My watching as I dove head first into the New Year followed a few distinct phases. For the first week or so I did not have a working computer, so rather than relying on streaming I delved into the wild world of blind-bought Blu-rays that had been piling up (mostly from Kino, Twilight Time, and Criterion). You can also detect some frantic catching up on films on the Criterion Channel that expired at the end of January, films on Netflix that I had actually watched months ago back when that was my job, a deluge of screeners for Best International Oscar contenders (lots of free screenings of those popping into my inbox; I was overjoyed!), and lastly a handful of films from the Sundance Film Festival. As always, I’ll highlight a few favorites after the cut.
Y’all this month was Noirvember 11!! I cannot even believe I’ve been doing this for that long. Every year more and more people (and libraries!) participate and it fills me with such joy (which is maybe the opposite of what noir should do???). I didn’t watch much this month beyond the one noir a day, but as always you can see everything I watched after the cut, plus a breakdown by decade and a few favorites.
Lorna: You are certifiable! What is this? Some sort of smart-ass joke? You’re taking cooking?
Michael: I want to learn how to cook.
Lorna: Yeah, right. You have some burning desire to learn how to make apple brown betty. . .
Michael: What are you doing here if you think so highly of it?
Lorna: Well, they wouldn’t let me take auto mechanics, and I didn’t have time to take the issue to the Supreme Court.
I think the first time I saw this film was on a hot August afternoon. I do know it was sometime in 2008 because it was the summer I moved to San Francisco the first time and I did a lot of Netflixing that summer. It was right around the same time I saw Sunset Blvd. for the first time. It was a good summer. This is a film just chock full of talent and energy and heart and soul and gravity and gaiety. It’s got everything. If you Google around, you can read about the events on which it was based; I won’t be discussing them here. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning one: Best Film Editing (for Dede Allen, who was nominated for threes Oscars, though she never won and was in and of herself a ig player in the Hollywood New Wave), Best Supporting Actor Chris Sarandon, Best Actor Al Pacino, Best Original Screenplay Frank Pierson (won; more on this in a bit), Best Director and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were Barry Lyndon, Jaws, Nashville and winner One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. There will be many spoilers after the cut.
Valentine ‘Snakeskin’ Xavier: You know, Lady, there’s people bought and sold in this world like carcasses of hogs. . .in butcher shops. You might think that there’s. . .there’s many. . .many kinds of people in this world. But there’s only two kinds: The buyers and the ones that get bought. [beat] No, there’s another kind.
Lady Torrance: What kind?
Valentine ‘Snakeskin’ Xavier: It’s a kind that don’t belong no place at all. There’s a kind of bird that don’t have any legs so it can’t alight on nothing. So it has to spend its whole life on its wings in the air. I seen one, once. It died and fell to earth. And its body was light blue colored. And it was just as tiny as your little finger. And it was so light in the palm of your hand that it didn’t weigh more than a feather. And its wings spread out that wide. And you could see right through them. That’s why the hawks don’t catch them. . .because they don’t see ’em. They don’t see ’em way up in that high blue sky near the sun.
Lady Torrance: What about in gray weather?
Valentine ‘Snakeskin’ Xavier: They fly so high, in gray weather, the hawks, they’d get dizzy. See, these little birds don’t have no legs at all so they have to live their whole lives on the wing. And they sleep on the wind. That’s what they do, they just. . . they just spread their wings out and go to sleep on the wind. And they only alight on this earth but one time. . .it’s when they die.
Estelle Rolfe: Could I see that picture of Garbo in the window?
Shopkeeper: Ha ha, it’s from Grand Hotel.
Estelle Rolfe: It’s from Mata Hari.
Shopkeeper: Grand Hotel, I own the shop!
Estelle Rolfe: No, it’s from Mata Hari, it’s the scene in the prison cell, where she has a reunion with Rosanoff, just before they take him to the firing squad to be executed. Look at the costumes, it’s Mata Hari.
Shopkeeper: That’s 35 dollars.
Estelle Rolfe: This isn’t rare, I’ve seen it before!
Shopkeeper: Then buy it before! The frame makes it higher.
Estelle Rolfe: I’ll take it without the frame!
Shopkeeper: I don’t sell it without the frame. That’s 35 dollars!
Estelle Rolfe: It’s Mata Hari, go to the movies!
It’s that time of year. Everyone is frantically trying to finish end of the year projects at work or at school. People are freaking out because they are alone (hopefully not forever though!), etc. etc. It’s also that time of year when we celebrate those we love by giving them things we think they’ll love (or that we love and want to convince them to love, too). Thus I give you my first-ever Holiday Gift Guide, filled with 15 things that I think would make awesome gifts for the movie lover in your life.
The first time I saw this film I was completely blown away. It’s eerie how a satirical film about television made 35 years ago can be so accurate within today’s world of television. I rewatched it recently and am just as in awe of it as ever. Network was nominated for ten Academy Awards, winning four: Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Original Screenplay (won), Best Supporting Actor Ned Beatty, Best Supporting Actress Beatrice Straight (won), Best Actress Faye Dunaway (won), Best Actor William Holden, Best Actor Peter Finch (won), Best Director and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were All The President’s Men, Bound For Glory, Taxi Driver and winner Rocky.