frank isn't safe, his dreams may be a touch too far to reach. And no matter what the scene or scenario, Tangerine Dream are laying over the top a throbbing pulse beat, it's like The Warriors trying to get back to Coney Island, the music has a sense of dread about it, that danger is at every corner.

This part of Chicago stinks, it's a vile and corrupt place. Dirty cops everywhere, underworld criminals ruling the roost - Hell! You can even buy a baby if you want one. Is it any wonder that Frank just wants to settle down with a wife and child, to walk barefooted in the sea, to have domesticity? But Frank, as smart, tough and savvy as he is, seems to thrive on the edge of things, with Mann giving him earthy and honest dialogue to engage us with, marking him out as an identifiable everyman protagonist who just happens to be an exceptional thief.

Mann's attention to detail is on show straight away, none more so than with the two key safe cracking jobs that are undertaken. Using genuine jewel thieves as technical advisers on the film, these sequences ooze realism, from the tools used, the pre-planning and the execution of the takes, it smacks of reality and does justice to the genuine feel of the characterisations brought alive by the superb cast. And finally Mann delivers a finale of ambiguity, a noir shaded piece of abruptness, an ending that perfectly fits the whole production. 9/10

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Thief (1981)

At nighttime it is all a beautifully neon drenched haze, where the streets shimmer with dampness, a dampness brought about by the rain and god knows what else!

spike, someone on film general posted that they used a 60,000 gallon water tank for the roads to look wet.

Re: The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973)

great review as always, spike. you nailed it here:

So who better than a battered pug faced Mitchum to front up the story? Pic is perpetually downbeat, with the air of despondency hanging over our protagonist like the grim reaper.

it was painful to watch mitchum/eddie constantly sucking upto the police to put in a good word to the judge.

Re: The Long Goodbye (1973)

I watched it about five years ago not having read any reviews or commentaries on it, but of course knowing about the '70s setting. I thought it was very good good but the concept is radical. Marlowe in 1970s LA walking the streets mumbling to himself did not evoke Chandler. But once you overcome that the movie itself and the story are top notch.

Interesting info on Altman and Brackett. I guess disapproving noir fans will blame Altman for his seemingly cavalier dismissal of the source material and turning a beloved and iconic character into a kind of an ex-hippie, idealistic dreamer wandering his way through a noir city of muted colors looking for cat food instead of clues. Rather irreverent and it brings up the question of what Altman was saying about film noir and if he was dissing Chandler. Anyway, I'm sure glad he made this as it is a one of a kind - something you can say about a lot of his films.

There is a lot of Altman's Marlowe to like: he lights a cigarette in every scene, keeps a cat in his apartment and has very interesting neighbors. It also has some bizarre dialogue and a nicely complicated plot. And, as you say, he did come through in the clutch. Didn't care for the ending though, but it sure underlines the point that this version of our detective is very different from the 1940s version.

This one is due for a re-watch and I'm pretty sure I'll like it even more than I did the first time.

Re: The Long Goodbye (1973)

I guess disapproving noir fans will blame Altman for his seemingly cavalier dismissal of the source material and turning a beloved and iconic character into a kind of an ex-hippie, idealistic dreamer wandering his way through a noir city of muted colors looking for cat food instead of clues.

that's funny.

Guncrazy (1992)

Guncrazy (1992)

Sex Pistols Part II

Guncrazy is directed by Tamra Davis and written by Matthew Bright. It stars Drew Barrymore, James Legros, Ione Skye, Michael Ironside, Joe Dallesandro and Billy Drago. Music is by Ed Tomney and cinematography by Lisa Rinzer.

"Love made them crazy. Guns made them outlaws!"

High schooler Anita Minteer (Barrymore) is abused at home and at school and by so called friends. Seeking some sort of solace, she befriends - via letters - a convict named Howard (Legros). When Howard is paroled, the pair hook up and quickly find a loving bond. A bond that also involves a passion for guns

In spite of reports in some quarters, this is not a remake of Joseph H. Lewis' superb film noir of the same name (though the words gun and crazy are separated there) from 1950. Whilst it's also worth mentioning that it's not a knock-off of Bonnie and Clyde (outstanding and trailblazing pic for sure), because for that to be the case we would have to ignore the fact that Lewis' film, and the likes of They Live by Night (Nicolas Ray - 1948) , were not key influences and big movers in the lovers on the lam splinter of noir. It is of course, an amalgamation of said influences, and despite a relatively average rating on the big internet movie sites, this is a neo-noir well worth seeking out for those so inclined.

Students of classic era film noir can't but help to be pulled in by the many deviance's at work, themes involving sexual abuse, promiscuity, impotence, alienation, prostitution and foolish love, the latter pitching a classic noir character into a vortex from which they in all probability know they can't return from. It's not that Anita is a femme fatale, because she's so young and isn't written as a viper type, it's that her youthful ignorance, her teenage hormones tortured by a torrid upbringing, is enough for Howard to grasp onto as a semblance of normality. They are both fools, but honest with it, it's the classic romanticised dream going sour. Again, a classic film noir trait.

Visually there is much to recommend here. The use of slatted shadows and balustrade is cunning and nods appreciatively to influences past, the inference obviously that Howard may be out of prison, but he's still behind bars. Davis throws in a number of striking scenes, a camera shot looking out as a grave is dug, our lovers close and personal (sexy) as they shoot guns, and the finale has a sad grace that, "again," noir lovers can appreciate. Matthew Bright's screenplay also has black comedy elements, the script devious with Freudian smarts, while the cast turn in performances worthy of the form.

OK! So this formula has been done better before, and yes we want more of Ironside and Drago (wonderful characters), and this may have underwhelmed those after a gun crazy action thriller - while Barrymore fans back in the day may have been bemused - but it's a very smart and neatly constructed neo-noir. 7.5/10

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead (2003)

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead (2003): Clive Owen was once an enforcer for the London underground, but has since left London and is living off the grid out of his van. When he is unable to contact his little brother Jonathan Rhys Meyers for some time, he heads back to London to find him in person. He learns Rhys Meyers has committed suicide, but cannot believe it. An independent autopsy determines Rhys Meyers was raped, and Owen is determined to find out who did it and why. But his reappearance doesn't go unnoticed by his former criminal buddies.

