Reflections on Red Rock West (1992) (no spoilers)

“Red Rock West” is a dreamy, neo-noir masterpiece of storytelling. Written by Rick and John Dahl, starring Nicholas Cage, Lara Flynn Boyle, Dennis Hopper and J.T. Walsh. Michael Williams (Nicholas Cage), a former Marine from Texas, finds himself broke and in the town of Red Rock, Wyoming, looking for a job. The honest Michael takes a detour from integrity and, when mistaken as Lyle from Dallas who has a job waiting for him in tiny Red Rock’s only bar, takes the opportunity and pretends to be Lyle. Unfortunately for Michael, he just stole the wrong job — bar owner Wayne (J.T. Walsh) hired Lyle to kill his wife Suzanne (Lara Flynn Boyle). Michael tries to do the right thing. He tries, many times, to leave Red Rock. He cannot. Each time he escapes the town he passes by this sign. The first time he passes by the sign it’s ominous, the second time it’s disturbing, and the third time it’s funny. You know he will be back. The town is Fate, and you cannot escape Fate. “Red Rock West” made me sad. I suddenly became desperately, intensely nostalgic for the 1990s. For the first time in my life I found myself missing that decade, the decade where as an adult I really came to understand films, to have films evoke new ideas and powerful emotions. In the 1990s I always considered myself a child of the 80s, but as I age I realize that the 1990s were my true formative … Continue reading

Alibi (1929)

My entry on “Alibi” was inspired by sixmartini’s wonderful post — and you are reading sixmartinis and the seventh art, right? Shame on you if you’re not. As you skim through the screencaps here you may see some very similar to what sixmartinis already posted, which I promise you was completely unintentional. Her entry apparently worked some unconscious mojo on me. The visuals sixmartini chooses stay with me for a long time, and I truly love that about her blog. “Alibi”, an early talkie from 1929, opens on a semi-silent expressionist scene, the forced metronome cadence of prisoners slowly replaced by sunlight, then freedom, then the rhythmic tapping of dancing girls as Chick Williams (blog fave Chester Morris) is released from prison. That night he dines at Bachman’s club with club owner Buck Bachman, Buck’s girl Diamond Daisy, and Chick’s girl Joan Manning (Eleanore Griffith). Buck assures Chick that everyone knows he was framed by the corrupt local police. Nearby a table of peculiar men, one smoking a joint, look on. The craziest and allegedly least sober of the group approaches the table and hits on Joan. He is introduced as Billy Morgan (Regis Toomey), one of Buck’s “brokers”. At Daisy’s encouragement he finagles a horrified Joan’s address. During the scene at Bachman’s there is a lengthy tracking shot from the back of the room to the table where Chick and his friends are seated. Inspired by Roger Ebert’s recent article entitled “How to Read a Movie”, and knowing that … Continue reading

Favorite Films: The Alphabet Meme

The Film Doctor recently challenged me to compile a list of my favorite films. The catch is that I must have one film per letter of the alphabet. The whole alphabet? That’s at least 15 films, maybe more! The worst part was trying to pick just one film for some of the letters. I failed a few times and resigned myself to listing runners up when I absolutely had to. “C” was a particularly difficult letter for me. This meme is originally from Blog Cabins and I’m supposed to challenge others, but since I’m already in the blogosphere doghouse for my recent demand that you tell me your 3 favorite movies (what the hell was I thinking?), I will keep this voluntary. *** All About Eve (runners up: A Star is Born 1937, A Star is Born 1954, The Asphalt Jungle) The Best Years of Our Lives (runner up: Blade Runner) The Conversation (runners up: The Cranes are Flying, Charley Varrick, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Carnival of Souls) Dr Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb 8 1/2 (runner up: Electra Glide in Blue) Femme FataleThe General The Haunting The Innocents Jewel Robbery (runner up: “Ji Ji”, aka “Miracles”, aka “Black Dragon”) The Killing The Little Foxes Millers Crossing (runner up: Metropolis) Night of the Hunter Out of the Past Point Blank (runner up: Pulp Fiction) Quatermass and the Pit Rope (runner up: Rashomon) Skyscraper Souls (runners up: Sunset Blvd, Shichinin no samurai, Silence … Continue reading