My 5 Favorite Sleuths

From the page to the screen, there is nothing I love more than a good murder mystery. After years of unsuccessfully trying to guess my way to ‘whodunit’, I am now content to sit back and enjoy every surprising twist and turn that the writers throw my way, only finding out who and how when the characters themselves do. Below are my five favorite sleuths – have I missed yours? Continue reading

Maggie the Cat

The familiar strains of Charles Wolcott’s soundtrack to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof [directed by Richard Brooks,1958] is resolutely upbeat, even with the darker undertones. As soon as the music starts, through my many viewings of this movie, I know I’m in for a treat. I know it’s going to be an epic journey. With the sad passing of Elizabeth Taylor, I wanted to pay homage to one of my favorite characters she played – Maggie the Cat. Continue reading

The Psychological Precipice

Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958) is a transitional film bridging classic noir and neo/retro noir. It uses several elements of classic noir, but subverts them creating an atmosphere where the danger is no longer physical, but psychological. Technical elements–such as light, color, and the narrative structure–are blended seamlessly with the fears of a decade and a unique twist on the femme fatale. Continue reading

Characters as Mise en Scene in Touch of Evil

Mise en scene takes into consideration the entire composition of a shot; from costuming to lighting to location to characters, mise en scene is a vital component of the cinema.  Orson Welles, as the director of Touch of Evil, shows a masterful grasp of mise en scene through his cast of characters.  This 1958 film noir movie is a cult classic for young and old alike, due in part to the strength of the four leading roles: Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Joseph Calleia, and Orson Welles himself.  Alongside these roles are cameos by Marlene Deitrich, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Mercedes McCambridge, whose presence lends validity and weight to the movie. Continue reading

Friendship Heights and The Avalon

The 23rd Annual Filmfest DC may be over, but the Avalon Theater in Friendship Heights is still going strong. Specializing in independent, foreign, and documentary films, as well as commercial releases and film festivals, the Avalon was first built in 1923 and is Washington, DC’s oldest surviving movie house. After passing through many hands throughout the years, the theater was on the brink of destruction in 2001 when neighbors rallied to save the historic landmark. Continue reading