By Indiewire Staff | Indiewire August 11, 2011 at 4:46AM
The 59th San Sebastian Film Festival will include a repertory series, ''American Way of Death: American Film Noir 1990-2010',' devoted to the modern-day American film noir.
Rather than focus on the genre's golden age in the 40's and 50's, the programmers will feature films from between 1990 and 2011, including Ami Canaan Mann's "Texas Killing Fields," due to compete this year in Venice.
The series will be hosted by two filmmakers whose work falls under this category: Walter Hill, director of "Last Man Standing," which will be featured, and James Gray, director of "We Own the Night" and "Two Lovers."
It opens with Scorsese's "Goodfellas" and includes films by Abel Ferrara, David Mamet, Mario Van Peebles, Jonathan Demme, Paul Verhoeven, Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher and Kathryn Bigelow.
Full press release reprinted below:
Ami Canaan Mann's Film ''Texas Killing Fields'' to open the retrospective: ''American Way of Death: American Film Noir 1990-2010''
Directors Walter Hill and James Gray will present the cycle in San Sebastian.
The retrospective dedicated to American film noir will open at the 59th edition of the Festival with TEXAS KILLING FIELDS, a film to compete in the Official Selection at Venice Festival. This gripping thriller proves that the genre is fighting trim: set in the Texas bayous, the tale tracks two detectives pitted against mysterious unsolved murders all occurring in a haunting stretch of bayous and coastal plain. The cast headlines Sam Worthington, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jessica Chastain, Annabeth Gish and Sheryl Lee.
The director of the movie, Ami Canaan Mann, is the daughter of Michael Mann. She worked as a screenwriter and director on series such as NYPD Blue, Robbery Homicide Division and Friday Night Lights. She made her feature directorial debut with Morning (2001), winner of awards at the Rhode Island and Houston festivals.
The cycle “American Way of Death: American film noir 1990-2010” includes 40 emblematic titles to have come out of the genre in the last twenty years; from popular Hollywood productions to independent movie proposals. Here we can find oeuvres by moviemakers like David Fincher, Clint Eastwood, Joel Coen, Michael Mann, Quentin Tarantino, John Dahl, Abel Ferrara and Jonathan Demme, among many others. The cycle will be presented by two luxury guests: filmmakers Walter Hill and James Gray, both authors of films featured in the retrospective.
Walter Hill (Long Beach, 1942) is one of the great action helmers of American film, author of cult movies like Hard Times (1975), Driver (1978), The Warriors (1979), The Long Raiders (1980) and Southern Comfort (1982), entrant in San Sebastian Festival’s Official Selection. He also participated in the TV series, Deadwood. The cycle will also include the screening of his film Last Man Standing (1996), starring Bruce Willis and Christopher Walken.
James Gray (New York, 1969) debuted in film with Little Odessa (1994). This work, winner of awards at the Venice and Deauville festivals, can also be found in the cycle. Gray went on to film another two major contributions to the genre, The Yards (1999) and We Own the Night (2007). His last work was Two Lovers (2008).
The cycle comes with a book, coordinated by Roberto Cueto and Antonio Santamarina, including articles by Ricardo Aldarondo, Quim Casas, Jordi Costa, Desirée de Fez, Jara Fernández, Chris Fujiwara, Novotny Lawrence, Jesús Palacios, Alain Silver and James Ursini.
It is jointly organised with the Basque Film Library, has the collaboration of the Government of Valencia Film Library, and is sponsored by TCM.
CONFIRMED FILMS IN THE CYCLE FOR THE TIME BEING
GOODFELLAS (1990), Martin Scorsese
Ever since he was a child Henry Hill has wanted to be a gangster… and succeeded, landing a job for the hardest guys in the neighbourhood. Martin Scorsese doesn’t believe in idealized approaches and portrays the mafia world with a stroke of rarely-seen realism and credibility, providing major inspiration for The Sopranos. A masterpiece in the genre.
KING OF NEW YORK (1990), Abel Ferrara
Christopher Walken, in one of the best roles in his entire career, embodies Frank White, a drug-runner determined to wipe out his competitors with a particular ethos: “I never killed anybody that didn’t deserve it”. Abel Ferrara directs this harrowing tale with the steadiness that characterises his best movies.
MILLER’S CROSSING (1990), Joel Coen
The Coen brothers pay a heartfelt tribute to classic noir film with this work jam-packed with brilliant dialogue and unforgettable images. Freely inspired by Dashiell Hammet’s novel The Glass Key, the movie tracks the adventures of the hard and impassable Tom Regan amid gangster warfare. Silver Shell for Best Director at the San Sebastian Festival.
WILD AT HEART (1990), David Lynch
Road movies had never been as exciting and indomitable as this controversial adaptation of Barry Gifford’s novel by David Lynch. Ex-convict Sailor seduces Lula and they flee to California, not knowing that the young girl’s mother has taken a contract out on him. The couple leaves a trail of violence as they hot-foot it along American roads.