The basic plot reminds a bit of an earlier neo-noir by director Mike Hodges, 'Get Carter', but this isn't a remake (altho I would say writer Trevor Preston was definitely inspired by it). This is also a very slow-paced movie, deliberately so There is very little action and the few instances there are are quite brief. This movie is all about brooding tension and there's plenty of it. But action junkies will fall asleep watching this.

Hodges once again employed Clive Owen as his lead, who also starred in his last movie before this one, the excellent and a-typical neo-noir 'Croupier'. And he is great here, with his intense deadpan stare. There is a small part for the beautiful Charlotte Rampling as his former girlfriend, but her role is wasted and she doesn't seem to be too comfortable in this part, she's very static. Malcolm McDowell plays Rhys Meyers's rapist (this is not a spoiler btw) and there's some nice misdirection in regards to his activities and possible motive, also because there is also a subplot involving Owen's former boss Ken Stott who realizes why Owen is back in town.

Out of Hodges's 3 neo-noirs, this is the least of the three, but that doesn't mean it's bad. Far from it, but I can see how the movie's pace and lack of action (even in the 'climax') will turn off some people. Having said that, I really enjoyed it, and I would still recommend it. 7/10

Re: I'll Sleep When I'm Dead (2003)

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead (2003)

It looks and reads like one of those films that lovers of noir only really get. I know that sounds snobbish, and I've said it before, but quite often you need an affinity with the form to get something from the pic.

I'll definitely add this to my list

Thanks for the great review Big X

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

BFI Noir.

Hi Spike,after watching it last night,I've got a feeling that this exquisite Noir Blu-Ray from the BFI will give your cinema system a real workout:

Re: BFI Noir.

I was convinced that I had this as part of one of mel's care packages, but alas no! Looks a must see for me.


The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Kill Me Again (1989) Nevada Desert Film Soleil

Directed by John Dahl, a Billings, Montana, native and a U of M alumni of mine. Kill Me Again was the first of a trio of Neo Noirs (Red Rock West (1993), The Last Seduction (1994)), that cemented Dahl at the get go as one of those few directors that truly understands the visual style of what basically makes a noir a noir combined with a simple story about down and outers that isn't typical Hollywood i.e, using "A" actors, car chases, product placement, explosions, etc., etc. The story was written by Dahl and David W. Warfield. The excellent cinematography was by Jacques Steyn and music by William Olvis.

The film stars Val Kilmer (True Romance (1993), The Salton Sea (2002)), Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs (1992), Mulholland Falls (1996), Sin City (2005)), Joanne Whalley, Jon Gries, Michael Greene (To Live And Die In L.A. (1985), and Bibi Besch.

Film Soleil, the yang of Film Noir 's yin. Credits roll. Desert. Distilled anti-city. Bright. Sun baked. Torrid. Wasteland 360 to the horizon.

*beep* Winnemucca. Nevada. A daylight heist. '76 Monte Carlo. Vince (Madsen) leather clad Elvis. Eye shades. Fay (Whalley), casino trash bimbette. She's the bait. Vince is the switch. Mob skim. Briefcase stash. Two couriers. One gets stupid. One gets cute. Vince drills him. He bites the Dust. Vince grabs the loot. Fay lays Chevy rubber. Desert desperados. They vamoose. Gone.

Two lane getaway. Briefcase opened. Whoa! WTF? Fay's ecstatic. $$ sign eyes. Money junkie. Gambling addict. Vince pissed. Too much. Thirty times too much. Mob money. Deep doo-doo. Gotta leave state. Gotta scram. Gotta get the *beep* outta Dodge. Gotta Idaho. Hicksville. The boonies. Lay low.

Fay - No way. You go. Been there done that. We split it. Viva Las Vegas. Vince pissed. Cowboy boot to brake. Hooks in. Rubber smokes. Vince and Fay have a tussel. Vince persuades. Fay comes 'round. Fay gets docile. They head North.

Pit stop. Rest Area. Vince gotta whiz. Doesn't trust Fay. Takes her and briefcase into *beep* Vince starts watering the horse. Fay eyeballs rock door stop. Sees way out. Sees $$$. She grabs rock. Kisses Vince on the mellon. He's still draining the main vein. Golden shower. Lights out. Fay grabs money. Fay grabs Chevy. $$ sign eyes. Looking for bright lights. Wants to hear that ding, ding, ding. Heads to Reno.

Motel. Fay checks in. Tabulates total on tabloid rag. $475,000. Almost half a mill. Tabloid blurb. "Wife fakes death and steals hubby's money." Fay get's brainstorm. Flips open phone book. Private Investigators. "A". First listing Jack Andrews. Lucky dog.

Jack Andrews (Kilmer) is a Reno PI about to go on the skids. He owes $10,000 to a loan shark. Payment due. He's late. A couple of meatheads are bustin' up his office. A warning. Jack gets feisty. Get's a broken pinky finger for his trouble.

Fay goes fishing. Dresses in white. Innocence personified. She's pure as driven slush. Walks into Jack's. Got a plan for the man. Jack eyeballs Fay. Likes what he sees. Fay goes into her act. Turns on the tears. Sob story sister. Battered beauty. Abusive beau. Not right in the head. Displays her bruises. Cries crocodile tears. She wants Jack to fake her death. Get Vince off her ass. She'll pay $10,000. Half now. Half later. Jack's got $$ sign eyes. Fay is addictive. Money troubles solved? No, it's an invitation to the blues, it's an invitation to Noirsville.

Jack is jacked. Jack is inventive. The man with a plan.

Step one: Get Fay a fake ID. Get buddy Alan to scrounge a pint of Fay's blood type. A hospital connection.

Step two: Make Fay get noticed. She checks into a new dive. Fay plays cute. Tolls the desk clerk. Bats her eyelashes. Giggles. Sundress strap malfunction. Giggles. He drools. Sweet, girl next door sexy. He's boner city.

Step three: Fay plays craps. She jiggles when she wins. Low cut dress. Deep cleavage. Bouncing boobies. Everybody drools.

Step four: Jack in disguise. Ten gallon cowboy. Picks Fay up at casino. Drives Fay to motel. Fay makes sure desk clerk sees her, she waves. He's shot out of his imaginary saddle.

