Film Noir : Neo-Noir Quest 2

American Neo-Noir - the movie never ends

I can't find the post where you referenced this book - but I purchased it straight away. Hmm, some interesting choices in it, I'll start reading it this week. Can't wait to see how they think Cyborg 2: Glass Shadow (1993) fits into our world!?

I do love Elias Koteas though, one of my favourite modern era character actors.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: American Neo-Noir - the movie never ends

I was pretty dumfounded that they actually came up with 500 titles. I guess they have a pretty loosy-goosy definition of Neo Noir ;-)

Oh well I'll use it as a reference list, though they leave out films I'd include.

Re: American Neo-Noir - the movie never ends

I think you know as well as me that it smacks of being "time for another book guys", but that doesn't mean it's not viable, and I'm certainly going to be adding some titles to my list of neos to see.

But still, some of them are stretching things, either NIPO or Visually.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: American Neo-Noir - the movie never ends

Yeah, I'm not convinced about a lot of these films, I also not over keen on the way they have written it. While there are mistakes in it - I bet Clint Eastwood will be surprised to find that Harry Callahan was in The Drowning Pool!!

But the pictures are superb

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

China Moon (1994) Body Heat Redux

Directed by John Bailey, written by Roy Carlson, cinematography by Willy Kurant. The film stars Ed Harris, Madeleine Stowe, Charles Dance, Patricia Healy, Benicio Del Toro, Tim Powell, and Pruitt Taylor Vince. The film was completed in 1991 and not released till 1994.

60 years after James M. Cain's novel The Postman Always Rings Twice, 51 years after its first uncredited screen adaptation Ossessione (1943), 48 years after its official adaptation Tay Garnett's The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) and 13 years after both Lawrence Kasdan's update Body Heat (1981) and Bob Rafelson's remake The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981) come's China Moon, the same basic story of housewife Rachel Munro (Stowe) out to do her husband Rupert Munro (Dance) harm. The film even takes place again like Body Heat in Florida. The tweeks on the basic story are that this time the housewife is abused physically and mentally. Her husband, a bank president, is a wealthy philanderer. This go round the wife cozzies up to a homicide detective Kyle Bodine (Harris).

The film starts with a sequence of an illicit tryst at the Calypso Heaven Motel between Rupert and one of his bank employees Adel (Healy). The two are caught by a peeper on camera.

We segue into a crime scene. Low rent neighborhood. A woman has been murdered. Two homicide detectives Bodine and a very Hispanic looking Lamar Dickey (Del Toro) arrive to investigate. Bodine is the lead detective, Dickey appears to be still somewhat in training. Bodine is efficient, smart, and deduces the situation within minutes.

We do the followup to the coroner's. Après autopsy Bodine and Dickey wind down to the Blues at JJ's Lounge. Beer & Blues. Kyle kicks back. Lamar gets loose. Kyle is kind of shy around women. He's a lonely man, strong but vulnerable. Beer and nature takes it's course and Kyle gets a wandering eye. He oogles ravishing Rachel. Rachel gives him the hook look. Kyle is smitten. Kyle takes the bait. Kyle is love sick.

Rachel plays hard to get. Kyle comes on strong. Rachel has to split, mission accomplished. Kyle can be played.

The photos of Rupert's hot sheet motel shenanigans eventually make their way into Rachel's hands. At this point we assume that Rachel has hired a PI to get the dirt on Rupert. Their marriage is disintegrating fast. Bodine and Dickey catch a domestic violence squeal to Rachel and Rupert's house. Rachel's nose is bloodied, it sets the stage for what is to come.

Rupert is off business tripping. Rachel and Kyle go skinny dipping. Rachel gets randy. Kyle is cooked. Hook set hard.

Rachel decides to leave Rupert for Kyle. She makes plans. Romantic rendezvous. Rupert comes home early. Finds Rachel packin'. Rupert starts slapin'. He bounces her around the room. Rachel is ready. Rachel's 9mm starts barkin'. Rupert is rubbed out.

Rachel calls Kyle. Tells him the score. He comes to investigate. Kyle tells Rachel to call the police. Rachel tells Kyle she bought the gun black market. Looks bad. Looks premeditated. Kyle decides to help cover it up.

Of course it all goes Noirsville in a predictable manner but with some interesting twists along the way that are admittedly filmed beautifully.

Ed Harris is good as the sympatico Kyle Bodine. Madeleine Stowe treads familiar femme fatale territory she has a slight Elizabeth Taylor vibe going for her. Benicio Del Toro though is a bit miscast as Dickey, and his portrayal seems a bit uneven. He goes from a bit of a fumbler on the first case depicted to a seasoned expert when he, all of a sudden out of left field, takes the lead on the Munro murder investigation.Even if it's depicted the way it is to convey that Dickey is just playing dumb, it is not convincing. It's a bit of a jar. It is either the fault of the screenplay or that of the director. The ending also seems both rushed and flawed, and it's too syrupy too sweet.

China Moon is worth a view, it's a good primer on how a neo noir ought to at least look, but it's not an essential, it's like a "B" grade Neo. Watch for Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets featuring Sam Myers during the JJ's Lounge sequence. Screencaps are from the MGM DVD. 6.5-7/10. Full review with screencaps here:

Re: China Moon (1994) Body Heat Redux

China Moon (1994)

That's a pretty strong cast list. Do we know why it was held back for 3 years? I'll look into it. Looking into Willy Kurant's career as well.