HOMICIDE (1991), David Mamet
Prestigious playwright David Mamet delves into film noir to tell the disturbing tale of a Jewish detective who uncovers a dark conspiracy during a routine murder investigation. The movie stars two essential character actors: Joe Mantegna and William H. Macy.
THE INDIAN RUNNER (1991), Sean Penn
Actor Sean Penn made his directorial debut with this sombre drama on the relationship between two brothers and their different takes on existence: one believes in the family and life, while the other is violent and destructive. David Morse and Viggo Mortensen headline the cast.
NEW JACK CITY (1991), Mario Van Peebles
The gangster genre in its African-American version recovering the spirit of the blaxploitation movies made in the 70s. Wesley Snipes and the rapper Ice-T clash in this tale of a megalomaniac drug-runner and the maverick cop who vows to topple his empire. Ice-T, Keith Sweat, Color Me Badd and 2 Live Crew supply the music.
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991), Jonathan Demme
Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins both garnered Academy Awards for their magnificent performances in this movie where detective genre meets horror film. In her attempts to shackle a serial killer, FBI Agent Clarice Sterling has to try and gain the confidence of a dangerous psychopath: Hannibal “the Cannibal” Lecter.
BASIC INSTINCT (1992), Paul Verhoeven
The femme fatale of film noir was embodied in the 90s in the eroticism of Sharon Stone and her leg-crossing scene, the most famous in the history of film. Michael Douglas plays a police detective who succumbs to her charms. The controversial Paul Verhoeven seasons this thriller with serious sprinklings of sex and irony.
ONE FALSE MOVE (1992), Carl Franklin
The sheriff of the little Star City, Arkansas, leads a quiet life until he gets a call from the L.A. police department: a dangerous criminal trio is about to put down in the city. One of the best films noir of the 90s, a forgotten gem well worth another look.
RESERVOIR DOGS (1992), Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino dazzled the world with his movie debut, a claustrophobic tale in which a gang of heisters tries to figure out which of them is a police informer. An exceptional cast headed by Harvey Keitel brings lustre to a series of landmark dialogues.
MENACE II SOCIETY (1993), Albert and Allen Hughes
This benchmark ghetto movie from the 90s brings us a frank, realistic chronicle tracing several days in the life of the young Afro-American Caine Lawson, a hustler from one of Los Angeles’ most dangerous neighbourhoods.
RED ROCK WEST (1993), John Dahl
A master of noir film, John Dahl directs this splendid specimen of country noir demonstrating that life in the village isn’t much better than it is in the city. Nicolas Cage plays a loser caught up in a crazy plot when he’s mistaken for a hired killer… a confusion he does nothing to avoid.
SUTURE (1993), Scott McGehee and David Siegel
A cult American indie movie, strange and original turn of the screw on the psychological thrillers of the 40s. Tells the tale of a man entangled in a plot woven by his brother to get rid of him and keep the fortune they were left all to himself. A fascinating and unpredictable movie.
LITTLE ODESSA (1994), James Gray
Today’s reputed James Gray made his movie debut with this tale about a hired killer who returns to his childhood neighbourhood, Brighton Beach, home to New York’s Russian community. There he is reunited with a brother who idolizes him and a father who despises him. The stars of the film are Tim Roth and Edward Furlong.
HEAT (1995), Michael Mann
No-one films Los Angeles quite like Michael Mann, a city serving here as the backdrop for the obsessive confrontation between a high-tech gangster and the hardened cop who doggedly hounds him. Duel between characters and actors: no less tan Robert De Niro vs. Al Pacino.
NEW JERSEY DRIVE (1995), Nick Gomez
Spike Lee produced this remarkable ghetto movie about a young black car theft and his constant run-ins with the cops (white) who control the neighbourhood. Second film from Nick Gomez, subsequent director of series like House, The Shield, Dexter, True Blood and Rubicon.
SE7EN (1995), David Fincher
Seldom has American film portrayed Evil (with a capital letter) as forcefully as it does in this asphyxiating darkest of dark thriller from David Fincher. Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman are two cops hot on the heels of a serial killer turned exterminating angel who punishes the seven deadly sins. Impressive and unforgettable.
STRANGE DAYS (1995), Kathryn Bigelow
Noir film merges with science-fiction in this surprising cyber-thriller from Hollywood’s hardest-boiled director, Kathryn Bigelow. Ralph Fiennes embodies a trafficker who deals in the most precious of goods in a near-future society: other people’s memories.
UNDERNEATH (1995), Steven Soderbergh
In 1949 Burt Lancaster starred in Robert Siodmak’s CrissCross; almost fifty years later, Steven Soderbergh made this elegant remake. A tale steeped in the purest of noir fatalism, starring the driver of an armoured truck who decides to steal the money he’s carrying.
FARGO (1996), Joel Coen
One of the most emblematic titles of modern American film noir is this entertaining, violent and bitter work from the Coen brothers, acid portrayal of a small community where ambition and stupidity seem to go hand-in-hand. Frances McDormand portrays the most endearing policewoman in the history of the genre.
