Staff Picks: The Best DVDs of 2022

Here we have the very best DVDs of 2022, as selected by our own WCL librarians. All of these titles are available to loan!

Kath’s picks

Everything everywhere all at once Everything Everywhere All At Once
There is no way to describe this film other than strap yourself in, hold on and just go with it.  And maybe, find someone to give you a hug afterwards.  On the surface it feels ridiculous, but this film is one of the most thought provoking, spectacular pieces of cinema I have seen in many years.  Brilliant acting from the entire cast, fantastic martial arts scenes, and it grapples with feelings that many of us will recognise.  Watch this film and you’ll be demanding everyone, everywhere watches it too. 

Gloriavale : New Zealand’s secret cult Gloriavale New Zealand's Secret Cult
An honest, raw documentary showcasing the suffering of several former Gloriavale members, and one amazing woman who is still part of the sect.  Handled sensitively and compassionately, this documentary speaks to those who have managed to escape (or been excommunicated from) Gloriavale and the team that are supporting them in fighting for the right to see their families and expose the abuse at the hands of the sect leaders.  A beautifully made film that every New Zealander should watch. 

The lost cityThe Lost City
If you want to have a rollicking good time, watch this movie.  Sandra Bullock at her comedic best, Channing Tatum being adorable, Daniel Radcliffe chewing the scenery and Brad Pitt… well, I’ll leave that up to you to find out.  Think 80’s adventure rom-coms like Romancing the Stone only in a modern setting.  Full of laugh out loud moments and one very sparkly purple jump suit. 

 


Shinji’s picks

Petite maman – Celine Sciamma
Memoria – Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Drive my car – Ryusuke Hamaguchi
Beginning – Dea Kulumbegashvili
The quiet girl = An Cailín Ciúin – Colm Bairead
I’m your man – Maria Schrader
Limbo – Ben Sharrock
Flee  – Jonas Poher Rasmussen
Small axe : a collection of 5 films from Steve McQueen
The White Lotus. The complete first season

Petite MamanMemoriaDrive My CarBeginningThe Quiet GirlI'm Your Man Limbo Flee Small axe : A Collection of 5 Films from Steve McQueen The White Lotus : The Complete First Season


Gus’ picks

Everything Everywhere All At OnceEverything everywhere all at once
Everything Everywhere All At Once manages to fuse a very heady story about the multiverse to an intimate family drama with charm and aplomb. It’s not just an answer to my long-standing wish to see the Multiverse dramatised on the big screen (in a way that didn’t require a Spider-Man), it’s also the most inventive, hilarious, moving, structurally airtight, genuinely insightful and empathetic movies I’ve ever seen.

 

Doctor Strange in the multiverse of madness Doctor Strange in the multiverse of madness
The real thrill of Doctor Strange in the multiverse of madness is seeing director Sam Raimi return to directing after a nine-year absence, bringing all the cheeky horror stylings of his Evil Dead trilogy to the MCU while reminding you that with three Spider-Mans under his belt, he knows his way around a superhero scuffle. But what really stuck with me after Doctor Strange in the multiverse of madness is realising Strange is basically a librarian’s superhero: a reclusive keeper of obscure knowledge who spends most of his day gesturing with his hands to help people in their adventures.

Benedetta

Benedetta
While most cinephiles know Paul Verhoeven as the director behind such indulgent Hollywood blockbusters as Robocop, Basic Instinct, and Starship Troopers, his other claim to fame is he’s a world-renowned scholar on the life of the historical Jesus Christ. In Benedetta, his fascination with the contradictions of religion come to the fore, as he retells the true story of a 17th-century lesbian nun who was seemingly possessed by Christ to save her small town from the ravages of the plague. Cheekily profane and brilliantly pointed, only someone with Verhoeven’s particularities could have pulled this off.

Nope Nope
Jordan Peele continues to top himself with NOPE, a fantastic twist on the alien invader movie that is, in essence, Jaws in the sky. To say any more would spoil the fun, but needless to say, I found it to be Peele’s best film yet.