Thanks for the review, I'd like to see it for sure.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: China Moon (1994) Body Heat Redux

Great review, and screencaps! Esp those of Madeleine Stowe, looks like I will need to grab that DVD now, haha

The Public Eye (1992) Sleuthing Shutterbug

Written and directed by Howard Franklin; director of photography, Peter Suschitzky; edited by Evan Lottman; music by Mark Isham; production designer, Marcia Hinds-Johnson. The film stars Joe Pesci (R. Leon Bernstein), Barbara Hershey (Kay Levitz), Jared Harris (Danny the Doorman), Stanley Tucci (Sal Minetti), Jerry Adler (Arthur Nabler), Farinelli (Richard Foronjy), David Hull (Thatcher Grey), and Dominic Chianese (Spoleto).

Set in 1942 The Public Eye, is inspired by one of the first of the paparazzi, the great Weegee, aka Arthur Fellig, whose B&W photographs of New York in the 1940-50's not only time captured the city, but has also been suggested as one of the influences of the look of Classic Film Noir. Weegee's nickname was a corruption of "Ouija" board. It was in reference to his magical appearance at crime, fire and accident scenes (he actually had a license for a police radio that he kept in his automobile). Weegee was the original "nightcrawler".

Consistent with the film's theme the title sequence consists of a series of developing photographs similar to Weegee's work.

Pesci is Leon Bernstein aka "Bernsy" and "The Great Bernzini" a notorious tabloid photographer, a shutter-bug. His rolling office is a 1939 Ford De Luxe Club Coupe, outfitted with a police radio, and a complete darkroom in the trunk. His tools of trade are various cameras, but primarily a Speed Graphic.

He's a schlub who slinks around wearing a fedora and chopping on a stogie. He carries in his overcoat a light meter, film, and flash bulbs. He cruises the drags with a roving eye for depictions of street life and with one ear cocked for police squeals. He makes his living off of the denizens and dreggs of the city who mostly come out after dark. He takes pictures of fires, car accidents, hookers, mobsters, servicemen, meat packers, bums, politicians, fishmongers, drunks, crooks, firemen, gamblers, celebrities, cops, gangster whacks, robbery victims, and domestic murders. A lot of his subjects are at room temperature. Sometimes he gets there before the cops and he's not above rearranging the corpse to get a better more sensational shot. He makes $3 per photo, and gets his byline in the rags, but he dreams of bigger things, he wants his work published, he wants a show in a museum. When he gets an appointment with a big publisher the head man tells him that they only print fine art and that what Bernzy has submitted are mere pictures of New York. Your pictures are too sensational, too vulgar, not art.

Bernzy is a loner. His almost ghoulish fascination with capturing death and depicting misery casts him as the ultimate outsider. He knows lots of people on a first name basis but has few true friends, and has no love life what-so-ever.

One day Benzey gets an invite to a hoity-toity club Cafe Society. He has a personal note from Kay Levitz (Hershey) the late owner's wife. When Bernzy meets Kay he is visibly smitten by her beauty and instantly under her spell. Kay takes Bernzy up to her private office. Lou Levitz, Kay's husband, once told her that Bernzy knows all the crooks and all the cops in New York and that he never took sides because that would get in the way of Bernzy getting access. Bernzy's motto is "don't get involved". Kay tells him that Lou's brother is contesting the will. Rumor has it that Kay was a gold digger who married Lou for his money. But Kay has bigger problems she points out a guy in light evening jacket and asks Bernzy if he knows him. Bernzy doesn't. Kay shows him a letter from an attorney. The man is named Emilio Portofino and claims that Lou owed him money and that he is now her partner. If she doesn't accept it he'll go to Kay's brother-in-law and help prove that the will is invalid. Bernzy tells her that he'll find out who he is for her.

Bernzy apparently gets a cop he knows to check NYPD files on Portofino, we segue to Bernzy at a cop shop he's passing cigars to the booking officer. The officer tells him that there are two guys named Portofino with records but not with the age and description that Bernzy gave him.

So Bernzy continuing his amateur sleuthing goes to pay a social call on Portofino. Portofino is past talking. Portofino is ready for a toe tag and the horizontal phone booth. Bernzy calls the police and reports the murder, and before he can give them the address they tell him they'll be right there. He next calls Kay and tells her the news and that it looks like a mob hit. When the cops show the FBI is tagging along. Bernzy is dragged downtown for questioning. They want to know who he's working for . They want to know how he knows Portofino. Bernzy feeds them BS. As soon as he's cut loose the mob braces him. They take him for a ride to Frank Farinelli. Big Frankie wants to know why Bernzy called the FBI. Wants to know who he's working for. Wants to know how he knows Portofino. Bernzy feeds him some BS. Frankie gives some advice forget about Portofino.

Bernzy continues to investigate, creatively sneaking into the FBI offices after hours to look at their files. He discovers that Portofino is involved with "Black Gas". It doesn't take long for him to connect the dots, gas ration coupons are worth gold. The Farinelli and Spoleto families are at war the Portofino hit was the spark. Kay is involved through her late husband, and someone in the Farinelli family is ratting to Spoleto (Dominic Chianese).

Bernzy breaks into the Spoleto estate and takes snaps. The photos reveal that Sal Minetto (Tucci) is the informer.

Bernzy confronts Sal Minetti who spills that Portofino was a punk from DC who was fronting for Thatcher Grey (Hull) in DC who works for the OPA. He can't unload the gas ration cards because he knows nobody. The heads of the five families won't touch them directly since they are getting amnesty from the Feds because they are working with the Italian mobs against Mussolini. Portofino hears that Lou Levitz was an old time bootlegger so maybe he knows how to unload them. Levitz was interested because there were millions involved and all Levitz had to do was turn the stamps over to Spoleto for a fat percentage. When Levitz died Portofino went to Farinelli, signing his own death warrant. Now Spoleto is gonna kill Farinelli's whole gang and Sal is going to finger it. Bernzy wants in on the location so that he can take photos.

