Heat’s On

Friday, July 22, 2022

Film noir is French for “dark film.” A style of filmmaking characterized by the elements of cynical heroes, stark lighting, flashbacks, intricate plots, and existentialist philosophy. The genre became prevalent in American crime dramas during the post-World War II era, and more so in Foreign films representing a New Wave of filming in the post-Viet Nam era.

I love excellent film noir. One of the finest American examples is Roman Polansky’s “Chinatown,” a great movie. I’ve watched it often, always impacted anew by how successfully it intermixes top-level beauty and underlying decay.

Yesterday, I was considering issues surrounding the water shortages in Central Oregon, where I live, and remembered “Chinatown.” Its story is premised on water shortages in the LA Basin area during the depression era. A detective goes searching for what’s behind water shortages and quickly becomes squarely caught up in the social drama. A great film.

Yesterday, that memory drew me to the Criterion Channel. There, I chose to watch another famous American film noir, by Lawrence Kasdan, “Body Heat,” which he wrote and directed in 1981, several years after “Chinatown” was released. “Body Heat” is a story very different from “Chinatown” but equally impactful.

I find that both represent to perfection, filmmaking art and high-impact viewing. I remember during the eighties seeing and liking “Body Heat.” Now, seeing it again through eyes more experienced with film styles, I’m elevating “Body Heat” to film art that’s equal to “Chinatown.”

It’s fun to consider how real-time water shortage problems triggered an old movie memory. The power of art drew me to tap an associated movie memory and update my sensitivities.

Dear Friends: Fine art is a successful interweaving of reality and escapism. Diana

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