Archive for March 30th, 2011


 Copyright © 2011 by James Clark

    Like  the films of Antonioni, those emanating, over the past five years, from Denis Côté do not lend themselves to sharp sound bites piercing to the heart of the matter. What reportage does have to work with, however, is a remark by the writer/director himself, disclaiming that his characters—Quebecois hillbillies showing striking affinities with violent death, particularly murder—should be construed as “unconventional.” Far better, from his point of view, that they be seen as “cinematic.”

    The film world teems with “unconventional” figures—Henry Higgins, General Patton, Nick and Nora, Carlos, etc—the unconventionality of whom remains fully entangled in classical culture. A discussion of Côté’s work that would get to the point must have nothing to do with Toast-to-the Bride contrariness, and everything to do with the elicitation of sensuous phenomena (the phenomenology, if you like) coming our way from the screen. (more…)

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Director: Abraham Polonsky

Producer: Bob Roberts

Screenwriter: Ira Wolfert and Abraham Polonsky

Cinematographer: George Barnes

Music: David Raksin

Studio: Enterprise and MGM 1948

Main Acting: John Garfield and Thomas Gomez

There is much more to Force Of Evil than what appears on the surface. As I once wrote on another blog:

“The scene where John Garfield (playing lawyer Joe Morse) descends into an allegorical hell to discover his brother’s body on the rocks was very powerful. It is clearly an attack on capitalism and greed. Polonsky shows how corruption can spread and hurt multiple people like a disease. The innocent victims are Leo’s employees, who are linked and compared to regular American workers being cast aside and exploited. He is being very subversive by comparing capitalism to gambling or the numbers racket. The director shows his contempt for America’s financial system by linking it to a shadowy illegal operation. In some ways, this film is like a harbinger to our current economic crisis where greed has dire consequences for society and the general population.”

While I could go on and on about the social message fused within the script and throughout this late 40s film noir, I find myself uninterested in discussing this aspect of the picture. My primary love and enjoyment of film noir has little to do with politics or social causes and more with investigating the struggle of the individual to battle personal demons and existential feelings. My favorite noirs are mostly about protagonists fighting the inevitable cruel hand of fate or trying to overcome bad choices they have foisted upon themselves. Force Of Evil is primarily concerned with economic realities and institutional injustices, but I primarily watch it (these days at least) for the way that Joe Morse fits in with the typical noir anti-hero. He is generally a good guy who lets materialism guide his actions until certain tragedies befall him. (more…)

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