Daily Archives: November 1, 2000

The Woman Chaser

The New York and South by Southwest film festivals must have had their reasons for showing this 1999 black-and-white neo-neo-noir — adapted by director Robinson Devor from a Charles Willeford novel — but I think it’s like a piece of chalk scraping against a blackboard for 87 minutes. Maybe this is because I like 50s and 60s noirs too much to like parodies that reduce them to camp mannerisms and attitudes. Or maybe it’s because I’m too fond of Willeford at his best (e.g., the Hoke Mosley quartet) and too respectful of the good movies derived from these novels (Cockfighter, Miami Blues) to get a kick from a badly acted pastiche of one of the lesser ones, trumpeted in the press materials as a psycho-pulp classic. I suppose that if you weren’t around in the middle of the century and you enjoy feeling superior to lounge music by Martin Denny, Yma Sumac, and Cal Tjader, you might like this. With Patrick Warburton and Emily Newman. (JR)… Read more »

Devil Bat’s Daughter

A quiet psychological thriller in the Val Lewton mode, about a young woman (Rosemary LePlanche) who may be murdering people and animals in her sleep. Frank Wysbar, a German filmmaker who emigrated to Hollywood in the 1940s, directed this low-budget 1946 horror picture for the PRC studio; the most notable thing about it is the performers’ low-key avoidance of cliches. 66 min. (JR)… Read more »

World’s Best Commercials Of The Century

When it comes to TV commercials, I’m not sure what best means: so good that you forget the product, or so good that you remember? Whatever the distributors had in mind, they’ve announced that this will be the last of their annual compilations, and presumably it’s the best of the best because it includes stuff from the 70s and 80sover a hundred commercials from 19 countries. (JR)… Read more »

The Yards

A disappointing follow-up to Little Odessa, James Gray’s second feature is one more sluggish, artfully framed thriller with Rembrandt lighting set in a New York borougha kind of picture that’s awfully hard to do in a fresh manner. The closest Gray comes is in coaxing strong performances out of his older actors (James Caan, Ellen Burstyn, and Faye Dunaway in a smaller part), much as he did with Vanessa Redgrave and Maximilian Schell in his previous film. He’s less lucky with his three leads (Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, and Joaquin Phoenix), who can’t manage to conjure up much sustained interest as characters or even as presences; there’s something about the lugubrious art-movie ambience that swamps them. 108 min. (JR)… Read more »