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Film Noir: My Top 100

Under the myth of the American dream lurks a dark, seedy side — a gutter littered with broken hearts and despair. And yet, a stubborn sliver of hope endures, a longing for all things brighter. Here, two things exist at once, dancing like shadows in the night. A chiaroscuro, sometimes shining, sometimes bleak, but always entwined together. This is noir. Corrupt heroes and caustic criminals, sly grifters and easy marks, jilted lovers and tough-talking dames, all dreaming the hazy dream soaked in something we thirst for but can never taste. I love this stuff. I live and breathe it. And so for Noirvember, I tried to put together my top thirty film noirs, but my list grew too quickly. So I stopped at 100. And  yes, some are noir-adjacent.  :)   I truly hope you will find one that you enjoy.
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In the Ninth Ward

Thursday night. New Orleans. The moon’s in the last quarter. Outside Vaughan’s in the Ninth Ward, a white Mercedes rolls up, the doors open and a plume of pungent smoke billows in the air. Two skinny kids get out and head inside, soon returning with steaming bowls of butter beans. Word got out that Chris was cooking.  Inside, prayer flags and tinsel flutter from the ceiling. Fat stringed lights twinkle and sag under the a/c, the lousy unit sputtering cool air, losing its battle to the rising steam. Thick varnish glazes the bar, nicotine-stained from a bygone era when smoke hung like fog over the river. The band’s mostly there, warming up, easily finding their groove, the crowd already f - e - e - l - i - n - g - i - t. They’re shaking their asses, waving their arms, spinning invisible webs. They know what’s coming. Believe me, they know.  Amid the swell, a hero arrives, holding a gleaming trombone over his head--an incarnation of Jason with the golden fleece. The energy sizzles as he s

Out of the Blue

Out of the blue and into the black describes the descent of a wildly dysfunctional family in this rambling, nihilistic film by Dennis Hopper. Don, a degenerate convict, pulses with Hopper’s dark charisma, devouring everything in his path. Kathy, his wife, numbs herself from the chaos with drugs and sex, leaving Cebe, their daughter, on her own to deal with the fallout. It doesn’t end well. Cebe, played by Linda Manz, seems to sneer at the brutal cards handed to her, but under that tough facade is a bruised child who craves the comfort and love that’s been absent in her life. Tragically, her signature walk, that strident march, leads her nowhere.

The Misfits

Oh wow, Marilyn. The Misfits is a peculiar film, dropping a sensitive and melancholy idealist into the crucible of crumbling western masculinity. Gay, Perce, and Guido would do almost anything for Roslyn, yet they resent her power over them. Their traumas are skillfully revealed, the emotional weight carried by Roslyn from which she cries, “Help.”  Roslyn, too, has become disillusioned by her own troubles but somehow clings to a fading idea of love. Perhaps she’s resigned to the idea that as a woman, this is as good as it’s gets.  Thank goodness for Thelma Ritter’s comic relief, but sadly she disappears after the first half.  The Misfits is a little wobbly at times, but it never bucks you off. The stellar star power binds it together making for an intense and heartbreaking ride.

Love Lifted Me | #365 Prompts

LOVE LIFTED ME We’d practiced "Love Lifted Me" in GAs until it sounded reasonably good. Well, Anna sounded good. I suppose it was expected since she was the preacher’s daughter and honestly blessed with an angelic voice. She carried any number the trio performed. This time, however, it was a quartet. The choir director had reluctantly invited me to join—I guess she felt it was her moral duty to include me while knowing I couldn't sing.   But I would do for a Sunday night service when the pews were mostly empty. I wasn’t nervous really, even though I’d never sang in front of an audience. And I had forgotten about my bouts of hysteria. Now, these little fits weren’t debilitating. Just brief and inappropriate responses to stressful situations. Like when my dad fell from the ladder and caught his foot in the rung. He was swinging by his sickled ankle, and all I could do was laugh. He grew angry, livid even, screaming at me to help, but I rolled on the ground in hilarious conv


  WE BITE We walk the streets at night. Me and the dangerous dog. Staring them down, daring them down, in the crosshairs of a feral gaze. To whistles, catcalls (and just plain cats), we bare wet teeth.  They think it’s fear.  But really, it’s love.

May Reads: Not a Lot

I was a mess this month — moody, unfocused, restless. It felt like every day was a full moon. My mindset affected my reading, and I quit three novels. I didn't love the other two I finished. It would be unfair to name them because it probably wasn't the books — it was me! Really! O.K., there was one clunker. But somewhere along the way, I turned a corner. My attitude has been adjusted, and I'm halfway finished with a pretty good book! I'll tell you about it next month.