HARD EIGHT (1996), Paul Thomas Anderson
The director of Magnolia (1999) and There Will Be Blood (2007), Paul Thomas Anderson debuted with this brilliant film noir drawing strongly on American film yet all the while keeping an eye on French detective movie classics. A splendid Philip Baker Hall plays a veteran gambler turned guardian angel to a young couple.
LAST MAN STANDING (1996), Walter Hill
Master Walter Hill recruits two of the hardest guys in modern American movies, Bruce Willis and Christopher Walken, pitting them against one another in this exciting western-noir, a remake-homage to the films of Akira Kurosawa and Sergio Leone and to classic gangster movies.
L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (1997), Curtis Hanson
There’s no doubt that James Ellroy is today’s grand master of the written thriller and this adaptation of one of his best-known books does him perfect justice. Russell Crowe is a callous, violent detective who can’t bear to see a woman being hit while Guy Pearce is the highly ambitious upright cop. Together they take on a corruption ring in a spectacular recreation of America in the 40s.
GHOST DOG: THE WAY OF THE SAMURAI (1999), Jim Jarmusch
Jim Jarmusch gives a highly personal patina to Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le samourai (1967). Forest Whitaker is a hit-man, a perfectionist who models himself on the samurai ethics of old. The problem is that the world around him knows very little about ethics…
SUMMER OF SAM (1999), Spike Lee
In summer 1977, the city of New York was the setting for crimes committed by a mysterious serial killer known as the “Son of Sam”. Spike Lee recreates the period centring on the residents of the Bronx and their fear of the murderer. One of Lee’s best and least known films.
MEMENTO (2000), Christopher Nolan
A man thirsty for revenge hunts for his wife’s killer, but suffers a slight snag in achieving his goal: memory loss means he can’t remember anything that happened only minutes earlier. Christopher Nolan conquered Hollywood with this movie of devilish narrative structure making hero and audience suffer equally.
PANIC (2000), Henry Bromell
William H. Macy brings life to a man who has inherited the family business: contract killings. Feeling mournful, he decides to visit a psychoanalyst, meeting and attractive young woman in the waiting room who throws him into confusion about his work and causes clashes with his family. A rather strange movie well worth the discovery.
TRAINING DAY (2001), Antoine Fuqua
An idealistic rookie cop starts his first day enthusiastically… until he meets his patrol team-mate, an arrogant, corrupt and violent piece of work. Denzel Washington bagged the Academy Award for his performance in this energetic thriller from one of the finest African-American director son today’s film scene, Antoine Fuqua.
MYSTIC RIVER (2003), Clint Eastwood
One of the great icons of American action movies, Clint Eastwood, stays behind the camera on this occasion to tell the horrifying tale of a group of friends who suffered a traumatic experience in the past and are brought back together when one of their daughters is murdered. Stars Sean Penn and Tim Robbins.
COLLATERAL (2004), Michael Mann
A hallucinating night round of Los Angeles kicking off when a taxi driver picks up an implacable, calculating contract killer. Tom Cruise abandons his role of eternal good boy in American movies to show his darkest side: Jamie Foxx becomes his innocent victim.
KISS KISS BANG BANG (2005), Shane Black
Shane Black, screenwriter of the Lethal Weapon sagaand classics like The Last Boy Scout (1991), makes his directorial debut with this witty detective comedy. Robert Downey Jr. plays a small-time thief turned improvised private detective on finding himself caught up in a criminal investigation.
SIN CITY (2005), Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez
Illustrator Frank Miller started publishing his Sin City comic series in 1991; sad, harsh tales in stark black and white in the very best of hard boiled traditions. His personal aesthetics are taken to the big screen in their pure state thanks to this adaptation with its irresistible cast: Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Clive Owen and Benicio del Toro.
BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD (2007), Sidney Lumet
Sidney Lumet has regaled us with memorable gems in the noir genre, like Serpico (1973), Dog Day Afternoon (1975) and Prince of the City (1981). At the age of 83, he shot his last masterclass with this impeccable moving thriller starring Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Marisa Tomei.
ZODIAC (2007), David Fincher
In the late 60s, the American society reeled in shock at the mysterious and inexplicable murders committed by the enigmatic “Zodiac Killer”. David Fincher uses great detail to recreate the investigation work of a journalist and a policeman in their joint endeavour to solve this big unanswered question.
PRIDE AND GLORY (2008), Gavin O’Connor
A solid family drama set in the Police world and revolving around the dilemma of a detective on discovering a corruption ring within the Force of which his brother-in-law is a part. Edward Norton, Colin Farrell and Jon Voight headline the cast.
THE AMERICAN (2010), Anton Corbijn
The prestigious video-clip maker Anton Corbijn puts his refined aesthetics at the service of George Clooney. The big Hollywood star plays a cold, meticulous hired gun obliged to lay low in an Italian village when a price is put on his head.
TEXAS KILLING FIELDS (2011), Ami Canaan Mann
Ami Canaan Mann demonstrates familiarity with thrillers and sensitivity for the potential victims in this tale set against the spectacular Texas bayous, a small haunted universe. Sam Worthington (Avatar) and Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass) head the cast.