Neo-Noir Hall of Fame

Tools    





What do you think Louis Bloom from Nightcrawler's backstory is?

I think he came from a well-to-do family, his mother or father likely being a CEO or similar high-ranking position, which could explain why he is enterprising. He also may be a product of abuse, which made him run away from home and fend for himself. Alternatively, the family may have suffered a huge setback, such as losing everything in a Ponzi scheme, the 2008 financial crisis, etc., which forced them on the street.



I think it's fun to imagine the why's, but I do like that we don't get any background. That said, I've always felt he comes from a more modest home, probably with little education, which is why his conversations sound so much like rehearsed monologues that he picks up from the Internet. For the most part, he doesn't know how to interact, other than through structured and scripted conversations that he seems to have practiced in front of a mirror over and over.
__________________
Check out my podcast: The Movie Loot!



I think it's fun to imagine the why's, but I do like that we don't get any background. That said, I've always felt he comes from a more modest home, probably with little education, which is why his conversations sound so much like rehearsed monologues that he picks up from the Internet. For the most part, he doesn't know how to interact, other than through structured and scripted conversations that he seems to have practiced in front of a mirror over and over.
Good call; everything he says and how he says it is designed to deceive and manipulate. Classic sociopath behavior. Jake and Dan Gilroy did their research.

Yet more reasons to feel bitter about Jake being snubbed by the Academy. Eddie Redmayne? Get outta here...



Sin City -


It was nice to watch this again because if I could sum up my first viewing experience with one word, it would be "overwhelming." With the movie's then-unique visuals, flowery narration, just as flowery dialogue and hard-R violence, there was a lot for my slightly younger brain to process. I liked it, but the many stimuli affected my enjoyment. This time, I knew what to expect and thus was in a better space to enjoy the ride and enjoy it I did.

While everything I mentioned made this viewing more fun, they would all be sound and fury if it weren't for the characterizations, which are the movie's secret weapons (yes, even more than Miho's arsenal). Our heroes in the three stories are more than worth the investment, but it's Del Toro's delightfully sleazy cop Jackie Boy who is the MVP. A guy who not only knows how to have fun with a part, but also whose fun is contagious - see The Usual Suspects - he knows exactly what kind of movie he is in. Also, as his fate encapsulates, the violence is extreme, but it manages to be funny and make you admire its beauty as much as it shocks. Take the execution scene, which proves that for some tough bastards, flipping the switch once is not enough. Again, not enough can be said about the look and feel - besides what maybe Nolan is doing, what else has been this daring since - and its fractured, Tarantino-like narrative is a welcome and meaningful touch.

Rodriguez, Tarantino, Miller and company deserve all the praise for their depiction of a world where doing the right thing will most likely get you killed. However, if you don't die, you'll end up feeling like you have fought a war all by yourself. When Iím in the mood for a rewatch, the movies of the mid-2000's are not ones I typically reach for. I doubt I am not alone in thinking they are relatively lean years. Since this was not only better the second time around, but also from this era, seeing it again was an especially sweet surprise. In other words, it's like being pulled over, but being let off with a mere busted taillight warning.



Good call; everything he says and how he says it is designed to deceive and manipulate. Classic sociopath behavior. Jake and Dan Gilroy did their research.

Yet more reasons to feel bitter about Jake being snubbed by the Academy. Eddie Redmayne? Get outta here...
I haven't seen The Theory of Everything, but I still think Gyllenhaal deserved a nomination.Based on the ones I've seen, I would've bumped Cumberbatch (I haven't seen American Sniper either)



The trick is not minding
I haven't seen The Theory of Everything, but I still think Gyllenhaal deserved a nomination.Based on the ones I've seen, I would've bumped Cumberbatch (I haven't seen American Sniper either)
American Sniper is ok, but nothing great. I would have kept Cumberbatch and bumped Cooper.
I finished NightCrawler and will have a review for it tonight sometime.
Iíll then have La Haine and Tightrope done this weekend.
Iíll need links for the last 4 films



