Monday 28 December 2020

Neo Noir: Jade



Linda Fiorentino is back on top form as the femme fatale who may or may not be innocent, at least of murder. The erotic thriller that can easily slip into the guise of neo noir was ever popular in the 90s with seamless edges, half drawn supporting characters and usually one man, a law man, who’s drawn into the web weaved by a woman he just can’t resist.


The entanglement of deception that Katrina Gavin, a clinical psychologist, has created all starts to unravel when a wealthy businessman is found brutally murdered with a hatchet. Photographs are found leading to further deception and intrigue involving prostitutes, blackmail and further murders. At the heart of the investigation and somewhat a target himself is David Corelli, assistant District Attorney picking and literally chasing down clues throughout the film. Once a lover of Katrina before she married his friend, Matt, a powerful defence attorney. She doesn’t hide behind her husband’s power, letting us believe of her innocence but Katrina’s found sexual liberation is discovered through burnt out tapes and seedy photos. What’s different about Katrina’s reaction is at first shame at being found out, her secret is no longer just her. She enjoys the control she has over the men at beach house and doesn’t want to let this side of her go. But with her husband, she is the complete opposite. Her vulnerability is seen on a few occasions making us question whether she really is the killer as she’s been set up to be.


The corrupt politician in power and the corrupt policemen doing his bidding cheapens the story the slightly as its quite predictable. The menacing governor threating Corelli with losing his chance as becoming elected isn’t the bold move he thinks. Corelli is made of sterner metal, surviving multiple attempts on his life and being able to stand up to bullies. He does almost succumb to the charms of the femme fatale but knows better.  He is a rare character amongst the genre.



For more #noirvember & #NeoNoir follow @little_sister_filmnoir


Thursday 24 December 2020

Merry Christmas

Every year I watch a Christmas film I’ve never seen before, may be old or new. The added tradition now is I add the latest Netflix Christmas film too, but this year only a series caught my eye, Dash & Lily which was exactly what I had expected from Netflix. Wholesome, teen orientated romantic, family drama with a smattering of comedy. It got me in the Christmas mood at least. Instead of adding one more film to the mix, I ended watching several Christmas films I had never seen before. In these times, what else was there to do? I can at least savour the fact that I got to watch two favourites in the cinema before we were all deprived of that joy.


One film in particular has stayed with me throughout the month as I saw it in the first week of December. Released last year, on Netflix BUT not the typical Netflix film, Klaus. No idea how I missed this film last year. It is one of the most beautiful animated films I’ve seen in a very long time (Wolfwalkers aside here, this is Christmas). It tells the story of how Christmas was started or at least how the myth, the legend, the story of how Father Christmas was created and not from his point of view but from a spoilt arrogant postman sent to the back of beyond as a punishment. Rolling into one film a Scrooge type character who begins his quest to post 6,000 letters in a year by getting the children to send letters to the reclusive, woodsman who makes toys. The story isn’t forced or cliché as it unfolds, its magical, heart-warming and doesn’t go over the top. Even the side plot about the rivalry between two families in the town doesn’t derail this very wholesome tale of friendship, gift giving and yes, letters. The filmmakers even manage to include folklore and the Sami people too.


How on earth did this film lost out at the Oscars to Toy Story 4, which wasn’t the greatest, I’ll never understand. But at least the film will get a lease of life every Christmas season and hopefully more people will enjoy and know the wonder that is Klaus.



Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas wherever you are!


Tuesday 22 December 2020

Neo Noir: In the Cut

 Back in 2017, I wrote a peice for Curzon Film Blog about Jane Campion's films and the Female gaze. Through each of Campion’s films, the characters are exposed at some point in the stories and experience moments of pure pleasure, even in the more innocent of love stories. They show that women can feel these emotions and that it is perfectly normal for women to discover and live out their fantasies. They aren’t glamourised or suffer the notorious ‘male gaze’, the characters and films are an erotic exploration of the female soul. This is what makes Campion such a unique and championing filmmaker.