 

 

Better Call Saul Season SixBetter call Saul. Season six
It’s especially difficult for a show that’s a prequel to one of the most popular dramas of the 2010s to remain both narratively compelling and maintain the quality of storytelling expected from its predecessor, and Better Call Saul absolutely sticks its landing on both fronts. In Saul/Jimmy/whoever Odenkirk is really playing, I found another answer to Don Draper from Mad Men (my other favourite AMC show), a disreputable charlatan whose life is essentially all a performance, yet he pulls through in the end when he remembers what (and more importantly, who) he’s really doing it all for.

Peacemaker Season 1Peacemaker. The complete first season
James Gunn and John Cena take the shallowest of joke characters from The Suicide Squad (a film that already had a talking shark and a Polka-Dot Man), and manage to build a compelling, funny, and occasionally poignant show around him. As a seasoned comic reader, I also appreciated the deep cut references to DC Comics characters that double as genuinely inventive jokes rather than just self-conscious ‘too-hip’ deflations as seen in other comic adaptations (I almost broke a rib laughing at the joke about Matter-Eater Lad eating an entire Wendy’s, and he means the restaurant itself).


Sasha’s picks

Top Gun : Maverick
The worst person in the world

Top Gun MaverickThe Worst Person in the World

 

 


Charlotte’s picks

Everything everywhere all at once
Petite maman
Spencer
Succession. The complete third season
The humans

Everything Everywhere All At Once

Petite MamanSpencer

Succession Season 3The Humans

 


Joshua’s picks

Bullet TrainBullet Train is a very fun action movie about a bunch of different assassins all going after the same goal. It has bombastic action and fun comedy, with an all around great story. It has the vibes of an Edgar Wright Action/Comedy, and, best of all, comes from a book! 

 

 

UnchartedUncharted meanwhile is just a fun action movie where we get to watch cool people do cool stuff. It’s not mind blowingly good, but it does its job perfectly, just a fun movie to watch. Plus it has a battle on flying pirate ships, I mean come on. 


Eva’s picks


Kyan’s picks

Navalny (available on Kanopy)
Navalny follows the opposition leader to Putin Alexei Navalny after he was poisoned by Kremlin assassins and recovered in Germany. The film follows him as he and his team of hackers uncover the identities, method and time of how Putin poisoned him, including one of the best smoking gun accidental confessions on camera I’ve ever seen when he calls his own assassin and gets him to unknowingly detail what happened. Navalny then chose to return to Russia to continue to oppose Putin, where he is now deteriorating in a gulag prison. Given the Ukraine war it’s become even more relevant, and has just been nominated for best documentary at the Oscars.

The worst person in the world

The Worst Person in the WorldNominated for best Foreign Language and Best Screenplay at last year’s Oscars. Was in many people’s top lists of last year. Funny and moving. High recommend.

Staff Picks: DVDs and Blu-Rays at the Library

Here are some new, and older, DVDS and Blu-Rays that our Library staff have enjoyed watching recently, including a few Christmas movie picks for your holiday viewing!

Brigid’s Picks:

Christmas unwrapped ; The Christmas setup ; Christmas at Maple Creek ; No time like Christmas ; Christmas lost & found
This DVD is a 5 disc collection of gentle Christmas movies.
They are all very different stories made by a Canadian production company but are set in USA. The 5 DVD’s are all from 2018-2020 so still fairly new. The stories have very diverse characters. The rating is PGR. They are all gentle stories good for binge watching leading up to Christmas.

Inside are the following titles:

Christmas Unwrapped: This is a gentle story of a young journalist Charity, desperately trying to get her big break in Journalism. It comes in the form of having to write the story about a young man in the city who every year becomes the city’s Father Christmas by giving. Covering this story changes Charity’s life. Also stars Cheryl Ladd as the hard-bitten news Editor. This is a lovely gentle story great to watch whilst wrapping presents and decorating trees.