Le Cercle Rouge

First, lemme say that the slow pacing only worked half the time for me. Sometimes it was really cool just to chill with the powerful noirish vibes. Through what some critics have labelled as "understatement," this movie maintains its cool and calm demeanor in a way that overpowers you. But unfortunately, this movie challenges patience more than Satantango. This wouldn't be much of a problem for me if there was more meat to the characters. There was some meat and some interesting conversations with great dialogue, but not enough to overcome a four-star rating for me. It goes without saying that the actual half-hour heist montage was very well done. And whenever the music was there it ****ing rocked, but I seriously wanted more out of that short but amazing soundtrack. But the best thing about the movie was the cinematographer. There were masterful scenes that rank among the best I've seen of the 70's. So I'm glad to get another Melville classic out of the way, but once again, the slow pacing, while sometimes masterfully handled, kept it from coming even close to Army of Shadows for me. I'd literally say this is an 81, where the remake of Ocean's 11 was an 82.






Ok, just finished La Haine, which means I only have three more to go. I will add my write-ups soon.



I forgot the opening line.


Sin City - 2005

Directed by Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller

Written by Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller
Based on the comic book series "Sin City" by Frank Miller

Starring Jessica Alba, Benicio del Toro, Brittany Murphy, Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke
Bruce Willis & Elijah Wood

I've never read the Frank Miller graphic novels and comic books that make up Sin City - and thus I'm not sure how much of a distinction there is between those who watched the film after reading them, before reading them, or having never read them. I've always assumed, from what I've heard, that the film is faithful to the source content - and considering how hands-on Frank Miller himself was on this project, I feel like it's unnecessary to go and compare the two. Taken by itself, I've found the movie entertaining enough to have seen it a few times now. The film's visual style is what sets it apart - a mix of illustration and live action, with an emphasis on all-black backgrounds, and as much darkness and black as can possibly be squeezed into the frame. The black & white nature of the photography adds to the overall sense of darkness in the picture - but occasionally colour elements are introduced, such as through a character's eyes, skin tone or important/selected object(s) like a red dress. All of this gives Sin City it's unique and recognizable look. Turns out a whole new kind of comic book neo-noir can be created from the concept as a whole.

The series of stories, very loosely interconnected, are comic book noir with fanciful elements allowing for fantastic and surreal storylines. Characters can be shot over and over again, be experimented upon, survive accidents and be delimbed. Nobody's immortal, but obviously the violence is more stylized, and the action is larger than life. All kinds of gruesome goings-on occur, and although not for everyone, I find it easier to accept in this format. For example, if Kevin (Elijah Wood) - (as horrible a being as he was) - were to be eaten alive by his own wolf and we were to witness scenes of it happening in a real-world context, that would be a hard scene to sit through. In this it's a disturbing thought, but the divide between me and this comic book world makes it easier to swallow. The world of Sin City has entire areas populated by hookers who deal out their own brand of justice - without police interference. From the looks of it, half the population of Sin City are prostitutes.

One story has Detective John Hartigan (Bruce Willis) saving 11-year-old Nancy (Makenzie Vega) from perverted sicko Ethan Roark Jr. (Nick Stahl) - someone protected by his senator father Ethan Roark (Powers Boothe) and Hartigan's own partner, Detective Bob (Michael Madsen) tries to save him (a course of action that would see Nancy raped and killed.) Another story sees man mountain Marv (Mickey Rourke) on the warpath after a woman he's fallen for, Goldie (Jaime King) is killed during a frame-up. He finds out that Cardinal Patrick Henry Roark (Rutger Hauer) is at the top of that particular "food chain", along with the monstrous cannibal, Kevin (Elijah Wood) - who eats hookers and puts their heads on his wall as trophies. Elsewhere, Private Investigator Dwight McCarthy (Clive Owen) gets involved with cop "Iron Jack" Rafferty (Benicio del Toro), him being the ex-boyfriend of his current girlfriend who likes to beat girls up. Rafferty gets killed in the prostitute-run Old Town, causing an all-out gang war. All stories are bookended in short scenes involving hit-man The Salesman (Josh Hartnett) - it's all hard-hitting stuff.

If I were to try and describe the feel of all this, I'd say it's a mixture of The Big Sleep, Pulp Fiction and a Bugs Bunny Cartoon - and I'm not being facetious there, but trying to give some kind of impression as to the alternate reality we enter when we look at the Sin City universe. It's a stylized freeform noir world where just about anything can happen. The stories we watch are usually narrated by the main characters in them, and the dialogue conforms to that classic Raymond Chandler style of quip-filled asides, clever observations and ruminations. The ensemble of talent is quite mighty, and as such there are no issues performance-wise. The soundtrack leans heavily on jazz and brass-infused older style classic noir sounds are mixed with newer, synthesized kind of beats. There's quite a lot of range which covers different themes and characters - and the music is of a kind you could quite enjoyably listen to without even watching the film.

