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Films, Lobby

Dark Matters: True Detective, Two Men in Manhattan, and The Trial

true detective Dark Matters: True Detective, Two Men in Manhattan, and The Trial

The HBO television hit True Detective (2014) on its face is a mystery thriller with gothic overtones. The pursuit of justice for children disappeared and remembered only by loved ones and an obsessed damaged cop, is itself a dark journey through a dank swamp of troubled minds. Here is where the resonance of writer Nic Pizzolatto’s story has its source. Not so much in the plot-line of moral corruption and cover-up, but in the troubled lives of the two detectives and of those on the periphery of the search for a deranged killer in the seductively scenic bayous of Louisiana. One a desperately lonely man trying to escape his deadening upbringing and a family tragedy, in a fervid nihilism that is probably right yet not a way anyone can live without drowning in booze, cigarettes, and drugs. His desperation is not quiet. More vocal and in your face. His partner is a man who refuses to grow up, to face his aging visage in the mirror, or the imperatives of his familial obligations. He destroys that which he holds most dear through neglect and sexual indulgence. Then there are the lost souls encountered on the way. The preacher lost to disillusion and alcoholism. The mother who has lost a daughter first to drugs and prostitution, and lastly to murder, her hands toxically disfigured by dry cleaning fluid. And the parents who have lost children and are in a place between living and dying.

two men in manhattan Dark Matters: True Detective, Two Men in Manhattan, and The Trial

Jean-Pierre Melville’s Deux Hommes dans Manhattan (1959) is a monochrome homage to New York, yet manages to be a caustic satire on the values that drive the neon-encrusted metropolis. Where night brings to light the fractured morality feeding the mill grinding out the glitz. A French diplomat has disappeared and a journalist from Agence France-Press sets out to find him. The journalist recruits another French ex-pat to help. A paparazzo and a lush with the right connections. The search for the married diplomat’s girlfriends ergo the diplomat covers a night and early morning on the streets and in the dives of Manhattan. An ironic jazz score, “cool” ambient music, and surreal encounters with spaced-out women give a bizarre edge to the scenario. Melville’s cuts and edits give the visuals an added bounce. The photography is crisp and there is a vibrant 50s feel. But the vibe is French. Melville and his DP Nicola Hyer portray the city through a continental filter. A comparison with Alexander Mackendrick’s Sweet Smell of Success (1957) filmed in New York at around the same time underlines this most strange phenomenon.

wellestrial Dark Matters: True Detective, Two Men in Manhattan, and The Trial

Orson Welle’s The Trial (1962) is a vivid and faithful realisation of Franz Kafka’s dystopian novel. Another monochrome metropolis where soulless apartment buildings with claustrophobic low ceilinged rooms exist across a wasteland of highways and desolate empty blocks – a city sadly reminiscent of today’s Detroit. Monumental buildings exist but in an unreality where solitary figures fretfully traverse from massive offices laid out like factories to decaying baroque edifices infested with nameless operatives, accused ciphers, nymphomaniacs, tribunals held in massive arenas in front of baying hysterical crowds, and horrid basement cells where corporal punishment is meted out to erring cops. The Trial is your worst nightmare – and a significant rumination on the unfathomable vagaries of fate and the cruel anonymity and isolation of entrapment.

Films, Lobby

La Chienne (1931): Darker than Scarlet Street

la chienne 1931 La Chienne (1931): Darker than Scarlet Street

A sensitive mild-mannered clerk who likes to paint despite the shrewish laments of his wife that he is wasting time and her money, falls for a conniving prostitute and when it all comes unstuck, takes to a life on the streets like a duck to water. Liberated from bourgeois respectability he is in the final scene gleeful in his perdition, and indifferent to an otherwise salutary reminder of his fall shown careening away in a swank motor car.

“humour as much as human frailty and baseness figures prominently”
Jean Renoir’s second film starring that colossus of French cinema Michel Simon, fashions a dark tale where humour as much as human frailty and baseness figures prominently. The pimp who exploits both the harlot and the mark is not so much a shiftless parasite more a totally amoral being.

The film is a savage satire infinitely darker than Fritz Lang’s (certainly respectable) Hollywood remake Scarlet Street (1945), where melodrama and Hollywood inhibitions dictated a more angst-ridden dénouement.

