Noirvember 2017 in Films
I can’t believe how fast this month seemed to go! This was the 8th year of Noirvember and it really was a banner year with more participants than ever in more countries than ever. It even got written up in the New York Times! This month along with all the noir (and neo-noir, so much neo-noir!) I also watched my way through all of Tarkovsky’s filmography, however you will not see any write-ups about his films. Spoiler alert: I can safely say I am not a Tarkovsky fan. I also saw a TON of 2017 releases and various other things. I am voracious. As always, you can see all the films I watched plus a few highlights after the cut.
- The Street With No Name
- So Dark the Night
- Edge of Doom
- Jane (2017)
- Vicki (1953)
- Katok i skripka (The Steamroller and the Violin)
- I Was a Communist for the F.B.I.
- Ivanovo detstvo (Ivan’s Childhood)
- The Suspect
- Nightfall (1956)
- Andrei Rublev
- The Shanghai Gesture
- Solaris (1972)
- Dog City (1989)
- Zerkalo (The Mirror)
- One Way Street
- L’Opéra (The Paris Opera)
- Black Widow (1954)
- The Square (2017)
- Crimes of Passion (1984)
- Offret (The Sacrifice)
- The Mob (1951)
- Somewhere in the Night
- The Racket (1951)
- 120 battements par minute
- City That Never Sleeps
- Lady Bird
- The Last Seduction
- Obsession (The Hidden Room)
- House of Strangers
- Menschen am Sonntag (People On Sunday)
- Ins Blaue hinein (Into The Blue)
- The Long Night
- The Tattooed Stranger
- Born In Flames
- Roman J. Israel, Esq.
- The Magdalene Sisters
- God’s Own Country
- Red Rock West
- Word Is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives
- After Dark, My Sweet
- Dark City (1998)
- This World, Then the Fireworks
- Deadline – U.S.A.
- Blast of Silence
For my favorites highlighted this month I’m going to stick just to film noir and neo-noir I watched for Noirvember, but I do want to point out a that I also loved the following films: Jane, BPM, Mudbound, People On Sunday, Born In Flames, Word Is Out, and God’s Own Country (which may wind up being my favorite movie of the year). As for Noirvember, while I did watch a mixture that was mostly from the original noir era, the films that really stole my heart this year were mostly neo-noir.
The Suspect, 1944 (dir. Robert Siodmak)
Of all the original era films I watched this year Robert Siodmak’s London-set Edwardian noir wound up being my favorite. It stars Charles Laughton as an unhappily married businessman who falls for a typist played by Ella Raines. He maintains a (mostly) honorable relationship with her, but when his wife refuses to give him a divorce tragedy strikes and she dies possibly accidentally. When his neighbor blackmails him, things take a dark turn. This may well be my favorite Laughton performance of all his films I’ve seen.
Red Rock West, 1993 (dir. John Dahl)
As a hardcore 80s/90s Nic Cage fan I can’t believe it took me this long to see this delightful neo-noir western. Cage plays a drifter and veteran who is just a little too honest for his own good. After being discriminated at a job site because of his bum leg, he finds himself in Red Rock, Wyoming where he gets mistaken for a hitman. Things get more and more complicated as Cage tries to get out of this deadly situation alive. The stellar ensemble cast includes J.T. Walsh, Lara Flynn Boyle, and Dennis Hopper.
After Dark, My Sweet, 1990 (dir. James Foley)
This is probably the best adaptation of a Jim Thompson novel I’ve ever seen. It captures the seedy, surreal tone of his prose perfectly. In this film ex-boxer Jason Patric finds himself in Palm Springs where he gets mixed up in a kidnapping plot with a widow (Rachel Ward) and an ex-cop (Bruce Dern). Don’t be fooled by the cover art that makes this seem like an erotic thriller. It’s sensual, but mostly it’s terrible people doing terrible things caught up in the fever dream that is the California desert.
Dark City, 1998 (dir. Alex Proyas)
The plot of this film actually reminded of another film I watched this year Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Somewhere In The Night from 1946. Both films start with a man who has amnesia and uses limited clues to try to piece his life back together. I watched the director’s cut of this film and from what I’ve read about the theatrical cut, I recommend anyone who thinks they’ve seen this movie already to try this version and then judge it. Rooted in both noir and German Expressionism (itself one of the influences of American noir), we follow John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) through the perpetually titular dark city, along with fellow inhabitants played by Kiefer Sutherland (a doctor/mad scientist), Jennifer Connelly (torch singer), and William Hurt (hardboiled detective). It’s an interesting hybrid noir-sci-fi-action flick that blends all the tropes well into highly stylized popcorn perfection.
Blast of Silence, 1961 (dir. Allen Baron)
Written, directed, and staring Allen Baron this film is not only an early neo-noir, it’s also a great early independent film. Shot on location in NYC, it follows hitman “Baby Boy” Frankie Bono during Christmastime as he plans out his latest job. Complications arise when he runs into people from his past who make him reconsider his entire purpose in life. Featuring stirring narration from blacklisted actor Lionel Stander, this feels like reading a brisk hardboiled short story and I loved every minute of it.
So that was Noirvember 2017. I hope you all enjoyed your Noirvember and I look forward to seeing it grow even larger next year! December will feature me frantically catching up on all the 2017 films I missed before making my Favorite Fifteen list, so look forward to reading that, as well as my end of the year wrap up soon!