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The Lone Gunmen – Tango de los Pistoleros (Review)

This October/November, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the eighth season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of The Lone Gunmen.

In the late nineteenth century, tango reigned not only in brothels and dance halls, where it served as both simulation and stimulation to entertain the men waiting their turn for commercial sex, but also in dance academies, vacant lots, and barrio streets where improvised dances were performed to the tune of the hurdy-gurdy. It was also played in men-only cafés. In these original settings, tango lyrics were very simple and mainly focused on the joys and pains of the arrabales, where the cult of courage and the skilful use of knives were combined with the workings of local political bosses and the police. The main characters were guapos, or tough guys; prostitutes; pimps; and compadritos, men who imitated the tough style of pimps and guapos yet most of the time worked for a living.

Tango was danced by men and women in pairs but also by men alone as they waited their turn in the brothels. It was, above all, a dance of the margins.

– Diego Armus, The Ailing City

lonegunmen-tangodelospistoleros1

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Non-Review Review: Narc

Joe Carnahan’s Narc is a visceral and powerful film. It’s less concerned with plot and character than it is with mood, crafting a suffocating visceral aesthetic that seems to almost smother the viewer. Set in snow-bound Detroit, it creates a world that feels closed in upon itself, the white sheets of snow clearing into dirty mounds to allow passage within the city, but suggesting that there’s nothing but white space beyond the world we explore. While Narc tells a story we’ve seen many times before, practically revelling in the familiar plot points of a police movie about the drug trade, Carnahan’s direction gives the movie a bit of an edge – and a powerhouse performance from Ray Liotta makes it much more engaging than it might otherwise be.

That’s a whole Liotta gun…

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Non-Review Review: The Wolf Man (1941)

Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night,

May become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.

Although hampered by perhaps the weakest leading performance of the “great” Universal horror films, I maintain that The Wolf Man has the strongest script of any of the classic Universal monster movies. Although, like so many other horror films produced by the studio, it went through any number of re-writes and executive meddling before reaching the screen, I think Curt Siodmak’s script deserves a great deal of credit for doing several very import things. On one level, it presented one grand unifying story archetype for werewolf tales, to the point where it is almost that subgenre’s Dracula. However, it also plays as a fascinating and compelling psychological drama, with an element of humanity and complexity that shines through Jack Pierce’s phenomenal make-up work.

Lon Chaney as the wolf man. Or me, early on a Sunday morning…

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Miami Vice: Brother’s Keeper (Pilot)

We’re currently blogging as part of the “For the Love of Film Noir” blogathon (hosted by Ferdy on Films and The Self-Styled Siren) to raise money to help restore the 1950’s film noir The Sound of Fury (aka Try and Get Me). It’s a good cause which’ll help preserve our rich cinematic heritage for the ages, and you can donate by clicking here. Over the course of the event, running from 14th through 21st February, I’m taking a look at the more modern films that have been inspired or shaped by noir. Today’s theme is “a brighter shade of noir” – neo-noir that eschews the dark aesthetic for which the genre is famous.

If I ask you to close your eyes and think of Miami Vice, I’m fairly share I can guess what comes to mind, in no particular order. Speedboats, stubble, sunsets in Florida, the music of Jan Hammer, In The Air Tonight, sharp suits and lots of pastel colours. In fairness, a lot of this is very fair – Miami Vice was a show that had a very polished and practiced superficial exterior, and it’s that aspect of the television show that worked its way into popular consciousness. However, looking back at the show – and especially that first season (and maybe a little bit of the second season) – I think it might also be one of the best neo-noir television shows ever produced. Don’t worry, I’m not being controversial for the sake of being controversial.

Well, not just.

No more Mr. Vice Guy...

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Non-Review Review: Bad Boys

Watching Bad Boys is a strange experience. On one hand, it’s a smooth reminder of the odd-couple cop comedies that were the style of the eighties, right down to an angry and exasperated (but ultimately trusting) chief. On the other, it has adopted all the stylistic mannerisms of the big, bold and empty action movies of the nineties. Advertised as an action comedy, it really doesn’t contain enough of either to justify a watch, and many of its stylistic ticks – driven by an inexperienced Michael Bay – have either been surpassed or become so common that they seem trite. Still, there’s a small charm to the film, most of which stems from the chemistry between the two leads and the way the movie seems to consciously revel in bromantic undertones of the genre. In that regard, it’s ahead of its time. And unlike all of its original ahead-of-it-time selling points, the bromantic angle still works. I’m just not sure that enough of the rest of the movie works to justify it. 

I wish I could say the action was explosive...

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Crime and Pun-ishment: The Art of the CSI One-Liner

I caught an episode of CSI: Miami last night and I am ashamed to admit that I had forgotten the cheesy power of Horatio Caine and the Sunglasses of Justice. I suspect that, isolated from each other, neither would be of note but, combined, they are unstoppable. Sure, some may question the ability of lead actor David Caruso, but I think it is a breathtaking performance. If he is a wooden performer, he is fashioned from rich mahogany. If he is two-dimensional, he is a Looney Tune of two-dimensionality. If he is a bad actor, he is the Marlon Brando of bad actors. And, in fairness, are you watching for anything other than the one-liners?

Raising Caine...

Raising Caine...

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