I wish a bit more of Bernzy's work of photographing gritty New York would have been depicted, the Bowery, the srtrip joints, the beer gardens, the arcades, the Broadway scene.

The Public Eye glides along never reaching iconic levels, and there really are no cinematic sparks between Pesci's Bernzy and Hershey's Kay, it's not quite believable, but maybe that's what Franklin was going for. There are, though, some great dialog sequences that will leave you chuckling.

Spoleto: (nodding towards Bernzy and Kay) Look it's like Quasimodo and Sarsaparilla.
Henchman: I think you mean Esmeralda

The film is beautifully photographed, again as in A Rage In Harlem (1991) Cincinnati fills in very adequately for New York City, other locations being Chicago and Los Angeles. The score by Isham is decent. It should have more recognition. The screencaps are from the Universal Vault Series DVD. 7/10 Review with screencaps here:

Re: The Public Eye (1992) Sleuthing Shutterbug

I'm pretty sure that it hasn't had the recognition because of availability issues, certainly outside of America. I looked for it when I purchased the film noir encyclopedia. I'm pretty sure that Pesci mentioned it as one of the films he thinks should be better known.


The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Le Clan Des Siciliens aka The Sicilian Clan (1969)

Le Clan Des Siciliens aka The Sicilian Clan (1969): Long-time criminal Alain Delon escapes from jail with the help of the family of Sicilian mobster Jean Gabin, because Delon has blueprints detailing the security measurements at a big jewelry exhibition. Lino Ventura, the cop that caught Delon last time, is tasked with finding him again. Meanwhile Gabin calls in long-time friend Amadeo Nazzari to help with the heist, but they soon find additional, and impossible to crack, security precautions have been put in place. They come up with a different plan when they find out the exhibition will move to New York, and they set a plan in motion to kidnap the plane holding the valuable cargo. But when Delon finds himself attracted to the wife of one of Gabin's sons, things slowly start to fall apart.

The 3 leads actors are all legendary names of French and Italian cinema of the time, but then there's also acclaimed director Henry Verneuil (reteaming with Gabin and Delon after 1963's 'Melodie en Sous-sol' aka 'Any Number Can Win'), cinematographer Henri Decae ('Elevator To The Gallows', 'Le Samourai') and composer Ennio Morricone ('Once Upon A Time In The West') to add to the list. Quite an impressive list of names to work on one movie. Maybe too impressive, as the story, based on a novel by Auguste Le Breton, who also wrote the novels on which 'Rififi' and 'Razzia Sur La Chnouf' are based, is a bit slow and not too surprising. The movie's 2+hr runtime is a bit too long, with some parts of the movie relying almost solely on the charisma of its stars.

However, that and the silly ease with which the heist is carried out, are minor quibbles, as Gabin, Delon and Ventura do have the charisma and screen presence needed to keep the movie interesting. Ventura doesn't have too much to do, but Gabin and Delon are great here, playing very familiar characters for them, but never coming across as coasting or phoning it in. And Morricone's score, which has a definite spaghetti western feel to it at times while still feeling totally appropriate, is really good, especially his use of a (I think) mouth harp really grows on you. The cinematography is not really noir or rich with shadows, but it's effective and has a very typical retro feel to it. All in all, I really enjoyed the movie, even if it is not the greatest movie and could've used some editing. Still recommended. 8/10

BTW, as was apparently not uncommon at the time, this movie was shot simultaneously in French and English (Gabin and Ventura were dubbed for that version, Delon did his lines in English). I watched the French version, but the (region free) blu-ray has both versions, as well as subtitles.

Re: Le Clan Des Siciliens aka The Sicilian Clan (1969)

Thanks for the review, this one I've not seen.

Re: Le Clan Des Siciliens aka The Sicilian Clan (1969)

Le clan des Siciliens (1969)

Gabin and Delon! I'm in!!

In spite of your quibbles it reads as one to seek out. Thanks for bringing it out in the open.


The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Neo-Noir Quest 2

Just a post to announce my recent purchases. Thanks to you "neo" brood I had to get Kill Me Again (1989) and I'll Sleep When I'm Dead (2003), whilst I have snagged a Jason Patric double as well - After Dark, My Sweet (1990) and Rush (1991).

Review pending for L.A. Confidential (1997) - which quite simply rocks the house!

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Neo-Noir Quest 2

I'm looking forward to your L.A. Confidential review. I love this movie. It's one of these films I'm very apprehensive writing a review about.

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

Re: Neo-Noir Quest 2

Me Too!!!

I always have a problem writing reviews for films I dearly love, I end up getting to 10 viewings before I come to terms with the fact that I simply must get something down

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Neo-Noir Quest 2

It's not just films I love (it's easy to end up gushing endlessly), it's also films that everybody and their dog has already written about. I'd love to write reviews for The Third Man and Citizen Kane, but haven't quite dared. They would also be very very long.

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

Paris, Texas (1984) Lost And Found And Lost Again

Directed by Wim Wenders (The American Friend (1977)) and written by L.M. Kit Carson and playwright Sam Shepard. It has an immersive and quite distinctive score composed by Ry Cooder. The beautiful cinematography was by Robby Müller (The American Friend (1977)).

