Call it the mood of the times, but this year's installment of the Parkway Theater's Film Noir Fest -- the fifth -- is especially apt. The noir world, in which every motive is suspect, every high-ranking cop and politician is a liar, every alley hides a goon, and double-crosses rain down like sucker-punches, is a world very like our own. Now more than ever.
Will "the Thrill" Viharo understands this. The longtime programmer and host of "Thrillville" cult movies at the Lake Merritt neighborhood theater also knows that building noir consciousness takes time and care. If you want young audiences to sit still for black-and-white movies from the '40s about private dicks and deceiving dames, you've got to sell them right. That means using the Parkway's formula of mixing old classics with newer noirish films from as recent as 1995 -- and having author Eddie Muller, the Nabob of Noir, personally introduce selected films.
Here's Viharo's rundown on the nine-feature lineup. The Big Sleep with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall: "A seminal detective flick, one of my favorites because it's Raymond Chandler." Another Bogey, Dark Passage, set in SF: "Romantic, kind of corny, but great rapport between the stars and location photography." The Sniper, also set in SF: "One of the first thrill-killer movies, or at least the very first sniper movie." The Usual Suspects: "More of a neo-noir bridge to the audience from a nonclassic era." Night Moves, staring Gene Hackman and James Woods (the Richard Widmark of the Quaalude generation): "The '70s birth of neo-noir." Warren Beatty's Mickey One: "Like an homage to noir. A fever dream inside someone's head." Bogey and Bacall again in Key Largo, with Edward G. Robinson as a nasty mobster: "Robinson's greatest performance; you can feel the sweat. The swan song of the gangster era at Warner Bros." Psychotic hoodlum James Cagney exploding "on top of the world" in White Heat: "Another gangster hanging on past his prime." Underworld USA: "Director Sam Fuller is an icon. There's always neurosis in the air in his movies."
The fest runs September 5 through September 25. PicturePubPizza.com
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