Step five: Fake evidence. Trash the room. Rough Fay up. It turns sexual. She LIKES it. Spill some booze. Spill some blood. Rip her dress. Cut it with knife. Stab wounds faked. Dump her purse. Wrap her in a sheet and dump her in her trunk.

Step six: Check her into another Motel. Drive her car with the bloody clothes out into the desert and dump it. Looks like another hooker murder. Another runaway who trusted the wrong guy. Body missing. Sandy grave.

Step seven: Prearranged. Alan picks him up. Alan get his cut. Jack is back. Rendezvous in Reno. Rendezvous with Fay.

But Fay has SPLIT! She checked out. VAMOOSED! Leaves Jack jack. Headed for Vegas. In her purse was a matchbook with Jack's number. Guess who gets pinched? Jack. And guess who comes knocking at Jack's door next. VINCE!

Our femme fatale Joanne Whalley-Kilmer has this quality of being able to look both extremely sexy and weasily simultaneously. At times she's a bit swarthy, disheveled, and K-Y Jelly greasy. But she cleans up nicely in a low rent, low life sort of way. She can play sweet and demure when she's registering at a motel and wants the clerk to remember her. Other times she affects the look of a rat nibbling on a wedge of cheese. Her eyes slightly bulging at the moment you flip the lights on in the kitchen. She has an aura of rodent, I guess we can call it a rat girl vibe. She's jail tail.

Michael Madsen is always convincing as a homicidal psychopath. He was born to play these characters. In classic noir he would have been reverently type cast, on par with Peter Lorre, Elisha Cook Jr., Dan Duryea, and Raymond Burr. His dead eyes negate any facial expressions he may generate. You are looking into the abyss of mayhem and madness. You know he's crazier than a *beep* rat.

Val Kilmer as PI Jack Andrews has an Eagle Scout vibe. He comes off as competent P.I., who has had a string of bad luck. Swerving to miss a deer he loses control of his car and goes through a guardrail. He and his wife are plunged into a lake. He tries to save her. Only Jack survives and he's haunted by the tragedy. He is down but not out.

The finale sets up like this. Jack is after Fay. Vince and the police are after Jack. The mob is after Vince and Fay. It's quite entertaining, looks great, and it manages to homage a few Classic Noir's in the process. John Dahl really has a handle on Film Noir/Film Soleil. Music was by William Olvis. For his first effort Dahl earns a 7-8/10.

A Neo-Noir visual treat, the screencaps are from MGM DVD.

Full review with screencaps here:

Re: Kill Me Again (1989) Nevada Desert Film Soleil

Kill Me Again (1989)

Kilmer is something of a neo-noir legend, it's surprising just how well he fits into the mould and how many he has done. I positively loved the other two of Dahl's neos, so I'm very keen to catch this one and round out his trilogy.

Great sell C. J., thanks for the review as always

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Manhunter (1986)

Dear Michael Mann,

Manhunter is mainly a very stylish police procedural. The array of methods (mostly related to forensic evidence) used by the team of police personnel to identify and track down the killer were simply ingenious. You stayed true to the book and incorporated nearly all of Thomas Harris' ideas. Manhunter's status as a police procedural is punctuated by the fact that you paid a lot of attention to the sets - the police meetings are all located in places characterized by an almost sterile white corporate cleanliness. They are notably different from the sets used during the other scenes.

Manhunter is also a really scary horror film. It has one of the creepiest beginnings ever with the grainy point of view shot of the killer as he flashes a light upon a sleeping couple. The scenes inside Dollarhyde's abode were genuinely frightening. It offers more than a glance into the motivations of a serial killer.

William Petersen is perfectly cast as a tortured cop struggling with his inner demons. I loved the use of slow motion in the two action scenes. You channeled a bit of De Palma in the scene where Dollarhyde gazes upon his lover and another man. It was a really deft touch. A lot of people complain about the background score. But I thought it was excellent and added another dimension to this film. The film looks gorgeous on Blu Ray. Great job, Michael.

Best Regards,


Le mataf (1973)

Dear Stelvio Cipriani,

your brilliant background score is the best part of this rather languid and unremarkable crime thriller. Stelvio, the romantic saxophone laced main theme was both melancholic and memorable. I have been playing it in my car for the last one year. The director Serge Leroy used it very well - especially in the romantic scenes.

Le Mataf begins in an interesting manner with a voice over introducing the three thieves. Michel Constantin, with his imposing presence and rather gruff voice might be the French Lee Marvin. Him and his two cohorts are the victims of a blackmail plot after they are photographed attempting to rob a train. The blackmailers force the trio to steal a roll of film (it is never revealed what the film contains) off a ship. Double crosses and triple crosses ensue. The flimsy plot is not even the film's major problem. The heist scene in the ship was supposed to be procedural like in a Melville or Verneuil film. But it was quite unimaginative and was the very opposite of thrilling. The action scenes were sleep inducing. No dialog stood out though the romantic scenes were quite interesting mainly due to your score, Stelvio.

What I liked about the film were the locales - especially the bars and the cafes. The pairing of the gigantic Michel Constantin with the petite Cathy Rosier suggests the director is indeed a man of taste. However, every scene makes you wish the director had hired a better scenarist. But he certainly hired the right composer. Your background score lent a melancholic and superior air to this otherwise dull film, Stelvio.

Best Regards,


Re: Le mataf (1973)

Le mataf (1973)

Good find there Pimpin, seems rare. Shame you found it to be a bit of a duffer. Adolfo Celi any good in it?

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

The Nature of the Beast (1995)

Dear Victor Salva,

I first watched The Nature of the Beast in the mid-90s. A few years after cable TV had become an important part of Indian life. It was called Bad Company back then. My father liked the film so much that he recorded it on a video cassette. I decided to re-watch it yesterday and I am glad to inform you that it has aged very well. You should think about releasing the film on Blu Ray.

Eric Roberts and Lance Henriksen must be two of the most underrated and underused actors in American cinema. That these two actors hardly got to do any good roles during the peak of their powers reflects the sorry state of American cinema in the last twenty years. In Nature of the Beast, they play two men on the run dangerously attracted to each other. Eric Robert's speech about how everyone is pretending and that there is nothing but emptiness at the center and that we are all beasts at the end of the day was very effective. I liked the offbeat characters that populated the American small towns that Roberts and Henrisken drove through. The point of view shots of deserted American highways are always a pleasure to look at. The ending was a bit of a letdown even though I never saw it coming. The film's basic plot might have been borrowed from films like Detour (1945), The Hitch-Hiker (1953) and The Hitcher (1986). The fact that the two characters are bound together by very different crimes makes The Nature of the Beast slightly different from its predecessors. Great effort, Victor. I will check out some of your other films.

