Five Noir Films To Remind You Why You Heart L.A. | Public Spectacle | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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Five Noir Films To Remind You Why You Heart L.A.

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Mon, Jul 18, 2011 at 9:15 AM

click to enlarge "You seen my cat?"
  • "You seen my cat?"

Yes, we love this place, but that doesn't mean it doesn't get exhausting explaining to everybody else what it is, exactly, that we're doing here. Particularly in summer when the fake tans, overpriced cocktails and newsboy caps worn by people who don't deliver newspapers for a living (or read them) start to feel just an eensy bit oppressive. If you're having trouble drumming up pride in our fair city, we suggest you avoid the Standard pool for a while and check out these movies instead.

5. The Long Goodbye (1973)

click to enlarge Elliot Gould
  • Elliot Gould

Robert Altman's adaptation of Raymond Chandler's novel -- which screens July 22 at LACMA -- offers up a literary vision of Malibu that's also dark enough to make you rethink that timeshare near the Colony you've been eyeing. (Have you been eyeing a timeshare near the Colony? Can I come? I'll bring DVDs. I'm sorry I made fun of your hat.) To become Phillip Marlowe, Elliott Gould took a jewfro, combined it with a mumble that bordered on a speech impediment and redefined cool. In the process, he inspired the Coen Brothers to write one of the most important films ever set south of the Valley:

4. The Big Lebowski (1998)

click to enlarge John Goodman, Jeff Bridges and Steve Buscemi
  • John Goodman, Jeff Bridges and Steve Buscemi

Everyone knows The Big Lebowski is a good movie. It doesn't become a perfect movie until you've lived here long enough to experience picking up milk up from Ralph's at 2:00 am. Sure the acting is spot-on and the writing is innovative, but, intentionally or no, it's also a giant heart-shaped Valentine to the people of Los Angeles. I can't find it playing anywhere in the area soon, but, let's be real, it's not like you don't already own it.

3. Chinatown (1974)

click to enlarge Jack Nicholson (but you knew that already)
  • Jack Nicholson (but you knew that already)

Roman Polanski's Chinatown -- up at the Aero on July 23 alongside it's sequel The Two Jakes -- features an L.A. swampy with corruption, and a cut-up Jack Nicholson left to sift through the mess. This is a serious-minded movie set in a dusky, blown-out Los Angeles that perfectly replicates certain overheated downtown afternoons. It's a testament to Polanski that a film about dam construction is this gripping, and a testament to our home city that, even shot under a layer of tepid beige, it still manages to be both haunting and beautiful.

2. Mulholland Drive (2001)

click to enlarge Laura Harring
  • Laura Harring

No one forgets the first time they saw this movie. Even fans familiar with David Lynch's specific brand of whacked-out confusion weren't prepared for him to bring this particular level of ruckus. Naomi Watts and Laura Harring star as various versions of an actress and her lover, but the film wouldn't have been half as compelling without Hollywood's insistent sunshine to undercut the darkness. It screens July 23rd at LACMA.

1. In A Lonely Place (1950)

click to enlarge Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame
  • Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame

So, we hate to admit we haven't actually seen Nicholas Ray's L.A. noir, but we plan to change that on July 22 when it plays at LACMA with The Long Goodbye. Humphrey Bogart stars as a hack screenwriter who takes up with a hat-check girl soon found dead. They don't make enough movies about hat-check girls these days and, as if you needed any more incentive, one critic calls it "a bleak, desperate tale of fear and self-loathing." Sounds like just another day in Beverly Hills. JK! <3 u LA! XO! Let's do drinks. Have your assistant call me.

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