Marianne

Film Noir to Neo-Noir: Transitions and Modern Noir

346 posts in this topic

I am repeating the list of film noir and neo-noir characteristics (borrowings) we have been using to investigate neo-noir. Please use as many or as few characteristics as you like to discuss neo-noir. I started the discussion thread as a way to continue applying what we learned in Dr. Edwards’s course, TCM Presents Into the Darkness: Investigating Film Noir (aka Summer of Darkness: Investigating Film Noir).

 

Also included (below the list of characteristics) is the most up-to-date list of neo-noir films; we have been adding—and continue to add—titles to the list. The running list (divided between U.S. neo-noirs and neo-noirs from abroad) is alphabetized as a whole in case that’s easier for some folks to find what they are looking for. I will alternate between the film list alphabetized by decade and the list alphabetized in its entirety.

 

Characteristics borrowed from film noir to define neo-noir and modern neo-noir:

1. Chiaroscuro for black and white films, intense or muted color in movies filmed in color (In either black and white or color, the technique is used to enhance the mood and/or the emotional content.)

2. Flashbacks

3. Unusual narration

4. Crime/planning a crime (usually—but not always—murder)

5. Femme fatale and/or homme fatale

6. The instrument of fate

7. Angst (for example, guilt, fear, self-doubt, confusion, and so on; in other words, anything that contributes to angst)

8. Violence or the threat of violence

9. Urban and nighttime settings

10. Allusion to post–World War II (or any postwar) themes (optional)

11. Philosophical themes (existentialism in particular) involving alienation, loneliness

12. Psychology (hypnosis, brainwashing, manipulation, amnesia)

13. Greed

14. Betrayal

15. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on)

16. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good”

 

List of alphabetized neo-noir titles, alphabetized by title:

After Hours (1985), dir. Martin Scorsese

Against All Odds (1984), dir. Taylor Hackford

All Good Things (2010), dir. Andrew Jarecki

Angel Heart (1997), dir. Alan Parker

 

Barton Fink (1991), dir. Joel and Ethan Coen

Batman Begins (2005), dir. Christopher Nolan

A Better Tomorrow (1986), dir. John Woo

The Big Easy (1986), dir. Jim McBride

The Big Lebowski (1998), dir. Joel Coen

The Big Sleep (1978), dir. Michael Winner 

The Black Dahlia (2006), dir. Brian DePalma

Blade Runner (1982), dir. Ridley Scott

Blink (1994), dir. Michael Apted

Blood Simple (1984), dir. Joel Coen

Blue Valentine (2010), dir. Derek Cianfrance

Blue Velvet (1986), dir. David Lynch

Body Heat (1981), dir. Lawrence Kasdan

Bound (1996), dir. The Wachowski Brothers

Branded to Kill (1967) dir. Seijun Suzuki

Brick (2006), dir. Rian Johnson

Broken City (2013), dir. Allen Hughes

Bullitt (1968), dir. Peter Yates

 

Cape Fear (1962), dir. J. Lee Thompson

Chinatown (1974), dir. Roman Polanski

City of Hope (1991), dir. John Sayles

Collateral (2004), dir. Michael Mann

Criminal (2004), dir. Gregory Jacobs

 

Dark City (1998), dir. Alex Proyas

Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982), dir. Carl Reiner

Deep Cover (1992), dir. Bill Duke

Derailed (2005), dir. Mikael Hafstrom

Devil in a Blue Dress (1995), dir. Carl Franklin

Down by Law (1986), dir. Jim Jarmusch

Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), dir. Stanley Kubrick

Drive (2011), dir. Nicolas Winding Refn

 

The Equalizer (2014), dir. Antoine Fuqua

 

Farewell, My Lovely (1975), dir. Dick Richards

Fargo (1996), dir. Joel Coen

Femme Fatale (2002), dir. Brian de Palma

Following (1999), dir. Christopher Nolan

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), dir. Peter Yates

 

Gangs of New York (2002), dir. Martin Scorsese

Gangster Squad (2013), dir. Ruben Fleischer

Get Carter (1971) dir. Mike Hodges

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), dir. David Fincher

Go for Sisters (2103), dir John Sayles

Gone, Baby, Gone (2007), dir. Ben Affleck

Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), dir. George Clooney

 

Hard Boiled (1992) dir. John Woo

Harper (1966), dir. Jack Smight

Heat (1995) dir. Michael Mann

Hollywoodland (2006), dir. Allen Coulter

House of Games (1987), dir. David Mamet

 

The Ice Harvest (2005), dir. Harold Ramis

Insomnia (2002), dir. Christopher Nolan

Irrational Man (2015), dir. Woody Allen

 

Jackie Brown (1997), dir. Quentin Tarantino

Jade (1995), dir. William Friedkin

John Wick (2014), dir. Chad Stahelski

 

Killshot (2009), dir. John Madden

King of Comedy (1982), dir. Martin Scorsese

King of New York (1990) dir. Abel Ferrara

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), dir. Shane Black

Klute, (1971), dir. Alan J. Pakula

 

L.A. Confidential (1997), dir. Curtis Hanson

The Last Seduction (1994), dir. John Dahl

Limbo (1999), dir. John Sayles

The Lookout (2007), dir. Scott Frank

Lone Star (1996), dir. John Sayles

The Long Goodbye (1973) dir. Robert Altman

The Long Good Friday (1980) dir. John Mackenzie

Lost River (2014), dir. Ryan Gosling

 

