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...]

My Summer Reading 2014 (And Also Other People’s)

at the University Bookman--although actually I just started Gilgi, by the same woman who wrote The Artificial Silk Girl: From medieval sagas to anti-Communist Japanese surrealist novels, the Civil War campaigns to contemporary fiction, our contributors and friends again provide their summer reading lists. Every year this is one of our most popular features, as the suggestions from our trusted contributors are learned, wide-ranging, and deeply engaged with the questions that face our modern … [Read more...]

“All Noir Is Reunion”: I review the “Veronica Mars” movie

at AmCon: When we talk about the TV renaissance, we should talk about “Veronica Mars.” The 2004 “high school noir” show’s extraordinary first season mixed weekly casefiles with a season-long arc–two arcs, actually. Veronica starts the show as a suddenly bereft and embittered California teen: Her best friend has been murdered, her father lost his sheriff’s job when he fingered a local corporate bigwig for the crime, she lost all her friends in the aftermath, and when she tried to … [Read more...]

“I’m OK, You’re Dead”: I review “The Act of Killing”

at AmCon: ...This surreal documentary, which feels more like Variety Hour in Hell, began when filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer found that it was impossible to get survivors of the brutal 1965-6 anti-Communist campaign in Indonesia to describe their experiences. He settled for what he considered the next best thing: interviews with the perpetrators. And for the reason Jean-Luc Godard gives here, that turned out to be the key to making one of the most eye-opening documentaries I’ve ever seen. more … [Read more...]

A Vindication of the Rights of Clip-Joint Girls

Recently watched "Marked Woman," an early Bette Davis/Humphrey Bogart flick in which Davis is a nightclub hostess who tries to go up against the toughest gangster in town after he kills her sister. Bogart is the crusading, by which I mean lecturing, DA. It's actually a startlingly powerful film, largely because it takes everything about the clip-joint girls' lives so seriously: their friendships, their families, their courage, their distinctive personalities. It's about the compromises they made … [Read more...]

“Deadline–USA”

in which I watch a movie. … [Read more...]

“Choosing poorly in your friends”

A great interview with Dan Barden, author of The Next Right Thing, which I reviewed (glowingly!) for the Weekly Standard. I love his line about "earthly justice" as well. Link via HEAR. … [Read more...]


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