As the narrator of the canny puppet show framing says at the beginning of La Chienne, there is no moral to the story.

 

Films, Lobby

Noir Beat: Johnny O’Clock and more

Poster Johnny OClock 1947 Noir Beat: Johnny O’Clock and more

Lately I have been watching some old b’s that echo film critic Pauline Kael’s view that a “movie doesn’t have to be great… you can still have the joy of a good performance, or the joy in just a good line”.

“The dialog is both street-wise and poetic, and delivered with Powell’s signature take-it-or-leave-it.”
Robert Rossen’s first directing effort Johnny O’Clock (1947) – and he wrote the script – is a strange bird. The movie has a weird disconnected ambience that harkens back to Von Sternberg’s The Shanghai Gesture (1941). It is almost surreal in its distance from what happens inside the frame. Dick Powell leads as the junior partner in a gambling joint, reprising the hard-boiled persona he adopted in Cornered (1945) and Murder, My Sweet (1944). Add a murder, a conniving business partner, two dames, a crooked cop, and an honest cop, and you have a fairly solid mystery thriller that keeps you guessing. Rossen’s camera is nervous as you would expect in a novice effort, and keeps making jumpy moves and self-conscious pans, but he keeps the scenario taught. The dialog is both street-wise and poetic, and delivered with Powell’s signature take-it-or-leave-it. But the “joy” as Kael put it is in the performances, which are full-on engaging. Powell’s partner in racket is a paranoid Thomas Gomez, whose wife has the hots for Powell, and who is not interested. The wife is brassy and beautifully played by Ellen Drew. We have a delightfully world-weary wise-cracking cigar-chewing Lee J. Cobb as a cop. The icing on the cake is the wonderful Evelyn Keyes as the love interest. She is totally beguiling, as only she knows how.

quicksand 1950 Noir Beat: Johnny O’Clock and more

Mickey Rooney’s first noir entry Quicksand (1950) is an ok programmer that moves quickly but predictably to a hackneyed redemption ending. Rooney is a mechanic who gets mixed up with a dangerous floozy and as the title implies gets ever deeper into a spiralling mess after “borrowing” 20 bucks from his boss’s cash register. Rooney does fairly well but his voiceovers have an unfortunate ‘duh’ quality that border on the risible. The hidden treasures here are Peter Lorre’s cameo as a shady penny arcade operator and Jeanne Cagney as the floozy. The veteran and the bit-player deliver in equal measure.

timetable1956 Noir Beat: Johnny O’Clock and more

In Time Table (1956) Mark Stevens, who was so good in The Dark Corner (1956), is an insurance dick assigned to investigate a train heist. There are sufficient twists and turns to keep you interested, and one twist totally out of left field just about knocks your socks off. Stevens also helmed in this his second director job after Cry Vengeance (1954). While the picture never goes beyond its b agenda, Stevens and his veteran DP Charles Van Enger deliver at the end with a gripping shadowy South of the border shout-out on the streets of Tijuana.

 

 

Films, Lobby

Drive a Crooked Road (1954): Dreams on Malibu

DriveACrookedRoad 1934 Drive a Crooked Road (1954): Dreams on Malibu

And everybody knows that you’re in trouble
Everybody knows what you’ve been through
From the bloody cross on top of Calvary
To the beach of Malibu
Everybody knows it’s coming apart
Take one last look at this Sacred Heart
Before it blows
And everybody knows

- Leonard Cohen, Everybody Knows

Mickey Rooney is a withdrawn car mechanic and amateur racing driver who is seduced, and then conned into driving the souped-up getaway car in a bank robbery. Drive a Crooked Road takes its time in getting to the business, about as long as the femme-fatale takes to bring the shy loner out of his shell. He falls for her – and big time.

“Rooney is low key and carefully resists melodrama”
The actual heist is an anti-climax and really only sets the scene for the anti-hero’s destruction. The dame gets a conscience and so the carefully laid plans of the villains fall apart. When Rooney reaches the closing scene, two hoods are dead, and he is standing over the prostate femme by moonlight on the sands of Malibu, a smoking revolver in one hand, and the other stroking her hair.

