Tomorrow, my film noir crash course will begin in earnest, starting with a morning viewing of The Maltese Falcon, which I picked up today during my lunch break. I also snagged The Lady from Shanghai and The Postman Always Rings Twice, so a sincere word of thanks to everyone who suggested titles for me to look into.
I also decided to nab The Black Dahlia to give me a flavour for a more recent take on the noir framework. I’ve heard mixed reports about it, but I figure I might as well give it a whirl.
I got home to find a package from DVD Pacific waiting for me, containing the Blu-ray release of Bonnie and Clyde and the recent Platinum Edition DVD release of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians. I’ve always had a strange relationship with the latter, since it’s one of the few Disney features where I actually read the source material before reading the film, and, perhaps for that reason, the adaptation never really stood up for me. It’s a very enjoyable film, don’t get me wrong, and Cruella De Vil is one of the greatest screen villains ever created, but the book, for me, just paints a much richer and more appealing image in my head.
An interesting point about this release is that, whereas the recent re-releases of The Jungle Book, The Aristocats and Robin Hood (and the upcoming The Sword in the Stone) were all matted to an aspect ratio of 1.75:1, 101 Dalmatians retains the open matte 1.33:1 format favoured by every prior home video release, something which pleases me greatly considering how borked The Jungle Book looked when matted. The behind the scenes documentary for 101 Dalmatians, contained on the second disc, mattes the image to a widescreen ratio, with disastrous results, and watching it made me thankful that Disney have opted for a full-frame presentation for this release. I mean, take a look at the image below and try to imagine how you might matte it without completely destroying the composition:
Hopefully there will be a full review at DVD Times in the near future.
Posted: Wednesday, April 09, 2008 at 10:26 PM
| Comments: 8
I'm not sure about THE BLACK DAHLIA, Mike. I loved the novel, but the film left me very cold: it's an exercise in style, but loses the moral core of the novel.
It's not a particularly good example of neo-noir; a better example, and a film that I would wholeheartedly recommend watching (if you haven't seen it already), is John Dahl's THE LAST SEDUCTION. BASIC INSTINCT is also an iconic film within the neo-noir (or 'noir lite') movement. It divides audiences very strongly, but for my money it's one of the most potent Hollywood movies of the early 1990s.
Posted by: Paul, April 9, 2008 10:56 PM
And by the way, if you haven't already read it, you may find Linda Ruth Williams' THE EROTIC THRILLER IN CONTEMPORARY CINEMA useful, as it explores in some detail the ways in which the 1990s noir revival dovetails with the emergence of DTV erotic cinema. There are obvious parallels here between the crime narratives of 1960s and 1970s Italian cinema and their emphasis on eroticism.
Posted by: Paul, April 9, 2008 11:01 PM
For newer takes on noir might I suggest either KISS KISS, BANG BANG, or THE ICE HARVEST over THE BLACK DAHLIA. I really like DAHLIA but it's more of an academic exercise in noir than a true noir (if that makes sense.) The one flick I would recommend whole heartedly though is Rian Johnson's BRICK, if you haven't seen it yet I urge you to pick it up. I would love to know what you think of it, and your thoughts on this marathon of yours in general.
Posted by: Josh, April 9, 2008 11:41 PM
You shouldn't have picked up The Black Dahlia, but I've already expressed my dislike of it on DD. If you haven't read the book, good luck following the plot.
"Body Heat", "The Last Seduction", "Basic Instinct", and "LA Confidential" are far better recent takes. Heck, even "Body of Evidence" is better than "The Black Dahlia."
Posted by: Marcus, April 10, 2008 5:13 AM
Yuck, the matted Disney classics really look aweful. Was there any comment on why they did this abomination?
Posted by: Peter von Frosta
, April 10, 2008 10:26 AM
The suggestion of BRICK is a very good one.
You will suffer when you watch BLACK DAHLIA though. I hope to god you got it on sale!
Posted by: , April 10, 2008 6:12 PM
I actually liked everything about the Black Dahlia barring the performances of Hartnett and Johansson which were characteristically wooden. OK that's a pretty big flaw but doesn't derail the film for me.
Posted by: , April 10, 2008 7:13 PM
Thanks for the book recommendation. I’ll be sure to pick it up when I’m next in the library.
As for The Black Dahlia, I really just picked it up on a whim. It will probably be the last of these films that I watch (it’ll be either The Lady from Shanghai or The Postman Always Rings Twice), and I’m not holding out a great deal of hope for it, given what I’ve read of it. Then again, a few people whose opinions I often find my own in alignment with have praised it (grudgingly, admittedly), so I may be pleasantly surprised.
The situation with the aspect ratios of Disney’s films from the 1961-1981 period is complicated. Everything up to and including The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (not counting the CinemaScope Lady and the Tramp and Sleeping Beauty) appears to have been composed for the Academy aspect ratio, at least judging by the animation frames shown in Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston’s book The Illusion of Life, as well as what the films themselves look like on the screen. However, by 1961, the chances of finding a cinema set up to show films in the Academy ratio would have been slim, so it stands to reason that these titles would have been matted theatrically, to roughly the extent that they are presented on the new DVDs of The Jungle Book, The Aristocats and Robin Hood. The fact remains, though, that they look completely wrong when presented in that manner (well, The Jungle Book does at any rate - I’ve only seen a few isolated screen captures from the other two). It’s one of the few instances where I find myself championing the presentation of a film in something other than its theatrical aspect ratio.
Posted by: Whiggles
, April 10, 2008 10:53 PM
Comments on this entry and all entries up to and including June 30th 2009 have been closed. The discussion continues on the new Land of Whimsy blog: