All Their Wars Are Merry: Short movie reviews

In the order in which I saw them.Specter of the Rose: Utterly whackadoo noirish thing by Ben Hecht, set in the world of ballet. You'd think I'd love it! But the acting is just not great, and the main characters are wafer-thin. If you're more willing than I was to succumb to the pasteboard melodrama of it all you might love this. There is one truly great line: "If we jailed all the people I dislike, the world would become a pensive vacuum."Hunger: Intense, complex Bobby Sands/Maze prison … [Read more...]

Against Air Conditioning: Aesthetics Finally Have a Say at the Washington Post!

This piece covers a surprisingly wide range of arguments, from film noir to cost savings to the human need for siesta--it isn't the expected environmental scold. I assume the author didn't write the headline. While I strongly prefer the un-AC life (I have permission from my landlady to cover the AC vent in my room with a magnetic panel, so my Literal Garret gets gloriously subtropical, with soft caresses from fresh air and the tidal howling of crickets and cicadas) I try not to tell other people … [Read more...]

The Only Song in the World: Short movie notes

In order of when I saw them, so this will get whiplashy.Me Without You: Brutally disappointing. The bait: Two girls forge a best friendship (YES) in the late '70s/early '80s (YES) complete with druggie punk adventures (YES!) and talking about finding their "soulmate" while using their feet to share a cigarette (YES!!!!). One of them is even Jewish!!The switch: Joke's on you, gen-X lesbian, their friendship is holding them back and it falls apart in the face of the obvious imperatives of … [Read more...]

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...]

“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...]

Various Tails: Or, An Update on My Summer Reading

This year I answered not one but two of those hubristic "What do you plan to read this summer?" poll-articles. Last year I read exactly one of my "planned" (= "selected in order to bolster my public image," really) books, and didn't like it--you guys can hate me, but I did not get A Confederacy of Dunces at all, just thoroughly remained outside of it the whole time. I did read Two Murders in My Double Life eventually, and liked it.But this year I've knocked off the lot (more or less) fairly … [Read more...]

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...]