The Christmas Setup: This is a gentle Christmas romance. This is about a corporate lawyer Hugo who goes home for 2 weeks for Christmas to help his mum (Fran Drescher – The Nanny fame) celebrate Christmas and raise funds for the town.

Christmas at Maple Creek: A romance author Diana, goes back to the place of her childhood to help her get over writer’s block and enjoy Christmas there again. Diana finds more there than she bargains for Maple Creek needs her help.

No Time like Christmas: Emma finds her university boyfriend’s watch that she had given him, in a vintage shop just before she heads home to Vermont to celebrate Christmas. Things are not all as she expects.

Christmas Lost and Found: New York city event planner Whitney goes back to Chicago to spend her Christmas with her grandma. Whitney is gifted all the special Christmas ornaments that she collected with her grandma as a child but accidently lost them. Over the next week she must find them.

Dolly Parton’s Christmas of many colors : circle of love
This is a lovely DVD taken from the life of Dolly Parton. Dolly puts in a guest appearance and narrates it. Set in the Tennessee mountains Dolly is growing up with her family in the 1950’s. Dolly has 7 siblings and there is not a lot of money to spare. It is a story about how the children try and find money to help their dad give their mum the one present he has always wanted to – a Wedding ring. Everything goes well until disaster happens. How they cope is part of the lovely movie. Jennifer Nettles plays her mum, Rick Schroder plays her dad and Gerald McRaney plays the Preacher Grandfather. You do not need to like Dolly Parton’s music to enjoy this movie. Great time to enjoy it before the new Dolly movie comes out.

Neil J.s Pick:

Star Trek. IV, The voyage home
So, in the midst of a plethora of new Star Trek series and continued rumours about a Quentin Tarantino directed Star Trek movie, I decided to go back to the eighties in a big way and rewatch Star Trek Four The Voyage Home. The one with the whales where the crew travel back in time to 1986 (which was at that point the present day). It remains fabulous fun, the comic timing gags both visual and, in the script, still land perfectly. The strange thing is it has now become (mostly in a good way) as much about the period in time that it was made, as any future. Eighties styles, attitudes and preoccupations dominate. In a similar fashion to the way the fifties science fiction film Forbidden Planet reflects American society at that point in time.

Shinji’s Picks:

Memoria
Petite maman
Forgotten we’ll be
The White Lotus. The complete first season
Walk on the wild side
Outrage

Memoria

Petite Maman

Forgotten We'll Be

The White Lotus

Walk on the Wide Side

Outrage

Mark’s Picks:

C.B. Strike. Lethal white
The latest season of the J.K Rowling’s Strike series (written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith) has just debuted in the UK, with an adaption of the 5th novel, Troubled Blood. This DVD, an adaption of the 3rd novel Lethal White, is so far the only season released in NZ. In case you are unfamiliar with the book series, Cormoran Strike (played by Tom Burke) is a permanently dishevelled London based Private Investigator, who seems to exist entirely on pub crisps, Indian takeaways and beer, and is almost perpetually grumpy due to the complexities of his exacting business, his prosthetic leg, and his complicated personal history as the illegitimate son of a famous rock star. Robin Ellacott (played by Holliday Grainger) is a Temp agency receptionist, with a traumatic past and a keen investigative talent who, by the time of this series, has become his business partner. This instalment in the series begins when Billy Knight, a young man with a history of mental illness claims to have witnessed a child’s murder and the burial of the body in the woods some years before and asks Strike to investigate. Despite being set in contemporary London, and being occasionally quite gritty, ‘Strike’ is in a lot of ways an old fashioned show with little digital flash. The long cases essentially involve lots of plodding work, reinterviewing people, research, and conversations, and so are somewhat difficult to condense into the TV format. It’s all carried, really, by the two leads who are both excellent, and one of the most accurate transfers from page to screen of any adaptation. They both seem to perfectly embody the characters in the books, and the series is just as much about their complicated lives and growing personal & professional bonds, as it is about the cases they solve.

