Re-Watching the Classics: Sexy Beast

sexybeast

Sexy Beast is a British neo noir from 2000 directed by Jonathan Glazer. This is Glazer’s first feature film and he started his career off with a bang. This received much critical acclaim especially for Ben Kingsley who was nominated for over 20 awards including a nomination for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. This film also made the list for Total Film’s 50 Greatest British Movies Ever at number 15.

15famouspsychopaths

This film starts out with Gal Dove played by Ray Winstone enjoying his retirement in Spain with his wife Deedee played by Amanda Redman.  His best friend Aitch played by Cavan Kendall(in his last role before his death) and Aitch’s wife Jackie played by Julianne White have also joined the Dove’s in Spain for a quite retirement.

MCDSEBE FE003

In the opening scene Gal is sunbathing with a large boulder flies by him into his pool. Is this symbolism of a crime life he has narrowly escaped, but is soon coming back to haunt him?

The two happy couples soon get word a person from their past is coming to see them, Don Logan played by Ben Kingsley. Don is psychopath who is there to recruit Gal for one last job in England. Gal doesn’t want to go, but Don is persistent. Will Gal go help with the heist? Will he be able to get out of it somehow?

Ian McShane plays Teddy Bass, the brains behind the heist back in England. McShane does a great job as a gangster that maybe scarier then Don. What he does to get the knowledge he needs for the heist gives you the lengths he will go to. His brutality later in the film shows how scary this man is.

1376885280_6

This is an amazing film and should be watched by any film buff. All the performances are outstanding and the story is great. This film does have some interesting symbolism such as the boulder I mentioned before. The other one is the scary looking rabbit that appears from time to time through out the film.

sexy-beast-rabbit

The theories behind this rabbit vary greatly. One of them is it is simple death. Is it Gal’s past haunting him or Don’s sexual repression.  Maybe it is just the hunted becoming the hunter? All of which seem to be good theories to me and make sense, what is your theory on this one?

 

Review: Night and the City

tumblr_m5usg4d4q31r9qhhio1_r1_1280

The Night and the City is a film from one of film noir’s greatest directors, Jules Dassin. Dassin was a target of the Communist hunt in Hollywood and was sent to London to start filming this film to get him out of the country. This was his last Hollywood film for years after being put on the blacklist. He left for France where he made a few more classic films, before his return to Hollywood.

There is two versions of this film, one is a shorter American version and a longer British edit. I watched the shorter American cut, which seems to be Dassin’s preferred version because of it’s tighter edit and more clear dialog.

This film stars Richard Widmark and his signature laugh. He plays a street hustler in London, using anybody and everybody he meets for money or a way to get ahead. The film starts with Widmark’s Harry Fabian running at night through the city as somebody chases him. He runs to an apartment building, and seems to have lost all the stress he was just under. He enters the apartment and soon is riffling through a purse looking for money. Mary played by Gene Tierney is seen coming out of the shadows. Mary and Harry are a couple and Mary is tired of his hustling. She gets him the money Harry owes the man chasing him and Harry is free to start his next hustle.

nightandthecitystill

Harry gives us a tour through the underworld of London and we meet a number of con men, hustlers and shady business owners. Harry uses a number of these people to get ahead on his latest ploy. Googie Withers and Francis L. Sullivan play a dysfunctional wed couple that will cross each other for love and hate. Harry’s latest scheme involves starting his own pro wrestling promotion. Herbert Lom plays the current wrestling promoter in London and will do whatever he needs to eliminate the competition.

This is pretty unique in we get wrestling instead of boxing as our noir sport of choice. This seems to mirror how wrestling territories where back in this time, as well as showing the move from traditional wrestling to the entertainment wrestling we have today. Ex-pro wrestler Stanislaus Zbyszko plays the old guard, wanting to keep the art of traditional pro wrestling alive. Unfortunately this was the only screen appearance by Zbyszko, who is great in this film. Zbyszko in real life echoed his on screen character.

Mike Mazurki was also a pro wrestler and plays The Strangler. The Strangler is the big draw in London and is part of the new guard of entertaining wrestlers Zbyszko’s character thinks is destroying the art of wrestling. Mazurki moved from wrestling to the movies and was one of the first actors to be type cast as the heavy or thug and had a film career that lasted over 50 years.

screen-shot-2015-08-02-at-1-21-41-pm

The inevitable wrestling match in this film is amazing. The scene lasts over 4 minutes and is one of the best fight scenes in film noir. This is a very complex film with may reasons to view it. It has one of the most brutal and heart wrenching ending in classic film noir.

This film is based on the book by the same name written by Gerald Kersh. This book was originally published in 1938 and was kicked around for years in Hollywood. A lot of this had to do with timing, the book is very dark and shows crime in a very different way then audiences were used too. Thanks to a long run of film noir, Hollywood decided the public was ready. I have not read the book, but from my little research, it appears the movie varies from the source material for a number of reasons.

h-188

This film was also remade in 1992 starring Robert De Niro and Jessica Lange.

