Yet, look past that surface of throbbing, borderline synesthetic overload of herky-jerked Diamond District crime drama, and one will find a clockwork and touching meticulousness, in which the directors Safdie (brothers Josh and Benny, who co-wrote and co-edited the film with Ronald Bronstein) offer an at times ecstatic, at times tragic depiction of a deeply-flawed dreamer, of Jewish identity, and the risks and sacrifices taken by both to reveal their beauty and achieve grace. It’s a film about the hidden value that aches within us, unrecognized beneath our array of flaws, beauty that requires
I Can’t Give You Anything But Love: A Portrait of the Artist as Mr. Sophistication in THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE
John Cassavetes’ THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE is a masterpiece, not in spite of its messiness but rather because of it. With its jazzy, inchoate polyrhythms of conflicted authorial intent fortuitously and incidentally mirroring the world and the conflict of the main character and the film's director, it's neither a simple noir piece nor another idiosyncratic personal drama but rather a megatonic fusion of both into a living, breathing document, an abstract expressionist work of hired gun genre craftsmanship that novas into a startling self-portrait and a nearly indefinable work of art.
"It’s a mood of endings that suffuses Tarantino’s ninth film, his richest, most rewarding and wonderfully human work. And for most of the film’s languorous 161-minutes, that mood is far more exultantly elegiac than apocalyptic, a threnodial wolf-whistle of contemplative nostalgia tinged with funereality. OUATIH is a wistful remembrance, a languid and golden-hued “memory piece” in which the 56-year-old Tarantino reconstructs the sunslicked days and neon nights of the Old Hollywood of 1969, the year in which the ‘60s and the Golden Age of Hollywood both came to a haunted and haunting end."
THE SILENT PARTNER operates like an expertly designed timepiece, made of ever-turning and inescapable genre gears – the heist film, the cat-and-mouse chase film, the caper film, the romance, grindhouse pulp, Canuxploitation, and the Christmas film – whose teeth interlock with one another in a horrifying and darkly-funny rigor, all working in inflexible concert with one another to push each desperate second, minute, and hour forward for characters whose most recent Christmas has left them increasingly aware that their time is running out."
"These three films are a prism through which the sweep of Forster’s career is represented entirely by his underappreciated season as genre journeyman, which succeeds in thematically unifying and strengthening each of these already entertaining (but quite different) gems by organizing them as a kind of cinematic biography – these three roles, joined together as one singular nightlong journey, neatly match the path of Forster’s own career from Hero, to Heavy, and finally back to Hero again."
MIKEY AND NICKY is Elaine May’s unequalable uber-text in her too-brief cinematic study of broken men and their slugtrail of betrayals, betrayers, and betrayed. Revealing itself slowly, in layer after caustic, brutal layer, it is a scab-torn and pus-flooded journey to the end of the night for its titular best friends, as well as to the furthest reaches of the fungal ugliness eating them both to their hypersensitive cores.
"A lewd and hipgripped celebration/study of cinematic artifice studded with popcult references and visual quotes, BREATHLESS is at once a ferociously horny and formally audacious remake of Godard’s hyper-referential film, as well as an all-or-nothing, frenetically American and self-aware meditation on desperately empty people lost in the thrall of the pop culture that gives form to their wants and needs."
In a filmography of death-kissing car chases and demonic horrors and the mysteries of faith, fate, and existence, no other film more ably fuses William Friedkin’s audacity, skill, and thematic preoccupations into one thrilling, engine-roared howl of cinematic perfection than SORCERER, his brutalist action-adventure portraying existence as a purgatory between an unasked-for birth and a meaningless death dictated by fates of our own inadvertent making, wherein the only way to survive as long as possible is to work together.
Does This Look Like a Sick Man to You?: The Horror of Identity and the Identity of Horror in David Cronenberg’s THE FLY
If the thing we think of as identity is simply an unprotected cell clump sheathed within a thinboned skull, what definitions do we have aside from those we desperately scramble together as a bulwark against the animal-or insect-instincts that lurk within?
It’s a question couched in romantic metaphor in THE FLY, a love triangle between a woman and two toxically-insecure men who cannot assimilate the complexities of adult love, whose weaknesses drive them both to 'fuse' with this woman and thus be finally defined.
INHERENT VICE is a film that tricks us into settling in for a noir about a man solving a mystery, and instead presents us with a man confronting a melancholy truth: everything—lives, eras, and loves—comes to an end. Everyone in the film, having lost a love, is adrift in the riptides of memory, carried out to sea by mirages of a better place, to drown in a fata morgana of a better time."
A neo-noir, a cop movie, a Western, a fable—in all, there is the mythic image of a hero who walks down the center line of main street to confront and embrace his best destiny, and when Freddy does the same, the straight reality of COP LAND fogs into something grander, more elemental, and the world around him heightens into that of the pure Western.
Year of the Buffalo Girl: The Softcore Anxieties of DISCLOSURE, COLOR OF NIGHT, and THE LAST SEDUCTION
The softcore noirs of 1994 used the cinematic vocabulary of BASIC INSTINCT—a language slurred with stylized sex and heavily accented with film noir—to tap into the dread of marginalization that the Year of the Woman midwifed into the lives of insecure men, and gave that dread a shape and a voice. The shape was an hourglass figure. The voice was the erotic thriller.
As it flows from eerie sumptuousness to annihilative nightmare, MANDY’s story—and Mandy’s story—is one of irrevocable, irretrievable loss, and the grief that loss begets. How grief consumes the world of the griever. How it eats. How it can swallow all until nothing is left but a void reshaped into grief’s own image, and one is left facing a reality in which the entire planet feels like a living, breathing reminder of that which no longer lives or breathes.
BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA is a skin-flayed, nerve-burst confession, a self-loathing crucifixion of the toxically hyper-masculine pathology that poisoned Sam Peckinpah's personal life, but inspired his deliriously compelling art. Beneath its miasma of rot and decay is an undeniably aware self-inquisition in which Peckinpah not only cross-examines his code of manhood, but goes so far as to proclaim it a spiritual dead-end resulting in personal destruction.
Ingmar Bergman's second film is a tonally-daring Expressionist chiaroscuro of broken lives attempting to escape a rain-soaked nightworld of broken dreams...However, the most striking element may not be how deeply noir bled into Bergman, but rather how much of young Bergman bled into this noir.