Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Extra, Extra!: Noir City

In Amadeus, Emperor Joseph II tells Mozart one of his compositions, while ingenious, includes “too many notes.” At Noir City, we tell Emperor Joe to stuff it.

The house rag of the Film Noir Foundation shines its spotlight on music, and we filled this issue to overflowing. Honestly, it’s an embarrassment of riches of which we are inordinately proud, and you owe it to yourselves to secure a copy post haste.

My favorite piece, for obvious reasons, is my lovely wife and writing partner Rosemarie’s debut in the magazine. When we finally saw Jean-Pierre Melville’s Deux Hommes dans Manhattan, Rosemarie became obsessed with “Street in Manhattan,” a haunting ballad performed onscreen by a singer billed as Glenda Leigh. Rosemarie wondered whatever became of her and doggedly tracked her down. Now Glenda Grainger, still singing at age 80, she tells the story of her jet-set career in an interview.

But that’s only one verse, kids. Open your ears and eyes to the following:

- Ethan Iverson of The Bad Plus on the soundtracks of Philip Marlowe

- Ray Banks’ self-described “5000 word labour of love” on the noir ethos of Tom Waits

- Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra names his Five Favorite noir films

- Woody Haut’s survey of the 15 best film noir jazz soundtracks

- Jake Hinkson considers the country noir of Johnny Cash

- Brian Light revisits the scoring of Touch of Evil, by Henry Mancini and a cast of West Coast jazz heavyweights

- Maestro Eddie Muller not once but twice, recalling his friendship with jazz legend Charlie Haden and interviewing noir chanteuse Jill Tracy

Plus even more music, as well as our usual coverage of all things noir like my friend David Corbett’s razor sharp appraisal of the best film noir of the 21st century, El Aura, and Duane Swierczynski’s review of the new Blu-ray of Prime Cut. I yammer on about nonsense as well, sizing up a trio of titles that screened at the recent Seattle International Film Festival and serving up my usual Cocktails & Crime column.

Contribute to the Film Noir Foundation and this veritable feast will be winging its way to you. Don’t wait.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Me Elsewhere: Elementary, My Dear Bartender

Yours truly is all over this week’s issue of Eat Drink Films. First up is my Down the Hatch column, which reviews a new book destined to become a modern mixology staple: The Cocktail Chronicles by Paul Clarke. Included are some comments from Paul and a sterling trio of drink recipes from the book’s pages.

But wait! There’s more! Eat Drink Films also features excerpts from The Cocktail Chronicles, among them a take on the gimlet that could teach Raymond Chandler a thing or two.

Then I slide over to the film portion of the magazine for A Century of Cinematic Sherlocks, about seeing a pair of Sherlock Holmes films made one hundred years apart within days of each other. Swing by and give them – and the rest of the issue – a look, why don’t you?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Me Elsewhere: Oh! Canada!

My latest Down the Hatch column is now up at Eat Drink Films. In it, I serve up a pair of north-of-the-border cocktails just in time for Canada Day. Featuring cameos by Michael Caine and Errol Flynn. Check out the rest of magazine while you’re there. Plenty of good stuff.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Noir City Newsstand Now Open

More big doings at the Film Noir Foundation, kids. And what better time to launch a project long in the works than when FNF honcho Eddie Muller is serving as host of TCM’s Summer of Darkness?

The FNF’s quarterly magazine is called Noir City. Eddie is publisher and editor-in-chief. I’m co-managing editor along with the estimable Steve Kronenberg. Gorgeous visuals come courtesy of ace designer Michael Kronenberg. Each issue is packed with some of the finest writing on noir past and present, in every medium. And each issue is available by subscription only.

Until now.

At our new website, you can purchase individual back issues for the bargain price of $5.99 each! Peruse the table of contents before you buy, knowing whatever particular noir kicks you’re seeking, Noir City has you covered.