A bleak scenario that has a hard and cynical edge, is rendered competently by a Columbia Pictures team. Not surprisingly Blake Edwards had a hand in the script with the assistance of director Richard Quine. Rooney is low key and carefully resists melodrama in a sympathetic portrayal. Minor 50s actress Dianne Foster is leggy, sultry, sweet, and repentant, by turn. A final descent into histrionics weakens the portrayal though.

The dénouement plays out in the shadow of a beach house on Malibu and harkens forward to the nuclear apocalypse that ended Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly the following year. Here the devastation is totally personal. The crushing of a less than average joe is brutal and undeserved. Fate and good ol’ American greed in cahoots take a man’s dreams and loneliness and twist them into a lose-lose no exit dilemma.

The hoods are distinctly middle-class. Dinner parties at the beach house and the conniving host cooking up a storm in the kitchen. It’s only a business proposition you see. Forget that a wise-cracking loathsome henchman mans the bar.

 

Articles, Directors, Films, Lobby

The Oscars, Jean Renoir, Raymond Chandler, Auteurism, and Budd Boetticher’s The Killer is Loose (1956)

The Killer Is Loose 1956 The Oscars, Jean Renoir, Raymond Chandler, Auteurism, and Budd Boetticher’s The Killer is Loose (1956)

In a 1954­ interview Jean Renoir said of Hollywood: “Don’t go thinking that I despise “B” pictures; in general I like them better than big, pretentious psychological films they’re much more fun. When I happen to go to the movies in America, I go see ‘B’ pictures. First of all, they are an expression of the great technical quality of Hollywood. Because, to make a good western in a week, the way they do at Monogram, starting Monday and finishing Saturday, believe me, that requires extraordinary technical ability; and detective stories are done with the same speed. I also think that “B” pictures are often better than important films because they are made so fast that the filmmaker obviously has total freedom; they don’t have time to watch over him.”

“Not until the 1950s did the enfants terribles of Le Cahiers du Cinema develop the insights broached by Chandler.”
Raymond Chandler in 1948 in an acid essay on the Oscars, and 20 years before Pauline Kael wrote ‘Trash, Art, and the Movies’, framed his critique by saying of the motion picture “that its transitions can be more eloquent than its high-lit scenes, and that its dissolves and camera movements, which cannot be censored, are often far more emotionally effective than its plots, which can.”  Though he didn’t spell it out it, Chandler was clearly highlighting the artistic choices made by the director of a film. Not until the 1950s did the enfants terribles of Le Cahiers du Cinema develop the insights broached by Chandler.

American film academic and writer Justus Nieland in a piece foreshadowing tonight’s Oscars titled ‘Auteurism and the Genius of the Market’ and published last week in The New York Times, writes:

“This logic of aesthetic judgment, in which films and their directors mutually ratify each other’s greatness has, of course, auteurist roots. The word persists today because a group of film critics in the 1950s hashed out a “politique des auteurs” that discerned, among the industrial products of American mass culture, signatures of a presiding, singular artist like Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, Fritz Lang or Nicholas Ray, among others. This Romantic view of expression, with its abiding myths of freedom, style and personality, sought to solve the problem of how industrially produced and distributed mass entertainment might also be art. But auteurism was also a category of reception, allowing cinephiles to sift and sort, and value and hierarchize, the films and directors to which they had access. In France and elsewhere in the 1950s, that meant seeing Hollywood cinema as a cultural sign of the economic and political power of the U.S… If the Oscars are important, then the best director award is the most important not just because it rewards the work of gifted nominees (and this year’s are an estimable bunch), but because the name of the director remains, for better and worse, contemporary film culture’s way of organizing knowledge about film artistry and its relation to markets and consumers. This says as much about what persists in our fantasies of aesthetic agency as it does about the strategies of the corporate present that shape, and limit, our power to discern the best.”

Hollywood ‘B’ movies of the 40s and 50s were production line ‘filler’. But for the reasons identified by Renoir and Chandler, and despite being made quickly and on the cheap, they sometimes transcended their humble aims and by virtue of the craft and artistry (of mostly journeymen film-makers) made a claim to being considered as art.