The film stars Harry Dean Stanton (The Wrong Man (1956), Farewell, My Lovely (1975), Wild at Heart (1990), Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), Inland Empire (2006)), Dean Stockwell (The Arnelo Affair (1947), Compulsion (1959), To Live and Die in L.A. (1985), Blue Velvet (1986)), Nastassja Kinski (Inland Empire (2006)), Bernhard Wicki, Aurore Clément, and Hunter Carson.

A Film Soleil, Psychological Noir, Paris, Texas begins in the parched Devils Graveyard landscape of West Texas. A man Travis (Stanton), gaunt, seemingly dazed, disheveled, grizzled, wanders out of oblivion, dressed in a dusty, double breasted, pinstripe suit and red baseball cap.

He stumbles into a dilapidated ramshackle adobe and trailer roadside pit stop, a de facto wind swept trash rack of haphazard human ephemera, to the accompaniment of Ry Cooder's haunting slide guitar. Travis abruptly keels over.

He comes to in Terlingua, Texas, in a doctor's clinic (Wicki). He does not answer the doctor's questions, he acts mute. Is he an amnesiac, or just another ornery desert rat? The doctor checks his personal effects. A business card with the name Walt Henderson (Stockwell) and a Los Angeles phone number is found. A call is made. Walt confirms the man is his, four year missing and presumed dead, older brother Travis.

Walt flies out to Texas to get him. He rents a car and drives down into the Big Bend Country. When Walt gets there he finds out that Travis lit out again. Walt disgustedly drives around the few roads searching for him, finally spotting him walking a powerline. Walt is taken back by Travis' appearance, he tells him he "looks like forty miles of bad road." Walt beckons him to the car but Travis seems magnetically pulled to the perspective of the powerline stretching to infinity. Travis only reluctantly gets in the car.

Travis finally comes out of his post traumatic trance like state and speaks, and it's seemingly cryptic. He mentions Paris, that he wants to go to Paris. Not France but Paris, Texas, and the empty lot where mom told him he was conceived. It's as if getting back there to ground zero he can start over with a clean slate. In fits and starts we begin to see the whole picture. Walt and his wife Anne ( Clement) live in Los Angeles with Travis's son Hunter (Carson). Hunter was dropped off by Jane (Kinski), who was finding it difficult to take care of him on her own. Jane still deposits various amounts money every month in an account for Hunter.

When Travis and Walt make it back to Los Angeles Travis begins to relearn how to be a father to Hunter. Hunter is at first apprehensive, but soon warms to Travis. Travis becomes determined to put back together the pieces of his life and family. The more time he spends with his brother and his wife the more he knows that Hunter should be with his biological mother and he longs for a reunion with Jane. An old family Super 8 movie of Walt, Anne, Travis, Jane, and Hunter back in happier times buoys his perseverance. He finds out from Anne that the deposits that Jane makes are on the same day (the 5th) every month at the same bank. The bank is in Houston. Travis decides to go to Houston and Hunter decides to go with him. They head out on the two lane in his '59 Ford Ranchero.

If you haven't seen this see it now. The film contains one of the great monologues in cinema history. 10/10

Fuller review with screencaps from the Criterion DVD here:

Re: Paris, Texas (1984) Lost And Found And Lost Again

This is a beautiful and unique movie that lingers on in your mind long after it's done. I never thought of it in a 'noir' way, but you make a good case, great review and love your screencaps! Maybe a re-watch is in order.

Re: Paris, Texas (1984) Lost And Found And Lost Again

It's similar in a way to Mister Buddwing (1966) another psychological noir.

Re: Paris, Texas (1984) Lost And Found And Lost Again

Thanks for the recommendation. I've not seen that one, so will add it to my list.

Re: Paris, Texas (1984) Lost And Found And Lost Again

Never seen this one. Off your write up i'll need to dig up a copy for a look see. Thanks.

Re: Paris, Texas (1984) Lost And Found And Lost Again

I watched this last year as part of the 1984 poll on CFB. I didn't review it as I need another watch. I did rate it 9/10. I don't recall it being on any noir lists? So your review is most interesting.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Paris, Texas (1984) Lost And Found And Lost Again

Another couple not on many Noir lists are Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia (1974), The Wrong Man (1993), and Hit Me (1996)




This one is a interesting film with a deliberate pace that starts slow, then, builds to a surprising ending.

There have been several murders of pretty girls in a small country town. The two local detectives, quickly grab up a mentally challenged kid from the village. It was known that the lad liked the one victim.

The two detectives administer some rather forceful third degree to the lad. They then get the lad to record a scripted confession. The case is solved and the two are local heroes.

That is, till, a detective sent from Seoul arrives. This detective goes over everything and realizes the boy is not guilty. The boy is released and the local cops are less than amused with the new cop on the block.

The new guy quickly shows his stuff though by going over the evidence and finding more victims. The local boys again grab up the first suspect for some country justice. Of course they are a bit too quick off the mark and this man is also innocent. The pace picks up steam as more women are added to the victim list. A woman cop helps out by pointing out all the murders happen on rainy nights, and when a certain song on the radio is played that same night.

The net is thrown wider and a girl who survived an attack is located. Off her somewhat cloudy description, a new suspect is rounded up. This time the locals do not resort to the "in your face" interview tactics. They do not want anything that could foul up the court case. The man though does not break, and is set free. The police do however have people tail the suspect.

There is a mix-up with the assignments and the tail is lost. Another dead girl is the result. On this victim there is a small bit of DNA evidence not ruined by the rain. This is sent off to the States for the FBI to examine.