I find Sin City to be an interesting, direct descendant of classic film noir - with private detectives, cops, femme fatales and conspiracies all mixed together in the back alleys, rainy streets and dark nights these tales usually play out in. I've always really liked it - without being a super fan (I never got around to seeing the sequel or reading the graphic novels.) Something this over the top was always going to appeal to me to some degree, and there's absolutely no debating the visual flair the film has. It's absolutely gorgeous, and it's mix of animation and live-action has a look that was completely original in it's day. Above and beyond anything else, it was the look of the film that made it the success it is - not to take anything away from the gritty, seedy and squalid noir storylines. Apart from the visual flair, the other key factor is that dialogue we hear in the various narrations - noir poetry in the classic sense, which I enjoy hearing very much. I know Sin City has it's super fans - but I'm just a guy who enjoys it very much. I didn't at all mind having the excuse to watch it once again.

__________________
Remember - everything has an ending except hope, and sausages - they have two.

Latest Review : Aftersun (2022)



The trick is not minding
Night Crawler

Louis Bloom is the definition of an altruistic sociopath. He neither cares nor worried about human lives. He says it best, himself, near the end ďWhat if my issue isnít that I donít understand, but that I donít like people?Ē

Heís willing to do anything to capture a scene of tragedy and get paid for it. He cares nothing for ethics or the morality of what he is doing, emboldened and enabled by a news director he sells his footage to, played by Renee Russo.
She doesnít fully understand who sheís dealing with and ignores the warning signs u til itís too late. When he essentially blackmails her for sex, she realizes the depths of his depravity. By then, itís too late for her.

Jake Gyllenhal portrays Bloom. Fast talking, self educated, charming, with a sinister edge. Heís willing to manipulate crimes scenes and place others in danger for the right shot and a higher pay.

Fascinating character study, and easily should make my list.



Red Rock West -


This is a pretty good neo-noir for how it answers the question, "what do David Lynch actors do when they're not in David Lynch movies?" But seriously, the cast of mostly Lynch veterans elevates the material as much as they can. Cage always makes his hopeless drifter's desperation apparent, and while Con Air may make you assume otherwise, he can pull off a decent southern accent. There's also Lara Flynn Boyle's love-to-hate femme fatale, who is so good at using her eyes, as usual. Hopper, though, is the MVP, for his performance which I would describe as "Frank Booth Lite." Twists and surprises are hallmarks of this genre, and each of them in this one not only gave me a jolt, but also did not seem out of left field. Also, from the superbly selected locations to the twangy score, it definitely earns its Western noir label.

While I like the movie, I wish I could agree with those who say it's an unheralded masterpiece, hidden gem, etc. For one, as strong as the cast may be, nobody can make up for the average character being pretty shallow. Most if not all of them could be described with one sentence. Again, the movie tells a good story with good surprises, but each of them only has a surface-level impact as a result. Also, maybe except for some of Lyle's outbursts like him complaining that Michael thinks he's better than everyone else, there's a disappointing lack of memorable, unique and quotable dialogue. I'm still happy I rewatched it and appreciate its food for thought about the consequences of making people feel like they're discarded, veterans or otherwise. I also believe it fits the neo-noir mold through and through. Unfortunately, it does not do much more than that.



Shallow Grave

Well, Boyle certainly did a good job pacing the story from a dorky comedy about flatmates to an effective thriller. I don't know if it delivered anything new to the "random people find lots of money and don't trust each other" table, but the thrills were still very tense. It was the actors who really got me, though. With what little their characters are given, the deliver naturally. I honestly don't know why we don't see more of the other two besides McGregor in more movies. They really deserve it. I suppose the big flaw is how simple the movie really is. Minimalism is used to keep the general theme alive. Sometimes things just got absolutely horrific, and it really made me think about the people around me and how they would act. One can argue that the mystique of not knowing everything about the money's background helps the mood, but that doesn't change the fact that this proves that less actual effort was put into the story itself. There was plenty of room for a unique factor that also brought out the themes, and if this factor was figured out the movie would likely be perfect. So overall, this was a good one, but I wouldn't ever call it one of the great Boyle films. In fact, Sunshine was better.




