AJFF Celebrates #Noirvember

11/4/2021

AJFF is bringing in November with a selection of thrilling Jewish films that fall under the noir genre. In order to best serve our deep cut cinephiles, AJFF has also joined Letterboxd to keep you updated via robust film lists and succinct reviews that will bring you the Jewish cinematic experience year-round.


Black Mercedes (streaming on Mubi)

A beautiful young woman’s murder leads a Polish police detective into a shadowy underworld of sex and intrigue, in this twisting crime thriller set in Nazi-occupied Warsaw. When Aneta (Maria Dębska), wife of a prominent attorney, is found with a knife in her back, chief inspector Rafal Król (Andrzej Zieliński) is on the case. He soon uncovers her husband’s mysterious connections to a high-ranking SS officer, calling her identity into doubt. Forced to align his investigation with the Gestapo, Król’s secret membership in the Polish Underground risks exposure. As peril increases, Król races to nab the killer before he strikes again. Janusz Majewski adapts his own novel for the big screen in this noir whodunit layered with hidden identities and startling turns.


Big Bad Wolves (streaming on JustWatch)

A string of grizzly child murders puts a trio of characters on a collision course in this atmospheric, edge-of-the-seat revenge thriller featured at the 2014 AJFF. After a girl goes missing in the woods and is later found beheaded, suspicion immediately falls on a timid religious studies schoolteacher (Rotem Keinan) who is arrested but released due to a police blunder. Frustrated by the lack of justice, a renegade cop (Lior Ashenazi) and the victim's vengeful father (Ophir winner Tzahi Grad) take matters into their own hands by capturing, interrogating and tormenting the accused killer in the basement of a remote farmhouse. Their diabolical rage quickly spins out of control in a series of unpredictable (and often mordantly funny) plot twists that ingeniously toy with audience emotions and subvert genre tropes.


The Girl on the Train (available for rent on Amazon)

Based on sensational real-life events, The Girl on the Train is a powerful ensemble piece tracing the fallout from a false claim of anti-Semitic violence. Directed by veteran French auteur André Téchiné, the film centers on Jeanne (Émilie Dequenne), a self-absorbed young woman who fabricates a story about being mistaken for a Jew and attacked on a train. A jobless freewheeler, Jeanne lives in the Paris suburbs with her mother (Catherine Deneuve). While Jeanne falls for an aspiring wrestler (Nicolas Duvauchelle), her mother hopes her daughter will be hired by renowned lawyer Blumenstein (Michel Blanc), a defender of Jewish causes, and his high-strung ex-daughter-in-law (Ronit Elkabetz). Gradually, Jeanne becomes a prisoner of her mother's dream, until opposing worlds collide in an act of deception that exposes ethnic and social class lines, and recriminating questions about media credibility.


“Because noir isn’t really a new thing at all. It’s just a fairy tale with guns.” - Catherynne M. Valente

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