“A journey on a crowded brightly light bus at night holds a palpable existential terror.”
One such ‘B’ movie is The Killer is Loose made in 1956 by United Artists and directed by Budd Boetticher, who after completing this film went on to make six cult Westerns that established his auteur status. The Killer is Loose is not a great movie nor is it even particularly good. The plot is by this late stage of the classic noir cycle more of the same police procedural that noir largely devolved into as the War years receded.  A gormless war veteran working as a bank teller provides inside information for a heist, and when cornered by police in his apartment and his innocent wife is accidently shot dead by a police detective in the shootout that ensues, he swears vengeance on the wife of the cop. After a couple of years he escapes from detention and heads onto a bloody path to the cop’s wife.  The climax is a stakeout at night in suburbia. Strong performances from Wendell Corey as the disturbed killer and Joseph Cotton as the cop, and Rhonda Fleming as the hapless wife, don’t quite overcome the inertia of the scenario and plot-holes that most likely derive from keeping the running time to 73 minutes. The score is dramatic in the wrong places, better dialog is not hard to find, and the ending is predictable. What unshackles the movie is the consummate direction and editing. Deep focus outside and long fluid takes inside.  The climax is a master-class in editing for suspense. Even daylight scenes have a tension that subverts otherwise normal life in the suburbs. A journey on a crowded brightly light bus at night holds a palpable existential terror.

In November last year The New Yorker film critic Richard Brody named the recent archive release of the The Killer is Loose his DVD of the Week, writing that “Boetticher… saw violence everywhere and was sensitive to its ambient horrors, even when unleashed with principle. This movie, with its focus on crime and punishment—and on the private lives of police officers and criminals alike—redefines the very idea of the war at home.” Brody’s video review of The Killer is Loose is featured below.

Links:

 

Films, Lobby

FilmsNoir.Net’s Top 25 Films Noir

My top 25 films noir by year of release. Ranking them would be arbitrary as there is little if anything between them.  For my full listing of essential films noir click here.