The evidence comes back as inconclusive. The Seoul detective knows they have the right man no matter what the evidence says. Now he goes off the dead end, he intends to kill the suspect. Does he? Not saying.


Salinui chueok (2003)

Thank you Gord, highly rated.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Rush (1991)

Rush (1991)

I'm going deeper underground!

Rush is directed by Lili Fini Zanuck and adapted to screenplay by Peter Dexter from the Kim Wozencraft novel. It stars Jason Patric, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sam Elliott, Max Perlich and Gregg Allman. Music is by Eric Clapton and cinematography by Kenneth MacMillan.

Two undercover narcotic cops get on a downward spiral that they may not return from

Set and filmed in Texas, Rush is a hot, sweaty and claustrophobic neo-noir. It maybe doesn't have the classic visual tics of yesteryear, but it has photographic style to burn - with Clapton's score suitably melancholic, which in turn is something that sits perfectly with the perpetual sense of doom that pervades the pic. Corruption and addiction lead the way, all while love tries its hardest to break on through to the other side, but we are on a bus to noirville, and noirville is an unforgiving place

Patric and Leigh are damn fine actors if given the right material to work with, and they carry this with aplomb. Sadly, Allman is a weak villain, maybe because he looks like a Rick Wakeman clone?! While under using Sam Elliott is just a plain waste. However, this deserves its place on neo-noir lists. It is deliberate in pacing, therefore asking for you to buy into the thematics at work, to let them itch your skin, but to do so has rewards, for in true noir style it doesn't chicken out once the end credits have rolled. 7.5/10

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

The Seven-Ups (1973)

The Seven-Ups (1973): Roy Scheider leads the Seven-Ups, a team of underground NYC police detectives. When a shady bondsman is kidnapped by fake cops in front of their eyes, Scheider turns to his snitch Tony Lo Bianco for leads. He puts them on the trail of a series of kidnappings and shakedowns of local mobsters, done by alleged cops. They do a stake-out at a mob-related funeral at Lo Bianco's funeral parlor, but one of Scheider's men is spotted and beaten to a pulp. But before they can get rid of him, the kidnappers steal the car with the detective in the trunk and kill thim. Because of this, as well as their unorthodox methods, the NYC police officials are thinking that the Seven-Ups might be behind the kidnappings themselves, and now Scheider and his team have to prove their innocence by finding the real kidnappers. But what Scheider doesn't realize is how closely connected he is to the kidnappers

Cut from the same cloth as 'The French Connection' (also with Scheider and Lo Bianco) and the 'Dirty Harry' movies, 'The Seven-Ups' is a gritty, rough and unforgiving 70s innercity crime thriller that favors tension over action. Scheider is in top form as a cop who constantly skirts and crosses the borders of the law to catch criminals, and so is Lo Bianco in a very weasely role, trying to successfully maneuver between different worlds.

The movie's centerpiece, and really the only action-packed sequence, is a top-notch car chase in and around NYC that is up there with the best of them, really impressive stuff. But the movie as a whole works well and is tense, in part because it doesn't waste any time trying to 'humanize' Scheider, he's given zero backstory, has no life outside of his work, and has no qualms about torturing a dying man in a hospital bed for information. Which also leads to a satisfying final moment when he confronts the man behind the kidnappings, and just walks away, knowing the man will be killed by the mobsters anyways.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, which might not have the same reputation as the aforementioned classics, but it should. Sure, it lacks emotional depth and the 'twist' about the kidnappers is revealed rather early (and is not too surprising), but over all it's excellent stuff. And that car chase is worth the price of admission alone 8/10

Re: The Seven-Ups (1973)

I caught this one back in the day on a double bill with BULLITT. The great stunt driver Bill Hickman drove the crooks car in both of the films. He was also the man behind the wheel in the FRENCH CONNECTION. The chase in this one is even better than BULLITT and FRENCH CONNETION if you ask me. I watched this just last month and it still packs a wallop. Nice pick!

RUN LOLA RUN 1998 Thriller with a Neo Feel



Not sure how to describe this 1998 German production. Best to call it a real non-stop thrill ride about a pair of losers. Franka Potente and Moritz Bleibtreu are the said losers. Bleibtreu is a low end dealer who is doing a 100,000 Mark cash pick-up for his boss. Of course he loses the cash and is sure that his crazy boss is going to kill him.

He gets on the phone and calls his girl, Potente about the screw-up. Now starts a series of events as Potente tries to round up the cash in just 20 minutes. Out the door she charges and starts running here and there in order to save her boyfriend's life.

The film moves at breakneck speed as Potente tries to hit up her banker father for some cash. This does not work so it is back on the street as Potente races to her man's side. The deal here is that the boyfriend intents to rob a nearby market if Potente cannot gather the cash.

The whole story starts over again when the first "run" is not a success. This one plays out slightly different but is likewise not a success. The third "run" is again different, but this time there is a happy ending for Potente and Bleibtreu.

This one is a film that really needs to be seen. It is damn near impossible to explain the story and do it justice. At only 81 minutes it rocket's along with top flight cinematography and a pounding soundtrack. It is well worth the time investment.

I was lucky enough to see it on the big screen and was floored by the whole production. The audience all clapped and cheered at the end.

L.A. Confidential (1997)

L.A. Confidential (1997)

City of Angels? More Like City of Demons!

Curtis Hanson directs and co-adapts the screenplay with Brian Helgeland from legendary pulp novelist James Ellroy's novel. It stars Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito and David Strathairn. Music is by Jerry Goldsmith and cinematography by Dante Spinotti.