I forgot the opening line.


Body Heat - 1981

Directed by Lawrence Kasdan

Written by Lawrence Kasdan

Starring William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, Richard Crenna, Ted Danson, J. A. Preston & Mickey Rourke

I don't want to pretend I know all about film noir after getting into it as recently as yesterday (it feels), but in Body Heat there's no pretensions to being anything but a return to the classic kind of noir that Double Indemnity and Out of the Past brought to cinema screens in the 1940s - that of the capable and well-qualified man in way over his head, and the deadly, dangerous femme fatale for whom he'll do anything at all - especially murder. In this Lawrence Kasdan update, Kathleen Turner and William Hurt get into it like a couple of beasts - having it off on a whole other level, until it seems the screen itself is going to melt, and sparks fly from whichever electronic device we're watching on. It leaves you feeling like you've seen more than you actually have - the love scenes carefully framed and filmed so that we see a maximum of bare, sweaty skin at every moment. You have to feel sorry for Richard Crenna - tagged to portray the exact opposite of achingly hot sexual attraction (those boxer shorts do it.)

Hurt plays slacker lawyer Ned Racine, running across the sultry yet bright beauty Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner) by the beach, and over the course of two run-ins he's managed an invite back to her place to "see the windchimes" - which I'm sure is exactly what's on Ned's mind. Rushed out when it seems like the dam wall is about to break, Ned smashes a window in and leaps into Matty's arms. From then on they're at it - and it's so good that it would be a cinch for Matty to just leave her husband - but that would mean leaving a great deal of riches behind, having signed a prenup. After much back and forth murder is decided upon, and Ned is devising the perfect crime and planning to end Edmund Walker's (Richard Crenna) life, with the help of former client Teddy Lewis (Mickey Rourke). When suspicions arise, Ned's friends Peter Lowenstein (Ted Danson) and Oscar Grace (J. A. Preston) start putting all of the pieces together - but there's one final piece that Ned himself hasn't figured on until it's too late.

Nobody should underestimate how much John Barry's score sends us reeling back in time and how much it puts us in the mood for sultry, steamy sex mixed with skullduggery. Barry's melodic, sexy, sax-filled meander manages to both sound like a throwback to the 1940s and an absolutely modern take on noir at the same time. I often find myself thinking how funny it is that I can pick out his music just by hearing it - I'm not usually adept at doing such, and I think this comes from being so into the scores of the James Bond movies when I was a kid. For some reason, being a huge fan, it was an early appreciation for music in movies - and those films had such fantastic accompaniment. Barry was the only composer who managed to be on the same page as Kasdan when discussing the film, and you can hear it clearly - that Barry 'got it' and managed to walk the line of bringing noir back into a modern context, but also staying true to what these films are. Sex and intrigue - much like Bond films.

Also in tune with the project are the performers. Kathleen Turner was in her first feature, and immediately became one of the great sex symbols of the 1980s - quite a breakout performance, and it really took some work. She holds enough back to always seem just a little sinister and calculating - reminding me of Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity - but she's also husky-voiced, tremulous and suggestive. William Hurt was in another neo-noir film the same year this came out, Eyewitness - in 1981 - and had been put forward as a sex symbol in 1980 film Altered States as the masculine Dr. Eddie Jessup, about to become primal. The third best performer I think is the misty water everyone was being soaked in portraying the gallons and gallons of sweat every body in the film is leaking. I kept expecting people's bodies to just slide off each other, and slip down the hallway such is the amount of lubrication coming from sweat glands. During even sweatier scenes, the spray bottle seems to have been exchanged for full buckets. Mickey Rourke, meanwhile, is a big surprise and makes a huge impression with just a couple of brief scenes.

We wouldn't expect anything less visually than dark, shadowy scenes - although they don't completely dominate every moment, they come through in a classical sense when Ned draws the blinds in his office while becoming entangled with a difficult Matty. Also of note is the scene near the end when Matty turns around and departs into the darkness, which swallows her up whole. Cinematographer Richard H. Kline had been nominated twice for an Oscar by the time Body Heat came around (for Camelot and the 1976 version of King Kong) but never ended up having the career you'd expect after his bright beginnings, getting saddled with the likes of Howard the Duck and The Man with One Red Shoe. There are plenty of interesting shots and visual effects, and overall there's enough of that classic sense of film noir that we feel like we've been transported back in time, despite the modern setting. Much of the film is set at night, and the murder, plus the disposal of the body, are night scenes.

