Review: The Double Hour or La doppia ora

The Double Hour is an Italian neo noir from 2009 directed by Giuseppe Capotondi. It stars Ksenia Rappoport as our female lead and Filippo Timi as our male lead. This film has a bit of a few genres rapped into one unpredictable film. This is a psychological thriller mostly, horror in parts, a murder mystery in a way, a heist movie to a curtain extent, and a twisted suspense movie to boot.

This story starts out with Sonia, played by Rappoport, working as a maid at a high-end hotel. She soon witnesses a suicide at the hotel. We then find her at a speed dating event, she hits it off with Guido played by Timi. Timi takes a liking to Sonia as well, but goes home with another women. He seems to have a women hating streak as he quickly gets rid of his date after the deed is done and seems to be a bit upset after she leaves. We then see our couple get together and go out on a date, where we learn Guido used to be a cop. We then find our couple out in the country enjoying an empty mansion. Guido works security for the home and has set up the alarm system as well. Our couple is enjoying the outdoors when a masked man hits Guido over the head with his gun. We find the couple tied up in the mansion as a team of thieves steals all the antiques and art work. They seem professional and are in and out fairly fast as they package the valuables into two moving trucks. One of the masked men comes back in and makes a move on Sonia. Guido with his hands still tied up, jumps on the thief and there is a struggle over the masked man’s gun. A gunshot goes off and the screen goes black! The story twists and turns from here with a lot of unexpected revelations.

Here is another very good film that is getting the American re-make treatment. This time Michelle Williams and Joel Edgerton are set to star as our two leads.

We will see how the remake will stack up, but for now I recommend seeking out the original. If you are a fan of the mysterious, and films that make you think and that you want to see twice to see what you missed the first time, this is the film for you.

Review: The Cat o’ Nine Tails

The Cat o’ Nine Tails is a neo noir suspense film from Italian great, Dario Argento.  Argento is the Hitchcock of Italy, and I’ve seen some of his films and find I love some and hate some.  In recent years he has mostly done straight up horror movies, but in the 1970’s he made quite a few really good crime, mystery, suspense and neo noir films.  Argento says this is his least favorite of his films and has disowned it over the years.  Though this is not his best work, it is watchable and has an interesting story.

This film stars Karl Malden as a blind crossword writer, who used to be a journalist before he was blinded 15 years ago.  His intuition takes over on a case that looks like a simple breaking and entering, which happened across the road from where Malden lives, and a scientist who falls in front of a train a day later.  Malden thinks the two incidents are linked and recruits James Franciscus who is a current journalist to help him with the case.  More people are murdered and the plot thickens as our now serial killer may be coming after one of our heroes.  Catherine Spaak plays are femme fatale and gets involved with Franciscus.

This is Argento’s second film and his youthful sophomore experience is not his best.  He definitely cribbed some Hitchcockian themes and even some camera shots in this film.  Argento’s horror movie future does start to show in this film, with the death scenes a little more grotesque and violent than most suspense films.  Most of the death scenes are shot from the point of view of the killer, this was nothing new, but was still very stylish and different than most films from the era.

This would not be the first film I would recommend for Argento newbies, but if you are a fan of his, it is worth checking out.