I loved this film and think it is required viewing for any film noir fan, classic movie fan and I feel pro-wrestling fans or those that would like to learn more about pro-wrestling will enjoy this as well.

nightandthecity252819502529

 

Review: Time Without Pity

time_without_pity_filmposter

Time Without Pity is a British noir from 1957. This film is directed by Joseph Losey. Losey has an interesting story himself. He was directing films for RKO and was in Italy filming The Stranger on the Prowl when he was summoned to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Instead of going back to the United States to testify, he stayed in Europe and eventually found steady work in Britain. His trouble with the Un-American Activities Committee may have started when he directed the re-make of M in 1951. This film was singled out by the Committee, here is a look at some of the history of that film here:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/11/06/news-a-long-lost-film-noir-gets-a-second-look/

This film has an interesting plot with an amazing twist at the end. The story revolves around David Graham played by Michael Redgrave. David has been in an institution for his alcoholism, with no contact with the outside world. When he is released he finds out his son is in prison and scheduled to be hung the next day. He goes to visit him and is determined to find the truth and save his son.

time-without-pity-3

Through out the film David fights his alcoholism, which is hard with the added stress he is under. David meets some interesting characters along the way and does whatever he needs to do to help his son.

This is a good film with some outstanding scenes. The opening scene of the murder of a young women is very well done.

cgfmoujnfbgboqwfaqqtgtnlgta

I also loved the scene at the racetrack with one of the characters driving his Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing, getting it prepared for a race. Even though the scene really doesn’t make much sense, it is visually stunning and entertaining. I also truly loved the final scene, I will not talk much about this so I don’t ruin the film for those who have not seen it.

141207-timepity-post

Favorite Tidbit: Peter Cushing plays a small role as the lawyer for David’s son. He would make The Curse of Frankenstein next, which would launch Cushing’s career as a Horror Icon.

Edit: A few clarifications should be noted: (1) THE PROWLER and THE BIG NIGHT were both filmed in the US and released after M in 1951. Losey was in Italy filming STRANGER ON THE PROWL when it was announced by HUAC that Losey was one of the witnesses it wanted to testify on September 17, 1951, and who had not yet been served a subpoena. He returned to the US in October, could find no work, and left about a month later to live permanently in England. (2) M is more akin to the culmination of Losey’s issues with the US government than the start. The FBI file on him began in late-1943, and he was under surveillance due to his beliefs, actions and associations. His two pre-’51 feature film releases, THE BOY WITH THE GREEN HAIR(1948) and THE LAWLESS (1950), demonstrate that his 1951 features were not a newly found consciousness. See “Joseph Losey: A Revenge On Life” (David Caute 1994), pp. 86-109.

Thanks for the clarification on Losey, Mr. Field.

Review: Séance on a Wet Afternoon

Seance on a Wet Afternoon is a British Noir from 1964, written for the screen and directed by Bryan Forbes. The film is based on a book by Mark McShane. This film stars Richard Attenborough and Kim Stanley. Stanley was widely considered one of the best actresses of her time. You may not know of her or seen much of her work because she didn’t do many films. She much more preferred working live theater then working in the movie industry. She also did sporadic television work through out her career. She did love this script when she read it, but the reason she did this film is because of director Forbes’ involvement. Though she never gave any names, she once stated that if Forbes could make that dead fish look good, he could make anybody look good. Though she was only in a handful of movies in her 30 plus year career, she was nominated twice for an Academy Award for best actress, not a bad percentage. This film was one of those nominated efforts.

This film tells a story of a down and out couple, Myra and Billy. Myra is a psychic and Billy is sickly and out of work. Myra gets the idea to kidnap a rich couples’ young daughter and then have Myra “use her psychic abilities” to help find the child. This would make her séance business boom from the publicity. She talks Billy into doing all the leg work for the job, though he is very reluctant. The couple gets deeper and deeper into their own scheme as Myra continues to change the plan and outside forces continue to alter it. Will the couple get away with kidnapping or worse?

Though Stanley’s acting in this film is excellent, let us not forget about Attenborough’s performance. I actually enjoyed his performance better. His Billy is a man trapped in a marriage he can not get out of, for more than one reason. Does he do what Myra says because he has no other choice or is Myra his femme fatale who can use her charms to get him to do what she wants?

This film is worth a viewing just for these two performances. Are our main characters crazy or trapped…or maybe both?

Re-Watching the Classics: Get Carter

Get Carter is a classic neo noir from 1971 directed by Mike Hodges and starring Michael Caine. The film is based on the classic noir book of the same name by Ted Lewis. Another book on my “To Read” list.

