Wed, 5 December 2007
This special episode of OUT OF THE PAST is full of holiday surprises. Clute and Edwards investigate the 2005 neo-noir Christmas comedy THE ICE HARVEST, then speak with Scott Phillips, author of the 2000 hardboiled novel on which the film is based. While the book contains its share of dark humor, it is largely a tale of the moral tipping point in the life of Witchita Mob lawyer Charlie Arglist (played by John Cusack), who discovers his capacity for ruthlessness when backed into a corner. The movie plays down the moral crisis and plays up the comedy, but director Harold Ramis manages to recreate some of the brooding atmosphere of the original story by staging a series of noir tribute shots. Phillips, and Clute and Edwards, all weigh in how successfully the film adapts the book in this double-feature holiday special. This podcast is brought to you by Clute and Edwards, of www.noircast.net. To leave a comment on this episode, or make a donation to the podcast, please visit "Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir" at outofthepast.libsyn.com.
Direct download: OOTP_2007_12_01_TIH.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 12:46pm EDT
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Just watched the film and listened to your Podcast. I was intrigued after seeing it pop up as your lastest Podcast. I was really surprised it hits all the right notes, tipping its hat to noir images and convetions, yet not being slavish to them. Also, I thought it was really nice feature on the DVD having the author Phillips discuss the book\'s adaptation into film with the screenwriters Benton and Russo (you never see writers get this kind of feature!). Thanks and keep up the great casts!
Hi Fellas, I have just caught the ICE HARVEST show as I didn’t want to listen to it before I actually saw the film and it took forever to come through. I thought this was a great little soiree into noir, kind of re-positioning a lot of clichés very neatly. It reminded me of that other frozen Billy Bob Thornton film, A Simple Plan, which has its own cross-double cross noir inflections. In fact, I thought the weather was very interesting. It’s another restricting force. At times it literally spins Charlie in all directions, none of which he really wants to venture toward. Has a slight resonance to Groundhog Day in that way, the snow kind of penning them in, forcing them to run into one another and insist some sort of ultimate resolution to pervading problems. The recurrence of the cop baffled me a little as I was sure this was going to be used more potently in narrative terms. Seeing him getting plugged kind of complicated things, making the mess Charlie leaves behind (3 dead bodies) hardly seem worth the trouble. Still, at least Oliver Platt was happy and the film did very much seem to be about the inability to trust or rely on others. So, the Butch and Sundance element wins through. These two can depend on one another – almost the last two ‘men’ on earth travelling through the barren wilderness together. Cusack was a very good choice as he cuts a believably morose and disappointed figure. Good to see Randy Quaid is still alive, too. Great to hear from the author though I was a little disappointed you didn’t press him on the decade he spent hanging around strip clubs. Can’t wait for the next one. Paolo
I know this was presented a year ago, but with the holidays in full-swing I was led back to this great podcast. I also rented the DVD through Netflix, and just had time to watch it last night. I have to say this is the first film I\'ve seen in which two of my favorite styles converged so beautifully (the darkness of the noir genre and the holiday movie). Also, listening to the interview with author Scott Phillips led me into viewing the film in a different, more critical way, than I might have otherwise. The thing that really stood out to me—and this was addressed both in the pod cast and the interview—was the use of language that sounded noir-like and then that being juxtaposed with the sort of language of the holidays, which is often insincere anyway. One of Cusack’s earliest lines is something like “ho, F---ing, ho, ho.” And it seems like every major character says “Merry Christmas” at least once. All the characters acknowledge Christmas, even if only as a drain on their business, and there is just something very interesting to me about spending Christmas in the heartland, and it’s not pastoral. It’s (in the words of Scott Phillips) a ‘sleaze pit”. As someone who grew up in Oklahoma City, which is similar in many ways to Wichita, this all seemed vaguely familiar to me. Well, thanks again for a great podcast, and Merry Christmas
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