port of shadows FilmsNoir.Nets Top 25 Films Noir Port of Shadows 1938 France Aka Le Quai des brumes. Fate a dank existential fog ensnares doomed lovers Jean Gabin and Michèle Morgan after one night of happiness.
the maltese falcon FilmsNoir.Nets Top 25 Films Noir The Maltese Falcon 1941 US Bogart as Sam Spade the quintessential noir protagonist. A loner on the edge of polite society, sorely tempted to transgress but declines and is neither saved nor redeemed.
double indemnity FilmsNoir.Nets Top 25 Films Noir Double Indemnity 1944 US All the elements of the archetypal film noir  are distilled into a gothic LA tale of greed, sex, and betrayal.
murder my sweet FilmsNoir.Nets Top 25 Films Noir Murder, My Sweet 1944 US (Aka Farewell, my Lovely) The most noir fun you will ever have. Raymond Chandler’s prose crackles with moody noir direction from Edward Dmytryk.
the big sleep FilmsNoir.Nets Top 25 Films Noir The Big Sleep 1946 US Love’s Vengeance Lost. Darker than Dmytryk’s Murder, My Sweet. Bogart is tougher, more driven, and morally suspect.
ride the pink horse FilmsNoir.Nets Top 25 Films Noir Ride the Pink Horse 1946 US Disillusioned WW2 vet arrives in a New Mexico town to blackmail a war racketeer. Imbued with a rare humanity.
body and soul FilmsNoir.Nets Top 25 Films Noir Body and Soul 1947 US A masterwork. Melodramatic expose of the fight game and a savage indictment of money capitalism. Garfield’s picture.
out of the past FilmsNoir.Nets Top 25 Films Noir Out of the Past 1947 US Quintessential film noir. Inspired direction, exquisite expressionist cinematography, and legendary Mitchum and Greer.
the lady from shanghai FilmsNoir.Nets Top 25 Films Noir The Lady From Shanghai 1947 US Orson Welles’ brilliant jigsaw noir with a femme-fatale to die for and a script so sharp you relish every scene.
t men FilmsNoir.Nets Top 25 Films Noir T-Men 1947 US Mann and Alton offer a visionary descent into a noir realm of dark tenements, nightclubs, mobsters, and hellish steam baths.
act of violence FilmsNoir.Nets Top 25 Films Noir Act of Violence 1948 US Long-shot and deep focus climax filmed night-for-night on a railway platform: the stuff noirs are made of.
foce of evil FilmsNoir.Nets Top 25 Films Noir Force of Evil 1948 US Polonsky transcends noir in a tragic allegory on greed and family. Garfield adds signature honesty and gritty complexity .
raw deal FilmsNoir.Nets Top 25 Films Noir Raw Deal 1948 US Sublime noir from Anthony Mann and John Alton. Knockout cast in a strong story stunningly rendered as expressionist art.
the set up FilmsNoir.Nets Top 25 Films Noir The Set-Up 1949 US Robert Ryan is great as washed-up boxer in Robert Wise’ sharp expose of the fight game. Brooding and intense noir classic.
the third man FilmsNoir.Nets Top 25 Films Noir The Third Man 1949 UK Sublime. An engaging cavalcade of characters in a human comedy of love, friendship, and the imperatives of conscience.
night and the city FilmsNoir.Nets Top 25 Films Noir Night And the City 1950 US/UK Dassin’s stark existential journey played out in the dark dives of post-war London as a quintessential noir city.
the asphalt jungle FilmsNoir.Nets Top 25 Films Noir The Asphalt Jungle 1950 US Quintessential heist movie transcends melodrama and noir. A police siren wails: “Sounds like a soul in hell.”
on dangerous ground FilmsNoir.Nets Top 25 Films Noir On Dangerous Ground 1951 US City cop battling inner demons is sent to ‘Siberia’. A film of dark beauty and haunting characterisations.
the prowler FilmsNoir.Nets Top 25 Films Noir The Prowler 1951 US Van Heflin is homme-fatale in Tumbo thriller. Director Losey is unforgiving. Each squalid act is suffocatingly framed.
the big heat FilmsNoir.Nets Top 25 Films Noir The Big Heat 1953 US Gloria Grahame as existential hero in Fritz Lang’s brooding socio-realist noir critique.
kiss me deadly FilmsNoir.Nets Top 25 Films Noir Kiss Me Deadly 1955 US Anti-fascist Hollywood Dada. Aldrich’s surreal noir a totally weird yet compelling exploration of urban paranoia.
rififi FilmsNoir.Nets Top 25 Films Noir Rififi 1955 France Dassin’s classic heist thriller culminating in the terrific final scenes of a car desperately careening through Paris streets.
the big combo FilmsNoir.Nets Top 25 Films Noir The Big Combo 1955 US “I live in a maze… a strange blind backward maze’. Obsessed cop hunts down a psychotic crime boss in the best noir of 50s.
the sweet smell of success FilmsNoir.Nets Top 25 Films Noir Sweet Smell of Success 1957 US DP James Wong Howe’s sharpest picture. As bracing as vinegar and cold as ice. Ambition stripped of all pretense.
odd against tomorrow FilmsNoir.Nets Top 25 Films Noir Odds Against Tomorrow 1959 US A work of art from Rober Wise. New York City and its industrial fringe are quasi-protagonists that harbor the angst and desperation of life outside the mainstream – sordid dreams of the last big heist that will fix everything.

 

Films, Lobby

Alan Fassioms on Dementia (1955): Beatnik Noir?

dementia 1955 1 Alan Fassioms on Dementia (1955): Beatnik Noir?

Dementia (1955 aka Daughter of Horror 57min)
Director/Writer – John Parker
Cinematography – William C. Thompson
Music – George Antheil

I’m sure the 50’s hep-cats and ‘seasoned’ film-noir enthusiasts among you will already know of this film. Nevertheless for a greenhorn like myself, I find it damn near impossible to simply watch something like Dementia and not say a few words about it; even if it is just to confirm, through the reader’s feedback, whether or not I’m clueless as to what defines art, missing the point all together, or that I’m simply a weirdo!

Dementia (or as it was later changed to: Daughter of Horror) is a very stylish and strange short film (ca. 57 mins) from deep within the archives of the 50’s avant-garde b-movies. In fact, most movie-buffs may know it more as the film being watched in the cinema, during that famous scene in the 50’s cult-classic, The Blob, rather than a movie of any cinematic significance. It is believed that it was Jack H. Harris, producer of The Blob, who eventually bought the film from Parker and added the narration, renaming the movie Daughter Of Horror. This would make complete sense as Harris could then feature it in The Blob without hindrance. And the added narration, which can be heard in the background during The Blob’s famous cinema scene, serves well to intensify the suspense as The Blob approaches the screaming kids. Even the name ‘Daughter of Horror’ seems like it was added with The Blob in mind, as a poster for ‘Daughter of Horror’, and not ‘Dementia’, can also be seen for a split second during that scene.

dementia 1955 2 Alan Fassioms on Dementia (1955): Beatnik Noir?

