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Feature Screengem

Screengem: Tom’s Fedora in Miller’s Crossing (Joel & Ethan Coen, 1990)

Inspired by the novels of Dashiell Hammett, and featuring corrupt cops, Tommy gun hits, and that typical fixation over loyalty, Joel and Ethan Coen’s Miller’s Crossing goes all out to embrace the mythology and imagery of the gangster noir. And what gangster’s image is complete without the iconic fedora? Though the story follows the war […]

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Feature Four Frames

Four Frames: The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)

Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. As for family, well… Towards the end of Francis Ford Coppola’s tenebrous portrait of a family eating itself from the inside, an aghast Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) asks his adopted brother Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) why he wants to wipe everyone out when he’s already won, to […]

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Feature Four Frames

Four Frames: Rififi (Du rififi chez les hommes, Jules Dassin, 1955)

Jules Dassin had already made a number of important political thrillers and film noirs, notably The Naked City (1948) and Thieves’ Highway (1949), before falling victim to the House of Un-American Activities in 1952. His subsequent exile, first in London – where he directed the magnificent noir Night and The City (1950) – and later in Paris, culminated in his […]

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Lost Classic Reviews

Lost Classic: Plunkett & Macleane (Jake Scott, 1999)

There was a time when Jake Scott was that bloke who did music videos. Then he did a movie. And people quite liked it, critics were sniffy, and it soon passed into the annals of history. Which is wrong, because it’s damn good. It’s essentially a love story buddy movie historical crime caper. With a […]

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Architecture & Film Feature

Architecture and Film #10 Backlot

By the end of the nineteenth century the population of industrialised nations had shifted decisively from the countryside to cities. Work was the driver, but such vast numbers of people in close proximity also gave rise to new forms of relaxation, and to new kinds of transgression. The Impressionists were the first visual artists to […]

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Architecture & Film Feature

Architecture and Film #5 Field of View

In the 1966 thriller The Quiller Memorandum, George Segal is sent to West Berlin to dismantle a neo-Nazi cell. Filming in a city where buildings hold particularly powerful associations, director Michael Anderson employs architecture as a metaphor for its past and its present. Segal meets his controller in the stadium built by the Third Reich […]

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Feature On Location

On Location: MacArthur Park as featured in ‘Drive’ (Dir. Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)

The brief scene at Los Angeles’s MacArthur park comes exactly half way through Nicolas Winding Refn’s slick and stylish thriller as Driver, drawn out of his solitary existence by new love interest Irene and her young son Benicio, takes on a risky grab-n-go getaway gig to protect them from harm. As befalls every criminally minded […]

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Feature Thousand Words

Through a glass darkly: reflections on M and its descendents

Fritz Lang’s 1931 masterpiece M, concerning the pursuit and capture of the Berlin child-killer Hans Beckert (memorably played by Peter Lorre), deserves to be regarded as a towering landmark of cinema and an important stylistic catalyst for a host of reasons. Along with the game-changing use of leitmotifs to associate a sound with a character, […]

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Architecture & Film Feature

The Bradbury Building as featured in ‘The Artist’ (Dir. Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

A star in its own right, Los Angeles’ Bradbury building has featured in films as diverse as Double Indemnity, Blade Runner and (500) Days of Summer. Illuminated by a large central skylight and lined with ornate wrought-iron railings, the courtyard of the Bradbury stages a transition between interior and exterior. In Michel Hazanavicius’ recent (silent) […]