Tonight is the second episode of L.A. Noire! I’m currently on the traffic desk in the game. My goal at the moment is to finish the traffic desk and make it to the homicide desk. I’ve played the game before. This time is just purely enjoying the story and getting all questions correct to enjoy the story. I can’t wait to go to homicide. They have some of the best missions in-game! The stream starts at 7 as usual on Twitch at robertfrowniejr.
Happy Twin Peaks Day! Today we are looking at the 1992 film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Released after the cancellation of the show, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me tells the tragedy of Laura Palmer, leading up to her murder and right before she is found wrapped in plastic by Pete Martell, played in the series by Jack Nance. While the film is primarily a prequel, there are a few moments that make it a sequel to the series, but that wouldn’t be explored fully until Twin Peaks: The Return in 2017. It has long been known that upon initial release Fire Walk With Me was met with mixed reviews; I’m glad it has been reappraised after its release and given the acclaim, it deserves, because in my personal opinion this is one of David Lynch’s best works. It is a dark and tragic tale that explores the horrors and psychological trauma of sexual abuse and Sheryl Lee gives an amazing lead performance that should have been talked about more when it was first released. By the way, there will be some spoilers in this review not only from the movie but from the TV series that preceded it, so proceed with caution.
The movie starts with the investigation of Teresa Banks, a girl who was murdered similarly to Laura Palmer and was mentioned in the TV series. FBI Chief Gordon Cole (David Lynch) sends Special Agent Chester Desmond (Chris Issak) and Special Agent Sam Stanley (Kiefer Sutherland) to investigate. They go to the town of Deer Meadow, Washington which seems to serve as a dark contrast to the homely and Americana Twin Peaks. The police station is full of belligerent and rude cops and the diner the two agents visit is a dark counterpoint to the RR Diner, run by Norma Jennings (Peggy Lipton). This segment of the movie acts as a prologue to the main story which follows Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) as she discovers the secret of who BOB is only days before her death. There are also some brief moments with Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), and a former missing Special Agent Phillip Jeffries (David Bowie) which is incredibly strange and brief and raises more questions that wouldn’t be fully explored until Twin Peaks: The Return.
The performances from Sheryl Lee and Ray Wise are amazing in this film. Sheryl Lee plays the broken and tragic Laura Palmer which such intensity, anguish, and horror that she will nearly bring tears to your eyes. Her father, and eventual murderer, Leeland Palmer, also the mysterious BOB, does an excellent job playing what is essentially two roles. There is a moment after a tense confrontation between him, Laura, and Laura’s mother Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) where he switches from being BOB back to Leeland Ray Wise plays that transition so perfectly. You can see his personality changing while the camera holds on his face. David Lynch also does a great job directing, creating a horrifically noirish atmosphere that feels like you’ve been pulled directly into a nightmare. I wouldn’t hesitate to call this movie a horror film, some moments will make you want to cover your eyes or scream.
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is an incredible follow-up and prequel to what was already an outstanding series. Featuring an iconic performance from Sheryl Lee, a transformative performance from Ray Wise and immaculate direction from the masterful David Lynch, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is a movie that will stay with you forever. Make sure to check out the first two seasons of the series and Twin Peaks: The Return, although if you’ve made it this far in my review, I hope you had watched the series before.
We’re streaming tonight! Tonight, bring your detective hats. We’re going back to the 1940’s. Let’s solve a few crimes and look for clues in seedy Los Angeles. Stream starts around 5:45 p.m.
The Maltese Falcon is based on the novel of the same name from author Dashiell Hammet. The Maltese Falcon is considered to be one of the greatest films of all-time and one of the top noir films of all-time. The film is a beautiful tale of mystery with an amazing cast. Humphrey Bogart stars as Sam Spade, who is a hard-boiled detective that is keen on the morals of the people that surround him. After the arrival of the seductive Miss Wonderly (Mary Astor), Spade gets trapped into a web of crime that follows a valuable object called the Maltese falcon.
John Huston (director) does a tremendous job getting viewers emotionally invested in this film. No matter how tough Bogart plays Sam Spade, there is always a sense of urgency that Spade could be killed by these criminals. Mary Astor is perfect playing the innocent woman, who has a sinister side. Bogart and Astor have chemistry together. Bogart, with his facial expressions, shows that Spade finds Miss Wonderly beautiful, but that she is not to be trusted. Spade isn’t going to play her games.
A black-and-white San Francisco is alluring to the eyes. Huston paints the city with a steady brush. Huston lets viewers know the city is a jewel with evil that lurks in the night. A private eye in the city will always be watching their back. Spade’s office at night features a skyline of San Franciscan buildings lit perfectly with white, illuminated bulbs highlighting certain businesses. It’s a gorgeous shot that lights up the black sky.
The film is an exhilarating portrayal of how far people will go for riches and rarities. Greed is influential to the point that people will travel the earth to get wealthy. Spade is a hero that never falters. No one can bribe him or persuade him into helping with their messy schemes. He never falls for the stuff that dreams are made of.
