We are back with more video blogs. I hope you enjoy my thoughts on Nicholas Ray’s On Dangerous Ground and Felix Feist’s The Devil Thumbs a Ride:
Here are the latest in my series of video blogs, 100 CRIME FILMS. This time I discuss Norman Mailer’s film Tough Guys Don’t Dance as well as Dead Calm and the film Orson Welles made from the same material, The Deep.
Here are two new video blogs for my series 100 Crime Films. Here I talk about the Ridley Scott-directed Someone to Watch Over Me and John Cassavetes’ The Killing of a Chinese Bookie.
Just for fun, Gus and I have put together our top five favorite film lists from 2012. See both below:
The Imposter – a documentary by Bart Layton about a French young man who convinces a Texas family that he is their 16 year old son who has been missing for 3 years. It engaged and intrigued me. And I’m still asking questions about the situation all these months after seeing it.
The Paperboy – A tabloid movie if there ever was one. Many critics (mainstream and others) have picked it as one of the worst of the year because it, I suspect, it outrages so many of their middleclass values, which is of course the reason I like it so much. Lee Daniels directed.
Moonrise Kingdom – Wes Anderson’s children book of a movie that took me into a world of its own and delighted me completely.
Holy Motors – If Hieronymus Bosch was alive and making movies I think he would’ve made this one. But his stand-in Leon Carax did. It is a sort of made-up real life fantasia that has to be seen more than once.
Chasing Ice – A documentary about James Balog’s obsession with photographing the melting glaciers on Iceland, Greenland and Alaska. Global warming is the subject and the warning. It was directed by Jeff Orlowski.
And one more.
A Month in Mississippi – by Travis mills. A visual essay/ poem that is both enchanting and sublime. The only reason it’s not among the 5 listed above is that it’s a short and not a feature length film.
This list pleases me because it draws it not only draws from theatrical releases but also from stuff online.
1. Get the Gringo
2. Zero Dark Thirty
Another masterpiece from Bigelow.
3. The Imposter
The best thriller of the year, a documentary.
4. Jack Reacher
The second best thriller of the year, an old-fashioned smart action picture.
The only movie this year that didn’t waste any time: short, brutal and much better than it got credit for.
Here are the latest in my video blog series 100 Crime Films. This time I discuss Point Blank starring Lee Marvin and Rampart starring Woody Harrelson.
Here are our newest video blogs in our series 100 CRIME FILMS. This time I discuss Dennis Hopper’s Noir The Hot Spot and Peter Weir’s Witness.
Here are my newest crime films blogs. This time I discuss the Coen Brothers’ relation to the crime genre and their film The Big Lebowski as well as Burt Reynold’s Sharky’s Machine.
The Steel Trap (1952)
This is the kind of film for which the phrase “They don’t make them like this anymore.” Was coined. It is a small, low budget tightly scripted black and white thriller in which the suspense is constantly to the point of being unbearable. I suspect that it falls into the “noir” genre of some kind because it very definitely focuses and explores the noir or dark side of its principal character’s persona. But I would prefer to call it a “cozy” of some sort. But I don’t mean that in the British Mystery sense of the word. I call it that because of the narrow scope of the picture both in its visuals and story which is almost exclusively about the leading character Jim Osborne, his wife Laurie and the crime he commits. Just about every other character in the story is a walk-on in terms of screen time. There are a few outdoor scenes but 80% of the action takes place indoors, either in houses, office buildings, hotel rooms or airports. This lack of visual expansiveness is what gives the viewer this cozy sense, enclosed feeling I am talking about.
The story in outline is simplicity itself. A bank manager discovers a loophole in the US extradition laws with Brazil and decides to change his hum-drum life by stealing a million dollars from the bank on Friday thereby giving him the whole weekend to get to Brazil and disappear before the theft is discovered on Monday. He lies to his fife who is unaware of his plans. He tells her that he’s going on a business trip and would like her to accompany him. He then commits the crime and they start on their journey. But things don’t go as easily as he had thought and he is faced with one problem after another. Some of them are major but most are trivial or mundane circumstances that we all face when travelling, without much tension, simply because we don’t have a million stolen dollars in our luggage.
The film begins casually enough but then in about 10 minutes in the suspense starts to build and build until we’re about to explode. This because the director (Andrew L. Stone) who was also the author puts us not only in the shoes of Jim Osborne but also into his mind via narration. It stars Joseph Cotten as Osborn and Teresa Wright as Laurie. Both were in Hitchcock’s terrific Shadow of a Doubt (1943). There they were uncle and niece; here they are husband and wife. Cotten, with his Patrician looks and cultured sounding speech patterns always had a talent for projecting something sinister underneath. Here he tempers it with a certain kind of tender concern. Teresa Wright, on the other hand, always projected a kind of outright honesty that was engaging without being cloying. And in the context of this story that quality is used to good effect.
The running time is 85 minutes. But it is an 85 minutes packed with so much nail biting suspense that it could or should be used as a model of effective screen economy in these times when just about every other released mainstream picture seems to be an indulgent 20 or 30 minutes too long for its own good…In the olden days of the Studio System (in which this film was made) a picture like this was called “ a programmer” meaning it was a taut, expertly made cinema exercise of little or no significance. Just something to go on the bottom half of a double bill. But today if a sharply made suspense film like this came along, we wouldn’t call it commonplace, we would most likely call it a “work of art.”
Here are the newest entries in my video blog series 100 Crime Films, finishing off my series of five original/remake comparisons. Watch these to hear my thoughts on both versions of Bad Lieutenant, The Getaway, and Breathless.
With my newest video blogs, I compare both versions of The Killers and also the original and remake of Cape Fear.