Archives for posts with tag: film noir

It’s the matryoshka doll of B movies. “Mute Witness” is a 1995 slasher movie filmed on location in Russia about a slasher movie filmed on location in Russia that stumbles upon a snuff movie filmed on location in Russia. A hint of noir is supplied by the fact that our perky American protagonist is mute (thus the title). Longtime Russian actress Marina Zudina plays the perky American, while longtime British actress Fay Ripley plays her not as perky sister. Alec Guinness briefly appears in an uncredited role. It was his last film. He didn’t exactly leave on a high note.

Billy Bob Thornton makes some weird Christmas movies. John Cusack just makes weird movies, period. These two superheroes of uncomfortable humor join forces in “The Ice Harvest” (2005) as a pair of moderately sleazy dudes who plot to steal money on Christmas Eve from an exceptionally sleazy dude (Randy Quaid). Noirishly comedic hijinks ensue, replete with double- crosses that might have been coincidences – or might have been triple-crosses. It comes off a little flat. It’s a Harold Ramis film, which probably explains why the opening credits font is the same as the one used at the end of “Animal House.”

Between Alice Eve’s flatliner performance and Al Pacino’s worst accent ever (Jesus Christ! Would all these Yankee thespian geezers stop trying to do Southern accents once and for all!?! I’m looking at you, too, De Niro!) I have almost nothing good to say about “Misconduct” (2016). (Malin Akerman occasionally sticks out as the crazy ex-girlfriend – that’s it.) Josh Duhamel is a lawyer in over his head. Eve is his wife. Pacino, his boss. There’s some sorta film noiry, sorta Fatal Attractiony, sorta Grishamy plot twisty stuff, but it’s mostly a mess. Evil CEO type Anthony Hopkins patiently endures it all.

 

At the beginning of “The Score” (2001), Robert De Niro cracks a safe. Then we see an artsy, through-the-windshield shot of him driving, rain droplets and wiper blades and all. Then we hear one of those jazz trumpets with the toilet plunger thingy stuck in the hole. So we know it’s going to be one of those kinds of movies. A formula caper flick with a noir edge. The execution is very average. De Niro, Angela Bassett, Edward Norton and Marlon Brando seem to be going through the motions. The jazz trumpet with the toilet plunger thingy sounds good, though.

In “Broken City” (2013), everybody’s dirty. Everybody has a secret. (Except for Alona Tal. She’s just adorable.) What was I saying? Oh, yeah, “Broken City” is so dirty, it’s very hard to like. It’s like Bostonian Mark Wahlberg made this movie just to make you hate New York and everyone in it (except Alona Tal). Wahlberg and Russell Crowe have star power as a tainted cop and tainteder mayor, but the film noirish revenge/murder/double-cross plot is a mess. (Oh, and another thing. How is Kyle Chandler in every movie that Channing Tatum isn’t in all of a sudden? Dude’s prolific.)

Gotta say one thing about Chazz Palminteri, he plays a heckuva well-dressed psychotic a-hole. What made him a terrible spokesman for Vanilla Coke makes him the perfect choice for antagonist in “Diabolique,” a 1996 remake of a 1955 French film. Enjoy the film noir double crosses and a love triangle that includes Sharon Stone and Isabelle Adjani. Stone reallllly gets into the film noir thing – all lipstick, cigarettes and red nail polish. My general dislike for Palminteri had me hoping Stone and Adjani would get away with murder and then have a hot makeout scene. My wish was partially granted.

“Murder By Night” (1989) could generously be described as film noir. Noir is a French word that means “mediocre” (remember, we’re being generous). The first red flag? Amnesia as a plot device. The second? Made-for-TV Kay Lenz as the love interest. The third? When I figured out who the murderer was about 15 minutes into the movie (spoiler alert – it’s always the innocuous neighbor). This movie is so formulaic it should have been titled “Murder By Numbers.” Whodunit? Who cares? This is what made-for-cable is all about. Poor Robert Urich (I forgot he has already been dead for 11 years).