It's 1950s Los Angeles and three cops of very different morals and stature are about to be entwined in crime and corruption

I admire you as a policeman, particularly your adherence to violence as a necessary adjunct to the job.

Tremendous film making. Hanson takes Ellroy's labyrinthine story and pumps it with period authenticity and seamless direction, the latter of which sees him garner superlative performances from the cast. This is the side of Los Angeles nobody wants to talk about, it's awash with corpses, hookers, seedy set-ups, violence, drugs, racism and corruption a go-go. And that's just involving the politicians, the press and the coppers!

Rollo Tomasi.

The absence of genuine heroes on show still further keeps "The City of Angels" covered in dark clouds, where even as the plot twists and turns, as the mysteries unravel and brutality unfurls, the final destination of the principal characters is never clear, thus there's a continuing edge of seat pulse beat about the pic. It's also sexy and dangerous, the dialogue sharper than a serpent's tooth, and while the ending is a little too cosy as opposed to original noir wave conventions, this is pure noir in all but black and white photography.

It won only two Academy Awards, Basinger for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and for Hanson and Hegeland for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published. Frankly it should have won a dozen or so, for it's one of the best films of the 90s. 10/10

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: L.A. Confidential (1997)

Hands down one of my top 5 films of all time!!!! A keeper on so many diff levels.

Re: L.A. Confidential (1997)

It just gets better every time I watch it

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: L.A. Confidential (1997)

Let us not forget it introduces us to Simon Baker known as "Simon Baker Denny" in 1997 who would morph into television's Red John Hunter Patrick Jane in The Mentalist (2008) and play for 151 episodes.

Saw LA Confidential when it first came out and noted the young man playing Matt Reynolds. Even wrote down his name. How cool was that ?

Simon Baker

A few years ago myself and the lady I was dating at the time were watching Land of the Dead (2005) and he showed up on screen and we spent 10 minutes trying to figure out where we knew him from. We twigged eventually but felt a little sheepish at not getting him straight away.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: L.A. Confidential (1997)

Nice review. I just love the movie. It's a case of the film being at least as good as the book. I give it a 10/10 too.

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

Re: L.A. Confidential (1997)

I couldn't do it justice, review wise, I mean what can you write about it that hasn't been written before?!

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Re: L.A. Confidential (1997)

I liked it too, however one glaring WTF omission is what I like to call the "romance of the fedora" aside from the DeVitos' character Sid Hudgens and James Cromwell's Dudley Smith, fedoras are absent, missing in action. It just doesn't feel quite right, it would be sort of on par with making a Western without cowboy hats, the characters look naked. -1

Ok I can understand somewhat where Director Hanson is coming from in a commentary he states that he wanted to make a film that didn't feel like a period piece because he was concerned about getting funding, but you could at least have had 1/4 of the cast wear fedoras and one of the leads.

The Author James Ellroy on his commentary on the DVD for Crime Wave "Sterling Hayden That is my Bud White. That is my Bud White! f-k Russell Crowe in 'L A Confidential.' I mean he was okay, but he's a shrimpy little sh-t Bud White as Bud Whites go. Sterling Hayden is the real deal. Look at this! He's not even acting. Look at that hat!" 'nuff said.

If this film really wanted to be a neo noir masterpiece it didn't have confidence or the nerve to push that envelope, Hanson's reluctance to embrace Noir and go with the safe money gives us, at the denouement, the happy Hollywood ending. The bad guys are all dead and 2/3 of the good guys live. -1 final score for me 8/10

Re: L.A. Confidential (1997)

Well, Ellroy has said a lot of stuff about the film over the years, including many positive things, in fact he mellowed quite considerably towards it.

If this film really wanted to be a neo noir masterpiece it didn't have confidence or the nerve to push that envelope, Hanson's reluctance to embrace Noir and go with the safe money gives us, at the denouement, the happy Hollywood ending. The bad guys are all dead and 2/3 of the good guys live.

I can't argue with you about the ending, being the noir miserablist I am then I wanted White dead, even Exley as well But Vincennes buys it so it's not a total cop out

Hats, really?

There was a guy on the Western board once who wrote a wall of text about the wrong guns being used in Oaters The lack of hats in Confidential is hardly a flaw, it looks and feels early 50s Los Angeles, with locations to match. Which I know you are very big on.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: L.A. Confidential (1997)

Yea hats, it is one of my pet peeves. ;-) I feel that Mulholland Falls (1996), taking place about the same time period does the hats better.

Re: L.A. Confidential (1997)

Mulholland Falls

Well it is based on The Hat Squad, so it was a requisite

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Re: L.A. Confidential (1997) and happy endings

The ending was "happy" only if you believe that a (reformed) crooked cop escaping indictment and leaving town with a retreaded hooker fits the-good-guy-gets-the-girl scenario. Bud was a sufficiently flawed character and Lynn Bracken wasn't exactly the noir "good girl" in the tradition of Ann Shirley (Murder My Sweet) or Ruth Harland (Leave Her to Heaven).

LAC was made with big stars and a big budget, so Hanson as producer and director played to the intended audience. Its about as good as its gonna get these days unless an independent B studio says "the hell with it, who needs to turn a profit." Warner Bros just wasn't going to do that.

Most people prefer happy endings. Even in the post WWII era of noir, comedies were much more popular. Art imitates life and noir was much more a sign of the times then than it could ever be now. The happy ending in LAC doesnt bother me too much. To me, the worse sin was Danny DeVitos Sid Hudgens and his terrible voice over. But thats a different topic.

I give LA Confidential 9/10 marked down only because of the DiVito thing.