This mostly ‘silent’, black and white film opens with a high-angle, night-time shot of a neon-lit street, when, after being invited by the narrator to come with him, ”into the tormented, haunted, half-lit night of the insane”, we are drawn slowly through an open window into a young lady’s bedroom, á la Orson Welles. On the bed lies the sleeping beauty squirming and clutching her bed-sheet tightly. Is she having a nightmare… or an erotic dream? Of this the audience is kept guessing, and from here on in, the tone is set for a private view into the young lady’s twisted and perverse psyche. After wakening from her dream-state, she takes a flick-knife from the drawer and ventures out onto the streets, where she encounters all forms of low-lives, debauchery and sexual depravity, all tied together by hallucination sequences that even have the viewer questioning ‘what is reality/ what is fantasy?’.

Although the film has strong ‘noirish’ elements (lighting, street scenes, atmosphere etc), it’s intrinsically expressionist in nature. Very reminiscent of works by German expressionist film-maker, Robert Wiene (The Cabinet of Dr Caligari). Though I’m sure French Impressionist aficionados will argue with this. And they would have every right to, as the film (whether intentional or not) also pays homage to the early, experimental works of the great Luis Buñuel. Either way, this will put into context for you, that this isn’t your average Sunday-afternoon matinee, but rather a performance art concept masqueraded as a film-noir. It also fits into the horror bracket. Although as a horror it struggles to hit its mark. Throw in some very jazzy underground scenes featuring the legendary West Coast jazz ensemble, Shorty Rogers and His Giants, (which along with the narrators voice and a some sound effects are the only sounds you hear, as the film has no spoken dialogue from the actors whatsoever) and you have yourselves a compelling and ambitious ‘Art-Noir’ film (eventually favouring this term over ‘Beatnik-Noir’!) that needs to be seen to be appreciated.

For those brave enough to give Dementia a chance, and once you get over the initial feeling that your watching an Ed Wood movie, you’ll be pleasantly surprised as to how skilfully director John Parker manages to pull off a project which, on paper, you’d swear was doomed from the start. Personally, I loved Dementia. But like I said at the beginning of this review, maybe I’m just a weirdo!

Alan Fassioms writes on film noir, expressionist cinema, and obscure silent films at his blog Stranger on the 3rd Floor.
Lobby, News

Kickstart a New Film Noir Short: The Man In The Chair

maninthechair Kickstart a New Film Noir Short: The Man In The Chair

British film-maker David Beazley is seeking financing for a new film noir short, The Man In The Chair, a dark comedy about an out of work lawyer who lands a client – one problem though – the client is a dead man.

Beazley’s work has been screened at film festivals, including the London Film Festival, Raindance, Edinburgh, San Francisco, Soho Shorts, Palm Springs & the European Film Festivals, and his documentary short, ‘Gravediggers’, was nominated for Best Short Documentary at the 2013 Sheffield Doc Fest. He has produced and directed commercial & music videos for Red Bull, Robbie William’s Farrell, Brora, Clarks, Tinie Tempah, Bryan Ferry, Above & Beyond, and Metronomy. His film portfolio is featured at www.vimeo.com/beazknees.

You can check out the project at Kickstart.  Only six days before the funding window closes, so if you have the inclination – and the readies – start clicking. Forty backers have already pledged £2,419 towards the goal of £3,000.

 

Lobby, Videos

AnnA: New Neo-Noir Short from Britain

AnnA AnnA: New Neo Noir Short from Britain

Two very talented film-makers from the UK, Robin Hudson and Stuart Albone, have recently released a compelling neo-noir short titled AnnA. Filmed on location in Brighton and London, the elliptical story centers on a young night-club singer and her descent into a real or imagined crisis. In some ways the scenario is reminiscent of the dream imagery in Maya Deren’s classic short Meshes of the Afternoon (1943).

The production values are very impressive, with all round solid direction, photography, and editing. Some neat technical work has been deftly done, and a minimalist score works well too. An interesting and sexy protagonist with the nice use of voice-over draws you in, and the mystery keeps you interested.

Here is the YouTube video. Highly recommended.

0 AnnA: New Neo Noir Short from Britain