Best Regards, Pimpin.


Re: The Nature of the Beast (1995)

The Nature of the Beast (1995)

Definitely sounds like one we on this board should be interested in, though for some the director's heinous past crimes mean his work is avoided.

To me Lance Henriksen is always worth watching, even in low budgeters. I'll defo add this to my list.


The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Le mataf (1973)

Adolfo Celi any good in it?

celi is the villain who is obsessed with cathy rosier's character. i thought he was unremarkable. not his fault really. its just a poorly written character.

Re: Manhunter (1986)

This is a good one agree.

Re: Manhunter (1986)

Manhunter (1986)

One of my favourite films of the 80s, so glad you liked it as much as you did. Great review. Me >

Recover the mindset.

Retired FBI specialist Will Graham is lured back into action to track a serial killer who is killing families, seemingly linked into the lunar cycle. In the process it opens up some old mental wounds that were born out during his last action out in the field

Before the gargantuan success of Silence of the Lambs, where the name Hannibal the Cannibal moved into pop culture, and before director Michael Mann became a named auteur often referenced with relish by hungry film students; there was Manhunter, Michael Mann's brilliant adaptation of Thomas Harris' equally brilliant psychological thriller, Red Dragon. It feels a bit redundant now, years later, writing about Mann's use of styles to bear out mood and psychological states, his framing devices, his commitment to his craft, but after revisiting the film on Blu-ray, I find myself once again simultaneously invigorated and unnerved by the magnificence of Manhunter. Visually, thematically and narratively it remains a clinical piece of cinema, a probing study of madness that dares to put a serial killer and the man hunting him in the same psychological body, asking us, as well as William Petersen's FBI agent Will Graham, to empathise with Tom Noonan's troubled Tooth Fairy killer. Here's a thing, too, Francis Dolarhyde (The Tooth Fairy) is a functioning member of society, he is quite frankly a man who could be working in a shop near you! This is no reclusive psychopath such as, well, Buffalo Bill, Dolarhyde is presented to us in such a way as we are given insight into this damaged mind, he is fleshed out as a person, we get to know him and his motivational problems.

Dream much, Will?

Mann and his team are not about over the top or camp performances, gore is kept to a premium, the real horror is shown in aftermath sequences, conversations and harmless photographs, but still it's a nightmarish world. Suspense is wrung out slowly by way of the characterisations. Will has to become the killer, and it's dangerous, he knows so because he has done it before, when capturing Dr. Hannibal Lecktor. Needing to pick up the scent again, to recover the mindset, Will has to go see the good doctor who has a penchant for fine wines and human offal. These scenes showcase Mann at his deadliest, a bright white cell filmed off kilter, each frame switch showing either Lecktor or Graham behind bars, they are one. When Lecktor taunts Will about them being alike, Mann understands this and visually brings it out. Dolarhyde's living abode is murky in colour tones and furnished garishly, and with mirrors, paintings and a lunar landscape, yet when Dolarhyde is accompanied by Joan Allen's blind Reba, where he feels he is finally finding acceptance, this house is seen at ease because of the characterisations. Switch to the finale and it's a walled monstrosity matching that of a killer tipped back over the edge. Brilliant stuff.

If one does what God does enough times, one will become as God is.

Lecktor, soon to be back as the source material Lecter in the film versions that follow, is actually not in the film that much. Brian Cox (chilling, calculating, frightening and intelligent) as Lecktor gets under ten minutes of screen time, but that's enough, the character's presence is felt throughout the picture in a number of ways. The Lecktor angle is very relative to film's success, but very much it's one strand of a compelling whole, I realise now that Mann has deliberately kept us wanting more of him visually. Noonan is truly scary, he lived away from the rest of the cast during filming, with Mann's joyous encouragement, the end result is one of the best and most complex serial killer characterisations ever. Lang scores high as weasel paparazzi, Allen is heart achingly effective without patronising blind people and Farina is a huge presence as Jack Crawford, Will's friend and boss who coaxes Will back into the fray knowing full well that Will's mind might not make it back with him. But it's Petersen's movie all the way. His subsequent non film career has given ammunition to his knockers that he is no great actor. Rubbish, with this and To Live and Die in L.A. he gave two of the best crime film portrayals of the 80s. He immerses himself in Will Graham, so much so he wasn't able to shake the character off long after filming had wrapped. There's a scene in a supermarket where Will is explaining to his son about his dark place, where "the ugliest thoughts in the world" live, a stunning sequence of acting and a showcase for Petersen's undoubted talents.

Newcomers to the film and Mann's work in general, could do no worse than spend the ten minutes it takes to watch the Dante Spinotti feature on the disc. Apart from saving me the time to write about Mann's visual flourishes, it gives one an idea of just how key a director and cinematographer partnership is in a film such as this. The audio is crisp, which keeps alive the perfect in tone soundtrack and eerie scoring strains of Rubini and The Reds. Some say that the music of Manhunter is dated? I say that if it sits at one with the tonal shifts and thematics of a story then that surely can never be viewed as dated. And that's the case here in Manhunter. The director's cut is included as part of the package but the transfer is appalling, and for the sake of one cut scene that happens post the Dolarhyde/Graham face off, there's really not much to the DC version anyway. The theatrical cut is perfect, brilliantly realised on Blu-ray to birth a true visual neo-noir masterpiece. 10/10

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Manhunter (1986)

These scenes showcase Mann at his deadliest, a bright white cell filmed off kilter, each frame switch showing either Lecktor or Graham behind bars, they are one.

well spotted and written as always, spike. i'm reading the book by thomas harris now. its amazing how much of the book mann incorporated in his film. a lot of the credit ought to go to harris as well. he really created some messed up characters.

Inherent Vice - Paul Thomas Anderson, 2014

As much as I would like to write a brilliant review that makes sense of this movie, thats not possible. One cannot explain the inexplicable or make sense of the nonsensical. So, this is the best I can do.