Gus’ Picks:

Succession. The complete first season
Succession. The complete second season
Succession. The complete third season

Logan Roy, the aging CEO of the massive media conglomerate Waystar-RoyCo, has a health scare following his announcement that he will delay his abdication from the company. This leads to a succession panic among his children: the troubled golden child Kendall, the manipulative only-daughter Shiv, and pathologically immature Roman. Combining the cinema vérité of The Thick of It with the prestige TV character psychology of The Sopranos, Succession will leaving you reeling for the first couple episodes, as your mind adjusts both to the exorbitant opulence in which the characters live and its deft tonal balancing act of drama and comedy. But after settling into its groove (and experiencing it’s absolute sledgehammer of a first season finale), I’m fully willing to declare that it’s the worthy (ahem) successor to its prestige TV forebears like The Sopranos, Mad Men and Breaking Bad.

Michael Clayton
Set during a massive class action lawsuit of an agricultural giant, unscrupulous ‘bagman’ lawyer Michael Clayton (George Clooney) finds himself embroiled in a corporate conspiracy after his legal wunderkind colleague has a crisis of conscience about his company’s ethics and goes into hiding. The directorial debut of writer Tony Gilroy (Andor), this is top-to-bottom a superbly crafted, dark-but-never-morose legal thriller with a sincere humanity at its core; no wonder it was nominated for almost every major Academy Award (it only won Best Supporting Actress for Tilda Swinton).

Robot & Frank
Set in a near-ish future, the titular Frank is a retired jewel thief who lives alone, until his son buys him a helper robot to assist him with his daily tasks. Frank initially dislikes the robot’s presence, until he realises that the robot can be taught to steal. The robot happily obliges, glad that he has given Frank a task to keep him active, and an unlikely friendship (and crime wave) ensues. A quiet adult drama about ageing and losing touch with family that just happens to be a heist caper with a robot in it, Robot & Frank is an absolute charmer and a criminally slept-on movie overall.

‘Do the Right Thing’ from 3 Spike Lee joints
Do The Right ThingSet in Bed-Stuy and told across one of the hottest days of the year, Do the Right Thing follows the residents of a Brooklyn community as a political firestorm begins to kindle around the local pizza joint. Do the Right Thing is considered Spike Lee’s magnum opus, and I’m inclined to agree; every member of its large ensemble cast has incredible depth and range, the radiant orange lighting really sells the setting of the heat wave, and the themes of racial tension, restorative justice, and economic precarity still haven’t lost their relevance in 2022. A masterpiece all around.

Superman I, Superman IISuperman III, and Superman VI: The Quest for Peace from The Superman motion picture anthology : 1978-2006 Despite being a fan of Superman, I’d never actually gone back and watched the original Christopher Reeve movies. While they are definitely mired in 70s/80s cheesiness, the films work on the innate sincerity of the character, and I was delighted throughout the whole quadrilogy. The acting is all top-notch across the board as well, especially Reeve as Superman and Clark Kent (two very distinctive performances that he pivots between expertly), Margot Kidder as cynical reporter Lois Lane, who makes easy work of being won over by Superman’s inherent charm and goodness, and Gene Hackman gives appropriate maniacal bravado to Superman’s criminal nemesis Lex Luthor.

Emerson’s Picks:


Hotere coverHotere
A documentary where Ralph Hotere (an NZ artist) quietly works, and his friends talk. Merata makes Hotere’s art feel mysterious while keeping the tone relaxing and convivial. The intense jazzy editing and quotes are cool.

Sione’s wedding
Immensely comforting movie. Funny scenes, great soundtrack, and the 2000s Auckland setting is beautiful.

Kikujiro
A gruff old man takes a young boy to see his mother. Deadpan and slow but also had me laughing a whole lot. Summer is the best season and I like when people in movies get along for no reason.

