Saturday, January 23, 2016

Jason goes to Noir City--Day 1

My favorite party of the year started last night. Here's to Eddie Muller! Here's to this year's Miss Noir City Aja De Coudreaux! And especially here's to Four Roses Bourbon! Oh yeah, and here's to the movies!

REAR WINDOW (1954): What can you say about this classic that hasn't been said before? It's brilliant. Perhaps Hitchcock's best (although there are so many, that's hard to pin down.) The tableau outside James Stewart's Greenwich Village apartment is varied and fascinating. The film is both/either a voyeuristic extravaganza and a moral indictment of voyeurism. And with Eddie Muller's introduction I caught on to the fact that the heroes are artists and the villain is a salesman--all about making money, while James Stewart's character often lives paycheck-to-paycheck. In Eddie's words, (badly paraphrased by me) "The lifeblood of society is money. But the lifeblood of culture is art!" Plus, it's just a wonderfully told, funny, exciting, thrilling story. What a way to start the festival.

THE PUBLIC EYE (1992): I did a bit of a double-take when I say a 90s movie playing at Noir City. Leave it to the Czar of Noir to expand and challenge our definitions. It's not a 40s or 50s flick, but this is noir through-and-through. Based on the legendary photographer Weegee (who I confess I didn't know about before, but someday when I have a spare hour I'll watch Eddie Muller's talk about him.) They didn't have the rights to the name, so Joe Pesci's character becomes The Great Bernzini. He's a great photographer, the eye of New York, who manages to get to the crime scenes often before the cops do. And he isn't above maybe moving a body a little bit to make it a little prettier (especially to make sure their hat is in frame--people love seeing the dead guy's hat.) He knows all the important cops, and also all the important gangsters--and he doesn't take sides. But when a beautiful dame (Barbara Hershey) is having trouble with the mob and the nightclub she inherited, he gets involved. Maybe to do her a favor. Or maybe just to get some great photos. 

I barely remember when this was in theaters, and I don't think it did to well when it came out. But Joe Pesci is great in it, there's a good story, and thank you to Eddie Muller for teaching me--and I assume a heck of a lot of other people in the audience last night--about this almost forgotten gem.

Total Running Time: 214 minutes
My Total Minutes: 414,448

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