Re: L.A. Confidential (1997) and happy endings

I think DeVito is great, slime ball characterisation and in tone period narration.

As for the ending, I get what you say but it's just that Bud is shot to pieces yet still lives. It's why - off the top of my head - something like Seven is so great, because it stays true to its dark heart with the finale.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Black Widow (1987)

Black Widow (1987): Debra Winger is an FBI investigator stuck behind her desk, who comes across a couple of normal looking natural deaths of rich men across the country. All of whom had married a young woman shortly before that fatal moment. She does some digging and starts to suspect all these women are one and the same, Theresa Russell. But nobody within the bureau really believes her. She decides to go undercover and follow Russell to Hawaii to try and trap this black widow.

In many ways this is a straight-forward modern cat & mouse (spider & fly would be more apt) thriller, which come a dime a dozen. What sets this one apart is that the adversaries are women and that Russell is a genuine femme fatale: beautiful, sexy and very deadly. The movie doesn't give any background to her, it doesn't try to explain her motives, it even pokes fun in one scene at the Hollywood trend to explain motives by looking at a person's past. Russell is great, she's very seductive and alluring but always has an ice-cold look in her eyes. Winger is equally great as the determined agent who is lusted after by her colleagues and her boss, and who has to step outside her comfort zone in order to get closer to Russell. There is a very small cameo for Dennis Hopper as one of the unfortunate husbands, but despite being billed fourth, he doesn't make it past the opening 10 minutes (opening credits included).

The movie, directed by Bob Rafelson (1981's 'The Postman Always Rings Twice') and lensed by Conrad Hall ('Road To Perdition'), looks stylish but not exactly noir-ish, offsetting the grubby FBI office and Winger's wild hairdo with the very rich and posh interiors of Russell's husbands and her meticulously done hair. Plotwise it has noir elements, but at crucial moments the screenplay goes soft and Hollywood. The electric relationship between Winger and Russell is left hanging and the set-up for the ending hints at something along the lines of 'The Last Seduction' but then it throws another twist at the viewer that is way too neat (and overly contrived when you think about it). It's a shame, because overall it's a highly enjoyable thriller. I just wish they took a few more risks with this movie. 7/10

Re: Black Widow (1987)

Pretty much agree from memory about this the last time I saw it. It's on my review queue and for a rewatch.

Re: Black Widow (1987)

Glad you sought it out. Pretty much agree, it could have done with more danger. Still a sexy pot-boiler that doesn't waste our time.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

About Elly (2009)


"A bitter ending is better than endless bitterness."

* This review may contain spoilers ***


Reading a leaflet from a local art house cinema,I was disappointed to find that I had just missed a screening of an Iran New Wave (INW) Thriller. Looking for the movie on DVD,the only result that turned up was one without English subtitles.


Finally getting the chance to see Asghar Farhadi's work in the haunting Drama The Past,I was thrilled to discover that the BBC were to show one of his earlier works,which led to me getting set to at last meet Elly.

The plot:

Going on a three day holiday,school friends/ couples Sepideh,Amir, Shohreh, Peyman, Nazy and Nazy's husband Manuchehr decide to take their children along on the trip. Aware that the recently divorced Ahmad if flying in from Germany to join them on the break, Sepideh pushes her daughters kindergarten teacher Elly to join them,in the hope that she will woo Ahmad. Arriving at the beach villa,the gang find the place to have no phone reception and to be in the middle of nowhere. Wanting to keep things secret,Elly travels to town and calls her mum to lie about what's taking place.Fearful that Elly could run off early, Sepideh hides her bags. Wanting to spend some time on their own,the gang ask Elly to look after the kids on the beach.Relaxing,the gang is shaken by the scream of a child floating away on the sea,and the discovery that Elly has disappeared into thin air.

View on the film:

Keeping what awaits them at bay,co-writer/(along with Azad Jafarian) directing auteur Asghar Farhadi & cinematographer Hossein Jafarian give the opening 45 minutes a laid-back attitude,where the camera drifts along to snippets of casual dialogue.Riding the waves of dread with INW tracking shots cracking over the ocean, Farhadi breaks the calm with an atmosphere running on high anxiety,as stylish camera moves sweep the ocean for any sight of Elly. Making a sandcastle for his major visual themes, Farhadi lays the villa bare,subtly matching the bare soul of each guest,caught in draining close-ups and clipped dialogue out of earshot, capturing the emotional,darkly thrilling waves.

Initially looking like a nice holiday to the beach, the screenplay by Farhadi and Jafarian chips away at the calm and taps into the pure Noir terror,brilliantly bringing the fracturing state of each relationship to the surface. Finding no sign of Elly on the sea,the writers' strike a chilling mood with an expert deconstruction of Elly's disappearance leading to powerfully raw questions on treating words with a minimal value and the drastic measures people will take to keep a lie in place.

Twisting Elly's arm to come along, Golshifteh Farahani gives a divesting performance as Sepideh,whose face is drawn by Farahani in lines of disperse,and a desperation to grasp any sign of hope. Flying in from Germany, Shahab Hosseini gives a magnificent performance as Ahmad,by Hosseini keeping the lingering sting from Ahmad's divorce very real,in a film about Elly.

Re: About Elly (2009)

Darbareye Elly (2009)

A seriously well thought of movie. Thanks for the review chap, enjoyed looking into the pic.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: About Elly (2009)

Thanks Spike,and I hope you are having a good weekend.