New DVDs for Te Awe: Part 1

via GIPHY

Here are some new DVDs added to the catalogue over September through to December, available at our CBD Te Awe branch and selected other locations.

New Material:
The gardener
London kills. Series 3
Lost illusions
A clear shot
And just like that. The complete first season
The black phone
The good doctor. Season five
The princess
Ray Donovan : the movie
The survivor
Where the crawdads sing
Yellowstone. Season 4
Unplugging
Elvis
Men
Outlander. Season six
Endeavour. Complete series eight
Little Nicholas’ treasure
1883 : a Yellowstone origin story
Joe Bell
Red Sonja
Fabian : going to the dogs
Harry Wild. Series 1
In search of : the complete series
Jack the Ripper : the mini-series
Language lessons
Love songs for tough guys
Marriages = Per tutta la vita
Nûde Tuęsdäy : a comedy in gibberish
Signora Volpe. Series 1
A tale of love and desire
Shane
Doctor Strange in the multiverse of madness
The electrical life of Louis Wain
Father Brown. Series 9
Jurassic World. Dominion
Redeeming love

The GardenerLondon Kills Series 3Lost IllusionsA Clear Shot
And Just Like That. The Complete First Season
The Black Phone
The Good Doctor Season Five
The Princess
Ray Donovan The Movie
https://catalogue.wcl.govt.nz/?section=resource&hostRecordId=1369632
Where The Crawdads Sing
Yellowstone Season 4
UnpluggingElvis
Men
Outlander Season Six
Endeavour Complete Series Eight
Little Nicholas' Treasure
1883 A Yellowstone Origin Story
Joe Bell
Red Sonja
Fabian Going To The Dogs
Harry Wild Series 1
In Search Of The Complete Series
Jack the Ripper The Mini-Series
Language Lessons
Love Songs For Tough Guys
Marriages = Per Tutta La Vita
Nûde Tuęsdäy A Comedy In Gibberish

A Tale Of Love And Desire
Shane
Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness
The Electric Life of Louis Wain
Father Brown Series 9
Jurassic World Dominion
Redeeming Love
 

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New DVDs for Te Awe

Here are some new DVDs added to the catalogue over August, available at our CBD Te Awe branch and selected other locations.

New Material:
Operation Mincemeat / Operation Mincemeat
The unbearable weight of massive talent
The Northman
The lost city
Sonic the Hedgehog. 2
Shang-chi and the legend of the ten rings
Last seen alive
Everything everywhere all at once
Eternals
The pursuit of love
Mothering Sunday
Father Stu
Dexter : new blood
Reef doctors. The complete series
Memoria
Judi Dench : my passion for trees
How to please a woman
Raised by wolves. Season one
Curb your enthusiasm. The complete eleventh season
A fairy tale after all
Agatha Raisin. Series four
The gilded age. The complete first season
Back to the Rafters. Season one
Sharky’s machine
Phar Lap : hero to a nation
Hollywoodland
Deconstructing Harry
3:10 to Yuma
Sanditon. Season two
The split. Series three




























Staff Picks: Movies at the Library

Here are some new, and older movies, that our library cinephiles have enjoyed watching recently.

Gus’ Picks:


The worst person in the world
Norwegian director Joachim Trier’s latest film which follows four years in the life of Julie, a woman on the verge of her thirties trying to figure out herself, her career, her passions, and her love life. Told episodically in acts, the film is one of the best attempts I’ve seen at articulating that particular Millennial desire to be remarkable in your time, how being anything less makes you feel like the titular ‘worst person in the world’, and the malaise that soon sets in from both the disappointment on never succeeding and the relief of never committing. Heartwarming, hilarious, and not a little profound.

