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Ron Koslow

Blu-ray: Into the Night

Into the Night (Shout! Factory, Blu-ray)

Shout! Factory

After the 1970s recast film noir in shades of nostalgia (Chinatown, 1974, The Late Show, 1977) and private eye revisionism and cynicism (The Long Goodbye, 1973, Night Moves, 1975), the eighties gave it a burst of color and energy with Neon Noir. John Landis’s Into the Night (1985) doesn’t have the self-consciously chiaroscuro lighting we associate with noir (Landis uses light for clarity, not atmosphere) but otherwise he takes a classic noir story—the middle-class innocent jolted out of his protected but dull existence and plunged into a nightmarish odyssey into the urban underworld—and treats it right. It was a commercial disappointment in its day and tends to be forgotten in the annals of post-noir crime cinema but if anything it looks better today than it did in eighties.

Jeff Goldblum is our married suburban everyman Ed Okin, an aerospace engineer whose dreams of space have been grounded in cubicle land, sleepwalking through his days and unable to sleep at night. “My life is a dead-end,” he tells his carpool coworker (Dan Aykroyd), “I feel like I’m from another planet,” and things don’t improve when he finds his wife having an affair (but slinks away rather than confront her). This isn’t a man bored by his compromises to conformity, but a man unsure why he is so unfulfilled after doing everything right.

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Review: Lifeguard

[Originally published in Movietone News 51, August 1976]

Lifeguard belongs to that elect, if scarcely elite, class of film fondly designated “the nice little movie.” It would be a poor summer indeed that didn’t yield one or two specimens of this type (which I say rhetorically since it is a miserable movie summer but there’s Lifeguard anyway)—not that its modest feeling for decent folks of no particular distinction getting on with their lives as best they can would be out of season at any time. The storyline isn’t much; its cinematic narration, still less so. But it’s a friendly movie that manages to be ingratiating without flashing too bright a smile or scuffing its soles ostentatiously in the sand. Watching it, you like the people and expect to remember them—looks, stances, tones of voice—like a pleasant vacation in years to come.

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