Although perceived by some as a film that yielded to the typical genre tropes, In The Cut can also be viewed as challenging film noir’s exploration of female sexuality. Frannie (Meg Ryan), a high school English teacher who collects memorable quotes, pretty phrases and dark words, finds herself embroiled in a dark and seedy world of crime after a young woman is brutally murdered. 

Frannie goes through a period of self-discovery and erotic encounters with a police officer working the case. This break from her ‘normal’ shakes her to her core, but despite the danger she knows she is walking into, she is drawn like a moth to a flame into this new world. Frannie is seen as an object of desire by one of her students and then by Detective Malloy (Mark Ruffalo) who is taken with her after a couple of meetings; but unlike the femme fatale character in most film noir stories, Frannie is not so easily swayed, she isn’t led by her need for men but instead her want for sexual contact. Ultimately it is her curiosity that leads her down a dark path, but Campion makes Frannie her own hero and even has her draw blood to save herself.

For more #noirvember & #NeoNoir follow @little_sister_filmnoir

This is an exact from a post first posted as in 2017

Monday 21 December 2020

Neo Noir: Black Widow


For a film from the 80s, Black Widow sure does miss some major points in any film noir/neo noir story. With FBI agents even going as far as saying its highly unlikely that a woman could seduce and kill several men. The only voice of reason (and suspicion) come from the seemingly only FBI agent in the city who is hell bent on proving who the killer is. From the start we know that Catherine, in her many disguises and personas, is the killer. This isn’t a murder mystery after all and unlike other stereotypical neo noir-esque films, it becomes passive aggressive game of who can outwit who when Alex, the FBI agent, goes undercover and befriends Catherine as she hunts down her next victim.


Turning the tried-and-true formula of a male agent/cop tracking down the femme fatale or teaming up with her being corrupted by her, its Alex, the hot head agent who is actually on the right track to finding the femme fatale. She isn’t seduced by Catherine but she does get a little carried away when trying to convince the Hotel tycoon Catherine has set her sights on but this happens with any other film of its genre, the ‘hero’ always looses their head at some point. Catherine and Alex’s brief fake friendship is tense and awkward, neither convinced of the other in their fake identity. These two women can’t fool each other.


There is something delightful cheap and trashy about the entire film which makes it easy to forget when thinking of films that slip so well in the neo noir genre but the story and characters are what keeps it at the back of your mind. Catherine is fantastic as the absolute cold-hearted killer who very casually murders each husband, smoothly transitioning from each new person she becomes. Her method is cruel as well as rare, causing her husbands to die in their sleep from Ondine’s Curse, a very rare condition that is just about plausible and for some reason only rouses the suspicion of one FBI agent. But then again, it’s very rare for a woman to kill a man just for their money, right?



For more #noirvember & #NeoNoir follow @little_sister_filmnoir


Wednesday 16 December 2020

Neo Noir: The Last Seduction


Most Film Noir stories feature the femme fatale, she is the one who leads men down the wrong path, convinces them to commit murder and then run away with them, only to leave the men in the dust to deal with the fall out of their actions. The femme fatale of the Neo Noir variety is often the main focus, sometimes they are even the protagonist themselves. Bridget Gregory is the ultimate femme fatale, even more so than Sharon Stone’s character Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct. She lies, cheats, steals, seduces her way through a rough patch in her life. This is all triggered when her husband hits her, but by her actions throughout the film, it’s more likely she has been planning this whole ordeal before the incident.


Linda Fiorentino is a force to be reckoned with in this film. Robbed of awards recognition because of a technicality with the film’s release, she gained little notoriety after the film, appearing in similar orientated films and Dogma, she seemed to have disappeared in the 2000s. Her personal life reads like Neo Noir, when she became involved with an FBI agent to try and provide evidence to release her PI boyfriend, Anthony Pellicano who was on trial for several crimes. Maybe one day we’ll see that story on the big screen. 


