Noir Now Playing

THE DEATH OF DICK LONG

The Death of Dick Long

in theaters

There's something funny about the characters in The Death of Dick Long. Literally. The small-town Alabama garage-band guys are quite probably the dumbest dumbbells you'll see on the big screen this year (against stiff competition). Zeke (Michael Abbott Jr.) and his best friend Earl (Andre Hyland) hit all the bases for witless underclass foolishness: beer bongs, vaped weed, junk snacks, questionable decorating schemes, vacant facial expressions, and the seeming inability to see further than five minutes ahead in any given situation. Their situation, as the pic opens, is pretty dire. + READ MORE

PIRANHAS

Piranahs

in theaters

Fifteen-year-old Nicola (Francesco Di Napoli) is a good kid in a bad situation. His Naples neighborhood is terrorized by gangsters and his single mother is barely holding on with the onerous protection money payments. So, this smart, ambitious kid organizes his buddies into a gang, appeals to the former neighborhood Don (now an outcast for turning informant) for weapons, and takes the neighborhood back. + READ MORE

DAS BOOT (2019)

Das Boot (2009)

streaming on hulu

Das Boot shares the same title as Wolfgang Petersen's 1981 film (and is technically a sequel), but familiarity with the original is unnecessary to start the series. Also based on the novel Das Boot by Lothar-Günther Buchheim as well its sequel Die Festung, the 2019 series is set in late 1942, nine months after the film's finale, with a new crew, a new mission, and a new vessel. + READ MORE

DOGMAN

Dogman

IN THEATERS

Ever since filmmaker Matteo Garrone dazzled stateside audiences with his blistering crime pic Gomorrah (2008), we've come to think of him as the cinematic King of Naples — or at least the go-to guy for street-level vignettes of life in that sprawling Mediterranean city. It's always a tough life in a very tough place. + READ MORE

TROUBLE IS MY BUSINESS

Trouble Is My Business

STREAMING FROM PRIME VIDEO

Disgraced private detective Roland Drake is on the verge of being evicted from his crummy little office—the glass door is scarred with tell-tale signs of a partner's name haphazardly scraped off—when she slinks in. "She had a face that could launch a thousand ships and a body that would bring them back," he monotones in voice-over. Played by actor/director/co-writer Tom Konkle with the hangdog presence of a born patsy, Drake has a bottle in the drawer, a fedora perched on his head, and an attitude that reaches for world-weary resignation. + READ MORE

SERENITY

1983

STREAMING FROM AMAZON PRIME VIDEO starting july 23

A broke, dejected fishing boat captain reduced to taking drunken tourists out for a day at sea. His beautiful ex-wife, now unhappily remarried. Her current husband, an abusive, loud-mouthed bully. The boat captain's faithful but mistreated deck hand. The captain's sultry night-time girlfriend. The captain's neglected son, glimpsed in flashbacks and inserts. An odd little man in a suit, who always arrives a minute too late. Assorted local rummies. A frigatebird hovering ominously overhead. Sugarcane fields reveling in the humidity. A colorful but run-down port on a fictional tropical island. Much alcohol. + READ MORE

1983

1983

STREAMING FROM NETFLIX

The title of 1983, a murder mystery turned conspiracy thriller from writer/creator Joshua Long, is more than an oblique reference to George Orwell's 1984. Set in a parallel 2003 where the Berlin Wall never fell and the Communist Party has a chokehold on Poland, this alternate history opens on the 20th anniversary of devastating terrorist attacks. The national myth of martyred victims murdered by resistance groups and the necessary guidance of a benevolent government is trotted out in ceremonies celebrating Polish resilience. Katejan (Maciej Musial), a fresh-faced law student orphaned by the attacks and raised on such propaganda, is jolted from his complacency after his mentor, a beloved judge with deep Party ties, posits an unexpected question in his oral exams: what if the attacks didn't backfire at all? What if they accomplished exactly what they were supposed to? When the professor is murdered by one of his students, Katejan starts to question everything he believes. + READ MORE

THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN

The Old Man and The Gun

video on demand and all hbo platforms

If The Old Man and the Gun is indeed Robert Redford's final screen appearance, the star of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid at least went out with a film that fits his "nice guy" image like a well-worn trucker jacket. That makes for a neatly symmetrical filmography, but may give fans of Redford's more adventurous acting vehicles—The Natural or All Is Lost, for instance—the feeling that despite the new movie's title, he's leaving with more of a whimper than a bang. + READ MORE

