Sunday, September 3, 2023

"Dark Dreams: The Original Film Noir Series" at SIFF Cinema: Sept 27 - Nov 30

A major setback to repertory cinema in Seattle came in early 2021, with the elimination of the position that Greg Olson held as film programmer at Seattle Art Museum for half a century. By removing Olson as the programmer of the longest running film noir series in the United States, and author of definitive books on the subject of David Lynch, Seattle found that the "Fate of SAM Film Series Unclear as Museum’s Longtime Film Curator Laid Off". It should also be noted, that in addition to the loss of Olson specifically as one of the most influential programmers of his generation, the position has remained unfilled at Seattle Art Museum. Now almost three years later, the programmer and author brings the longest continuously running series of its kind to SIFF Cinema. Following on the heels of the successful relocation of his relaunched Fellini retrospective, “Life is a Feast: The Cinema of Federico Fellini" earlier this year, SIFF Cinema Egyptian will play home to, "Dark Dreams: The Original Film Noir Series". Now in its 44th installment, the series opens with two all-time classics from Billy Wilder. The first of which features Gloria Swanson in a career great in "Sunset Boulevard", and Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray star in Raymond Chandler's brilliantly subversive adaptation of "Double Indemnity", from the novel of the same name by James M. Cain. The series continues with two solidly constructed noirs from the classic studio era by Robert Siodmak and Roy William Neill in "Criss Cross", and "Black Angel". From this same period, Nicholas Ray delivered one of the most darkly hued and nuanced of noirs, "In A Lonely Place", featuring career-defining heights for both of its stars, Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame. A more conspirational and paranoid brand of 1970s color neo-noir infuses the world of Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, and John Huston in Roman Polanski's "Chinatown". Swinging to the other end of the spectrum, if there ever was a comedy neo-noir, it would be Joel and Ethan Coen's "The Big Lebowski", and diametrically opposite, the brother-director team adapted the terse pragmatism of Cormac McCarthy's "No Country for Old Men", starring Tommy Lee Jones in one of his most memorable roles. Ending in solidly psychological thriller territory, the series concludes with "Eyes Wide Shut", the final film by Stanley Kubrick. One which takes its inspirations as much from Arthur Schnitzler's "Rhapsody: A Dream Novel", as it does the great cinematic dreamer of the late 20th century, David Lynch. On this subject, early in the new year we can anticipate the second major book from Greg Olson on Lynch, with the publishing of his, "Black Coffee Lightning: David Lynch Returns to Twin Peaks", focusing on the expansion of the world of Twin Peaks since the release of the 2017 miniseries.