Noirvember Archives - Page 2 of 6 - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
25Nov/100

Noir-vember Day 25: The Lookout (2007)

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Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a high school hockey star that has a dream future in front of him.  He is loved by the whole town, has his pick of colleges to go to, and has a beautiful girlfriend and friends by his side.  When he decides to go on a reckless car ride late one night, a split second bad decision leads to tragic results and a permanent memory problem for Chris.  This wreck leaves Chris as a pariah in town and all of his hopes and dreams dashed.  His short-term memory problem makes it extremely difficult to do even the simplest of tasks.  The only job available to him is a janitor at the local bank and living with Lewis (Jeff Daniels) a blind man with a much rosier outlook on life.  When Gary (Matthew Goode) comes into Chris’ life, he sees a chance to be someone again and to do something exciting with his life.  The fact that Gary also introduces Luvlee (Isla Fisher) to Chris and he becomes smitten with the group as a whole. Chris initially goes with the groups plan to rob his bank on the night of a huge deposit, until his conscience starts getting the better of him.

The Lookout is one of those films that does everything really well but without attracting too much attention to itself.  It was released quietly and did not do much at the box office because it did not have much star power to drive audiences in.  It is unfortunate because The Lookout, along with Gone Baby Gone are two best examples of crime thrillers/dramas that have been released in the past 5 or so years.

Jeff Daniels, the coolest cat in the film.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is getting a bigger following each year and has many rabid fans out there now but not so much at the time of this film, my pod cast associate Andrew worships at the alter of the Levitt, and I agree with them completely.  If I had to base a future film franchise around one actor working today, Levitt would be in the top three easily because of his skills and charisma.  He can do action and had the best scene in Inception, which was a movie full of awesome scenes.  Romantic films are no problem for him, watch 500 Days of Summer and not be charmed by him. He can even do Cobra Commander in GI Joe and come out unscathed, but my favorite performance he has done is 3rd Rock From the Sun. OK, I lied, even better than that John Lithgow gem from the 90’s, The Lookout is Levitt at his best.  Although Pratt is kind of a whiny, mopey, bitch in the film, you end up feeling bad for him despite everything that happened to him was because of his stupid decisions.  He can sometimes treat his roommate Lewis, the coolest character in the film, horribly but you still want him to succeed.   The fact that he has to carry around a note pad and taking a shower is a feat to overcome makes your heart break for Chris, but Levitt never plays the character so exaggerated that he becomes a caricature, which easily could have happened.  Instead he balances the hard luck of the character and his downtrodden luck with sparks of whom he could have and should have been.  In the end, you hate Gary and his gangs for giving the guy false hope and you are cheering Chris on to get out of the giant hole he digs himself.

Isla Fisher as Luvlee, a Femme Fatale at its best.

While Levitt is great in the film, Goode and Fisher match him beat for beat in the film.  Matthew Goode’s Gary is that guy who you at one time hated but at the same moment wanted to hang out with.  He is fun, popular and when he shows Chris attention, he almost feels like he did when he was the coolest kid in town. Isla Fisher plays Luvlee in who is a classic femme fatale who can convince the main antagonist to do her bidding with just a bat of her eye.  The big difference in her femme fatale is you honestly believe that she feels bad for what she is doing and genuinely cares for Chris in some way. Fisher is also striking in this film and coupled with the personality she uses in this film, it is very easy to see why any guy would contemplate felony crimes for her.

The strongest area of the film is the screenplay by Scott Frank, who was making his directorial debut.  The story, like stated before was nothing groundbreaking and flashy but it was a story told well.  Although this film shares some themes with Memento with both being about a guy in shady environments with memory problems, The Lookout is much more a film of a different era in terms of pacing, characters and story.  The end is perfectly done and it is one of the rare examples where there are many plot threads left unfinished that doesn’t bug me not knowing the answers.  Well, it does bug the hell out of me but it is done in such a way that I applaud the way everything goes down and would just lightly torture anyone involved in the movie for the answer to something a character says in the end. Around the same time this film came out, Levitt did a different type of noir film called Brick. If Brick were the movie equivalent of a sports car, really flashy, pretty to look at and zips, The Lookout would be a nice sedan, dependable, roomy and will have much more left in the tank 10-15 years down the line.

The Lookout is one of these overlooked movies that deserved to find its audience.  Thanks to Joseph Gordon Levitt’s rising fame, I am hoping that many more people will discover it on DVD and Blu-Ray and fall in love with the film like I have.  The flick works in all the ways it was supposed to and is a fine example to studios how it is still possible to make appealing mid budgeted films that used to be the norm in Hollywood as opposed to the exception that they have become.

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24Nov/101

Noir-vember Day 24: Brick (2005)

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23Nov/100

Noir-Vember Day 23: Sin City (2005)

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It has become a veritable cliché to refer to Frank Miler and Robert Rodriguez’s “Sin City” as neo-noir on steroids, but the moniker seems more apt than any label one could bestow upon the film. The “flick,” as Rodriguez famously refers to his features, cops every hallmark of the noir of yore– for both better and worse.

21Nov/100

Noir-vember Day 22: Kansas City Confidential (1952)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

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21Nov/100

Noir-vember Day 21: Rififi (1955)

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In the years following Night and the City Jules Dassin was in an unfortunate position.  He had been labeled a Communist by the Hollywood blacklist and was barred from working on any productions that he found to be worth his time.  Humiliated and growing weary of finding anything to utilize his talents, he found a willing audience in France where he was presented with the opportunity of adapting the novel Du Rififi Chez Les Hommes to the big screen.  Shortened to Rififi, Dassin began working furiously to keep himself alive and produce again.