Monday, May 15, 2023

Live Event in Chicago

Hey Chicago people, this Thursday I'll be in conversation with the author Simon François about all things noir at The Alliance Française de Chicago. Come check it out.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Architects of Illusion: Noir Greatest Art Directors

A film noir obsession usually starts out with a focus on movie stars. When it begins to deepen, the obsession starts to focus on the director. When it gets bad enough, it spreads to an obsession with below the line talent, the names most people have never heard of. The writer, of course. The cinematographer. The producer. My own particular obsession is at the point now where I'm fascinated by the Art Director, the studio craftsperson during the classic era of noir who was in charge of designing and overseeing construction of the sets. They were as responsible as anyone for the unique visual aesthetic we call film noir. I spent a lot of last year researching and writing about these artists, and the result of my labors is a sprawling article in the new issue of NOIR CITY. It's another great issue--with a fun lead piece on "Stoner Noir" and a nice overview of the making and resurrection of one of my favorite films, Orson Welles's THE TRIAL. I'm proud that my art director article is in such fine company. 

Thursday, January 12, 2023

At the Movies in 2023

 A running list of what I've seen on the big screen this year:

1. The Unknown (1927)- Pickwick Theater

2. Falstaff (Chimes at Midnight) (1965)- Pickwick Theater

3. Ball of Fire (1941)- Music Box Theater

4. So Sweet So Perverse (1969)- Music Box

5. The Fabelmans (2021)- AMC Village Crossing 18

6. Roman Holiday (1953)- Regal City North

7. Tar (2022)- Facets

8. Ace in the Hole (1951)- Music Box

9. Bound (1996)- Facets

10. Nekromantik 2 (1991)- Music Box

11. Marlowe (2023)- Regal City North

12. The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)-Music Box

13. Les Enfants des Autres (2023)-Gene Siskel Film Center

14. The Trial (1962)-Music Box

15. The Trial (1962)-Music Box (2nd time)

16. The Trial (1962)-Music Box (3rd time)

17. Creed III (2023)-Regal City North

18. Inside (2023)-Music Box

19. The Doom Generation (1995)-Music Box

20. John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023)-AMC Village Crossing 18

21. The Hunchback of the Morgue (1973)-Davis Theater

22. Beau is Afraid (2023)-Music Box

23. Runaway Train (1985)-Music Box

24. The Crow (1994)-Facets

25. Return to Seoul (2022)-Facets

26. The Conformist (1970)-Music Box

27. Citizen Kane (1941)-Doc Films

28. From Russia with Love (1963)-Pickwick Theater

29. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)-Regal City North

30. Master Gardner (2023)-AMC River East 21

31. Vertigo (1958)-Doc Films

32. You Hurt My Feelings (2023)-Logan Theater

33. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)-Regal City North

34. Sanctuary (2023)-AMC Village Crossing 18

35. Lynch/Oz (2023)-Music Box

36. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)-Music Box

37. Killer Clowns from Outer Space (1988)-Music Box

38. Alice in Wonderland (1951)-Music Box

39. Pour Don Carlos (1921)-Music Box

40. The Flash (2023)-AMC Village Crossing 18

41. Paper Moon (1973)-Gene Siskel

42. Red River (1948)-NEIU CFS

43. If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do? (1971)-Music Box

44. The Burning Hell (1974)-Music Box

45. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023)-AMC Village Crossing 18

