The Maltese Falcon
The Maltese Falcon

Film noir week at the North Park

by / Oct. 19, 2015 5pm EST

Having a bad day? A bad week? A bad year? Why not spend some time with people whose lives are even worse than yours?

Film noir week at the North Park kicks off this evening with The Maltese Falcon (1941), a nearly perfect movie in that it couldn’t be any better than it is. In his first effort as a director, John Huston says he accomplished this by filming Dashiell Hammett’s novel with as few changes as possible.) Starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre and Elisha Cook Jr., it plays Monday night at 7 pm.

Even though he doesn’t appear as Harry Lime until the last few minutes of The Third Man (1949), Orson Welles is what most poeple remember best about this post war suspense thriller. Take him away and you’d still have a memorable film, with Joseph Cotton searching the streets of Vienna for clues about the death of his friend. With atmospheric photography and that zither tune that will stick in your head for days. It plays afternoon and evening shows through Thursday.

Many noir fans will tell you that the genre was confined to the 1940s and 50s. One of the few successful modern attempts to revive noir is David Lynch’s 2001 Mullholland Drive, arguably his last good feature film. There’s a semblance of a plot for this movie set in Los Angeles, about a new-in-town wannabe actress (Naomi Watts) and a rich amnesiac (Laura Harring) who pair off to help the latter learn who she is. But that gives way to Lynch’s evocation of a dream state in explicitly cinematic terms, more Celine and Julie Go Boating than his usual model, The Wizard of Oz. It plays nightly through thursday at 9:30 pm. This being Buffalo, that leaves you four hours afterward to haunt the bars and entertain deep existential thoughts.