Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Noirvember: Adam Frost

The Fury of a Patient Man - Raul Arévalo - I stumbled across this gem on a flight which admittedly is not the ideal screening environment but damn she left a mark. Going off the title alone, my expectations were extremely low but the film delivered all the right noir punches. I’m a sucker for long takes and the opening kicks off with a tight one-two punch. Then the filmmakers ambitiously chop up the classic go-to structure, breaking the film into four sections that all build, as advertised, with a simmering measured intensity and a most satisfying finish.  

Tell No One
- Guillame Canet - I debated whether this film warranted the Noirvember nod but at the end of the day felt it housed enough core ingredients – A doctor receives a strange message claiming to be from his dead wife so he sets out to find the truth about her murder… Sits more on the thriller noir scale but it’s a ripper of a mystery that churns with engaging plot twists and the filmmakers manage to stick a tricky landing in the third act. 

One False Move - Carl Franklin - A classic from Team 90’s Noir, this imperfect gem boasts a wicked performance from Bill Paxton as an in-over-his-head small town Arkansas cop looking to head off some nasty criminals fleeing LA. The filmmakers do not shy away from some grizzly crimes in the opening but it feeds the story well, driving up the stakes as the big city demons inevitably roll into town. Complete with some perfectly dated and arguably borderline abrasive bluesy guitar riffs, stiff 90s detective acting and a wicked slimy young Billy Bob Thornton (who co-wrote the script) it’s a fun underrated ride. 

Elevator to the Gallows - Louis Malle - I love nothing more than stumbling upon a film that for whatever reason has managed to evade me over the years and Elevator is one of those gems. Shot in stylish black and white, the French film crackles with a classic noir set up: Florence and Julien are having an affair and Julien plans to kill her husband at his office. He breaks in after hours and stages the killing but gets stuck in the elevator of the building before he can escape. Meanwhile, Florence thinks her lover has abandoned the plan and given up on her. In classic noir style, the plan goes to hell and the players are left scrambling to pick up the pieces when the getaway car is stolen. It's Malle's first film and considered to be Jeanne Moreau's breakthrough performance. Shot on location in parts of the city, the verité of 50s Paris absolutely dazzles. Added to that the film boasts a jazzy score by Miles Davis said to be recorded all in one night. It's a wicked noir romp that begs to be included in Noirvember! 

Adam Frost is a screenwriter primarily known for Tribal and Castle. His debut crime novel, The Damned Lovely is set to be published in May 2022. He lives in east LA, and watches way too much baseball.

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