A Crime Wave Never Looked So Good

Some say film noir, a French term meaning “black film,” is less a genre than a cycle.  The common characteristics of these films—high-contrast lighting, bleak fatalism, crime-plots, sultry eroticism, a dingy urban setting, and a hard-boiled detective to name a few—simply seem to pop up every once in a while, like a recession or a crime wave.  This definition makes a lot of sense, too, when you look at the evolution of film noir.  It was started mainly by European filmmakers who had migrated to America in the late 1930’s and early 40’s, enjoyed a full-on boom during the 1950’s, then was adopted and further defined by the French in the 1950’s and 60’s, briefly brought back to America in the 1970’s, etc.

The latest cycle starts on May 29 at LACMA and takes on the form of a film retrospective—the ultimate in cyclical practices.  It’s called “French Crime Wave” and features 14 films from 8 different directors spanning 26 years of French noir mastery.  From the early and oddly comic Bob le Flambeur by director Jean-Pierre Melville—often considered the ‘father of the French crime film—to Bertrand Tavernier’s 1981 Coup de torchon, a clever adaptation of a 1960’s American pulp novel, the film series itself runs in a cycle, one director influencing the next and back again.

Don’t miss the first two nights of the series, featuring Alain Corneau’s Série Noire and Police Python 357, the latter of which Corneau will be in attendance for an onstage Q&A session, and conversation with LA Weekly film editor, Scott Foundas.  After all, he may just inspire you to pick up a camera and start shooting up the next noir crime wave yourself.

The “French Crime Wave” film series runs at LACMA from May 29 to June 20.   For more information, please call (323) 857-6010 or visit www.lacma.org.

Comments are closed Trackback

Comments are closed.