Tag Archives: Love Crime

Film on TV: March 26-April 1

There seems to be a crime/thriller theme going on in my picks to highlight this week – I didn’t initially do that on purpose, but I guess I do kind of like that sort of thing. Also, TCM is still doing their film noir thing, I think, which means a lot of good crime-related stuff to choose from. A lot more good stuff is playing this week, though, including a higher-than-usual number of things I’m featuring for the first time, so head on over to Row Three to see the rest.

The Night of the Hunter

Tuesday, March 27 at 12:00M on TCM
If there’s ever a film that defined “Southern gothic,” it’s this one. Underhanded “preacher” Robert Mitchum weasels his way into a young widowed family to try to gain the money the late father hid before he died. But what starts off as a well-done but fairly standard crime thriller turns into a surreal fable somewhere in the middle, and at that moment, jumps from “good film” to “film you will be able to get out of your head NEVER.” In a good way.
1955 USA. Director: Charles Laughton. Starring: Robert Mitchum, Lillian Gish.
Must See

Love Crime

Friday, March 30 (late Thursday) at 12:05am on Sundance
Alain Corneau’s final film is a Hitchcockian thriller of business intrigue heightened by personal emotions, with icy blondes facing off against each other trying to gain the upper hand both at their company and in their personal lives. It’s got a lot of twisty turns, and ends up being quite satisfying by the end. My only complaint is that the stylistics don’t match up to the plotting or the acting, but I guess in the grand scheme of things, that’s a quibble.
2010 France. Director: Alain Corneau. Starring: Ludivine Sagnier, Kristin Scott Thomas, Patrick Mille.

The Others

Friday, March 30 at 8:00pm on IFC
More than ten years later, this film remains one of my favorite horror films, because it perfectly captures that ghostly, creepy atmosphere I love so much. Nicole Kidman does her best Grace Kelly homage as a mother sequestered on a remote British island (awaiting her husband’s return from WWII) along with her children, who have a unique skin condition that means they cannot be exposed to sunlight. Swapping the safety factor of lightness and darkness is a brilliant move, and the ultimate twist is pretty good, too. But this film lives and dies by its atmosphere – menacing housekeepers, dust-covered furniture, creepy photographs, it’s all here.
2001 USA. Director: Alejandro Amenabar. Starring: Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Fionnula Flanagan.

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

Saturday, March 31 at 8:00pm on TCM
I credit this film with my real interest in silent film. Silent comedy was a big entry point, but Sunrise, with its simple but lovely story of marital infidelity, potential murder, and reconciliation, convinced me that silent films wasn’t just about being funny, but that they could really and truly be art in and of themselves. Murnau does so much with so little here, filling every frame with such visual beauty and storytelling that he barely needs any title cards, that I was immediately sold and I’ve never turned back.
1927 USA. Director: F.W. Murnau. Starring: George O’Brien, Janet Gaynor, Margaret Livingston.
Must See

Born to Kill

Saturday, March 31 at 12:00M on TCM
A film noir that had slipped past me until last year, but I certainly am glad I caught up with it. The always reliable Claire Trevor leads the film as a woman who leaves town instead of dealing with the aftermath of finding her friend murdered; unfortunately, the murderer has unwittingly left on the same train and the two end up inextricably entwined in a love-hate relationship. It’s got some obvious film noir tropes, but also plays along the edges of others (Laurence Tierney is basically an homme fatale, instead of Trevor being a femme fatale). Definitely a film worth your time if you’re into noir or classic crime dramas.
1947 USA. Director: Robert Wise. Starring: Claire Trevor, Lawrence Tierney, Walter Slezak, Phillip Terry, Audrey Long, Elisha Cook Jr., Isabel Jewell.

LA Film Fest 2011: Day 10 (Sunday)

And here we are, finally to the last day of the longest festival I’ve attended. Well, technically I was at LAFF last year, but not with a pass, and I didn’t go every day. It was a marathon, but it was totally worth it. I saw several films I loved, and there weren’t any I really disliked. I call that a good time. Only two films today, since I didn’t go to the closing night premiere of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark – that required a separate pass that I didn’t bother to get, and besides, I think 25 films is sufficient.

First off, Love Crime, the final film of French director Alain Corneau, who died shortly after completing this film. He’s known for his crime thrillers, and this fits right into the mold. Kristin Scott Thomas is Christine, an ice-cold executive of an international firm who seems to be grooming up-and-coming exec Isabelle (Ludivine Sagnier), partnering with her on various business deals and pitches to clients. They also have kind of a complicated personal relationship that Christine calls “love” – it certainly has a sexual aspect to it, though both women also date men…the same man, actually. Turns out Isabelle is potentially even better at her job than Christine, and soon they’re vying professionally and on cool terms personally. The crime plot that follows is twisty and will keep you guessing, even though you know exactly what happened – it’s Hitchcockian, really, in its ability to tell you who did it up front and still keep suspense very high. Both actresses are great; my only real complaint is that it’s shot very flat and uninterestingly (which is very unHitchcockian). Once the plot really got going it wasn’t an issue, but early on when relationships were still being set up, the bland photography and composition was a little distracting.

The last film of the day was one of the bigger name ones at the fest, with John C. Reilly anchoring coming-of-age, awkward high school story Terri as the unorthodox school principal who befriends the overweight, friendless title character. Terri himself is played by newcomer Jacob Wysocki, and he does quite well in the part, refusing to let Terri fall into either pity territory while also acknowledging his difficulty with interacting with others. There are some really great parts, like when Terri arrives at the edge of school property (he walks through the woods from his uncle’s cabin), then waits in the trees for the other students to pick up their bags from where they’d been hanging out on the soccer field and head into school before tossing his bag on the field and going to pick it up before going to school. That little gesture of wanting to do what the other kids do, but not wanting to be with them and risk ridicule was probably my favorite thing in the film. Other things didn’t fare quite so well with me. Reilly is great, as usual, and his relationship with Terri was different and fun, but some of Reilly’s more serious dialogue didn’t ring true to me at all. Some of the directions the story went with Terri, his weird “friend” Chad, and Heather (a girl Terri helped early in the film) didn’t feel right to me, and took me out of the film. A lot of the side characters seemed to be there only to add weirdness (exception made for Creed Barton, who is surprisingly good as Terri’s uncle struggling with dementia). Ultimately, there were a lot of individual elements I liked a lot, but just as many that put me off, and the whole film doesn’t come together or distinguish itself above the dozens of other coming-of-age-high-school movies. I ended up being more disappointed by it than most anything else at the festival. Maybe I’m starting to get over pseudo-indie posturing.

And that’s it. Ten days, twenty-five movies.