This film is simple in its plot, but executed to perfection. The story opens with Jack Carter, played by Caine, hanging with his buddies in London, but doesn’t seem to be having as good a time as they are. His friends are gangsters as well and warn him about going up north. Carter’s friends relay the sentiment that he should not go up north, even though Carter is a killer, they are all killers up there. Carter’s brother has died and Carter thinks he was killed. Carter of course goes anyway and we meet his family as they bury his brother. His brother was drunk and drove off a bridge to his death is the official cause of death. As Carter is back in his hometown, he soon connects with some of his old friends and starts looking into the mystery.

As the film continues and Carter climbs his way up the ladder to the person responsible for his brother’s death we run into the illegal porn industry, corrupt business men, and of course gangsters. Will Carter get his revenge? Is he just a pawn in a bigger game? Will he find out more than he ever wanted to?

This film has a lot of supporting characters who standout in this film. Future Bond Girl Britt Ekland has a small part, which she was reluctant to do. She needed the money and of course made the film, afterwards she was happy with her work in this film. Ian Hendry was originally going to play Carter, but instead played one of Carter’s acquaintances from his hometown. Geraldine Moffat played a small but pivotal role as a moll who catches Carter’s eye.

This is a must see for fans of neo noir and British noir, as it is one of the best films from Britain made in the 1970’s or maybe ever. Skip the remake with Stallone and just re-watch this classic instead.

This also has a nice noir Easter egg as Carter is seen reading Raymond Chandler’s Farewell My Lovely.

Favorite Tidbit: This film was originally rated X for its intense violence and nudity, but has been reclassified R as crime films continued to push the limit of the rating system.

Re-watching: Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1983

The Red Riding Trilogy’s conclusion wraps up the story but not quite all the loose ends.  This film is a little different then the other two, in that it concentrates on two characters instead of just one.  This entry is directed by Anand Tucker and like the first two, this one is also based on a book by David Peace and the screenplay is written by Tony Grisoni.

This film starts with a flashback to 1974 where a group of our corrupt cops and Sean Bean’s corrupt business man are meeting at a wedding.  They are taking about events that set in motion this whole trilogy.  This flashback is from David Morrissey’s character Maurice Jobson’s perspective.  Jobson is one of the cops that has been part of all these cases and now he is having second thoughts, after all these years another young girl has gone missing and he is rethinking his actions. In this film we flashback to past events from the first two films all from Jobson’s perspective.  This sheds new light on past events and gives us the audience some new information.

Our second main character is John Piggott played by Mark Addy.  Piggott is a lawyer or solicitor in England.  He is back in town and seems to be a pretty good lawyer.  He is asked to help Michael Myshkin played by Daniel Mays.  If you remember the first movie he was a mentally handicapped man who confessed to the murder of one of the missing girls.  He is also asked by another family to help their son who was just arrested for the murder of one of the other girls.  He starts digging into the story and between him and Jobson we hope to get to the bottom of what has been going on in Yorkshire.  Will we ever find out who the Wolf is?  Will the lawyer be able to help get Myshkin out of prison?  Will they find this latest kidnapped girl before it is too late?  How deep does this case go?

Like I said, this doesn’t tie everything up in a nice little bow for you.  Small characters have little pieces to the puzzle and we get most of that puzzle put together.  Characters like Peter Mullan’s Martin Laws and Robert Sheehan’s DJ who seem to be minor characters have big pieces to this puzzle.

Watch all three of these films in order and enjoy the ride.  Watch them carefully because some small detail in one film can turn out to be a big part of the next one.  Like I said at the beginning of my first review, this is a noir trilogy, based on 3 of the 4 books in a series by David Peace and all 3 films were made in the same year by 3 different directors.  A great story with some amazing talent from England.  To think this is what England is producing for their television is an amazing achievement.

Re-watching: Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1980

This is the second in The Red Riding Trilogy.  This installment is directed by James Marsh.  This is based on the David Peace’s book and the screenplay is from Tony Grisoni as are all three of this series.

This film revolves around Peter Hunter played by Paddy Considine.  He is brought in from a different office to take over the Yorkshire Ripper serial killer case.  Our corrupt Yorkshire police force isn’t having any luck solving the case of now 13 murders.  Hunter was also brought in back in 1974 to investigate what had happened at the end of our last movie.  We find this out in flashback fashion throughout the film.  He had to end that investigation when he found out his wife had a miscarriage and left Yorkshire.  Now he is back in 1980 and he is not welcome.  He assembles his team to start looking at the old cases in the Ripper file to see if they can get to the bottom of this.  One of his team played by Maxine Peake finds a case that may not have been the Ripper.  She also has had an affair with Hunter and this has sidetracked both people throughout the investigation.

A lot of our recurring characters show up again in this one, those of note are Maurice Jobson played by David Morrissey,  BJ played by Robert Sheehan,Martin Laws played by Peter Mullan and Bob Craven played by Sean Harris.

Our story may seem like it is unrelated to the first movie, but we would be wrong.  At the end of this we have more questions than before.  This is another good film for neo noir and noir fans.  I would recommend watching the first film, Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974, which I just reviewed.  You could watch this on its own but I don’t think you would find it as enjoyable as watching it after the first film.