Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pat Gill's Awesome Talk

Pat Gill gave quite the fun talk Friday night, her Big Read keynote talk about film noir. She spoke enthusiastically about film noir, and even mentioned some great titles. I was ready to raid our DVD collection after her talk. Here are some of the DVDs she mentioned:

Double Indemnity. Director Billy Wilder co-wrote the screenplay for this film with Raymond Chandler, based on a book by James Cain. How much more noir can you get? A femme fatale seduces an insurance salesman into a nasty crime and an insurance fraud investigator can tell that the salesman's got some secrets.

Sunset Boulevard. We find out that William Holden's character is dead at the start of the film, and regardless of this set back, he persists in narrating the story. Gloria Swanson plays the deluded silent screen star who will make a big comeback with the script Holden writes.

Key Largo. This was the one that, if you haven't seen it, you're supposed to grab popcorn and someone to snuggle with to watch. You'll notice we don't own it yet, but I've got it in next week's DVD order.

Mildred Pierce. Pat said this film blends noir elements with melodrama successfully and to good effect. What's the story? A woman divorces her cheating husband, eventually builds a restaurant chain, rebuilds her wealth, and...I don't want to give away too much, but neither her daughter nor suitor seem trustworthy.

Chinatown. A neo-noir that stars Jack Nicholson as the PI looking into the murder of a husband, politician, and business partner. One of these roles must have been the one that lead to his death.

L.A. Confidential. Pat mentioned that this neo-noir is not for the sensitive viewer. Three police detectives struggle to solve shot gun murders, which is made difficult being mired in the middle of a corrupt police force.

Seven. Also not for sensitive viewers, Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman are detectives searching for a serial killer whose extremely violent and gruesome crimes are not shown on film, but are expertly implied. Pat noted that the implied violence is so strong that viewers feel as though they saw the crime.

Pat also mentioned many of the titles shown for free at the Urbana Free and Champaign Public Libraries (The Big Sleep, Murder My Sweet (DVD coming soon), Gun Crazy, and next Wednesday's Kiss Me Deadly (on VHS, DVD coming soon), as well as, of course, The Maltese Falcon (which will be shown for free at the Virginia Theater at April 30 at 7PM!).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I still have nightmares about the "starvation victim" scene in SE7EN. But yeah ... great freaking film!