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Moodywoody (Ottawa, Canada)

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Born to Kill
Born to Kill
DVD ~ Claire Trevor
Offered by torontomediadvd_com
Price: CDN$ 39.88
8 used & new from CDN$ 19.88

5.0 out of 5 stars Tierney and Trevor are Terrific as Two Psychopaths Who Meet Head On, Jan. 9 2011
This review is from: Born to Kill (DVD)
Born to Kill is one of the first film noir movies that I viewed that made me fall in love with the genre. In my opinion, it is one of the best film noirs ever made. This film is so good on so many levels. It is a polished film that gives the viewer everything you could want from a film noir: great lighting and direction; great performances; an evil and murderous anti-hero; a great femme fatale; betrayal; sexual tension; and a wonderful film noir ending.

Directed by Robert Wise, this film gives us a frightening psychopathic killer, played by the talented but troubled Lawrence Tierney. Tierney is fantastic in this film in playing the epitome of a cruel and cold hearted womanizer who can murder people like we swat flies. Yet, believe it for not, he meets his match in a femme fatale from hell, played with relish by the pretty Claire Trevor in probably the most evil role of her career.

The DVD also offers an insightful commentary by Eddie Muller about the place of Born to Kill in the history of film noir in Hollywood. However, rather than buying the DVD alone, one could buy it along with four other excellent film noirs in Film Noir Collection Volume Two.

Head in the Clouds [Import]
Head in the Clouds [Import]
DVD ~ Charlize Theron
Price: CDN$ 16.45
38 used & new from CDN$ 3.31

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If You Love Charlize Theron, You'll Love This Film, Jan. 8 2011
This review is from: Head in the Clouds [Import] (DVD)
Head in the Clouds is one of those films in which you really have to be in the mood for, and respect the work of its lead star to the point where you would be curious enough to view it. There is no question that this film is a star vehicle for Charlize Theron, and frankly, it is her star power that is the only reason one would want to see this film. The film itself offers nothing unique, since it seems to be an amalgamation of themes from other films - Cabaret; The Way We Were; The Moderns; The Tropic of Cancer; and ad nausea.

The major problem with this film is that it explores none of these themes well, basically a jack of all trades, master of none. It doesn't help matters that the story is a preposterous melodrama that leaves the viewer incapable of deciphering the bizarre behaviour of its characters. Years pass in this film, and yet they don't seem to have any real impact on the characters and their relationship with each other, as if only a matter of days had passed. You just knew this film would be all over the map when it begins with an ominous fortune telling that gives the year of death for the Charlize Theron character.

This film would have been more suitable as a melodramatic TV mini series or even soap opera. At least in a TV mini series you can at least develop the characters as if in a soap opera. This is not to say that the film is not worth viewing, just like you would say the same about a TV soap opera. It all depends on what the viewer expects. In this case, the viewer expects to see a star performance by Charlize Theron, and the supporting work of her then boyfriend, Stuart Townsend, who actually does a good job in his nonsensical role.

If you love Charlize Theron, you'll love this film.

DVD ~ Tom Neal
Price: CDN$ 11.99
23 used & new from CDN$ 6.16

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Greatest Film Noirs Ever Made, Jan. 8 2011
This review is from: Detour (DVD)
Detour is one of the finest examples of the magic of film noir. Made with an unbelievably low budget, you would never guess it was because it comes across as a professionally well made film. A simple story, yet has dialogue that one would find in a complex story from a major studio release. No name actors who perform like stars. A director who through a flash of genius directs one of the greatest film noirs ever made. This film is so good, that in 1992 it was chosen for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being what they call, "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." Now a cult classic, it gives hope to any aspiring film maker that he or she can indeed make a classic film no matter what the resources at their disposal may be.

What I particularly like about this film is its atmospheric mood and style. It is like the recipe for Coke, try as you like, you simply cannot replicate it. The film has a transcendent quality to it as a film noir that makes it a distinctly unique cinematic experience.

I liked Tom Neal in this movie very much. It is too bad we did not see more of him, probably because his real life was very much like a film noir.

If you want to learn and understand the beauty and magic of film noir as an art form, this film would be a good starting point.

