In his review of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Armond White opens by declaring that “Neo-noir must be the worst movie genre. It’s an excuse for juvenile filmmakers to pretend cynicism while their imbecile audiences pretend sophistication.”
I can certainly see where he’s coming from. I haven’t seen A Dame to Kill For yet, but I have seen more than enough attempts at neo-noirs that think all there is to the genre is a femme fatale and an anti-hero in a trenchcoat. I’m talking about mediocre, flailing films like Max Payne—or worse, the attempts to bring noir to hip, younger settings like Assassination of a High School President and Lucky Number Slevin. They’re movies that look at the classics of the genre, fall in love with the aesthetic, but have no idea why or how that aesthetic works as it does. As Armond so aptly points out, Sin City and its ilk are all “pretending that it still means something to call a sexy woman ‘dame.’”
Continue reading Is Neo-Noir The Worst Genre?
Bringing to Smug Film a project I started at Shot Context, in which I offer unusual and enriching double features.
At long last, our troubled protagonist—violent, family-less, unable to conform—shakes loose his pursuers. We lean forward in our seats. The ocean is before us; the black-and-white frame blanches in the unforgiving sunlight. Long a source of comfort for our hero, we are finally here. And the camera tightens on his face. A face defined by captivity, always hemmed in with fences and borders, sees the sea. And then… nothing. That’s it. We can go no further. The journey is over. The end.
It’s a curious, but perhaps not entirely unsurprising fact that little Antoine Doinel—director Francois Truffaut’s alter ego—meets the same end that the Creature from the Black Lagoon did three years earlier. A close look at the films, and filmmakers, might account for this lovely synchronicity.
Continue reading Proposed Double Feature: ‘The 400 Blows’ & ‘The Creature Walks Among Us’
Kim’s Video and Music is a famed unofficial landmark of NYC which stocks a wide variety of movies and records from the popular to the impossible-to-find, and has been around in the East Village of Manhattan for almost 30 years, in some form or another. There were five or six locations at one point, but over the last decade or so, they’ve been disappearing, and now it appears there will soon be none—on April 21st, it was announced that the final location, located on 1st Ave between E 7th street and St. Marks Place, will be closing sometime soon.
This has been sad news for a lot of people—none more so, I’m sure, than the owners and employees who have built and maintained this institution for so long. My heart goes out to them, and they have my deepest sympathies.
However, I’ve never had much interest in Kim’s, and I’d be lying if I said I care at all about its imminent closure. I’ve lived in this city all my life, but I’ve been there maybe twice—they’re overpriced, and I’m a deal hound. And although Eddie Huang’s recent eulogy to the store is brilliant, and does tug on my heart strings somewhat, I honestly don’t see this loss as much of a blow to the city I love, or its cinephile inhabitants. There has never been a better time in history to be a film fan, and there have never been more or better “portals”, as he so aptly puts it.
Continue reading I Don’t Care That Kim’s Is Closing, And You Shouldn’t Either
Until recently, I’d never seen a Mike Leigh film. I’ve been familiar with his name for ages, though. Back in my teens, I worked at a hip indie video store that had a ‘Directors’ section—Allen, Godard, Rohmer, Scorsese, Truffaut, Verhoeven, the list goes on. Anyone with a substantial filmography worth exploring was represented, Leigh included.
Continue reading ‘Life is Sweet’ & ‘Naked’: My Mike Leigh Entry Point
Last week, I introduced you all to the best so-bad-it’s-good movie you’ve never seen. The above video is a compilation of my favorite parts, and here is my full review I promised:
Continue reading My Streets: The Best Parts & Full Review