A few of FNB’s fave posts from 2012

Happy 2013, all! Here’s a look at FNB highlights from 2012.

Marilyn Monroe shot by Bert Stern

Top 10 FNB posts (misc.)

Remembering Beth Short, the Black Dahlia, on the 65th anniversary of her death

TCM festival in Hollywood

Interview with Tere Tereba, author of “Mickey Cohen: The Life and Crimes of L.A.’s Notorious Mobster”

Marilyn Monroe birthday tribute

Marilyn Monroe exhibit in Hollywood

Film noir feline stars: The cat in “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers”

Famous injuries in film noir, coinciding with my fractured toe, or broken foot, depending on how dramatic I am feeling

Panel event on author Georges Simenon with director William Friedkin

History Channel announcement: FNB to curate film noir shop page

Retro restaurant reviews: Russell’s in Pasadena


REVIEWS: 2012 neo-noirs or films with elements of noir

Crossfire Hurricane” documentary


Holy Motors

Killing Them Softly

Momo: The Sam Giancana Story” documentary


Rust and Bone

Searching for Sugar Man” documentary


Wuthering Heights


REVIEWS: Classic film noir

Anatomy of a Murder

Criss Cross



Gun Crazy

Murder, My Sweet

The Postman Always Rings Twice


Sunset Blvd.

They Drive By Night


REVIEWS: Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Dial M for Murder

The Lady Vanishes



The 39 Steps

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Director Maïwenn on working with the actors of ‘Polisse’

“Polisse,” a French cop drama, features truly outstanding performances, ones that linger in your memory long after the credits roll.

“When I felt that the kids were too much pushed by their parents, I wouldn’t take them,” said director/writer/actor Maïwenn.

How did director and co-writer Maïwenn (she also played Melissa the photographer) get this stunning work from her cast?

At a recent press conference in Beverly Hills, after first saying she was simply lucky, Maïwenn elaborated on her collaboration with actors. She said the key was to keep it simple and true. “I think the secret is the way you [the actors] listen to me, the way you listen to the script. All the cases were true, based on real cases.”

As for working with the children, Maïwenn said she was extremely careful to shield the kids from any negative impact that might result from playing characters in such traumatic situations. This included involvement from a French child-protection agency and a psychologist.

And recognizing their limits. “When the kids were on the set, we had to go fast. They want to have it fun so it has to be short. Otherwise, if they have to wait too much, they’re getting bored.

Additionally, she put much thought and effort into casting the children. “I am a mother so I’m used to talking with kids and I knew them a long time before the shoot and I met their parents. … When I felt that the kids were too much pushed by their parents, I wouldn’t take them. I was an actress child and my mother was pushing me too much. … I chose the kids when they were authentic and when they were not too much actors. … The kids I loved, when I asked them, ‘Why do you want to do this movie?’ they said because it’s true cases.”

Maïwenn discovered that fine-tuning the script to minimize lewd words and the suggestion of acts involving the kids improved the storytelling. “I discovered that the less you show, the more it’s powerful.”

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French drama ‘Polisse’ delivers raw story, rich performances

Polisse/2011/127 min.

Karin Viard

Lately, I’ve been admiring the work of acclaimed actress Karin Viard, a sort of French Everywoman and the star of “Polisse,” a gripping cop drama.

Viard, 46, brings to her parts a blend of jolting spontaneity and what-you-see-is-what-you-get earthiness grounded by a subtle, thoughtful core. She reminds me of Laura Dern, both in her looks and her impressive versatility as an actress.

In “Polisse,” directed by Maïwenn, Viard plays Nadine, a cop with the Parisian police department’s child protection unit. Of course, it’s a grim day-to-day routine – confronting criminals, often abusive parents, and tending to damaged children – and the members of this tightly knit crew rely on each other to deal with their anguish and stress.
They frequently let off steam over meals or after-work drinks; they know the details of each other’s personal lives. Nadine, for example, is going through a painful divorce, and confides in the tightly wound Iris (Marina Foïs), who is struggling with infertility.
Through swift, sometimes dizzying, editing, the kaleidoscopic narrative weaves together chapters of the cops’ own domestic dramas and vignettes of cases the unit tackles. Raw, often repellent, and unvarnished, the crimes that unfold can be hard to watch. But, overall, the story is fiercely compelling.
Director/writer/actress (“The Fifth Element,” “High Tension”) Maïwenn co-wrote “Polisse,” a child’s spelling of the word police, with Emmanuelle Bercot after researching and spending time with an actual police unit. They both act in the film; Bercot is Sue Ellen and Maïwenn plays Melissa, a photographer on assignment to document the team. This strand, inserting the photographer as an outside observer, strikes me as a misstep. It feels clunky and tacked on at first, then weirdly out of control once Melissa becomes romantically involved with Fred (French rapper Joey Starr).
That said, Maïwenn elicits unforgettable performances from the cast, with Viard leading the pack. (“Polisse,” which played in Los Angeles at the COL•COA film festival in April, won the jury prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival as well as two César awards, Yann Dedet and Laure Gardette for best editing and Naidra Ayadi for most promising actress.) As the film spins to a devastating end, it makes a deep emotional mark. You have walked in these cops’ shoes and lived briefly in their world – dire, chaotic and sadly mundane.
“Polisse” opens today in New York and LA.
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Neo noir snags top award from COL•COA French film fest

The City of Lights City of Angels (COL•COA) 16th annual French film festival on Monday announced its winners. Nearly 19,000 attended the week-long fest at the Directors Guild of America in Hollywood.

I was pleased to see that one of the noir titles, “Early One Morning” (De bon matin) garnered the Critics Award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association; Christy Lemire of the Associated Press served as president of the jury. Starring Jean-Pierre Darroussin, “Early One Morning” was directed by Jean-Marc Moutout.

“Paris by Night” (Une nuit) and “A Gang Story” (“Les Lyonnais”) completed the film-noir series on Friday night. There were many terrific films shown at the fest; other movies with noir elements included: “38 Witnesses,” “Guilty,” “Americano,” “Polisse” and “The Minister.” And it was a treat to see Marcel Carné’s “Hotel Du Nord” – a masterpiece of Poetic Realism and an important precursor of film noir.

The rest of the award winners (for feature films) were:

The Critics Special Prize and the COL•COA Audience Award went to “The Intouchables,” written and directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano. Starring François Cluzet and Omar Sy, this buddy-movie comedy will be released in the U.S. on May 25.

Critics Special Mention for “Polisse,” written by Maïwenn and Emmanuelle Bercot; directed by Maïwenn. This opens in the U.S. on May 18.

Daniel Auteuil's breakthrough role was in “Jean de Florette” and its sequel “Manon des Sources,” both from 1986.

The First Feature Award went to “The Adopted,” written by Mélanie Laurent, Morgan Perez and Chris Deslandes; directed by Mélanie Laurent.

The Audience Special Prize went to the documentary “Leadersheep,” written and directed by Christian Rouaud.

“The Well Digger’s Daughter,” written and directed by Daniel Auteuil based on Marcel Pagnol’s original work, won the Audience Special Mention. This film opens in the U.S. on July 20.

Stay tuned for reviews of COL•COA films!

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