I have to admit that I’m fairly unversed in the films of Faye Dunaway. There’s not really any agenda to speak of; I just haven’t gotten around to seeing much of her filmography. At this year’s TCM Classic Film FEST 2012 I was able to rectify that, seeing both The Thomas Crown Affair and Chinatown. The films aren’t exactly related – one being a caper and the other a post-noir – but the actress turns in some very interesting performances in each. I figured it would make for an interesting post to try to take a look at her performances in each of these films and suss out which one was the better. Should be easy, right?
It’s tough deciding what to write about first for a film festival. For my AFI FEST 2011 series I tried to go in linear order as best I could, but that went out the window as later showings all vied for my attention. In the end I only reviewed a handful of films when I could have reviewed pretty much everything. This year I aim to fix that and put more of a Flickchart spin on my festival coverage, starting with the TCM Classic Film Fest 2012. There will be a couple of single reviews, of course, but I’ll also be ranking and comparing some of the films I’ve seen based on a theme or particular element that ties the films together.
I’d like to start this post series with a look at TCM’s selection of Noir films. Considering the theme of the festival was “style in the movies,” it’s only natural that they would have films from that genre handy. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to work all the Noir films into my schedule, but the ones that I did see were an absolute treat.
But which one was best? Which one had the edge over the others? In true noir fashion, let’s set all the cards on the table and see how it all shakes out!
Overshadowed by other films from its director and year of release, Steven Soderbergh‘s 1999 thriller The Limey is an unfairly forgotten piece of cinematic gold. Starring Terence Stamp as an ex-con known only as “Wilson”, The Limey succeeds as a revenge film while refusing to submit to the traps that most films of its sort fall into.
One was from a relatively young writer and director just hitting his stride. The other came from a seasoned pro, who had already given us some of the best films of all time. Drawing on a rich history of the real life mafioso’s exploits, these two films brought the stories, the characters, and the culture to life in a way that we had never seen before. The first had dazzling scope and a romanticized edge that almost glorified the ugliness despite its startlingly realistic violence. It captured the essence of some real-life mobsters, while adding a touch of glamour to the family business. The second stripped down that image and showed a raw, intense portrayal of street thug losers, who longed for the big time and would resort to ruthless, savage tactics to get there. In reality, their world was an unapologetically ugly one, but no less captivating. Talk to any film aficionado, and he or she will count both among the all-time greatest. But how do they fare against one another in the Reel Rumbles ring? It’s time to find out. So grab another cannoli, snuggle up to the fishes, and prepare to get whacked, it’s time for The Godfather vs. Goodfellas.
Like the universe itself, film is a fragile medium that can produce monumental changes with just the slightest tweaks, twists, or turns. In life, a decision to stop off for a loaf of bread and a six-pack of beer on the way home from work can mean the difference between a lonely weekend and meeting the love of your life. Likewise in film, a change of genre can result in a vast improvement over a weaker effort or a new creation of wonder and excitement equivalent to its original source. Such is the case in this week’s Reel Rumbles as two modern classics go head-to-head, each taking a previous film comedy and twisting the concepts into different genres for fresh, exciting, and provocative filmmaking. Taking its cue from the less than stellar Dana Carvey comedy Clean Slate (1994), Memento revitalizes the film noir genre with a mystery told in reverse, while a touch of teenage angst and ominous foreshadowing makes a classic like Harvey (1950) into a dark and supernatural tale of apocalyptic proportions. So question your identity, follow the clues, and leap through the time travel continuum, it’s time for Donnie Darko vs. Memento.