Despite all the terrible things Bridget does, there is also some room to admire her for schemes and plans. She doesn’t do things by half measures and possesses talents that I think we all wishes we had at one point in our lives; her ability to manipulate with ease, actually commit to a job she talks herself into and execute a plan no matter how complicated. But most of all, she is always herself, even when lying, she refuses to be anything other than who she wants to be and will do anything it seems to get it.



For more #noirvember & #NeoNoir follow @little_sister_filmnoir


Wednesday 9 December 2020

Neo Noir: Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels


Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels has the signature cross over of story lines, which all come to a head and make complete sense. There also always seems to be a group or a couple of 'good guys' who are forced to do something bad that they're actually ok with doing. Then there are the usual 'bad guy gangsters' who surround the story with confusion, pitch perfect dialogue and deserved outcomes. In the later films, there does seem to be casualties but, where it all started, get tied up in a, not exactly a neat box but a room full of corpses. It sounds horrific but it’s a very amusing discovery scene.

The explain the complicated plot of all the groups and characters involved would take literally the entire length of the film, so I'll summarise. It all revolves around a card game gone wrong, a debt that needs to be paid, an attic full of weed and a pair of antique shot guns.


Eddy and his four friends, Tom, Soap and Bacon, all put money so that Eddy, a top poker player, can play at Hachett Harry's table. He is a notorious gangster, porn merchant and all-round nasty guy. He cheats at poker, forcing Eddy into a hole where he now owes Harry half a million pounds. Meanwhile, in the flat next to Eddy's, are a group of dealers planning to rob a group of posh guys who grow weed for another local gangster Rory Breaker. So, Eddy and his friends decide to rob the neighbours when they return from, they're heist. Harry's enforcer, Big Chris (and his son), visit various people to make sure they pay back money owed and end up caught in the mess later on.


This is the jist of the whole story, but it does indeed end in a blood bath and a shower of guns. 'This is fucked. No money. No weed. It’s all been replaced by a pile of corpses.' What is interesting is the show of guns in the film, as any Brit knows, getting hold of guns, shot guns not included isn't as easy as in the US. But Eddy and his friends do have a problem getting guns and at one point end up with the antique guns.

'A minute ago this was the safest job in the world. Now it's turning into a bad day in Bosnia.'

The film is unbelievably quotable. Every other line I seem to have heard before from someone somewhere. One in particular is during the heist at the weed growers, the posh boys attempt to defend themselves are start shooting. The leader of the group, Dog, gets fed up and says 'I don't fucking believe this! Can everyone stop gettin' shot?'. This is actually in a late 90's song at the start. I never knew until now it was from this film. I was laughing my way through the film, which may sound bad because of the high body count but the script is just too good. I'm sorry to say this but the British wit of Ritchie's earlier films hasn't carried over to the later 'bigger' films.

The cast are absolutely perfect and anyone who knows Brit Grit or just British films will recognise them all. Vinnie Jones of course is heavily used, especially in the trailer, as most would have known him as the footballer. Now it’s a shame for to be used as a stereotype, same with Jason Statham. But ah well, we can sigh and hope they return to excellent form and maybe Guy Ritchie. One thing that no one couldn't not notice is the lack of women. In fact, there are really only two women in the film. One doesn't talk but does make a point with a machine gun. The other is past middle age and only has a few lines at the poker game. That's it. The two women aren't on the screen for more than a minute each but when they're there, they make a point.

I've never been into gangster films and maybe this film isn't really about gangsters, but there is something gritty and yet effortless about British films of this genre. Nothing is glamourous and there’s always an underline that everything is actually pretty cheap and rough. With American gangster films, there is always that fine line where the life looks good but as always, character is better over substance and my gad does Lock Stock have brilliant characters. Plus, you know when a film has class and status when Sting plays the lead's Dad who owns a bar.

In the words of Big Chris 'It's been emotional'.