We’ve got theme issues on icons like Robert Ryan and Dan Duryea. We go way back for regular features on silent movie noir. We’ve got invaluable work from regular contributors like Imogen Sara Smith (on Jan Sterling, Jean Gabin, noir westerns) and Jake Hinkson (on Tom Neal, Peggie Castle, and those unsung directors known as Poverty Row Professionals). Not to mention Eddie, the man himself, weighing in each and every issue.

Noir City’s also your destination for crime writers on noir. Like Christa Faust on noir vixens of recent vintage. And an overview of heist movies featuring the likes of Ken Bruen, Laura Lippman and Scott Phillips. And Five Favorites, with masters like Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly and Lawrence Block giving you their quintets of quality. And Prime Cuts, spotlighting neo-noirs like Cisco Pike (Duane Swierczynski), Thief (Wallace Stroby), and The Offence (Ray Banks).

Plus there’s the stuff I’ve written over the years, on subjects like noir chanteuses, remakes, marriages, True Detective, dollhouse murders, and the films of Alan Rudolph.

Six bucks an issue, with all proceeds bankrolling the FNF’s restoration efforts. Throw in twenty bucks a year and each new installment will come right to your in-box. Do it now, because we just laid out the latest magazine – and it’s a killer.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Reminder: TCM’s Summer of Darkness

Another heads up, gang, about the coolest event of the summer of ’15, which kicks off today.

Turner Classic Movies has turned over Fridays in June and July to film noir. That’s all Friday, every Friday, for twenty-four hours each day. TCM is calling this bonanza the Summer of Darkness, and made the very wise decision of naming your friend and mine Eddie Muller, honcho of the Film Noir Foundation, as your prime time host.

Regular readers know the FNF is an outfit near and dear to my heart. I’m the co-managing editor of the Foundation’s magazine Noir City, as well as a columnist and contributor. So naturally I’m thrilled to see our charismatic kingpin taking to the air.

TCM has pulled out all the stops, setting up a gorgeous website for the entire festival and starting a free online course on film noir in conjunction with Ball State University. As for programming tips, Eddie kicks things off at 8 PM EST/5 PM PST tonight with Nora Prentiss, a movie yours truly considered in detail for Noir City. The must-see is the world television premiere of the FNF’s restoration of Woman on the Run (1950) tonight at 10:15 PM EST/7:15 PM PST. A second FNF restoration, of 1949’s Too Late for Tears, debuts on July 17.

Honestly, you want my advice? Turn on TCM every Friday for the next nine weeks and leave it on. Get yourself an education.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Me Elsewhere: How Dry We Were

Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry has brought Prohibition back for the summer. In my latest Down the Hatch column at Eat Drink Films, I review the new exhibit American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition and provide two appropriate cocktail recipes. Tell ‘em Joe sent you.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Extra, Extra!: Noir City

The best news in the brand-spanking-new Spring issue of Noir City, house rag of the Film Noir Foundation: Turner Classic Movies is bringing back the Summer of Noir. Every Friday in June AND July will feature twenty-four hours of noir, with your primetime host being none other than FNF honcho Eddie Muller himself.

As for the magazine ... buckle in, kids, because it’s a doozy.

Eddie and ace graphic designer Michael Kronenberg have been cooking up the comics issue for some time. And they’ve pulled out all the stops. You’ve got –

- An interview with Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, the duo behind the ultra-noir comic The Fade-Out

- Muller’s salute to Will Eisner’s The Spirit

- Jake Hinkson’s look back at Batman: Year One

- Michael Kronenberg on the Dark Knight in the dark decade of the 1970s

- Jason Ney’s survey of the original comic-book movies, RKO’s Dick Tracy films

Plus Duane Swierczynski’s review of Hickey & Boggs on Blu-Ray, yer man Ray Banks on Sean Connery as you’ve never seen him in the bruising neo-noir The Offence, and yours truly with my standard cocktails-and-crime column and a review of screenwriter Charles Brackett’s diaries. And, as the man says, so much more.

Swing by the Film Noir Foundation website, make with the contribution, and the magazine is yours. Donate by April 30 and you’ll be eligible to win a copy of my pal Mark Fertig’s gorgeous book The 101 Best Film Noir Posters. Are you still here? Get cracking!