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About Marianne

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    Greater Boston area
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    Freelance editor and blogger. I've been reading mystery and detective stories since I was a child. I read every Nancy Drew mystery I could get my hands on when I was young. Since taking Richard Edwards's "Summer of Darkness" course in the summer of 2015 and watching noir faithfully ever since, I think I can say that I am no longer new to film noir and neo-noir.

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  1. The River King (2005, dir. Nick Willing) The story is based on Alice Hoffman’s novel of the same name. The body of a student from the local private school, the Haddan School, is found frozen in the river, and Officer Abe Grey and his partner Joey Tosh are given the task of investigating the circumstances of the boy’s death. Some people at the school and in the police department assume that the student, Gus Pierce, killed himself because he had trouble fitting in, but Abe becomes suspicious because he and Joey find a mysterious red substance (which may or may not be blood) under the boy’s shirt. Abe’s investigation of Gus’s death parallels his decision to confront the circumstances of his brother’s death many years ago. In both instances, he has to learn to face the truth. It is one of those movies in which every detail is important. I saw it twice and could appreciate it a whole lot more after a second viewing. Never heard of The River King? It is a Canadian and United Kingdom production that apparently was never released to theaters in the United States. Instead it went straight to DVD. It’s the neo-noir you’ve never heard of! I can give it 11 out of 16 on our list of neo-noir characteristics. *****Spoilers***** *****Spoilers***** *****Spoilers***** 1. Chiaroscuro for black and white films, intense or muted color in movies filmed in color I’m going to count this for The River King because the ice, the snow, and the cold are like characters in the plot. Shots of the landscape reinforce the Abe’s solitude and his troubled state of mind, and they also emphasize the mood of the film, which is a story filled with uncertainty and restrained class hostility. 2. Flashbacks The flashbacks are crucial to the plot and specifically to Abe’s past. His memories are vivid, but he doesn’t know what they mean in relation to his past and the death of his brother Frank. 3. Unusual narration The way the flashbacks are handled leaves Abe and viewers wondering about their significance in the present, and only slowly is their significance in the past revealed. 4. Crime/planning a crime (usually—but not always—murder) I can’t really say too much about this characteristic without giving away important plot surprise, but I would definitely count it. The fact that there is doubt about it only makes the film more noir. 5. Femme fatale and/or homme fatale N/A 6. The instrument of fate I’m going to count this because it is a bit of fate that brings the case of Gus’s death to Abe’s attention at just the right time for him to start pondering the significance of his brother’s death. The similarities between his current case and the past events surrounding his brother’s death increase as the plot progresses. 7. Angst (for example, guilt, fear, self-doubt, confusion, and so on; in other words, anything that contributes to angst) Plenty of angst for Abe, Gus, and Carlin. One of the underlying themes is how much people hold back to protect others from truths they might not be able to handle. Another theme is that holding back may be doing more of a disservice to others. 8. Violence or the threat of violence There is some threat of violence. The students at the Haddan School threaten violence against anyone who doesn’t “play along.” 9. Urban and nighttime settings N/A 10. Allusion to post–World War II (or any postwar) themes (optional) N/A 11. Philosophical themes (existentialism in particular) involving alienation, loneliness There is a divide between the people living in town and the Haddan School. It’s a familiar theme, but it’s treated a bit differently in The River King. It’s not just a rivalry between the town and the school. 12. Psychology (hypnosis, brainwashing, manipulation, amnesia) See number 2 above. Abe has recurring flashbacks that he has trouble interpreting. 13. Greed N/A 14. Betrayal N/A 15. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on) Everyone has secrets, and several characters keep secrets in order to protect others. No one seems to be portrayed as “the good guy” or “the bad guy.” 16. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good” Expertise does triumph, but Abe has already lost his job as a police officer by this point. Everything that he gains is on a personal level. He can finally come to terms with his past.
  2. Noir Alley

    I finally read Megan Abbott's comments in her afterward to In a Lonely Place and did enjoy it. Still waiting for the 2003 edition from The Feminist Press with Lisa Maria Hogeland's afterward. Reading the novel made quite an impression on me, it seems: I'm still reading about it and thinking about it. It was a powerful story, one to reread in a year or two.
  3. Upgrade issues-- please fix

    I was being a bit facetious. I would prefer different fonts. I would take font choice over centered or flush right text any day!
  4. Newest post 1st?