A SIMPLE FAVOR

A Simple Favor

video on demand

Stephanie Smothers, a suburban overachiever played by Anna Kendrick with spunky energy and self-effacing deflection, is the widowed mother of a son in elementary school. Into her life steps Emily Nelson (Blake Lively), a sleek urban professional with no maternal instincts –– like a high- society shark forcibly moved from her hunting ground to a tranquil aquarium tank. Their odd relationship is the core of A Simple Favor, a neo-noir of suburban pep and middle-class warmth meeting cool sophistication. Playdates, cocktails, and dark secrets are shared. + READ MORE

BOSCH

Bosch

STREAMING FROM AMAZON PRIME VIDEO

From its disorienting opening credits, a kaleidoscope of metropolitan Los Angeles to the desiccated cliffs of its more desolate locales, Bosch promises and delivers a procedural showcasing Southern California landmarks brought down to earth with gritty realism.  + READ MORE

MANHUNT

Manhunt

STREAMING FROM NETFLIX

"For a better tomorrow," remarks one character in a rare moment of downtime in John Woo's Manhunt, drawing a direct connection to Woo's 1986 break-out hit. Not that he needed to drop so blatant a callback. Released in 2017 across Asian cinemas but debuting on Netflix in the U.S., Manhunt is a self-conscious throwback to the Hong Kong films that made Woo's reputation among action movie fans around the world––a gleefully overstuffed thriller that races through the greatest-hits-of-Woo trademarks, right down to a hardboiled cop who bonds with his nemesis as he pursues him across the city.  + READ MORE

RACER AND THE JAILBIRD

Anon

STREAMING FROM AMAZON PRIME VIDEO AND HULU

First there's that title, which makes the movie sound like an American–International juvenile delinquent film from the 1950s. In the rest of the world, the third feature from Belgium's Michaël R. Roskam (Bullhead, The Drop) is known as Le Fidèle, or The Faithful+ READ MORE

AMERICAN ANIMALS

American Animals

VIDEO ON DEMAND

Here's a one-sentence headline-style synopsis for Bart Layton's American Animals: Rookies in Over Their Heads in Art Heist. But there's a bit more to writer-director Layton's clever, stylish true-crime yarn about four lads and their grandiose idea to steal a priceless collection of art prints and rare books from a university library—with no previous experience at that kind of work. Layton's ostensibly playful pic, based on an actual 2004 walk-right-in, walk-right-out-with-the-loot daylight robbery, could conceivably fit into the same teenage-prankster-popcorn groove as Ferris Bueller's Day Off, if we were to swap out upper-middle-class schoolboys in the Chicago suburbs in favor of a quartet of goofball college students from Kentucky. + READ MORE

BABYLON BERLIN

Babylon Berlin

Streaming FROM NETFLIX

The most expensive German TV series ever produced, Babylon Berlin, is Weimar noir, a detective drama turned conspiracy thriller set against the backdrop of decadence, poverty, and corruption in 1929 Berlin just before the Nazi party rode the swell of nationalism to power. Think Cabaret meets L.A. Confidential as produced by UFA, recreating a cultural moment that is about to implode.+ READ MORE

UNSANE

Unsane

STREAMING ON KANOPY

Sawyer Valentini seems to be behaving a bit oddly. She makes sour faces at her colleagues in the cubicles at work. She rebuffs her boss' unwanted sexual innuendo with a trace of panic in her manner. And after flirting with a blind date and bringing him back to her apartment, the evening blows up when she recoils from him screaming. Is Sawyer (played by English actor Claire Foy) just another highly strung urbanite? Are people truly picking on her? Or, is she, in fact, Unsane? + READ MORE

COUNTERPART

Counterpart

STARZ

Arriving without the noise of prestige series, Counterpart stealthily sidestepped any hype to emerge as one of this season's best new dramas. Part espionage procedural, part speculative fiction, it's neo-noir with overtones of Cold War dread, infused with our own paranoia. + READ MORE

YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE

You Were Never Really Here

VIDEO ON DEMAND

In the cinematic netherworld imagined by Lynne Ramsay, writer-director of You Were Never Really Here, any crime involving children—now or in the dimly remembered past—reverberates through the air to poison all that it touches, infecting everything, including the visual language of the film itself. The 48-year-old Scotland native's Morvern Callar (2002) related the inner turmoil of a young woman who believes she deserves better than she's getting, with a disturbingly brilliant performance by actor Samantha Morton.  + READ MORE

GEMINI

Gemini

STREAMING ON AMAZON PRIME VIDEO AND HULU

Return with us now to the problem of convincingly writing and/or portraying one-dimensional, dumbed-down characters without being mistaken for dumb oneself. It's a difficult trick to pull off. Case in point: writer-director Aaron Katz's doomed whodunnit Gemini. + READ MORE

VERONICA MARS (2019)