First of all its from a Thomas Pynchon novel. If youve ever read anything by Pynchon youll know that that explains a lot. I cant believe that anybody could make a movie out of his writing (this is the first) and any attempt has to be given some respect. And thats where Paul Thomas Anderson comes in. He has a very interesting filmography he likes Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann and period pieces which has produced some bizarre films and film moments. He also knows how to put a cast together and get great performances out of it.

Juaquin Phoenix plays Doc Sportello a private dick in some beach town near LA circa 1970. You may remember the 70s, that decade between the wonderful, but naive, 60s and the hedonistic Me decade of the 80s. Im not sure that Anderson captured the end of innocence feel of the 70s; he did capture the feel of 70s films as Sportello seems to be a kindred spirit of Altmans Marlow in The Long Goodbye and the voice over narration by Joanna Newsome channels Days of Heaven and Badlands.

Phoenix is very good as a P.I. that doesnt understand anything of whats going on. And hes a very different kind of noir detective: while he smokes constantly hes sparking joints instead of cigarettes and when he meets his lawyer for lunch at a beachside restaurant he skips the bourbon and orders the jellyfish teriyaki croquettes and the eel Trovatore. Please.

Doc meanders through the plot too stoned to understand what is going on. But that doesnt matter as you dont either. The film is a collection of great scenes, some hilarious, some dark, some both, all very well written and acted. And the characters names Shasta Fay Hepworth, Bigfoot Bjornsen, Mickey Wolfmann, Japonica Fenway, Sauncho Smilax, Esq., Petunia Leeway, Dr. Rudy Blatnoyd, D.D.S. are, er, right out of a Thomas Pynchon novel.

Very good score by Jonny Greenwood and excellent work by Oscar winning cinematographer Robert Elswit. It seems a film that would improve with repeat viewings but at 2 hrs. 28 min. this one kind of wears you down. Im glad I watched it, but once is enough.

Re: Inherent Vice - Paul Thomas Anderson, 2014

Pretty much agree, I was hoping for another The Big Lebowski.

Re: Inherent Vice - Paul Thomas Anderson, 2014

Hmm, well, thanks for the review mate. I have liked most of the Paul Thomas Anderson films I have seen, with Sydney (1996) a very good neo.

I have already ordered two films this last week which contributors to this thread have put forward, looks like you have given me another one for my neo pile.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Inherent Vice - UK TV Showing

It's on Sky Select Tuesday 5th July at 03:00.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

90's Foreign Neo-Noir.

Hi Spike,after watching the movie last night,I was wondering if there are any other 90's foreign Neo-Noir which has a cast/crew as strong as the L'enfer one?


After watching the spectacular first Mission Impossible movie again recently,I decided to check Emmanuelle Béart's other credits.Discovering on Amazon UK and her IMDb page that 90% of Béart's credits were French flicks,I was taken aback,when I spotted a Neo- Noir (for £3) that looked liked the ultimate French 90's Noir,with the credits revealing that Béart was joining auteur film maker Claude Chabrol-and a screenplay from Henri-Georges Clouzot!,which led to me excitingly getting ready to jump into this Noir hell.

Lit up from the screenplay of Henri-Georges Clouzot's unfinished film, Chabrol (with additional dialogue from José-André Lacour) unleashes a Neo-Noir that is a perfect tribute to Clouzot,and also one whose themes allow the title to proudly stand on its own feet.Caught in a whirlwind romance, Chabrol gives the early days of Nelly and Prieur a bourgeoisie dream giving them a "perfect" image to the outside world.Twisting the knife into Neo-Noir,Clouzot and Chabrol display an extraordinary attention to detail for Prieur's lock into a Neo-Noir world,by making the slightest attempt Nelly makes to place a gap between them,lead to Prieur blurring the lines between his deeply troubling Neo-Noir "fantasies" in his mind,with the burning hell that he is shoving himself and Nelly in.

Presenting their marriage in fluid camera moves, Chabrol & cinematographer Bernard Zitzermann chip away at the light with brittle Neo-Noir darkness,via caving in the light colours with unrelenting shadows engulfing their lives. Dipping into Prieur's fractured mind, Chabrol grabs the neck of Prieur,via casting shimming shadows round Prieur's throat,that are lit up by Monique Fardoulis's razor sharp editing twisting and turning the murky nightmares and realities of Prieur and Nelly.

Becoming entwined with Prieur looking ravishingly beautiful, Emmanuelle Béart gives an immaculate performance as Nelly,whose care-free nature Béart makes shine,which is brilliantly turned into a shell shocked soul who cant find an escape from the Neo-Noir pit.Entering the title looking like a gentlemen, François Cluzet gives a magnificent performance as Prieur.Starting with a nervous grin, Cluzet subtly pulls the veins out of Prieur's anxiety and suspicions across the screen and circles them round the decayed relationship,as Prieur and Nelly enter Chabrol's and Clouzot's inferno.

Re: 90's Foreign Neo-Noir.

You'r our go to guy for 90's Foreign Neo-Noir dear chap

L'enfer (1994)

Really enjoying your French trips, just caught your one for La cérémonie (1995), ticks have been sent of course so keep up the great work.

I still have a number of 60s French noirs to watch, so you are well ahead of me it seems!

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: 90's Foreign Neo-Noir.

Thanks Spike,and for La cérémonie oddly reminded me of Shutter Island-it has a great cast,crew and is based on a good book but there is just something "off" about the adaptation.With French Noir,I have some films lined up that I would enjoy reading your take on.


Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009)

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009)

Why would a man frame himself for murder?

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is directed by Peter Hyams and Hyams adapts the screenplay from Douglas Morrow's story/screenplay for the 1956 film of the same name. It stars Jesse Metcalfe, Amber Tamblyn, Michael Douglas, Joel David Moore and Orlando Jones. Music is by David Shire and Hyams also tackles cinematography duties.

C.J. Nicholas (Metcalfe) is a journalist aiming for high things. He is convinced that high profile lawyer Mark Hunter (Douglas) is corrupting legal issues and sets about proving it

The 1956 film was the great Fritz Lang's last American film, more court drama than being overtly film noir, it was a film well tuned into legalities of its time. Hyams here updates to a modern era setting and it is fanciful - due to the advancements in technology - in the extreme. Of course those things can often be forgivable if the film is well put together and holds some thriller/drama weight.