Film Noirark Side of Hollyw
Film Noirark Side of Hollyw
DVD ~ Joan Crawford
Offered by WonderBook-USA
Price: CDN$ 182.38
7 used & new from CDN$ 131.68

3.0 out of 5 stars Not the Best Film Noir Collection, But Still Entertaining, Jan. 8 2011
This review is from: Film Noirark Side of Hollyw (DVD)
A rather eclectic collection of film noirs, this collection offers a mixed bag of second rate film noirs that vary in distinction and quality. This collection, however, could only be recommended to the most die hard and devoted fan of film noir from the 40's and 50's. There are no real classics here, though some may argue that The Long Night deserves to be classified as one, but as a big film noir fan I have to admit I found the collection a lot of fun to watch.

The Long Night is probably the best film in this collection, though Sudden Fear would be a close second. The Long Night has great film noir atmosphere, but what is especially noticeable about this film is the exceptional performance by Henry Fonda. Generally not one of my favourite actors, he does however shine in this film with a very powerful performance. Vincent Price is excellent in his supporting role. Director Anatole Litvak does great work in this film, particularly in the way he keeps the suspense at a high level throughout the film.

Sudden Fear is one of Joan Crawford's better film noirs. It is the usual star vehicle for Crawford, but Jack Palance makes this film a cut above the rest. He is excellent as the duplicitous villain in this film, and is probably the most memorable part of it as well. It is also always a treat to have film noir icon femme fatale Gloria Grahame in the film also.

Hangmen Also Die should have been the best film in this collection one would assume since it was directed by the legendary Fritz Lang. Unfortunately, it is probably the least entertaining and interesting of his Hollywood films in my opinion. One problem with this film right off the bat is Brian Donlevy. As much as I like him as a supporting actor, he is simply not right for a leading role. Also, the theme and vision of this film is too ambitious for a film noir, and the obvious low budget consequently takes away much of the film's impact on the viewer.

Behind Locked Doors is a rather bizarre film that if it were not so professionally well made, one would have thought it had been written and directed by Edward D Wood Jr. A strange story if there ever was one for a film noir, it nevertheless is quite entertaining if the viewer is prepared to give it a chance.

Railroaded is a film directed by Anthony Mann, and like the case with Fritz Lang, this film is one of his weaker efforts. Again, the most obvious problem is putting a great supporting actor like John Ireland in the lead role, which I am sorry to say, does not help the film at all. Also, this film is surprisingly boring for a film noir, and I think the main reason is that the plot is just too typically plain and simple, even for a film noir. The film may have overcome this if it had delivered a sense of style and atmosphere, but it failed to do this. Lacking the charisma of a good lead actor, the film unfortunately just does not deliver the kind of entertainment I would like to expect, and as a result is the weakest entry in this collection.

Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 3 (Border Incident / His Kind of Woman / Lady in the Lake / On Dangerous Ground / The Racket)
Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 3 (Border Incident / His Kind of Woman / Lady in the Lake / On Dangerous Ground / The Racket)
DVD ~ Ida Lupino
Price: CDN$ 44.09
26 used & new from CDN$ 33.51

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't Go Wrong with this Film Noir Collection, Jan. 8 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This collection has it all: Robert Mitchum is two movies: Robert Ryan and Ida Lupino in another; possibly Anthony Mann's greatest film noir; an experimental film noir starring Robert Montgomery; and just terrific film noir entertainment with superior direction and story lines.

The best film in this collection is Anthony Mann's Border Incident. It is an absolutely uncompromising film noir that reeks with danger and suspense, giving diabolical villains and courageous heroes. In fact, Charles McGraw is so evil in this film that if there was a Hall of Fame for film villainy, he would get in just for this role alone. An unforgettable performance. One of the best film noirs ever made, it is director Anthony Mann's finest film noir in my opinion.

Any film noir starring Robert Mitchum is always compelling and entertaining. Both The Racket and His Kind of Woman deliver Mitchum in his fine film noir form, and were produced by the eccentric Howard Hughes. My favourite is His Kind of Woman, only because the sultry Jane Russell and the talented/charismatic Vincent Price are featured in this film. They add a certain pizzazz to the film. The Racket features Robert Mitchum butting heads with another film noir great, Robert Ryan, in a film that unabashedly uses its two stars to great effect.

On Dangerous Ground is a fascinating film in that it offers us a classic film noir anti-hero in Robert Ryan. Ryan is terrific as a cynical cop who is beginning to lose his moral and psychological compass. Recognizing this, the department sends him out of town to look into a murder case in some remote village. Ida Lupino plays the love interest with a troubled life, and her and Ryan display good chemistry together. It is interesting to see Ward Bond in a very demanding supporting role.

