5 Favorites of 2009: Pete Dragovich

My Top Five of 2009 – Nothin’ but Noir Edition

The Friends of Eddie Coyle – Peter Yates

This year the ever-reliable Criterion Collection released the 1973 adaptation of the George V. Higgins classic The Friends of Eddie Coyle. DIrector Peter Yates of Bullit fame takes it easy on the action this time around, wisely concentrating on what makes the novel work: kick-ass dialogue. The story of an aging hood who has turned snitch, Yates lets us just inhabit this world, letting us figure out the plot for ourselves. The actors are all very fine, with Mitchum handing in what is arguably his greatest performance. From the beautifully handled heist to the bleak, subdued tragedy of the ending, Eddie Coyle is a sleeper for the ages.

Real Time – Randall Cole

You’ve probably never heard of Real Time, but that’s because it’s Canadian and who knew they even had a culture (other than hockey and hunting, that is)? If you dug the great Irish film In Bruges from last year, this shit is right up your alley. It’s the story of a degenerate gambler (Jay Baruchel) given one hour to get his shit in order before getting whacked by a mob hitman (Randy Quaid). The story takes place in, you know, real time, and is mainly just alternately hilarious and probing conversations between these two very different men. It’s a quick-paced and quietly astounding film with a conclusion that will rock you to your core. Maybe there’s more to this Canada placemthan BC Gold after all…

Breaking Bad – Vince GIlligan

If you’re looking for great noir shit on television, there’s only one place to look these days: Vince Gilligan’s brilliant Breaking Bad on AMC. Bryan Cranston stars as a chemistry teacher dying of cancer who decideds to cook meth to leave a solid nut for his son, wife and their new baby. It’s hilarious, smart, agonizingly intense and completely unflinching. Yeah, there’s a billion cop shows on the tube nowadays, but only Breaking Bad doesn’t leave you feeling like a James Patterson fan. If you like your crime shit more Coen Brothers than Agatha Christie, this is the show for you.

Inglourious Basterds – Quentin Tarantino

If you’ve been missing the Tarantino of the nineties, the one who concentrated on amazing dialogue and characters instead of more visceral thrills, Inglourious Basterds is the movie that will send you racing back into his loving, fucked-up arms. While not the extra gory take on The Dirty Dozen the trailers may have promised, Basterds is essentially one long, unbearably intense conversation after another, each paying off in unexpected ways. And if you like your bad guys cunning, quirky and unspeakably evil, Christoph Waltz’s Hans “The Jew Hunter” Landa is your best bet since Hannibal Lecter. If the Oscars isn’t wall-to-wall pimping of this movie, the Academy has failed the true film fans yet again.

The Baader Meinhof Complex – Uli Edel

The true story of the leftist seventies German terrorism cell Baader Meinhof is covered in this thrilling German film (oh heavens! Subtitles!). With a breakneck pace, non-stop violence, great soundtrack, and an utterly pitiless tone, this shit is more the Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas, Casino) approach to historical drama than, say, Richard Attenborough (Gandhi, Chaplin) . Along with Matteo Garrone’s Gommorah (also based on a true story), The Baader Meinhof Complex proved that you have to look across the Atlantic for truly edgy, bleak crime films today.

The Nerd of Noir is a blogger living in the Twin Cities. His reviews of crime and noir fiction, film, TV, and comics can be found at bscreview.com or at his blog proper, http://nerdofnoir.blogspot.com/ . He’s a movie freak in general and is constantly giving 140 character reviews of every damn thing he sees on his twitter page, twitter.com/nerdofnoir . Apparently, the Nerd of Noir is also a blatant self-promoter. His real name is arguably Pete Dragovich.

Check out the rest of the 5 Favorites entries.