46. Mission: Impossible -Dead Reckoning: Part 1 (2023)-AMC Village Crossing 18

47. Puppet Master (2018)-Facets

48. Hatching (2022)-Facets

49. No Hard Feelings (2023)-AMC Village Crossing 18

50. Oppenheimer (2023)-AMC Village Crossing 18

51. Barbie (2023)-AMC Village Crossing 18

52. Theater Camp (2023)-AMC Village Crossing 18

53. Body Melt (1993)-Music Box

54. Accion Mutante (1993)-Music Box

55. Kaboom (2010)-Music Box Garden

56. John Dies at the End (2012)-Music Box Garden

57. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)-Music Box

58. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)-Music Box

59. ET (1982)- Pickwick Theater

60. Key Largo (1948)- Music Box NCC

61. The Lady from Shanghai (1948)- Music Box NCC

62. Force of Evil (1948)- Music Box NCC

63. The Spiritualist (1948)- Music Box NCC

64. Road House (1948)- Music Box NCC

65. The Big Clock (1948)- Music Box NCC

66. The Naked City (1948)- Music Box NCC 

67. Chicago Deadline (1949)- Music Box NCC

68. Blood on the Moon (1948)- Music Box NCC

69. Cry of the City (1948)- Music Box NCC

70. Raw Deal (1948)- Music Box NCC

71. High Noon (1952)- Pickwick Theater

72. The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)- Gene Siskel Film Center

73. The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)- Davis Theater

74. Re-Animator (1985)- Davis Theater

75. Black Christmas (1974)- Davis Theater

76. Horrors of Malformed Men (1969)- Music Box

77. Near Dark (1987)- Music Box

78. Winter Kills (1979)- Music Box

79. The Crow (1994)- Music Box

80. Angel Heart (1986)- Music Box

81. Bride of Chucky (1998)- Music Box

82. Waxworks (1924)- Music Box

83. Aliens (1986)- Music Box

84. Don’t Open the Window (1974)- Facets

85. Don’t Go in the House (1979)- Facets

86. Killers of the Flower Moon (2023)- Regal Webster 11

87. The Creator (2023)- Regal City North

88. The Tingler (1959)- Music Box

89. The Killer (2023)- Landmark Century Cinema

90. Big Shark (2023)- Music Box

91. The Holdovers (2023)- Music Box

92. Thanksgiving (2023)- Regal Webster Place

93. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)- Music Box

94. Napoleon (2023)- Regal North City

95. The Night of the Hunter (1955)- Music Box

96. Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)- Music Box

97. The Seven Year Itch (1955)- Music Box

98. Camilla Vive! (2023)- Logan Theater

99. Curtains (1983)- Facets

100. 2046 (2004)- Facets

101. Batman Returns (1992)-Facets

102. All that Heaven Allows (1955)- Facets

103. Die Hard (1988)- Pickwick Theater

104. Inside (2007)- Facets

105. The Apartment (1960)- Facets

106. Christine (1983)- Music Box

107. Poor Things (2023)- Logan Theater

108. Rear Window (1954)- Music Box

Last Year at the Movies

Last year marked my full return to in-person moviegoing. My numbers didn't reach the heights of 2018 when I hit a personal best of 126 movies, but in 2022 I did manage to see 85 movies at the theater. That's better than a movie a week, which is nothing to be ashamed of. 

This was not a great year for the movies, I'd say. We continued to see the slow death of the midbudget film, the star vehicle, and the kind of bread-and-butter adult-skewing movies that used to keep Hollywood in business. My favorite new movies this year were mostly flops: I loved both TAR (my number one of the year) and THE NORTHMAN. I really liked BABYLON, a flawed film, sure, but the kind of flawed film that I go for--indulgent, over-the-top and fun. I also really liked smaller unsung films like RESURRECTION and SUNDOWN.

I didn't like EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE as much as other people did, and I thought BULLET TRAIN was mostly a waste of a good concept and cast. TOP GUN: MAVERICK was a lot of fun, though it's funny to see it touted as some kind of masterpiece. I'm more of an Ethan Hunt guy than a Maverick guy, I guess. (Very excited for the new Mission Impossible out this year.)

As is always the case, the best movies I saw at the theater last year were mostly old movies. Highlights included favorites like THE MALTESE FALCON, EYES WIDE SHUT, BLAST OF SILENCE, CAT PEOPLE and more. Last year also marked the return of Noir City Chicago, which was a delight. The highlight of that was a showing of FLESH AND BONE, my first time to see the movie in a theater since it came out back in the 90s. 

Here's a breakdown of my moviegoing last year by decade:

Total films seen on the big screen: 85

2022: 20

2020s: 4

2010s: 1

2000s: 8

1990s: 9

1980s: 9

1970s: 5

1960s: 6

1950s: 9

1940s: 8

1930s: 1

1920s: 5

1910s: 0