Add all of this up, and you see that there's a great deal here to suggest Body Heat is a great film - it's alluring, and now that it's over 40 years old it's become classic noir of it's own kind in a sense. It has itself inspired films (such as the Coen Bros Blood Simple) that pay tribute to it in turn, much as it's doing. It's sweaty, sexy, sultry and wonderfully dark and murderous. It has characters that are a lot of fun to watch (just compare Ned to the dorky Lowenstein or prim and proper Oscar) - Olympic champions in bed, and having so much success in that horizontal position that someone has to die because of it. Or at least - that's what Ned thinks is going on. The score and cinematography are great, and Lawrence Kasdan had already forged a name for himself - writing the screenplays to two of the greatest films of all time in the years leading up to this. He was hot, just as everything in this film is hot - and from that sensual, dangerous place a vibe that can't be faked still emanates from the screen. From those bodies. I can feel it.




SHALLOW GRAVE
(1994, Boyle)



"We don't know what it cost us yet."

Shallow Grave follows a trio of flatmates in Edinburgh that find themselves in over their heads when their new mysterious flatmate ends up dead, leaving behind a suitcase full of money. The friends then start sinking deeper into deceit and betrayal as they try to figure out the cost of their actions, while both police and criminals start closing in on them. Is the suitcase full of money enough?

Danny Boyle's debut features Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston, and Kerry Fox as the three friends. Their performances are all good, with maybe McGregor being the most fun to watch. His role as the callous and cynical Alex is perhaps the more colorful also, but he does a pretty good job. Eccleston, on the other hand, has the biggest arc as David, who goes from shy and introverted to paranoid and unhinged.

Although everything sounds dead serious, the film is a really nice mixture of dark humor with some thrills, anchored by the cast's interactions and performances. The way they balance both the horrors and the stupidity of their actions is great, while Boyle throws a couple of nice twists to the story. All through, you're never sure who's going to hold and who's going to break; all designed to keep you guessing what is the actual cost of all of this on their lives.

One trait of neo-noir that I read a while ago was that, whereas in film noir there's a mystery, in neo-noir, the main character *IS* the mystery, which I think applies to all three leads here. There is no mystery; we know what happened and how. The mystery is in how these characters will react and where things will fall for each of them in the end. Turns out that nobody knows the cost... yet.

Grade:



There's only two weeks and some change left for this, so try not to fall behind, people. Also, I see @Siddon is active in the other Noir HoF, which leads me to think that he'll jump into this one after he's done with that one. However, my advice is to keep Le Cercle Rouge in the back-end of your watches in case he doesn't finish in time.



There's only two weeks and some change left for this, so try not to fall behind, people. Also, I see @Siddon is active in the other Noir HoF, which leads me to think that he'll jump into this one after he's done with that one. However, my advice is to keep Le Cercle Rouge in the back-end of your watches in case he doesn't finish in time.

You guys can watch the movie I'll finish this hall in time..relax I've never not finished a hall and it won't start now. A number of these films are hard to find. I was going to finish noir and move onto Neonoir but I understand the anxiety so lets see how many films I can watch in the next 24 hours.



You guys can watch the movie I'll finish this hall in time..relax I've never not finished a hall and it won't start now. A number of these films are hard to find. I was going to finish noir and move onto Neonoir but I understand the anxiety so lets see how many films I can watch in the next 24 hours.
No rush, my friend. I know you can make it. As a matter of fact, I have more trust in you finishing than I have in myself But when you didn't reply to my DM, I got scared a bit. It was only after that I saw you were active on that other thread, so it's merely a "just-in-case" advice to the others.



No rush, my friend. I know you can make it. As a matter of fact, I have more trust in you finishing than I have in myself But when you didn't reply to my DM, I got scared a bit. It was only after that I saw you were active on that other thread, so it's merely a "just-in-case" advice to the others.

I thought I did reply to your DM...but I went through my phone so lesson learned.