Overall rating: 5/5.
Double Indemnity follows insurance agent, Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray), who is seduced by the beautiful Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck). Mrs. Dietrichson inquires to Neff about getting an accident policy for her husband without him knowing. Neff is alarmed by her request. After giving in to his feelings for Mrs. Dietrichson, Neff forms a plot to kill Mr. Dietrichson with Phyllis in order for her to collect the insurance money. As the duo tries to get away, insurance investigator Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) is on their trail to uncover the grim truth.
Phyllis Dietrichson is a classic femme fatale of the noir genre. She is motivated by greed. Stanwyck portrays Mrs. Dietrichson as a cold, charming wife, who’s clearly using Neff to her advantage. Stanwyck and MacMurray have beautiful chemistry together. Together, they’re able to show what a toxic, manipulative relationship looks like with Mrs. Dietrichson using Neff’s love for her to achieve her goals.
Billy Wilder’s film has a delicate pace with beautiful shots of shadowy interiors. These dimly-lit rooms are perfect for this couple, who are conspiring to murder. There aren’t many shots of the Los Angeles streets, but the ones that the audience sees are beautiful. In the film’s opening scene, Wilder poses a shot of an empty L.A. street that is foggy with street lamps lighting the dark streets. It’s appealing, yet invokes a sense of fear due to not knowing what lurks in the fog. Wilder creates gorgeous shots with masterful lighting.
Double Indemnity is essential viewing for Noirvember. It is highly regarded as one of the best films in the noir genre. The film is an excellent study on the lengths a man will go to satisfy his love for a woman. Rent or buy this film to watch on a cold November night.
Overall rating: 4.5/5.
In November, film lovers celebrate the noir genre. The month of horror (October) transitions to the month of mystery (November). This month, we plan to spam your feed with reviews of noir flicks. We want to talk about the classics, the modern hits, and the obscure gems. Let’s begin with the neo-noir thriller, Drive.
Driver (Ryan Gosling) is a stone-faced stuntman, who moonlights as a getaway driver for criminals. Although Driver has this icy exterior, he has a warm heart for his neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan). Irene’s husband gets out of prison, who is trying to leave behind his criminal past. Unfortunately, his former associates want the money that he owes, so they instruct him to rob a pawn shop. Driver assists the husband and the job goes horribly wrong. Driver must make sure that Irene and her son, Benicio, are safe from these criminal masterminds.
The movie is heartwarming, then turns violent out of nowhere. Nicolas Winding Refn shows the beauty of Los Angeles. He gives viewers the beauty, but quickly shows how nasty the criminal underworld of L.A. is. The emotional transition of Driver is alarming, yet satisfying. He begins the movie as a silent, caring individual, who becomes a vicious killer that takes out these criminals. Driver cares about Irene and her son to the point that he’ll commit murder. A curious question is where Driver came from before? Obviously, he has a background and history of violence.
Driver’s chemistry with Irene and Shannon (Bryan Cranston) is perfectly executed with strong performances by the trio of actors. Shannon and Driver has a father-son relationship where Shannon is protective of Driver. Cranston portrays Shannon as an older father figure who happens to run in the wrong crowds where he is oblivious to their machinations. Mulligan and Gosling use body language to show the two characters’ appreciation for one another. The scenes where the two ride through Los Angeles on a starry night is pleasing without the characters having to say any dialogue. They are two people, who enjoy each other’s company.
Drive is a violent, swift ride that will leave an impact on viewers. An example of where the hero, Driver, is as deadly as his foes. Check this movie out if you want to enjoy an homage to classic car chase films and classic noir films.
Overall rating: 5/5.
Looking for a mystery to read for Spooktober? Don’t be afraid to dive into the Hellboy universe filled with horror and thrills. There are several series and characters in the universe. Today, let’s examine a story from “Lobster Johnson.” Lobster Johnson is a comic book vigilante that Hellboy grew up reading. Mike Mignola gave the vigilante his own series. The story we’re examining is the first issue of “The Burning Hand.”
It’s the early 1930s in the city of New York. A group of ghostly Indians are attacking people on the streets. They are even harming the cops of New York by scalping them and leaving them tied to street lamps. The Indians try to attack a couple, but they are saved by Lobster Johnson. Lobster Johnson kills the Indians, who aren’t ghosts. In fact, they’re men dressed as ghosts by using gray paint. The cops show up to investigate, who these guys are and why they are killing people. Writers John Arcudi and Mike Mignola set up the mystery of who are these guys working for and what’s their play. Arcudi and Mignola introduce new characters that will have a pivotal role in the story along with Lobster Johnson.
The art by Tonci Zonjic perfectly portrays a noir/pulpy environment for the setting. Dave Stewart’s colors bring these panels to life with bold colors and gloomy shadows. The colors are a minimalist approach that works terrific with colors being bold when they need to be.
Final evaluation – if you’re a fan of noir/crime stories, check out this book. Lobster Johnson is a pulpy superhero that delivers justice similarly to Batman and Punisher.
Overall rating: 4/5.