Lady in the Lake gets an A for effort, though the film itself comes off with a B. Starring and directed by Robert Montgomery, this film follows the character of Philip Marlowe from the camera's eye view, so that we never actually see Robert Montgomery except at the intro of the movie, and one or twice through the reflection of a mirror. It is interesting at first, but after awhile the viewer begins to get annoyed with all the obvious camera movement, especially when it does close-ups. Admittedly, it is fun having the actors look directly into the camera, and thus at the viewer. An experimental film, it is somewhat of a novelty film but there is good reason why such films are rarely made. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the film very much.

Any film noir fan, and even fans of classic movies from the 40's and 50's, can't go wrong with this collection of film noirs.

Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 4 (Act of Violence / Mystery Street / Crime Wave / Decoy / Illegal / The Big Steal / They Live By Night / Side Street / Where Danger Lives / Tension)
Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 4 (Act of Violence / Mystery Street / Crime Wave / Decoy / Illegal / The Big Steal / They Live By Night / Side Street / Where Danger Lives / Tension)
DVD ~ Cathy O'Donnell
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 139.07
7 used & new from CDN$ 101.76

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Film Noir Heaven, Jan. 8 2011
If ever there was a collection to introduce anyone to the joys of the film noir of the 1940's and 50's, this collection is it. It offers a nice variety of film noir styles, some big and iconic film noir stars, and above average film noir stories.

The best in my opinion are the two films that feature the superstar of film noir actors, Robert Mitchum. Where Danger Lives is one of the best film noirs you'll ever view. Robert Mitchum fills the screen with his charisma, and the beautiful and under-rated Faith Domergue is one of the most beautiful femme fatales one could be so unfortunate to ever meet. A classic of the genre.

The Big Steal is another classic film noir with the legendary Robert Mitchum, and one of the great film noir actresses of the period, Jane Greer. The film does a great job of presenting the down and out locale of an exotic Mexican village. William Bendix, as usual, does a great job in playing the seedy nemesis to Robert Mitchum's film noir anti-hero.

The next two gems in this collection are Decoy and Tension. Decoy is an absolute film noir classic and an archetype of the genre. Directed by Jack Bernhard and written by Ned Young, these two gentlemen made a film noir on a very limited budget that would be remembered. The femme fatale in this film is unforgettable, played with film noir relish by a very sexy Jean Gillie, and frankly, the black humour in this film is really something to behold.

Tension is your classic film noir which finds our beautiful film noir femme fatale, Audrey Totter, turn her obsessed boyfriend into a murderer. The talented Richard Basehart, one of the great film noir lead actors, carries this film with suspenseful flair.

The final film I would like to comment on is Crime Wave. A really good film noir, this film also stands out for the iconic quality of the actors in this film. Sterling Hayden, Gene Nelson, Charles Bronson, Ted de Corsia, and the charismatic scene stealer, Timothy Carey. What a lineup!!! If ever one wanted to find a film noir archetype, this film would be it.

Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 5
Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 5
DVD ~ John McIntire
Offered by EntertainmentForLess
Price: CDN$ 38.89
10 used & new from CDN$ 35.39

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Collection of Film Noir, Jan. 8 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Though this is not one of my favourite collections of film noir, it nevertheless delivers good solid entertainment for any film noir fan. The overall quality of these films is somewhat mixed, but they all have that great typical film noir feel to them.

My favourite film in this collection is Deadline at Dawn. No surprise here, given the talent involved in this film. A very good movie, it stars Susan Hayward and Paul Lukas, with the screenplay written by the very talented Clifford Odets. There is great suspense and mystery in this film along with solid performances from the all the actors involved. A great who-dun nit film noir.

My next two favourite films in this collection would be Cornered and Desperate. Cornered is all about the interaction and fine performances of Dick Powell and Walter Slezak. Their star power is what makes this film entertaining, since the story by itself was rather weak and silly.

Desperate gives us a chance to marvel at the great talent of Raymond Burr, who at this time during his pre-Perry Mason career was one of the best villains on the silver screen. As usual, he gives a great performance of a criminal obsessed with revenge. Film Noir veteran Steve Brodie does a good job in the lead.

