Double-crossing babes standing in front of backlit Venetian blinds. Men in fedoras impassively gunning down their victims. Bars, cigarettes, big cars, shadows and universal moral corruption—film noir is as American as bebop or Abstract Expressionism.
Except that it isn’t. It turns out that America wasn’t the only country whose collective unconscious went into a really dark place after World War II. The 12th annual Noir City festival, which opens Friday, Jan. 24 and runs through Feb. 2 at the Castro Theater, throws a lurid and fascinating spotlight on noir from around the world. The festival’s highlights include little-known noir masterpieces from Mexico (Saturday, Jan. 25), Japan (Sunday, Jan. 26), Spain (Tuesday, Jan. 28) and Argentina (Thursday, Jan. 30).
In addition to these international examples of the optimism-averse genre, this year’s festival features the premiere screening of the restored 1949 masterpiece “Too Late for Tears,” called “one of the best noir films no one has seen,” as well as a big-screen showing of Carol Reed’s “The Third Man.” You can try to hide, but Noir City will track you down to a gas station in Bridgeport and kill you anyway—better just to accept your fate and buy a ticket.