For more #noirvember & #NeoNoir follow @little_sister_filmnoir


This was first posted as part of the Blind Spot Series 2015

Tuesday 8 December 2020

Neo Noir: Batman Returns


My Christmas contribution last year was an ode to the beyond amazing Catwoman played by Michelle Pfeiffer but in recent weeks, while gathering up films for the upcoming follow up to Noirvember (still going by the way over at Little Sister) which will be Neo Noir, I noticed in a list Batman Returns was included. Rewatching Batman Returns not as 'just' a superhero film or Christmas film but as a neo noir genre film, was not exactly eye opening but more of an 'of course' moment. There's crime, bloodshed, murder, kidnapping, Christopher Walken and Catwoman is a perfect femme fatale. All that's added into the story are costumes and a batman cave, everything else is a very neo noir filmscape that engulf the whole of Gotham. The name of the city even screams neo noir!

There were a series of Marvel Noir comics that were released where the characters were put in a diferent setting, but Batman doesn't really need to be altered than much. There aren't even any real super powers in Batman, its all gadgets, technology and child abandonment. Although Catwoman has the only super charged experiences, being pushed out of a window only to have her fall broken and lots of cats reviving her, this could be seen as a super powered moment. This aside, Gotham and the residents could be in a permanent film noir story.

If you'd like to read more about Catwomen, check out last year's post HERE.


For more #noirvember & #NeoNoir follow @little_sister_filmnoir

Friday 4 December 2020

Watch List: October & November


The Other Lamb

 Full review HERE. 4/5

Alien Addiction

 Full review HERE.  3/5


 Full review HERE.  3/5

Saint Maud

 Full review HERE.  4/5 

Lucky Grandma

 Full review HERE 3/5 

On the Rocks

Sofia Coppola heads back towards familiar ground with a low-key drama about a daughter and father who bond over the investigation into whether her husband has cheated on her. The story would be quite bland if it wasn't for the excellent pairing of Bill Murray and Rashida Jones who play so well off of each other through the comedic and tragic exchanges. Having them scurry around New York and at one-point Mexico just adds to the screwball essence. 3/5



As a thriller, this was delightful and ominous accordingly but as an adaptation, I’m not too sure. Ben Wheatly is a very odd choice to direct such restraint story with minimal violence on screen and lots of things implied. Kristen Scott Thomas steals the film with her pitch perfect deranged Mrs Danvers and Lily James is her usual blinking breathy naïve newcomer. Armie Hammer really does deserve better in the thankless role of Maxim DeWinter and the end court drama scenes are all over the place. Still, in the end, an enjoyable film but we all know Hitchcock’s version is better. 3/5



From the poster I was worried that Emma Roberts was repeating her act again. For someone who made a great impression in Scream Queens and American Horror Story, her film choices had been lacking. But thankfully this was not the same old bit of fluff that Netflix churns out. At least not completely. The central characters, Sloane, 30-year-old, can't get over an ex constantly hounded by her family about finding a boyfriend and Jackson, Australian golf coach who doesn't want the commitment of a girlfriend. They team up to be each other's dates for various holidays and these are American holidays so there’s a few random ones in there. But of course, they end up liking each other and blah blah blah, its good Netflix fluff after all but, Sloane's attitude towards most things, apart from the ex, is refreshing and funny. So at least there’s that. 3/5

Under the Silver Lake


With a promising premise, slacker meets new pretty neighbour who then disappears the next day so he sets out to find out what happened, has a great hook. But as this is set in Hollywood where the rich use the poor and desperate, you just know there will be a load of weird scenes and characters that aren't exactly important. The many many derailments are the reason why the film is so damn long. It wants to be Hitchcock and De Palmer rolled into one but it just turns into the most bizarre conclusion that is satisfying as it is ridiculous. But you'll never get that time back. 2/5


Thursday 3 December 2020



Babyteeth doesn’t quite sit above all the others that have come before it in terms of story but it does make your heart break despite knowing what will ultimately happen. The central performances are what makes this particular dying teenager more than just another title to the pile.

My full review can be read over at Filmhounds HERE.