Monday, March 26, 2007

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie and other flicks

In lieu of a travel report, here are some bits of films seen lately:

John Cassavetes: The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1974): a great, underrated attempt to deconstruct a small crime flick, Ben Gazzara's night club owner is clearly a precursor to many loser characters in the neo noir of the 1990's and 2000's (say, Jason Starr's novels). The film has a loose new-wavish narrative, but it's not really new wave and there's none of the trickstery the new wave films used. It's a bit close to some of Altman's films, but the looseness seems more improvised. The night club scenes with a weird stand up comedian and his girls are quite odd, but entertaining in a way.

Herman Shumlin: Confidential Agent (1945): I don't really recall if I've read the Graham Greene novel this is based on, but the film itself is very good, atmospheric and adventurous political film noir about a Spanish freedom fighter on a desperate journey to buy coal from British industrialists. Lauren Bacall should be a British lady, but she just doesn't have the right flair. That notwithstanding, she's a treat.

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