Black and White and Red All Over: Short movie reviews, mostly noir

So while everybody else was celebrating Scary Movie Season, I was mostly at AFI's Noir City DC festival. This year the theme was "marriage" so you know that it was like they got chocolate in my peanut butter.Let's start before the festival, though, with 99 Homes. The plot here is that evil developer Richard Carver (Michael Shannon) personally supervises the foreclosure of beleaguered working-class single father Dennis (Andrew Garfield). Then the rapacious rich man, who is named Rich Carver … [Read more...]

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Why the Long Face? I Watch “BoJack Horseman”

for AmCon. This piece could have been twice the length--I have a lot of feelings about this show, apparently: We’ve suffered a rash of cynical, sarcastic, hyper-competent white manchildren on our TV screens: “House” was one of the purest versions of this creepy fantasy, where self- and other-loathing make you cool and insightful. Recently there has been a bit of a backlash. Leading men (Walter White, Don Draper) now display the gross and pathetic nature of entitled narcissism, no matter how well … [Read more...]

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“Haunted Hollywood”: I watch “Maps to the Stars”

for AmSpec: Part of the reason David Cronenberg’s new Maps to the Stars is so engrossing is that it’s two kinds of movie at once. The surface is all brutal Hollywood satire, the child star who only eats red Skittles and the washed-up actress demanding that her assistant fetch her Xanax and Kozy Shack pudding. This stuff is breathtaking: the massage therapist who helps his scantily-clad clients work through child abuse (“I’m going to press on a personal history point now”), the hateful cheek-kis … [Read more...]

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“This Town Is Dead at Night”: I watch that Iranian-Californian vampire flick

for AmCon: When I heard there was an Iranian-Californian vampire movie where a lady vampire skateboards through a deserted town under the streetlights and the palm trees, her chador blowing out behind her like Dracula’s cape, I thought, That’s awesome!But by the time we actually reached the skateboard scene in “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” all I could think was, That’s terrifying!“A Girl” is a totally effective piece of atmosphere: dreamlike, black and white, with a phenomenal sound … [Read more...]

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“California Female Inmates Sterilized Illegally”

through at least 2010: ..."The audit shows systemic failures by the federal receiver in the sterilization of female inmates," Lieu said. "I'm also surprised that the receiver makes the argument that they had no legal duty to make sure the prison employees comply with the consent procedures. That is a ludicrous argument."The CIR investigation, published in July, found that 132 women received tubal ligations in violation of prison rules from 2006 to 2010 — and perhaps 100 more dating back to t … [Read more...]

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Painting the Town Red: “The Exiles,” A Masterpiece of Lost L.A.

Kent MacKenzie's The Exiles played exactly once, at the 1961 Venice Film Festival, and then vanished for more than forty years. It was rediscovered in 2003, and you can find it now on Netflix--which you should do, for real, here's why.The Exiles follows a group of American Indian men and women over the course of one night at the very end of noir-era Los Angeles. The neighborhood where the film was shot was demolished--excuse me, I mean renewed--shortly afterward. The Native actors were … [Read more...]

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“Will the Great US Penal Reform Tip the Balance for Addicts?”: The Fix

feature: ...Now, after decades of runaway incarceration fueled greatly by the War on Drugs, California is in the midst of what one expert calls “the biggest penal experiment in modern history,” diverting tens of thousands of inmates from state prisons to local supervision. California’s so-called realignment leads a growing pack of sentencing and legal reforms nationwide, all designed to change how the US treats low-level offenders—most of them facing drug charges, and many suffering from addicti … [Read more...]

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