Review: Mojave

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William Monahan has stated that Mojave is definitely not a neo-noir film, which seems to be a strange thing to say. The reason this film came to my attention is because of most of the reviews I read on this film stated it was a modern L.A. noir or a neo noir. The other reason this seems strange is that Monahan has done nothing but neo noir and noirish work for the last 10 years!

This film is based around Tom played by Garrett Hedlund, who is a filmmaker from Hollywood. When he wrecks his vehicle out in the Mojave, he meets Jack, played by Oscar Isaac. Jack is a cold blooded serial killer and when Tom gets the upper hand a cat and mouse game of epic proportions begins.

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As themes of murder, drug dealing movie producers, accidental murder, revenge and a dark look at the film industry are all themes that may appear in a neo noir and also appear in this film. With most all the film shot in low light areas and at night making it very neo noir in style as well. So why would Monahan say this is not a neo noir film?

After watching this film, I would say it falls solidly in the neo noir genre and feel Monahan was saying this film is more than a genre picture. With elements of a modern day western and dialog from a arthouse film, it is more than a neo noir film. I have enjoyed most everything Monahan has written and I like his eye for direction, even if some of the reviews and ratings are not that favorable for his work. I love the way he writes a conversation, though these conversations seem a little too smart for the characters that are speaking them, they are very entertaining and original. Though he is known more for his writing and this is only the second film he has directed, I liked the look of this film and look forward to seeing what he does next.

Mark Wahlberg and Walton Goggins shine in smaller roles.

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Mojave has not really found an audience yet and some of those that have seen it have not been kind. I really enjoyed this film on many levels and think neo noir fans will enjoy it too, even if the writer/director was hoping for a wider fan base.

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Review: The Two Faces of January

The Two Faces of January is the second movie I’ve reviewed this week based on a Patricia Highsmith book.

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Though I still have not read anything by her(I plan to!), there are some common themes in this work and The Talented Mr. Ripley(the Book “Purple Noon” is based on).  We got rich Americans, a poor con artist, a love triangle of sorts, and an exotic beautiful location.  This story takes place in Greece and follows a married couple on vacation that meet up with a tour guide that is willing to show them around.  We have a May-December relationship, an alcoholic husband, a character with father issues, a murderer that may or may not have done it on accident, a fugitive on the run, a smart con-artist, and that just describes the three main characters, some descriptions match more than one character too.  Throw in a P.I. ex Marine and you got pure chaos.  This defiantly is in a Hitchcockian style and could have just as easily been from 1964 as from 2014.  This is written and directed by Hossein Amini who also wrote the screenplays for Drive and Killshot(both of which I hope to re watch and review in the future).  I look forward to more from him in the future.  We got Viggo Mortensen, Kristen Dunst and Oscar Isaac as our three main characters.  All of them do a great job, as your alliances may change back and forth between the three throughout the movie.  This film has a great score of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes and a fair score of 6.2 on IMDb and 66% on Metscore at this time.  This is not the best film of 2014 nor is it even the best noir film of 2014 but is entertaining and worth a view.  I think noir fans will find this more entertaining than the average person.