Welcome to my column dedicated to the appreciation of physical media supplements called: Feature Presentations. The goal of this column is not to say whether a film is good or bad and worth picking up or not—I would like to highlight the discs that go the extra mile and provide film fans with enough tasty tidbits to satisfy even the hungriest of cinephiles. With all that out of the way, today’s article will be slightly different than most. Usually, I focus on a particular film and the extras that come with the package. Instead, I am wrapping up my coverage of the Imprint Films After Dark Neo-Noir Cinema box set with a look at the packaging, booklet, and overall thoughts. Without any further adieu, let’s dive in!
To start, Imprint Films have crafted a sturdy cardboard box for the After Dark Neo-Noir Cinema box set that fits all six films within. The design features a still from Rush on the front cover featuring Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jason Patric, while the rear is a still from Mortal Thoughts featuring Demi Moore’s eyes and the carnival from that film’s centerpiece. Both sides feature the same design: the title of the box set and each film listed using the theatrical font. A nice touch, if you ask me.
The After Dark Neo-Noir Cinema box set comes with a removable top for accessing each disc. The top piece comes with a quote from director James Foley: “Noir is essentially about the mystery, the ambiguity and the complexity of human nature.” Agree or disagree with Foley’s assessment, but when it comes to this box set, it summarizes the box set to a T. Inside the box set, along with the six films, is a glossy 60-page booklet with essays on each movie.
The first essay on After Dark, My Sweet comes from Walter Chaw. Chaw goes into great detail about the mindset of the main character Collie, played by Jason Patric, fitting with the best noir characters in the genre. He discusses the mental state of the three main players and the oppressive heat, a fourth character that comes together to bring everyone into the desperate situation that fills After Dark, My Sweet.
Chaw returns for the second essay, this one on Mortal Thoughts. Chaw first dives into the casting with two of the hottest people in Hollywood at the time: Demi Moore and Bruce Willis. I disagree with Chaw’s assessment that Willis was a massive box office draw: most of Willis’s films of the time being misfires. Chaw then dissects the film, diving into his feelings that Mortal Thoughts is a love story between Moore’s and co-star Glenne Headly’s characters. While I disagree with his opinions on the film, seeing as I find the end result a disappointment in storytelling and acting, Chaw makes his case for viewing Mortal Thoughts in a positive light.
Walter Chaw continues his analysis of this box set with the third essay, looking at the film Rush. Chaw leans heavily into Jennifer Jason Leigh‘s character of Kristen, drawing parallels with Clarice Starling from The Silence of the Lambs, played by Jodie Foster. For this article, I find agreement with Chaw as he discusses Kristen as the only character with an arc and the similarities with Starling. As Rush is a film written and directed by women, I would like to have had a female discuss their feelings about the film and allusions they might have.
Walter Chaw takes a break and hands the reigns over to Peter Galvin to discuss One False Move. Whereas the earlier essays have been more opinionated, Galvin discusses the history of getting One False Move from the page and onto screens. Featuring comments from the writers and director, Galvin traces the story’s genesis through production and its saving grace: Siskel and Ebert. While this article relies less on analysis, it’s a welcome change of pace, even if you are familiar with the troubled production history behind the film.
For Flesh and Bone, Walter Chaw returns to offer his thoughts on this Dennis Quaid/Meg Ryan neo-noir western. When I watched Flesh and Bone for my review, I couldn’t shake an off-putting feeling from the film. I understand that’s what the film wants to entail, but in my opinion, its distance worked against the film. Chaw underscores this as he discusses not being able to change one’s past. You may think you can, but the hard truth is, that outcome is unlikely. While I agree with Chaw’s assessment, it doesn’t shine a new level of appreciation onto what I feel is an underbaked film. I certainly see what Chaw is going for, and while he is a fan, my thoughts about Flesh and Bone remain intact.
The final essay for the After Dark Neo-Noir Cinema Collection digs into the 1998 film Twilight with Walter Chaw. Would you expect anyone else? Chaw talks about the inevitability of death that comes for everyone. How in Twilight, time catches up to all of us, and the movie’s story is less important than the characters and relationships. I understand the sentiment Chaw is going for, but I don’t buy that. The story is important, so important. And that’s the problem I have with Twilight. While Chaw and I will not see eye-to-eye on the film, discussing mortality and characters that have reached their “twilight” years is an aspect worth discussing, and to that point, this is one of the best essays in this set. I enjoyed the mix of history, analysis, and thoughtfulness—an excellent way to close out this box set.
If you are looking for my reviews of each film within the set, they are listed below:
And there you have it! The Imprint Films After Dark Neo-Noir Cinema box set will go down as one of the finest releases of 2022. Not just content with gathering a collection of curated films, the package and accompanying booklet are the icing on an already well-crafted set. I can’t recommend this release highly enough, and with Collection Two coming out in November, for my money, this year will go down as the year of Imprint Films.