I Am the Night

streaming on hulu

Veronica Mars launched in 2004 as a youth-skewing high school version of the American detective drama: Nancy Drew meets Raymond Chandler in a beachside suburb of big city noir. It ran for three seasons, followed by a disappointing 2014 Kickstarter-funded feature film—but neither creator Rob Thomas nor the fans were ready to let go of the sardonic Veronica. + READ MORE

I AM THE NIGHT

I Am the Night

streaming on hulu AND hoopla

We can thank Wonder Woman for the miniseries I Am the Night. Director Patty Jenkins not only connected with her star, Chris Pine, over the project, but Pine's interest inspired a new character in the screenplay her husband, Sam Sheridan, was writing. The result is an "inspired by a true story" six-part TV-miniseries as dark and lurid as any fictional film noir. + READ MORE

CITIES OF LAST THINGS

Dogman

STREAMING FROM NETFLIX

Ho Wi Ding seems determined to rack up degree of difficulty points. The Malaysian-born, Taiwan-based filmmaker's latest effort, which took home the coveted jury prize from the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival's Platform section, is no mere ho-hum noir told in reverse chronological order à la Christopher Nolan's Memento. Cities of Last Things is an ambitious triptych that begins in an all-too-plausible science fiction future before its story of abandonment, betrayal, and loss spirals decades into the past. + READ MORE

THE WEDDING GUEST

The Wedding Guest - Dev Patel and Radhika Apte

In Theaters

"Can I trust you?"
"No."

It never hurts for characters to be upfront with each other and the audience.

Dev Patel plays a mystery man identified late in the action as Jay, a British Muslim who arrives in Pakistan on a solo mission requiring multiple passports, stops for handguns and duct tape, and a masquerade as the title figure. When the bride arrives—Samira (Radhika Apte), raised in the U.K. and returning home for an arranged marriage—Jay forcibly abducts her and whisks her across the border to India. As they stay on the move, roles and loyalties shift with circumstance. Is Jay a villain or a tarnished savior? Is Samira victim or mastermind? Can this fugitive twosome fall for each other, or is each display of vulnerability another level of manipulation?  + READ MORE

DESTROYER

Destroyer

STREAMING FROM HULU

Destroyer is a bleak, sour, unforgiving story with an attention-grabbing performance by Nicole Kidman as a thoroughly compromised cop who commits crimes in order to cover up other crimes, with herself as the ultimate victim. In the putative debate over whether any movie released in, say, 2018 can qualify as film noir, Destroyer wears its hair shirt proudly. It's a full-fledged noir, completely suffused with gloom, with Kidman's Lt. Erin Bell suffering conspicuously from troubles of her own making for the entire running time. + READ MORE

EL ANGEL

El Angel

VIDEO ON DEMAND

Carlos Robledo Puch, who likes to call himself Charlie Brown, is an impulsive, quick-witted teenager with blond curls and a pouty face that give him a deceptive "pretty boy" appearance. "Deceptive" because Carlitos—one of his other nicknames—is, in fact, a practiced sneak thief and home invader also known as "The Angel of Death." He will not hesitate to kill anyone who stands in his way as he makes the rounds in his hometown of Buenos Aires in the 1970s, the setting for the captivatingly nasty Argentine film El Angel. + READ MORE

THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB

The Girl in the Spider's Web

VIDEO ON DEMAND

The original Swedish movies that became known as the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy (aka the Millennium Trilogy) were the most exciting things to hit North American screens in 2010. Built around the face and the righteous indignation of wronged millennial Lisbeth Salander (indelibly personified by actor Noomi Rapace), the three-part adaptation of author Stieg Larsson's best-selling novels revived a very old cinematic discussion—the one about lithe female warriors emerging from the shadows in search of justice ––with a brash 21st-century European style. + READ MORE

BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE

Bad Time at the El Royale

video on demand and all hbo platforms

One by one the guests arrive at the empty lodge in Bad Times at the El Royale. Laramie Seymour Sullivan (Jon Hamm) is a traveling vacuum cleaner salesman (so he claims) with a corny, motor-mouthed Southern accent. Father Flynn (Jeff Bridges, doing Rooster Cogburn lite), a forgetful Catholic priest, comes in and makes straight for the bar. Cocktail lounge singer Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo) needs a place to stay because her car broke down on the way to Reno. Bad attitude champ Emily Summerspring (Dakota Johnson) has a mean temper and wants to be left alone. Emily's little sister Ruth (Cailee Spaeny) is there against her will. And the hotelkeeper—the only person on staff at the lavishly decorated yet utterly customer-free place—is a nervous drug addict named Miles Miller (Lewis Pullman). Other characters are sure to drop in, some quite heavily. + READ MORE