The Matrix Resurrections
I always thought ‘The Matrix’ was the one series that actually deserved a modern reboot; like the ‘red pill’, it’s easier to swallow a concept like the Matrix in a world that has been moulded even more by computers and algorithms than ever before. The question is, what do you say with that idea today? What, for better or worse, has the Matrix, both the film and the concept, done to our culture? Does it still have a place in the era of Twitter and virtual reality? Fortunately, Lana Wachowski (now directing solo without her sister, Lily) has been stewing on those questions, and delivers a sequel that both expertly updates the concept and puts it in context of its own legacy. Don’t go in expecting it to reinvent cinema like the first one, just remember to keep your mind open to the possibilities. Some ideas are just too good to stay dead.

Dune
Denis Villeneuve takes a crack at the ‘unadaptable’ space epic that defined science fiction for decades, and he proves more than up to the task. While definitely feeling like a ‘Part 1’, Dune’s scope, worldbuilding, creature design, and cinematography are second-to-none, and the epic, mesmerising score by Hans Zimmer is the perfect compliment. On a personal note, I think this is the best realisation of Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide line “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t”.

The courier
Based on the true story of Greville Wynne, a British businessman who gets roped into smuggling secrets out of Russia on behalf of the CIA and MI:6. A solid Cold War thriller, and a reminder that Benedict Cumberbatch is actually a really great actor when he’s not being stunt-cast (see also: Patrick Melrose).

First cow
In 1820s Oregon, a humble cook from Maryland and a worldly immigrant from China meet through happenstance and become fast friends, eventually setting up a business selling ‘oily cakes’ to the hungry trappers and settlers in their neck of the woods. However, the only way they can get the milk for their cakes is to steal it from the only cow around, which happens to be owned by the richest man in the territory. The first half is about two guys in 1820s start-up culture, while the second half is the sweetest, gentlest heist movie you’ll ever see. Perfect for a rainy weekend or a quiet night in.

Continue reading “Staff Picks: Movies at the Library”

It’s just Chinatown Jake: Film Noir movies from our DVD collection

via GIPHY

Following the end of World War Two, French publishing house Gallimard started publishing translations of American crime novels through its Série noire imprint: including authors such as Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain and David Goodis. The following year, French critic Nino Frank wrote the earliest essays identifying a new departure in American film making, the ‘Film Noir’- though the term itself did not come into ‘official’ use until the publication of Raymond Borde & Etienne Chaumeton’s study ‘Panarama du film noir americain’ in 1955, and wasn’t widely adopted in America until the 1970’s. According to Borde and Chaumeton, the ‘Noir’ cycle officially begins with John Houston’s The Maltese Falcon (1941) and ends with Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly (1955) – though the style can be traced back as far as Fritz Lang’s M (1931), and forward to films like Memento (2000).

Characterised by fear, mistrust, bleakness, paranoia, fatalism, disillusionment, existential plots and confessional voiceovers, they provided a distinctly pessimistic view of post-war America. However, while the view was American, the ‘feel’ was distinctly European with shadowy expressionistic lighting, stark and skewered camera angles, jarring editing and deep shadows. Due to this style, the best Noirs are in Black and White – with key European directors such as Fritz Lang, Robert Siodmak, and Jacques Tourneur. Noir protagonists were typically anti-heroes: crooked cops, down and out private eyes, war veterans, petty criminals, gamblers and killers; while the women were often unloving, mysterious, duplicitous and manipulative – but always gorgeous.

While the style dropped out of favour after the late 1950’s, its elements were present in several standout films of the 1960’s from The Manchurian Candidate (1962) to Point Blank (1967). It made a resurgence in the 1970’s, and an even stronger one in the 1990’s. Films from this period on are referred to as ‘Neo-Noir’ and, while some are merely an affected stylism, enough original ‘Noir’ runs through them to satisfy purists.

