Your deal…

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I learned the hard way back in high school that poker and I would never get along. Suckered into card games during college, and I still didn’t wise up.

The picture’s called “6016760”. Now I don’t know what UK photo-artist Patryk Madej (AKA ‘Sorenquist’) means by that cryptic title. It could be something secret and personal or it could just an image file number. But I do know that I’d think twice before getting into a card game with model Sonia Aneila.

Retro Done Right

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A lovely period femme fatale, looking like she pranced right out of an early 1930’s film or pre-war pulp tale. By Lyon, France illustrator and painter Mikael Bourgouin. Look for more of his work at Behance.net.

Marta Nael

Black Widow Marta De Andres

Barcelona, Spain concept artist, illustrator and fine art painter Marta De Andres, who uses the professional name Marta Nael, seems far too young to exhibit so much skill and confidence in multiple mediums, from paint and brushwork, to pastels, pencils, pen and digital software. A lot of her work is heroic or romantic fantasy subjects, which are not exactly my thing, but her straightforward figure studies and portraiture are as masterful as they are beautiful, most of them so alive with color, they almost look ready to burst into flame. The artist says her work is “a game of light and color”. In fact, her own fiery red mane looks like it’s right out of one of her paintings.

There’s a lot to browse at her own site (martaneal.com), DeviantArt, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, so while I’m not big on faeries and Amazons, I’ve included several ‘darker’ pieces here” “Black Widow” above, and below, “Daisy Retocardo” and “Lady Death”.

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Draw The Blinds…

samantha wehr by celeste giuliano

Photographer Celeste Giuliano shoots model Samantha Wehr, with all the noir tropes, and all done well: A retro-looking red satin dress, window blinds, impenetrable darkness and the menacing silhouette of someone casting a long and ominous shadow.

8 Minutes Of Noir Bliss

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Can a deliciously dark neo-noir film be nearly perfect, even if it’s less than ten minutes long?

Venezuelan writer, director and filmmaker Sebastien Guiterriez is an inventive artist and clearly a fan of classic Hollywood film noir. Not a name popping up on TMZ and People magazine? No, Guiterriez is not, but he creates some unusual work, like the screenplays for films like Gothika and even the over-the-top Snakes On A Plane. He directed the 1998 blink-and-you-missed-it neo-noir crime thriller Judas Kiss, and wrote and directed a truly unusual blend of horror and neo-noir, Rise: Blood Hunter in 2007 with Lucy Liu and Michael Chiklis, a movie I hope to chat up here later at some point. (I mean it’s definitely a horror film, but it’s also a pretty darn good neo-noir crime film in its way.) But Guiterriez is quite the entrepreneurial sort, writing and directing one of the first wave of regular ‘feature type’ films intended exclusively for online distribution, 2011’s Girl Walks Into A Bar, and then turned to Kickstarter to launch the great Hotel Noir, a faithful homage to classic Hollywood film noir and sundry genre classics, which later saw limited theatrical release, renamed City Of Sin.

Definitely more about that one later.

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But it’s his 2010 internet short Tell-Tale, directed by Greg Williams, that intrigues me. Short? How about really short, as in eight minutes short. Yet to me, it’s practically perfect. Dark. Claustrophobic. Steamy. Relentless. Surprising.

Carla Gugino, Guiterriez’ one time and maybe still partner, works alongside Alan Arkin and others in Tell-Tale, and as the title suggests, the film’s kind of a riff on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. Carla Gugino plays a dangerously alluring woman accused of murdering her lover, while her husband’s grilled for the same crime in the adjoining interrogation room, the questioning interrupted by flashback cuts to a torrid love scene. Yet, there’s much more happening here than a love affair gone bad, or something simple like a jealous spouse’s rage. But it would be unfair of me to spoil it, and c’mon, it’ll only take you eight minutes to see for yourself at YouTube or wherever.

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Sets, camera work, wardrobe, acting, dialog (brief as it is)…all dead on, so a big round of applause to director Greg Williams, and to Guiterriez…and to all involved.

Also worth pointing out, Tell-Tale demonstrates something I’ve always contended: sex on screen can literally sizzle till the film melts even without gratuitous nudity. Creative cinematography, artful editing, wardrobe, sets, and of course, the actors’ performances can all work together to generate memorable scenes likely to make you squirm in your  seat. Yet, once they’re done, you realize that it all happened through the sheer magic of crafty filmmaking.

I stumbled across this gem by accident. Then I watched it again. Then returned to it a couple more times, and expect I will do so again. After all, it’s only eight minutes long. You could knock it off during a coffee break (not that I’d advise doing so at the office). As movies go, it’s more of a sketch than a fully fleshed out film. But if you’re in the mood for a quick shot of delectable darkness, go look for Tell-Tale.

 

L.A. Noir

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Rene & Radka shoot Lauren Cohan in a classic pulp story or noir film come to life for S Magazine in 2014, the photo suite appropriately titled “L.A. Noir”, complete with the trench-coated private eye and the cocktail lounge chanteuse who trades a microphone for a revolver.

(The very striking final image below is one I see all too frequently at Pinterest boards and elsewhere, posted as a retro film noir still. )

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Jessica Alba, Vintage Vamp

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Jessica Alba makes for a striking vintage vamp, prohibition era gun moll or all-around femme fatale, prowling a parking garage full of dusty getaway cars in this suite of photos by Michelangelo di Battista for Vogue Italia in 2001.

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