Going way off-topic,if you want to watch something really cheerful,the BBC have recently shown some pretty rare movies (which are on Amazon for £10 plus from the US):

Mr Lucky (Carry Grant):

Two Tickets To Broadway (Janet Leigh):

And whilst not that cheerful,one of my top viewings of the year-Short Term 12:

The other Human Desire!

A must see for anyone interested in seeing the origins of a major Neo-Noir


"The path that bore into your head,behind your ears,the sudden attacks of fever,those bouts of sadness,that made you hide like a beast in a hole."

** This review may contain spoilers ***

Nearing the end of my French viewing marathon,I realised that I have never seen a film from one of the most legendary French directors: Jean Renoir. Looking at Renoir DVDs on Amazon,I found out that Fritz Lang's Film Noir Human Desire (which I own,but have yet to see) was a remake of a Renoir (who has "Noir" in his name!) movie,which led to me getting set for my first Renoir viewing.

The plot:

Running a train between Paris and Le Havre, Jacques Lantier tries to stay on his own,due to going into a murderous rage for any women he falls in love with (what a romantic!) Despite his best efforts,Lantier is unable to take his eyes off the deputy station masters wife: Séverine Roubaud. Learning that she has had an affair with a rich guy called Grandmorin, Séverine's husband gets her to arrange a meeting on a train.Pulling Séverine along,Roubaud covers the windows and kills Grandmorin. Witnessing the murder,Lantier discovers that he is unable to overcome his human desire for Séverine.

View on the film:

Starring in the first of his two Film Noirs to get remade in the US, (the other being the soon to be banned Le Jour se Leve,remade as The Long Night) Jean Gabin gives a towering,simmering with anger Film Noir loner performance as Jacques Lantier. Covered with coal from the train,Gabin coils Lantier tightly up and keeps an intense evil under the surface aura bubbling away,which Gabin gradually cracks to cover the coal in blood.Looking like one of the cat people whose got the cream,the sexy Simone Simon give a seductive performance as Femme Fatale Séverine Roubaud. Catching the stray light in her black coat,Simon brilliantly digs her nails into the psychological trauma of Roubaud,whose delicious,double crossing Femme Fatale sting Simon gracefully carries with an air of impending doom. Caught between Lantier and Séverine, (plus a Jacques Becker cameo) Fernand Ledoux gives a hard-nosed performance as Mr. Roubaud,whose restless use of force to get his way,Ledoux wonderfully turns into Roubaud seeing the Film Noir darkness in a watch.

Putting mile Zola's 1890 novel on Film Noir tracks,the screenplay by co-star/co-writer (along with Denise Leblond) /director Jean Renoir places Séverine so tantalisingly close to Lantier that his Noir desires reveal themselves in the rawest form possible. Hitting the acts of violence with a blunt force,the writers superbly opens up the brittle veins of the Roubaud's and Lantier,where every suspicion Lantier gains on the mystery of the murder,brings the viper charms of Lantier and Séverine burning across the screen.

Rubbing the charcoal pessimism on Lantier's face,director Renoir & cinematographer Curt Courant give their doom-laded train ride an extraordinary, reflective Film Noir atmosphere,by turning the camera to look at the mirrors of poisonous human desire seeping out of the seams. Entwining Lantier and Séverine in an ultra-stylised Noir embrace,Renoir drives the title with a magnificent Film Noir atmosphere, threading the fractured romance between the Roubaud's and Lantier with merciless lines of shadows uncovering Lantier's human desire.

Branded To Kill (1967) aka Koroshi No Rakuin

Branded To Kill (1967) aka Koroshi No Rakuin: Jo Shishido is the #3 hitman for the Yakuza. When he screws up a job due to a butterfly landing on the barrel of his sniper rifle, he becomes a target for the other hitmen himself. He manages to deal with several of them before the #1 hitman Koji Nanbara, also known as the Phantom because nobody knows who he is, comes after him.

It's impossible to accurately describe this movie, so the less said about the plot, the better. Director Seijun Suzuki ('Tokyo Drifter', 'Youth Of The Beast') gets rid of every convention in the book and delivers one freakishly unique movie. As a consequence he got fired and blacklisted by the Nikkatsu studio, who wanted an easy-to-market Yakuza thriller, and got tired of his increasingly artsy movies. Expect a lot of violence, crazy hard-boiled talk and characters, a lot of nudity and sex, an almost incomprehensible story that seems to play with time and space in random ways, a cool jazzy soundtrack And amazingly beautiful cinematography. Suzuki and DoP Kazue Nagatsuka ('Youth Of The Beast') make every frame stunning.

Chipmunk-like Shishido ('Youth Of The Beast', he got cheek-implants years before to give himself a 'beefier' look) is awesome here, a cool killer but also possessing some insane fetishes (he gets sexually aroused by the smell of boiling rice). While he has sex with his jealous wife Marika Ogawa seemingly non-stop, he craves for the mysterious, suicidal and at times incredibly creepy Anne Mari, the girl who hired him for the job he botched and who collects butterflies and likes to pierce song birds with needles. And then there's Nanbara, who would rather pee down his own leg than let Shishido out of his sight (they're sitting next to each other tho!). 'Normal' does not apply to this movie nor its characters.

This movie is as impossible to rate as it is to describe (I only scratched the surface so far). At times it's frustrating to watch because it ignores so many narrative conventions, but even then it's fascinating to watch, and always with one beautifully crafted shot after another. I can see why Nikkatsu was shocked and less than pleased when they saw this. But holy crap, it's unique. Highly recommended, even if only for the experience. Insane, hip, amazing, but maybe also overly artsy to disguise its shortcomings? 8/10 (but it doesn't mean a lot this case)