    I tried placing my cursor on the thread title while in this specific discussion thread and it didn't work, alas. But it does work in the list of subforums. I still wish that we had the option of listing the most recent post first in each thread.
  5. Upgrade issues-- please fix

    I second that wish. And yet we can still align centered or flush right if we want.
  6. I received a certificate of completion as a PDF attachment to an e-mail.
  7. Recently Watched Musicals

    I don't know if this has any bearing on the film Marianne at all, but Marianne is the symbol of France, much like Uncle Sam is a symbol of the United States. If Wikipedia is accurate ("Marianne is displayed in many places in France and holds a place of honour in town halls and law courts"), she may command a bit more respect and general notoriety as an icon than Uncle Sam does. Well, no matter what, I get to push that hilarious mustache to the top of the discussion thread again!!!
  8. Recently Watched Musicals

    Haven't seen Marianne, but I'm guessing that I would like it. And not just because of the name. That last photo is such a hoot: The soldier reminds me of Jack Lemmon and the woman -- well, there's nothing I can say that could top that mustache.
  9. *CANDIDS* 2

    I will. Thank you so much for giving us the update.
  10. Noir Alley

    There is also an edition of In a Lonely Place published in 2003 by The Feminist Press at the City University of New York, with an afterword by Lisa Maria Hogeland. I am on the waiting list at my local library for this edition and the one with the afterword by Megan Abbott. Apparently both editions are in high demand! But I really want to see what two modern writers have to say about the novel, especially with all the feedback that the novel has generated on this discussion thread. It's a great read.
  11. Noir Alley

    **Spoilers** As I recall, Dix in the book In a Lonely Place isn't a writer at all. It's another one of the lies he tells. His whole presence in L.A. is based on lies and murder. He is living in his friend's (his name is Mel?) apartment because he killed Mel and could say that Mel left the country to work in Rio. Maybe flashbacks would work for the interior monologue. That would certainly be noir! But it would be very difficult to show how Dix views his present world in flashbacks, and the story might lose something because being in his head is what really makes the book interesting. It would probably take a skilled filmmaker to capture Dix's persona on film and yet remain true to the novel. I agree, by the way, that PTSD has nothing to do with the story. I didn't get that as a theme when I read the book.
  12. R.I.P. Tom Petty (1951-2017)

    Tonight (October 7, 2017), NBC is repeating the Saturday Night Live episode featuring Buck Henry and Tom Petty as musical guest at 10 p.m. On the East Coast anyway.
  13. For those of us living in the New England area, WGBX (PBS) out of New Hampshire will be showing the 1997 miniseries Rebecca on Thursday, September 28, 2017, at 9 p.m. I won't be able to tear myself away from the Kens Burns documentary The Vietnam War, but maybe the station will re-broadcast it. Just for me!!!
  14. *CANDIDS* 2

    I'm not the only one who misses your posts. I hope that you are well and will check in soon.
  15. Noir Alley

    ***Spoiler Alert*** I like this quote from Megan Abbott about the book. Another thing that makes the book version of In a Lonely Place so fascinating is that, in spite of Dix Steele's misogyny and in spite of the narrative being told from Steele's point of view, two female characters are the ones who help to bring him down. The reader goes along for the ride inside Steele's head, but the events "in the gaps between the chapters" aren't just about Steele and what he does. I think the book is a strong statement about women and the strength of their resolve. It may be an unsettling read, but it's a very satisfying one on so many levels.

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