The look of the film is cheap, as in a TV movie look, with the cinematography uninspiring, the young cast members hardly turn in characterisations to care for, while Douglas (who is very good) is surprisingly under used. The story is a fascinating one as per human foibles, and there's a double whammy stroll down twister street that lifts the film to a rewarding closure. But it's still a disappointment, and this even if you haven't seen Lang's far superior 56 film. 6/10

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009)

Yeah, this is a pretty forgettable remake, the less said about it the better, haha. Also a 6/10 for me.

Re: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009)

I think you guys are being over nice here. I paid money to see this when it came out and I'm still mad about it. 5 out of 10 would be generous imo. I like Douglas but he does pick stinkers every so often to be in. Too bad.

Red Rock West (1993) Lone Star Loser

Red Rock West was the second shoe string budget Neo Noir directed by John Dahl. It was written by John Dahl and Rick Dahl. The film stars Nicolas Cage (The Cotton Club (1984), Raising Arizona (1987), Wild at Heart (1990), Leaving Las Vegas (1995)), Dennis Hopper (I Died a Thousand Times (1955), Naked City TV Series (19581963), The American Friend (1977), Blue Velvet (1986), Black Widow (1987), True Romance (1993), Lara Flynn Boyle (Twin Peaks TV Series (19901991)), J.T. Walsh (The Grifters (1990)) and Dale Gibson. Music was by William Olvis. Cinematography was by Marc Reshovsky.

Michael Williams (Cage). Wounded warrior. Sempre Fi. Bum leg. Beirut barracks bombing. 1st Battalion 8th Marines. 241 dead. 128 survivors. Michael's busted. A Texas transient. Lone Star loser. Dirt poor drifter. Down but not out. Looking for work. Takes a flier. A buddies tip. Wyoming wildcat roughneck. Ramblin' man.

Cadillac Cowboy. 67 Coupe Deville camp out. State Rt. 487. Asphalt accommodations. Casper-Medicine Bow two lane. The backroad boonies.

He gets a stock tank shave. Puts on his cleanest dirty shirt. Drives a dirt track to the drill site. Honesty is not the best policy. His gimpy knee gets him shot out of the saddle. Screwed. Blew his wad gettin' there. Pissed. Lays out a contrail of dust. Almost outta gas. A fin to his name. Gas station codger points him to Red Rock. Nearest town with prospects. Check the local watering hole.

Michael blows into town. Pulls up to the Red Rock Bar. Bar just open. Owner Wayne Brown (Walsh) on duty. Spies Michael's Texas plates. Michael walks in looking for work. Wayne says "I thought you were supposed to be here last friday, I thought I would have to find somebody else. You are here for the job ain't you?" Michael scopes the back bar, sees a "Welcome to Wayne's Place" sign. Michael asks "you Wayne?" Michael plays along, he's desperate, he's interested. Wayne asks if he's Lyle, from Dallas, Michael says yea. It's case of mistaken identity. It's Michael's luck day. Wayne takes Michael back to the office.

Wayne was expecting a Dallas, Texas hit man named Lyle. Lyle is a pro. Lyle is supposed to whack his wandering whore wife Suzanne (Boyle). Wayne gives Michael $5,000. Half now. Half later. His address and directions. Wayne tells him she's out riding. Wait at the house. Kill her and make it look like a breakin. Michael goes out and scopes the job. She's riding alright, her horse and the baloney pony of a ranch hand Kurt (Gibson) who lives in a nearby trailer.

Michael waits for Suzanne at the house. She's stunned. Michael gives her the bad news. Your husband wants you chilled. She doubles her husband's offer. Michael's stunned. She wants Michael to ice Wayne.

At this point in the tale Michael has $15,000 in hundred dollar bills and decides get the hell outta Dodge. Good idea. But as he's gettin' he accidently hits Kurt who lunges out into the road in front of him. Doing the right thing, Michael brings Kurt to the local band aid station. This gets Michael his wild ride into Noirsville. Sharp twists and curves ahead.

Cage is believable as Michael, he plays the part with the right mix of honesty, humility, chagrin, and boldness. J.T. Walsh is excellent as the bar owner/sheriff with a shady past. Dennis Hopper is entertaining as Lyle the Dallas hit man, doing his slightly over the top schtick, almost homaging/reprising his Frank Booth character from Blue Velvet. Dahl seems to have a penchant for dark brunette Femme Fatales they feature in all three of his Neo Noirs. The films only speed bump is Lara Flynn Boyle, who is merely adequate in her role. She just seems to simmer along sedately, never quite matching the delicious seediness of Joanne Whalley in Kill Me Again, or the sexy cunning intelligence of Linda Fiorentino in The Last Seduction. Her attire is 90% unattractive, which I don't quite get. It was a poor decision by the costume department.

The film is entertaining, but I still consider it the weakest of Dahl's Neo Noirs. Filmed mostly in Arizona, with a bit of Montana. The closing freight train sequence before the credits roll looks an awful lot like the old Northern Pacific (now Montana Rail Link) spur that runs up to Polson. The shot is near Charlo, Northwest of St. Ignatius on the Flathead Indian Reservation, with the Mission Mountains in the background. I should know I ran a wrecking yard just North of that location back in the 1980s. 8/10

Full review with screencaps here:

Re: Red Rock West (1993) Lone Star Loser

I saw it when it came out and loved it, though I am neither a Nicholas Cage nor a Lara Flynn Boyle fan. Cage is one of those actors who had quite a few great roles in the 80's and 90's, though by the end of the 90's his star began to fade.

I also agree about Lara Flynn Boyle. I wasn't wild about her in Twin Peaks and I think her Twin Peaks co-star Sherilyn Fenn would have been much better in the role of Suzanne.

I should know I ran a wrecking yard just North of that location back in the 1980s.

No way! Beautiful location.

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

Re: Red Rock West (1993) Lone Star Loser

No way! Beautiful location.

It was a beautiful location, still is. It's the Flathead Valley with the Mission Mountains bordering on the East and the Flathead River and Salish Mountains on the West. The Jokos were on the South and Flathead Lake was on the North.

Re: Red Rock West (1993) Lone Star Loser

I positively love it!

