Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Quick-hit: noir, and, Fuzzy people 38

In passing: Denzel Washington’s masterful turn in the 1995 Devil with a Blue Dress: a recasting of the classic noir films but from the perspective of black LA. The film realizes all the potential of Mosley’s book, but it's actually much greater, I think: the 1st-person voiceover that was clumsy and awkward in the book—a too obvious homage to Raymond Chandler—works beautifully in the film. Fantastic casting, starting with Denzel and Don Cheadle (and not too much damaged by Jessica Beal’s presence); captures the feel of post-WWII Los Angeles, and a depth of hard-boiled reality that Chandler never touched; the reality of the Zoot Suit riots and West Coast-style Jim Crow; the beatings any black man in the wrong place at the wrong time might have to take. Mosley had a fantastic idea but didn’t, it seems to me, have the skills to execute it—and yet the thing turned out to be a matchless film. I would put this up there with the Bogart/Bacall Big Sleep or the Huston/Bogart Maltese Falcon (the ultimate, perfect realization of the noir genre).

Below the jump: Mr Man sleeps on Coyote's sandals--doesn't seem particularly comfortable, but it's pretty endearing.

Thanks to the Rev for the "fuzzy people" appellation.

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