April 17, 2008

Blast of Silence


Reviewer: You (as played by Craig Phillips)
Rating (out of 5): ***½ (film); **** (DVD).

The lost noir classic Blast of Silence starts off a bit dubiously, with enough voice over narration to give Robert McKee an aneurysm after ten minutes, and even with some tedious moments early on, but wait, that scalding and scolding, pulp-ish voice over is in the second person, and the increasingly sleazy, realistic atmosphere begins to take hold of you, until you're fairly well rapt. You dig that nightclub scene, the same kind of scene you remember from older noir, but here the beatnik singer's playing bongos, and as the editing gets quicker in pace, and the tension mounts, you can't stop watching. Add to that character actors you've probably never seen before, even if you know the type -- the fat, shady gun smuggler who tries to play all the angles, the one with the collection of pet rats, and the slimy two-timing mobster with a heart of granite. Then there's the dame from the past, she fills a longing in your lonely heart, so much so you can't keep your mitts off her and she boots you out. You've got to focus on the gig at hand, bumping off a mobster, whom you grow to loathe more and more with each day. Everyone's against you, and there's only one thing you can do - pick off anyone in your path. You (as played by Allan Baron, director and co-screenwriter) ain't such a bad guy, but you've had some hard knocks in life. That's just life in the Big Apple, circa 1962.

You know you're a part of something when it feels like both the last "real" noir, a kiss of death to that movement as we knew it, while also one of the first true neo-realist American independents.

That's Blast of Silence, and thanks to Criterion, you're back.

And, as always in a Criterion joint, this little baby comes with some special gifts, most special being an engaging 60 minute documentary, "Requiem for a Killer: The Making of Blast of Silence", which was put together from a 1990 German film on the production. It's, well, a blast.

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Posted by cphillips at April 17, 2008 4:25 PM
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