Postcards from L.A. and other Los Angeles stories

Stories and films in Los Angeles

Next month the Gallery of NSW’s latest film series line up ends on the 13th with the last three L.A. based thrillers. Postcards from L.A., the theme of the series which started on March 22 has been screening various popular, cult and classic films, much of which are crimes or neo-noirs, including Targets (1967), Point Blank (1967), Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005), LA Confidential (1997), Jackie Brown (1997), [Safe] (1995) and Bowfinger (1999). To finish out the month, Sharon Lockhart’s Pine Flat (2005) will be shown on April 28, i.e. tomorrow.

The films that will be featured at the beginning of May are Mulholland Drive (2001) on the 2nd/6th, Gerry (2002) on the 5th, and The Limey (1999) on the 9th/13th, showcasing the work of three predominant, contemporary directors, David Lynch, Gus Van Sant and Steven Soderbergh. A weird connection between Lynch and Sant, incidentally, is the filming of a musical version of Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986) performed by a New York theatre group in Sant’s documentary Tarnation (2003) (though Sant produces while Jonathan Coauette is actually the writer/director). While Sant’s Gerry is slightly overrated and uncomfortably commercial in my opinion, Soderbergh’s Limey contains great performances by Peter Fonda and Terence Stamp. Though my favourites, which I have seen before but could not resist a free ticket to, were Jackie Brown, based on Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch (1992), and Point Blank with Lee Marvin, based on Richard Stark’s (aka Donald E. Westlake’s) The Hunter (1962). Incidentally again, Stark’s Hunter is the basis of two other films; Ringo Lam’s Full Contact (1993) and the dismal Mel Gibson film Payback (1999).

'Forget it Jake, it's Chinatown.'

I would not say these films in particular capture the true essence of L.A. noir or crime. There’s Chinatown (1974) for one, with Jack Nicolson’s Jake Gittes, which will always be a timeless classic to me; The Big Sleep (the original 1946 version) for obvious reasons, not least of which is the casting of Bogart and Bacall; Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly (1955) based on Mickey Spillane’s book of the same name; Dashiell Hammett’s classic The Maltese Falcon (1941); Murder, my Sweet (1944) which, like Maltese Falcon, was previously adapted, called, funnily enough, The Falcon Takes Over (1942) directed by Irving Reis.

Having just finished Roger Jacob’s play Last Summer at the Marmont (2012) and about halfway through jazz musician Ry Cooder’s Los Angeles Stories (2011), both set obviously in the famed city of angels, I’ve an increasing desire to eventually travel to the strange and infamous place.




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2 responses to “Postcards from L.A. and other Los Angeles stories

  1. “The Limey” is an overlooked modern-day neo-noir classic and “Kiss Me Deadly” is simply the best Spillane adaptation ever, a movie that Tarantino ripped off plenty in “Pulp Fiction” . And “Murder, My Sweet” is an insufferable mess — for a better adaptation of “Farewell, My Lovely”, the evocative period noir of the same title (from the Chandler novel) with Robert Mitchum as an over-the-hill Phillip Marlowe is aces.

    • Thanks for the suggestion, I’ll make sure to get a hold of that film. I’m also waiting to get ‘Mickey Spillane on Screen’ which is to be published in September of this year. It covers all of the film and television adaptations so I’m looking forward to that.

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