MDMA

MDMA

VIDEO ON DEMAND

MDMA views the '80s in a gaudy nutshell: lines of coke at a dance club, "outrageous" wardrobe and hair, and nightclub debauchery so strenuous it looks drastically overly-rehearsed. A working class Chinese-American student named Angie Wong (played by TV-and-indie-veteran Annie Q.), from Newark, New Jersey, gets a scholarship at "Crocker University," a prestigious West Coast diploma mill (shot at the Presidio and other San Francisco locations). While there, in addition to binge drinking, getting laid, and studying like everyone else, Angie pulls a Walter White and starts cooking up batches of Ecstasy in the college chemistry lab to sell to partying classmates. Business is good, and before long she's on the slippery slope to dopeyville.  + READ MORE

ANON

Anon

STREAMING FROM NETFLIX

Sal Frieland (Clive Owen) strolls down a city street, the anonymous faces in the crowds streaming past him instantly tagged with pop-up IDs. Frieland's a cop in a future where every brain is connected to a central server, his hardwired Google Glass eyeballs giving him access not just to individuals' data but everything they've seen and heard, all of it recorded for posterity and occasionally self-incrimination. Then, he's called to a murder scene and finds the mind of the victim has been hacked––the culprit gone without leaving a digital footprint of any kind. Is this ghost in the machine a serial killer, an assassin, or something else?  + READ MORE

OCCUPIED: Season 2

Occupied, Season 2

STREAMING FROM NETFLIX

The first season of Occupied debuted on Netflix in January 2016 to little notice. Maybe the whole enterprise was too far-fetched. America putting itself first and turning its back on the rest of the world? Russia meddling in the political affairs of other nations? Please. When is 24 coming back? What a difference a presidential election makes. Now Occupied's startling prescience is almost an obstacle; binge-watching season two won't exactly provide a break from the news. + READ MORE

TERMINAL

Terminal

VIDEO ON DEMAND

Prognosis: Terminal. The flirty blond waitress (Margot Robbie) at the diner near the railway station is not exactly what she seems, as two hit men (Dexter Fletcher and Max Irons) and a dying schoolteacher (Simon Pegg) discover. That's just about all there is to writer-director Vaughn Stein's expensive-looking, cheap-playing mood piece. With a setup like that, a cinematic stylist with flair could have lots of room to explore the characters and the milieu and put an exclamation mark on an open-ended, somewhat clichéd proposition. But none of that especially happens.  + READ MORE

MUTE

Mute

STREAMING FROM NETFLIX

It sounds like a natural: Duncan Jones, director of the ingenious science fiction mystery Moon, goes back to the future with a throwback plot that could have been pilfered from a 1940s B-movie noir.

Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood) is the gentle, mute bartender Leo, an innocent in crisp, buttoned-up shirts who works in an upscale bar catering to the rich, corrupt, and criminal. His blue-haired waitress girlfriend Naadirah (Seyneb Saleh) is a born hustler with a shadowy past brewing up some kind of scheme. When she disappears, he hits the mean streets of 2058 Berlin in search of his tarnished angel, who may or may not have played him for a patsy. + READ MORE

THOROUGHBREDS

Thoroughbreds

video on demand and all hbo platforms

Heathers meets American Psycho" reads the drop quote on the poster of Thoroughbreds, the debut feature from writer/director Cory Finley. It's a tasty little tag and accurate enough, in its way. There's a wicked satire under the cultivated surfaces and carefully groomed front, but a chilly alienation sets this teen-killer thriller apart from the flamboyant films of the quote. + READ MORE

DARK CRIMES

Dark Crimes

streaming on starz and amazon prime

It starts with a naked woman, bound and hanging from her wrists, glimpsed in some sort of concrete storage space/torture chamber. Then, an orgy in full swing. We're apparently in a bunker where nude young women are confined in cells under the domination of men. We sense that all is not well here. + READ MORE

THE ALIENIST: Season 1

The Alienist: Season 1

streaming from TNT

My primary recollection of Caleb Carr's novel The Alienist, which I read fifteen years ago, is thinking a screen adaptation was inevitable. Set in 1896 New York City, with a team of investigators using pioneering methods to identify and capture a serial killer preying on juvenile male prostitutes, it played with the "birth of criminal profiling" conceit and played upon readers' familiarity with modern forensics as these mavericks work outside a corrupt and hidebound system. The characters were sketched in broad strokes, but the historical backdrop, period detail, and mix of real-life and fictional figures gave the proto-procedural premise a compelling hook. It seemed destined to be a movie. Instead, it was developed by writer/producer Hossein Amini (Drive) as a ten-part cable series for TNT. + READ MORE

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