At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm
November is “The Month of Noir” at Film Space.
Film Space is to the right and in the back of the CMU Art Museum, in the Media Arts and Design building across from the ballet school. Showings are in a classroom on the second floor or on the roof, weather permitting. A contribution is requested in the donation box at the entrance – you should leave 20 baht. Well worth supporting.
Note: the original film scheduled for November 14 (Péril en la demeure / Death in a French Garden / Peril) was mistakenly shown last Saturday instead. The film scheduled for last Saturday (Blood Simple) will now be shown this Saturday.
At Film Space Saturday, November 14: Blood Simple (1984) by Joel Coen – 94 mins (Director’s cut) – US, Crime/ Drama/ Thriller. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 81/83 out of 100. Rated R in the US for violence and language.
Rotten Tomatoes: When a bar owner discovers that one of his employees is having an affair with his wife, a complex web of deceit and double crosses ensues in a small Texas town. The Coen brothers' first picture is an intricately plotted film noir filled with surprises at each turn. The cast, largely unknown at the time, includes Dan Hedaya as the cuckolded bar owner, Frances McDormand as the cheating wife, John Getz as the adultering bartender, and the fabulously creepy M. Emmett Walsh as the slimy, sweaty private detective who should not be trusted. The film is a marvel to experience; director of photography Barry Sonnenfeld has created stunning compositions filled with open spaces, and the sound--from the slightest footsteps or dripping water to a sudden shotgun blast--reverberates ominously, as if it is a character unto itself. Directed by Joel Coen and cowritten by Joel and his brother Ethan, Blood Simple is an eerie testament to the limitless possibilities of low-budget filmmaking.
Roger Ebert: Is the movie fun? Well, that depends on you. It is violent, unrelenting, absurd and fiendishly clever. There is a cliché I never use: "Not for the squeamish." But let me put it this way. Blood Simple may make you squeam.
The movie has been shot with a lot of style, some of it self-conscious, but deliberately so. One of the pleasures in a movie like this is enjoying the low-angle and tilt shots that draw attention to themselves, that declare themselves as being part of a movie. The movie does something interesting with its timing, too. It begins to feel inexorable, Characters think they know what has happened; they turn out to be wrong; they pay the consequences, and it all happens while the movie is marching from scene to scene like an implacable professor of logic, demonstrating one fatal error after another.
Blood Simple was directed by Joel Coen, produced by his brother, Ethan, and written by the two of them. It's their first film, and has the high energy and intensity we associate with young filmmakers who are determined to make an impression. Some of the scenes are virtuoso, including a sequence in which a dead body becomes extraordinarily hard to dispose of, and another one in which two people in adjacent rooms are trapped in the same violent showdown. The central performance in the movie is by the veteran character actor M. Emmet Walsh, who plays the private eye like a man for whom idealism is a dirty word. The other actors in the movie are all effective, but they are obscured, in a way, by what happens to them: This movie weaves such a bloody web that the characters are upstaged by their dilemmas.
Robin McDonald, Amazon.com reviewer: One of the odd things about this Director's cut is it is the same length as the original version. Footage has been taken out and not added. The missing time is made up with an introduction by the Coen Brothers explaining that the film has been re-edited to take advantage of new technological advances not available when the film was first shot. This is sort of a joke similar to the opening of Fargo where a title card states, "Based upon a true story.” Fargo is not based on a true story. They just thought it would be a better story if people thought it was true when they watched it. Ha Ha. Blood Simple's re-edit was a simple edit to tighten up the pace which was sometimes a little slow in the original version.
Made for only two million dollars Blood Simple is a stunning achievement, all the more so because it was the Coens' first film. Stylish photography plays with not just light and shadow as in most noir, but color as well. But what drives this film is suspense mistrust and double dealing. I smile when I occasionally spot a criticism of this film is "it’s almost too clever" and "too perfect.” Blood Simple is fantastic at its clever choreography of events and placement of objects in relation to the actors that really adds to the tension and excitement. If that’s too clever then spare me the dumbed down version. I love it.
At Film Space Saturday, November 21: Mulholland Dr. / Mulholland Drive (2001) by David Lynch – 147 mins – France/ US, Fantasy/ Mystery/ Romance/ Thriller. Rated R in the US for violence, language, and some strong sexuality. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 81/76 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes: Mulholland Dr. makes little sense, even for a Lynch film, but its dreamlike imagery is mesmerizing, and Naomi Watts delivers a great performance.
David Lynch strikes again with this literal nightmare of a motion picture--a brilliant, scathing, hysterical, and haunting ode to Hollywood. In the film, a mysterious dark-haired woman (Laura Elena Harring) emerges from an accident with a purse full of cash and a head full of amnesia. Meanwhile, Betty Elms (Naomi Watts), a wide-eyed gal from Deep River, Ontario, has just landed in Los Angeles with dreams of movie super stardom. When Betty finds the nameless beauty in her aunt's apartment, she is deeply intrigued by the situation and offers to help her. This sends the two women on a bizarre search for the truth through the macabre, sun-soaked streets of the City of Angels, where the mob, a young film director (Justin Theroux), a studio executive with a tiny head, and an enigmatic figure named the Cowboy all float into the picture, then out again, until there is no longer any distinction between what is dream and what is reality. Originally filmed as a pilot for ABC, Lynch's daring, open-ended vision was coldly rejected by the network. As he was about to abandon the project, French producer Pierre Edelman convinced Lynch to rethink it as a feature. The result is this stunning expression of the subconscious, a testament to the power of personal artistic vision.
At Film Space Saturday, November 28: The Cry of the Owl / Le cri du hibou (1987) by Claude Chabrol – 102 mins – Italy/ France, Drama/ Romance/ Thriller.
Rotten Tomatoes: Based on the novel by suspense master Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley), acclaimed French director ClaudeChabrol'sThe Cry of the Owl is a tight, edgy thriller. The acclaimed, widely viewed film was the recipient of a French Academy Award upon its release in 1987, and has gone on to be viewed as one of the landmark psychological suspense films of the 1980's. When a Peeping Tom finally meets the object of his infatuation, he finds that she is even more disturbed than he is. Upon becoming close, the two enter into a bizarre love triangle that becomes more violent and scary as time goes on.