2/14/13

St Valentine's Day massacres


The victim who has been hacked to death and left in the Bayou is an analogue for the movie itself of In the Electric Mist, based on the James Lee Burke novel. Directed by Betrand Tavernier, Tommy Lee Jones's Dave Robicheaux remains too faithful to the character, which has panicked the studio to cut the narrative in an effort to get things moving -- a mistake, because detective novels are all about sitting around. But the movie still works. It has Burke's voice, and his atmosphere and his landscape, with its sudden, emotional bursts of colour. In The Electric Mist could have been Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans or No Country For Old Men but in its bones it's Chinatown, i.e. a movie that wants to be a crime novel: complicated and puzzling for most of its length until the resolution appears right where it started. Also: Kelly Macdonald. All movies with Kelly Macdonald in them are good movies.

It's taken me this long to see Before The Devil Knows You're Dead and if I had to draw up a list of the ten best noir movies I've seen it would come in at around number four. Sidney Lumet directed it and it's a fucking gem: modern, shabby, direct and as black as night. Shot in digital, interestingly, a long time before people were talking about that. If you like Black Widow, Against All Odds (one of the best remakes of Out Of The Past) or The Morning After you should really tuck into this. Lumet calls it a melodrama but it's realistic and dirty and moving. The DVD includes a good making of documentary featuring interviews with the cast, producers and director, but not author Kelly Masterson.

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