by Jim Ridley
on Thu, Jan 31, 2008 at 11:45 AM
Nashville. Music City. A wet kiss on the end of a fist. A filthy town where anything can be bought—for the right price. That includes a pass to the Belcourt's Nashville Film Noir Festival, starting tomorrow night at 7 p.m. and continuing through March 4.
Roll dice, flip a coin, throw a dart at the calendar. You'll be hard pressed to pick a movie in this 18-film series that won't rock your world, especially if you have any affinity whatsoever for crackling dialogue, sharp-brimmed hats, femmes fatales, and character actors whose mugs look like granite chiseled with a jackhammer. For an overview that barely hints at the hardcore jollies on tap, look here.
The opening-night feature is Orson Welles' baroque sleaze masterpiece Touch of Evil, to be introduced by The Rage's Jonathan Malcolm Lampley. Above, you'll find the movie's justly renowned opening, which captures in one unbroken shot the three minutes and change leading up to a deadly car-bombing in a Mexican border town. Much as I miss Henry Mancini's jazzy title music in this reconstructed edit, the layered sound design that defines the town is a marvel. I love the way the car radio fades in and out of the action, building suspense by cueing us in to its proximity. And the shot itself is noir distilled to a bouillon cube—the tilted angles, the looming shadows, the side streets seething with menace.
What are ya waiting for, an invitation? I'll post more on individual films throughout the festival. Check back in and report on what you see. I can't wait to hear what people make of Kiss Me Deadly, Point Blank and The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3.