Laura – 88 min, thriller

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Gene Tierney and Vincent Price as Laura and Shelby Carpenter in ‘Laura’, directed by Otto Preminger.

When discussing Film Noir it never takes long for the term femme fatale to come up. The idea of a woman who through duplicity and self-interest destroys the men who love her has always held particular sway in the genre, and one might think that the titular Laura in Otto Preminger’s 1944 film fits the archetype. But what makes Laura so special is that actually she is a woman surrounded by fatal men. Men so fatal in fact, that when the movie opens she is already dead. It is a bold thing to kill off your main character as soon as the opening credits finish rolling, and Gene Tierney, who was cast as Laura, quipped in her autobiography: “Who wants to play a painting?” (TCM, Laura Article) in reference to the large portrait looming over the living room of Laura’s fashionable New York City apartment. Still it is the flesh and blood woman, rather than her ghostly portrait, that in the end the movie is concerned with. Continue reading

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Exit Through the Gift Shop – 87 min, documentary

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Sometimes a film can subvert expectations that you didn’t even know you had going in. The first time I saw Exit Through the Gift Shop I thought that I was a pretty blank slate. All I knew was that it was a documentary about Banksy, and quite frankly at that point I wasn’t all that sure of who Banksy was, but from the first few seconds of the opening credits all expectations were upended. Here was a documentary, ostensibly about graffiti, opening with the smooth lounge-inflected voice of Richard Hawley, whose song “Tonight the Streets are Ours” so perfectly complimented the ebullient footage of street artists at their nocturnal rituals that you never question how radical the selection is. Banksy’s work is about the unexpected; the serendipity of turning a corner to find something beautiful, or challenging, or funny in the mundane mix of city-walls and pavements. Exit Through the Gift Shop is no different, but what Banksy found was Thierry Guetta. Continue reading