[Long weekend]

Friday Deadline USA & Scandal Sheet kicked off the third Noir City series down at SIFF Cinema. I preferred the first for its several great women, particularly the reporter, but the second is the closest to straight-up noir. Both made for an awesome start to the festival.

Saturday I was eaten by the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival & didn’t make it back to the city in time for any noir. Woe. (I watched a little Dexter season 2, which certainly has its elements of noir. Well-lit, neo-noir maybe.)

Sunday brought Ace in the Hole, which was easily one of the most cynical movies I have ever seen. It certainly lived up to its billing. If it were released today, the script could be essentially unchanged, except maybe tidying up the portrayal of Native Americans (though, really, that was very much another point criticizing the majority) and the addition of a Twitter hashtag for Leo. Very good, unsurprising as it’s Billy Wilder, but I don’t need to see it again any time soon.

If Cry of the Hunted, the B reel, were to be released today, it would instantly have a LiveJournal community and a ficathon, and I would be on the sidelines of fandom complaining about how there weren’t enough stories about the women. It was basically on crack, but a lot of fun.

Sunday night I took a little break from noir, crime, and the freezing SIFF Cinema. Wendy and Lucy was picked up by the Northwest Film Forum for a week after its original Seattle run ended, so taken were they with it. And deservedly so. Michelle Williams (a criminally underrated actress, in my opinion) plays Wendy, a woman traveling from Indiana to Alaska with her dog Lucy. We meet her in Oregon, where things start falling apart. Some people are helpful. Some people are assholes. It’s a beautiful slice-of-life film, heartbreaking & true. I need to put other work by the director in my Netflix queue now.

First up on Monday was The Big Clock, which was great. It’s a pretty traditional noir, with an innocent person getting caught up in someone else’s nefarious plot or sleazy circumstances. It was also the second film in this series with Sherman Potter Harry Morgan (ahaha IMDb pulls up “Dexter” stories on his page). He was a cigar-chomping photographer in Scandal Sheet, but here he was a heavy with no lines at all, which is interesting for an actor with such a distinctive voice. Anyway, The Big Clock is available on DVD and definitely worth a watch for Charles Laughton’s twitchy media mogul & Elsa Lanchester as a totally loopy artist.

It was followed by Strange Triangle, which I have nothing to say about at all. It was very formulaic and it’s been a long weekend. So be it.

[In theater part two: paid & old]

Being in Seattle, I also get to see Old Stuff on the Big Screen. It RULES.

The Prowler was part of this season’s Noir City festival. I enjoyed it a lot. It’s a corrupt cop story, and I particularly liked that I never knew where it was going, right up to the end. That happens less than you’d think.

It was a double feature with Gun Crazy (with a young Russ Tamblyn in the prologue!) A forerunner to Bonnie & Clyde, with two fantastic leads, and some really great camerawork for the time, particularly with the getaway scenes.

Another night of noir featured Richard Widmark in Night and the City and Road House, the first of which is pretty much the ultimate noir role, and the second of which was a rather strange movie but totally engaging.

Finally, Cinerama ran Lawrence of Arabia again, and how could I resist? The first time I saw it for the whole package, this time I saw it for the visuals. Maybe next time I’ll watch it for the dialogue. It was best not to do that this time, as the sound dropped out for a bit near the intermission. Fail, Cinerama, fail.

[Still more SIFF]

* Antônia, a Brazilian film about the rise of a four-girl hip-hop group. It’s not as much a making-of-the-band as a straight-ahead drama, and the music is awesome.

* Hula Girls was one of my favorites of the festival, which shouldn’t be a surprise, as it’s your standard “underdog group moves towards successful performance” story, and I am a sucker for that. A group of Japanese girls learn hula dancing for the Hawaiian-themed tourist center to save their town economy. It may not be original, but it is utterly charming. On a technical level, it looked very much like it had been filmed in the 60s, which was a nice touch.

* The Big Combo and The Damned Don’t Cry made up the noir double feature, and both were well-worth seeing with a full house. Good times.