All Roads Lead To Intrigue.

Red Rock West is directed by John Dahl who also co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Rick. It stars Nicolas Cage, Dennis Hopper, Lara Flynn Boyle, J. T. Walsh and Timothy Carhart. Music is by William Olvis and cinematography by Marc Reshovsky.

When a promised job in Wyoming fails to materialise on account of an injury sustained in combat, Michael Williams (Cage) drifts into the town of Red Rock and is mistaken in a bar for a hit-man hired to kill an unfaithful wife. Tempted by the high cash on offer, Michael plays along and promptly finds himself in a web of intrigue from which escape is looking unlikely

Welcome To Red Rock/You Are Now Leaving Red Rock.

The studio didn't know what to do with it, a neo-noir flavoured with contemporary Western spices. Put out on cable in America and thriving on its limited release in Europe, it started to gain a cult fan-base. More so after a theatre in the Frisco Bay area started showing it and it made considerable coinage. Today it still remains more of a cult piece than anything else, which while it deserves more accolades and exposure, is still kind of nice for the fans, because it's like we have our own little neo-noir treasure all to ourselves.

Red Rock West is essential for the neo-noir heads and well worthy of inspection by the average modern day crime film fan. Plot wise it's a bit, shall we say iffy? Yet the twists, turns and characterisations are so deftly constructed and performed, it matters not a jot. Cage's ex- marine is an honest and decent guy who whilst down on his luck - punished for his honesty - finds himself in a vortex of mystery and murder that he can't escape from. His companions in this scenario are film noir staples, the femme fatale (Boyle) with a smoulder as big as her secret, the hit-man (Hopper) with a glint in his eye to accompany his callous leanings, and the shifty bar owner (Walsh) trying to off his wife whilst keeping his shady cards close to his chest.

As the tricksy plot unfolds in a haze of bad judgements and untruths, further pulsed by the vagaries of fate, it becomes apparent that Dahl wants us to know it isn't taking itself too seriously. There's a glorious scent of dark humour hanging in the air, an unpretentiousness about the whole thing that's refreshing. The look and feel is perfect for the narrative, the colour is stripped back to create a moody atmospheric surround, while the score and sound-tracking immediately brings to mind country and western tales of woe. Dahl knows his noir onions, but this is not just a homage hat tipper to the past, he understands what works in noir, be it the blending of the quirky with the edgy, or scene setting in locales such as a colourless bar and a foggy cemetery, Dahl gets the key ingredients right to deliver the goods wholesale.

The small cast come up trumps. Boyle as Suzanne Brown is weak if her femme fatale is pitted against the likes of Matty Walker or Bridget Gregory, but it's an adequate performance that doesn't hinder the picture. She is helped enormously, though, by having to share most scenes with Cage who brings his "A" game. Consistently inconsistent throughout his career, Cage, when on form is a joy to watch, here he gets to thrive as a put upon hero, shifting seamlessly between confusion and boldness, where incredulous looks are the order of the day with a side order of eccentric intensity. Hopper does what he does so well, amusing villainy, while Walsh is effortlessly menacing and suspicious. In small secondary support Carhart and country star Dwight Yoakam leave favourable impressions.

This is not an edge of your seat thriller, or a cranium bothering piece of dramedy, it's neo-noir done right. Where morality is grey at best and money is the root of all evil, it's slick, playful, cold blooded and absorbing. Hooray! 9/10

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Red Rock West (1993) Lone Star Loser

I was lucky enough to see RED ROCK WEST on the big screen here. It only showed at a local art house cinema for 4 days. Loved it!

Re: Red Rock West (1993) Lone Star Loser

After both your great reviews, it's time for a rewatch.

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

Re: Red Rock West (1993) Lone Star Loser

Of Dahl's three Neo Noirs I actually like Kill Me Again and The Last Seduction better.

Re: Red Rock West (1993) Lone Star Loser

Kill Me Again is very good, it's also a long time since I've seen it. I still haven't seen The Last Seduction.

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

Re: Red Rock West (1993) Lone Star Loser

You have to remedy that quick, Linda Fiorentino is one of the best of the Neo Noir Femme Fatales. ;-)

Gay Neo-Noir

Hi Spike,whilst Neo-Noir has offered a number of great lesbian and bi characters,I've been wondering if Stranger by the Lake (çao/dp/B00HFTU0CW) is the first Neo-Noir to have the lead male character be gay?


Set entirely in one location,writer/director Alain Guiraudie & cinematographer Claire Mathon avoid the title drying up by giving it an eerie supernatural atmosphere,where the waves of the ocean and the rustic sounds of the woods (with no score being used) leading the lake feeling like a Neo-Noir wilderness,cut off from the rest of the world.Leaving the train going under the bridge sexual metaphor to the past, Guiraudie takes an extremely non-conformist approach to the graphic sex scenes,which whilst feeling a bit jarring from the slick sheen of the movie,actually does very well at undressing the growing obsession Franck has for Michel.

Before Michel swims into Franck's life,the screenplay by Guiraudie takes a simmering comedic dip in the sea,by giving Franck conversations with Henri a dry playfulness which cleverly highlights how disconnected they both are from life away from the lake.Drowning into Neo-Noir waters, Guiraudie stabs the laughs with an increasingly heated mood of something deadly laying just underneath the surface of Franck and Michel's love,that leads to a hauntingly open ending,where Franck and Michel play "forbidden games." Sporting a 70's moustache, Christophe Paou gives a nerve-ripping performance as Michel,by Paou making the sparse dialogue crackle with a Noir grittiness.Joined by an excellent Patrick d'Assumçao striking Henri with just the right amount of tragic comedic sincerity, Pierre Deladonchamps gives a superb performance as Franck,thanks to Deladonchamps capturing the waves of lust over Franck,as the lake of death goes dead calm.

Re: Gay Neo-Noir

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) springs instantly to mind, and I'd be very surprised if there wasn't earlier ones than that.

Interesting sounding film there, good sell mate

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Gay Neo-Noir

Another good neo-noir where the lead male character is gay is the 2015 Australian movie Cut Snake. I have no idea what the significance of the title is as it's not explained, nor are there any snakes in the film. Maybe it's an Aussie slang term.