The Maltese falcon
John Huston’s classic adaptation of Dasheill Hammett’s hard-boiled novel (using large chunks of the novels dialogue) with Bogart as Hammett’s definitive private eye, the cynical Sam Spade. When Bogart’s partner is murdered while tailing someone at the request of a beautiful client he sets out to find the killer, even though he was sleeping with his partners wife. His investigations drag him into a byzantine plot that sees him pitted against a sinister fat man (Sydney Greenstreet), an effete European (Peter Lorre), a doped up gunman (Elisha Cook Jr.), and his client (Mary Astor) a treacherous women whose loyalties turn on a dime – all of whom are after a mysterious black statuette in the shape of a bird, and rumoured to be encrusted with gold and jewels…

Double indemnity
Director Billy Wilder and writer Raymond Chandler adapted James M. Cain’s novel into one of the best early Noirs. Smooth insurance salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) meets femme-fatale Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) when he calls to renew her husband’s automobile insurance. Sparks fly and together they scheme to murder her husband and collect a large insurance payoff using the ‘double indemnity’ clause in his life insurance. Narrated by MacMurray to his Claims Investigator boss Barton Keyes (Edward G Robinson) in a flashback, the story is still holds tension right until the last reel, and is full of Chandler’s snappy dialogue.

Laura
Darryl F Zanuck, founder of 20th Century Fox once declared that Gene Tierney was ‘unquestionably the most beautiful woman in movie history’, and ‘Laura’, based on the Vera Caspary novel, more than shows why. Dana Andrews plays a tough Homicide Detective who falls in love with the portrait of career girl/murder victim Laura Hunt (Tierney). But when Laura suddenly returns alive, he has to figure out who the dead girl is, who shot her, and more importantly, if Laura was the intended victim. Full of great lines, Otto Preminger directs this stylish murder/mystery with a great supporting cast that includes Clifton Webb as an acid-tongued journalist who was Laura’s mentor, & Vincent Price as her vacuously charming playboy boyfriend. The DVD also comes with two biographies; one on the tragic life of actress Tierney, and the other on the career of Vincent Price as one of cinemas most versatile villains.

Gilda
One of the most cynical Noirs, Charles Vidor’s Gilda stars Glenn Ford as Johnny Farrell, a down on his luck gambler in wartime Buenos Aires. Rescued from a fight by mysterious casino owner Ballin Mundson (George Macready), he is recruited to work in his illegal casino where he soon rises to be Mundson’s ‘right hand man’. All is well until Mundson goes on a business trip and returns with beautiful new bride Gilda (Rita Hayworth), a woman from Johnny’s past. Unaware of their previous relationship he assigns Johnny to keep an eye on Gilda, and their mutual dislike produces some of the most scathing dialogue committed to film. Factor in the bizarre romantic triangle that ensues, the mysterious Tungsten (a rare metal) cartel Mundson heads, the Germans who want to control it, the evocative setting, and Hayworth’s famous ‘striptease’ to ‘Put the blame on Mame’ and you have a classic piece of Noir.

Out of the past
Robert Mitchum is Jeff Bailey the owner of a small garage and living an idyllic life in small town California… until his past catches up with him in the form of ruthless gangster Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas) and his girlfriend Kathie Moffat (Jane Greer). Jacques Tourneur’s brilliantly realised Noir is one of the best examples of the genre. Flashbacks within flashbacks reveal Mitchum’s past as Private Eye Jeff Markham hired by Douglas to retrieve his wayward girlfriend Grier, and the $40,000 of his money she ran off with. He manages to track her to Mexico, but that’s just the beginning of his ensnarement with the nasty pair. Mitchum is at his laconic best as Markham, conveying the characters desperation with the most economic of gestures, and the beautiful Greer is nothing short of brilliant as the remorseless femme fatale. Tourneur’s camerawork and use of light and shadow convey an inky darkness to even the most sunlit scene. The film was adapted by Daniel Mainwaring (using the pseudonym Geoffrey Homes) from his own 1946 novel ‘Build My Gallows High’, and is one of those instances where the film improves on the book, though that may have been due to the uncredited dialogue revisions by Frank Fenton, a B-movie writer whose best known credit was John Ford’s Wings of Eagles.

Continue reading “It’s just Chinatown Jake: Film Noir movies from our DVD collection”