The final two films I enjoyed in this collection were Backfire and Armored Car Robbery. In Backfire, I continually felt disappointed that it wasn't Edmund O'brien in the lead, who after all, is one of the greatest film noir lead actors in history. In this film, his role is very minor, and unfortunately, Gordon McRae does not have the talent and charisma to carry a film noir. Why O'brien wasn't in the lead role, I will never know. The film also has a fine performance by largely unappreciated Dane Clark, who does the most with a weak script for his character.

Armored Car Robbery has Charles McGraw as the good cop, which takes some getting used to, since he is up there with Raymond Burr as one of the great villains in film noir history. The film is above average in presenting us with a criminal mastermind, but the story is so uneven in its overall quality. At times, the story is very good, and then veers to the ludicrous. They should have done better with the overall quality of this story, since it had much material to work with.

DVD ~ Glenn Ford
Offered by Warehouse105
Price: CDN$ 5.48
7 used & new from CDN$ 5.48

3.0 out of 5 stars An Average Western with a Great Performance by Rod Steiger, Jan. 7 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Jubal (DVD)
Jubal is an average but enjoyable western largely due to the fine actors in this film, particularly Glenn Ford, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, and Rod Steiger. In fact, I really enjoyed Steiger's performance in this film, playing a positively disgusting villain.

The film is a relatively typical story of jealousy, betrayal, and revenge revolving around an unfaithful wife to the Ernest Borgnine character. All this ultimately leads to tragedy. I found the ending to be a little too convenient, but then this is nothing new for these kind of films that are basically designed to give the viewer what he wants and expects.

Any Glenn Ford fan, however, can't go wrong with this film. It is also cool to see a pre-superstar Charles Bronson in a supporting role, and as mentioned earlier, a great performance by Rod Steiger.

The Blind Side / L'Eveil d'un champion (Bilingual)
The Blind Side / L'Eveil d'un champion (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Sandra Bullock
Price: CDN$ 6.98
23 used & new from CDN$ 2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational Film About Giving a Helping Hand, Jan. 7 2011
It is really quite remarkable what the Touhy's did for Michael Oher, the football player this film is based upon. They were a very well to do family who did much more than give money to charity, they actually offered love to someone who was almost a total stranger from a totally different background. They did this to the extent that they made him a member of their own family. Frankly, not many people could or would have the courage to do such a thing, so regardless of any other factors, what they did was exceptional. It is also amazing how Mr. Oher was able to not allow his emotionally and physically deprived background harden him emotionally so that he could accept the love offered by the Touhy family.

The film does a very effective job at conveying the generosity of spirit of the Touhy's to Mr. Oher. It is very much a feel good movie that at times can bring tears to one's eyes.

Everything about this film is first rate. It does a marvelous job of trying to cover most of the questions a viewer may ask about these characters. The direction and writing are solid, and the acting superb. Particular merit goes to Sandra Bullock, who probably does the best "acting" job of her career, getting away from her typical movie star persona on film, and to the young actor Quinton Aaron, who plays Michael Oher with the adeptness of a seasoned actor.

You can't go wrong viewing this movie.

Vertigo (Universal Legacy Series)
Vertigo (Universal Legacy Series)
DVD ~ James Stewart
Offered by Deal Beat
Price: CDN$ 47.99
9 used & new from CDN$ 15.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Surreal Film of Genius, Jan. 6 2011
Arguably Alfred Hitchcock's greatest film, though my personal favourite is still North by Northwest, Vertigo is a surreal film of genius that was way ahead of its time. Nothing like it had ever been done before in such surreal splendor, and rarely since. This film is one of the finest examples of cinema as high art.

There are many aspects of this film that make it uniquely special. Obviously, the direction and vision of Hitchcock is pure genius. The way the camera works in this film is magical, the lighting setting a surreal mood of wonder and awe, highlighted by its creation of the haunting beauty of Kim Novak. No woman has ever looked more beautiful than Kim Novak in this film.

The film score by Bernard Herrmann is the greatest of his career, and probably one of the greatest in film history. Along with the great animation in the opening credits, it augers well to warn the viewer that they are about to witness something very special in cinema.

The work of James Stewart and Kim Novak are exceptional, but this film really is all about the genius of Alfred Hitchcock, and his collaboration with Bernard Herrmann.

What more can be said? It is unquestionably one of the greatest films ever made.

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