Re: Gay Neo-Noir

Hold on, I'll ask someone who might be able to help

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

BBC iPlayer Noir.

Hi Spike,I've found out that there is a Neo-Noir movie on iPlayer until Sat at 11:

The Hypnotist-

Re: BBC iPlayer Noir.

I'm told it's not very good. Hopefully you have seen it and can give us your thoughts?

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: BBC iPlayer Noir.

Hi Spike,for being a Noir from the director of The Cider House Rules,I found it to be a far better than expected X-Mas Noir ( one thing that made it stand out (and is tempting me to buy the DVD) is the second half offering a weird mix of Noirand Slasher (complete with "mummy issues")

On a side note,was wondering if you've seen the good news about Journey Into Fear?

Miami Blues (1990) Pastel Noir

Miami Blues is a Film Soleil Noir that cinematographer Tak Fujimoto infuses with a bright sunny tropical pastel pallet.

The story. Freddy Frenger ex con. Petty thief. Con artist. Freelancer. Narcissist nutjob. Wings to Miami. In air identity theft. Get's a Hare Krishna come on. Breaks the cultists finger. Krishna goes into shock. Kicks the consciousness bucket. Krishna croaked.

Freddy with new identity. Hermann Gottlieb. Cruises the airport. Steals suitcase. Checks into hotel. Bellhop Pedro is the man to see. Orders some local talent. Susie knocks. Young. Looks like High School. Looks like jail bait. Waifish. Okeechobee outcast. Cracker clam. Dispenses fifty dollar sucks.

Freddy asks for ID. Freddy tries to trade her the suitcase clothes. Slow on the uptake. Susy will do it for a suitcase dress. Easy to BS. Easy to string along. Just what Freddy needs, and she can cook too. A perfect pair. They get it on.

Freddy and the clueless Susie have now become part of a long tradition of various combinations of couples on the run/lam that stretch from Gable and Lombard in It Happened One Night (1934) through Classic Noirs, Out Of The Past (1947), They Live by Night (1948), Gun Crazy (1950), Where Danger Lives (1950), Tomorrow Is Another Day (1951), Roadblock (1951), right up to Classic Neo Noirs, The Getaway (1971), Kill Me Again (1989), Wild at Heart (1990), True Romance (1993), Natural Born Killers (1994).

Freddy begins to roam Miami like a land shark, ever watchful for easy marks, pulling small jobs, he watches a classic pickpocket team boost a wallet, follows the drop man to a men's room and sucker punches him for the cash.

Meanwhile back at the baggage claim crime scene the Detective Hoke Moseley and Sgt. Bill Henderson investigate the case of the dead disciple. Hoke is a rumpled, coarse, depressed boozer. He wears store bought teeth, is strapped for money and lives in rundown residence hotel. Deco decadence.

Rudimentary detective work, eyewitnesses, and following leads gets Moseley to Freddy. Freddy follows Moseley back to his fleabag cold-cocks and steals his badge, gun, sap and teeth. It doesn't get lower than stealing his teeth.

Freddy now begins a career as a fake cop. He's cruising. Sharking the drags. Freelancing. Bracin' crooks. Routing lowlifes. Shakin' down con artists. Out thievin' thieves. Flashing his badge he metes out vigilante justice. He drops his calling cards all around town. He leaves two drug dealers handcuffed to a garbage can with Hoke's handcuffs.

Getting more out of control and upping the volume Freddy begins to gundown goons gratuitously. He dispenses dirt naps. Low wattage Susie finally begins to see that she is shackin' with trouble. It all goes South to Noirsville when Freddy uses Susie as a wheelman for a pawnshop robbery.

Baldwin plays the quick to take advantage ex-con with bravado. His intense bright blues spotlighting a hair trigger sociopath tendency. Ward is great as the laid back Hoke, but you wish he had even more screen time to develop his character. Leigh is adequate as the hooker with a heart of gold, she may fit somebody's idea or type of hot but to me she seems almost too plain jane and a bit retarded. She does effectively convey the storybook girl who hopes her prince charming will rescue her from a life of going down on losers.

For me Armitage or the suits, made the mistake of spending too much time on the Freddy-Susie relationship and that robs us from getting more of Hoke Moseley who should have been the main star. Music by Gary Chang. 7/10 Full review with NSFW screencaps here:

Re: Miami Blues (1990) Pastel Noir

Not a big fan, though it's just better than average, unlike Baldwin's scary chest hair!

Do you know any married people today? They're a team. They pull together and they get rich. They got it all.

Miami Blues is directed by George Armitage who also adapts the screenplay from the novel of the same name written by Charles Willeford. It stars Alec Baldwin, Fred Ward, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Charles Napier. Music is by Gary Chang and cinematography by Tak Fujimoto.

Ex-con Frederick Frenger Jr. (Baldwin) lands in Miami and quickly continues his criminal ways. Hooking up with gullible prostitute Susie Waggoner (Leigh), Frenger, by now under suspicion for the killing of a Hare Krishna man at Miami airport, steals the identity of the policeman investigating him and ups his crime spree

This is all about the characterisations, for the story is simple and played as a darkly comic hard boiled cop picture. We are in a stripped back Miami, no gloss here, wherever the psychotic Frenger goes, there is crime that he is only too willing to enhance. Quite often with violent but humorous results. His union with Susie is a matter of convenience, as she, the gullible tart with the heart, dreams of a white picket fence house - marriage - babies, he dreams only of her cash and the comfort of cover she affords his criminal doings. Then there is Sgt. Hoke Moseley (Ward), straight out of noirville, world weary, grizzled, incapable of genuine affection, tatty and someone who soaks his false teeth in a glass of brandy! It's a wonderful character brought vividly to life by Ward, especially when Frenger steals said set of teeth! And with Leigh and Baldwin also making good on the characters as written, this is very much worth a look for the acting performances.

It's not under seen or under valued, the respective ratings on internet sites and critical appraisals are about right. There's some value in the dark comedy born out of the crime sequences, where we are dared not to smile, and the violence is impacting without hitting us over the head for the sake of it. But without Junior, Susie and Hoke holding our attention, the film would be flat and forgettable. 6/10

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Miami Blues (1990) Pastel Noir

Were only a point apart ;-)

I agree that more time should have been spent with Hoke, makes we want to read the Hoke Moseley Series now.