The Manchurian Candidate (1962), dir. John Frankenheimer

Manhattan Night (2016), dir. Brian DeCubellis

Manhunter (1986), dir. Michael Mann

Marlowe (1969) dir. Paul Bogart
Memento (2000), dir. Christopher Nolan

Mickey One (1965), dir. Arthur Penn

Miller’s Crossing (1990), dir. Joel Coen

The Morning After (1986), dir. Sidney Lumet

Mulholland Drive (2001), dir. David Lynch

Mulholland Falls (1996), dir. Lee Tamahori

Mystic River (2003) dir. Clint Eastwood

 

The Naked Kiss (1964), dir. Samuel Fuller

The Nice Guys (2016), dir. Shane Black

Night Moves (1975) dir. Arthur Penn

Nightcrawler (2014), dir. Dan Gilroy

Nocturnal Animals (2016), dir. Tom Ford

Not Forgotten (2009), dir. Dror Soref

No Way Out (1987), dir. Roger Donaldson

 

Oldboy (2003), dir. Chan-wook Park

One False Move (1992), dir. Carl Franklin

Only God Forgives (2013), dir. Nicolas Winding Refn

Out of Time (2003), dir. Carl Franklin

 

Palmetto (1998), dir. Volker Schlondorff

Pennies from Heaven (1981), dir. Herbert Ross

The Place Beyond the Pines (2012), dir. Derek Cianfrance

Point Blank (1967), dir. John Boorman

The Public Eye (1992), dir. Howard Franklin

Pulp (1972), dir. Mike Hodges

 

Q&A (1990), dir. Sydney Lumet

 

A Rage in Harlem (1991) dir. Bill Duke

Raging Bull (1980), dir. Martin Scorsese

The Red Riding Trilogy (2009), dirs. Julian Jarrold, James Marsh, Anand Tucker

Red Rock West (1992), dir. John Dahl

Reservoir Dogs (1992) dir. Quentin Tarantino

Romeo Is Bleeding (1993), dir. Peter Medak

 

Sea of Love (1989) dir. Harold Becker

Serial Mom (1994), dir. John Waters

Se7en (1995), dir. David Fincher

Sexy Beast (2000), dir. Jonathan Glazer

Shock Corridor (1963) dir. Samuel Fuller

Shutter Island (2010), dir. Martin Scorsese

Silence of the Lambs (1991) dir. Jonathan Demme

Silver City (2004), dir. John Sayles

Something Wild (1986), dir. Jonathan Demme

State of Grace (1990) dir. Phil Joanou

Stonehearst Asylum (2014), dir. Brad Anderson

Stormy Monday (1988), dir. Mike Figgis

The Sweeney (2012), dir. Nick Love

 

Taxi Driver (1976), dir. Martin Scorsese

The Town (2010), dir. Ben Affleck

Training Day (2001), dir. Antoine Fugua

True Romance (1993) Tony Scott

Twisted (2004), dir. Philip Kaufman

2 Guns (2013), dir. Baltasar Kormakur

The Two Jakes (1990), dir. Jack Nicholson

 

Underworld U.S.A. (1961), dir. Samuel Fuller

The Usual Suspects (1995), dir. Bryan Singer

U-Turn (1997), dir. Oliver Stone

 

Wait Until Dark (1967), dir. Terence Young

Welcome to Collinwood (2002), dir. by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo

Winter’s Bone (2010), dir. Debra Granik

 

Year of the Dragon (1985), dir. Michael Cimino

 

Zodiac (2007), dir. David Fincher

 

Neo-noirs from abroad, alphabetized by title:

Amores perros (2001) dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu, from Mexico

Animal Kingdom (2010), dir. David Michôd, from Australia

El aura (The Aura) (2005), dir. Fabián Bielinsky, from Argentina (France and Spain)

 

Black Coal, Thin Ice (2014), dir. Diao Yinan, from China

Blow-Up (1966), dir. Michelangelo Antonioni, from United Kingdom and Italy

 

Caché (Hidden) (2005), dir. Michael Haneke, from France

Le cercle rouge (The Red Circle) (1970), dir. Jean-Pierre Melville, from France

Les cowboys (2015), dir. Thomas Bidegain, from Belgium and France

The Crimson Rivers (2000), dir. Mathieu Kassovitz, from France

 

Dancing on the Edge (television series) (2013), dir. Stephen Poliakoff

Delicatessen (1991), dirs. Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, from France

La demoiselle d’honneur (The Bridesmaid) (2004 in France), dir. Claude Chabrol, from France

Le doulos (1962), dir Jean-Pierre Melville, from France

 

Flic Story (1975), dir. Jacques Deray, from France

Foreign Land (1996), dirs. Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas, from Brazil

 

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest (2009), dir. Daniel Alfredson, from Sweden

The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009), dir. Daniel Alfredson, from Sweden

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009), dir. Niels Arden Oplev, from Sweden

 

La haine (2012), dir. Mathieu Kassovitz, from France

 

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (2003), dir. Mike Hodges, from the United Kingdom

In Bruges (2008), dir. Martin McDonagh, from Britain and the United States

Insomnia (1997), dir Erik Skjoldbjær, from Norway

 

Jerichow (2008), dir. Christian Petzold, from Germany

Just Another Love Story (2007), dir. Ole Bornedal, from Denmark

 

Kill Me Three Times (2014), dir. Kriv Stenders, from Australia

Kill Your Friends (2015), dir. Owen Harris, from United Kingdom

 

Lantana (2001), dir. Ray Lawrence, from Australia

León: The Professional (1994), dir. Luc Besson, from France

 

The Moon in the Gutter (La lune dans le caniveau) (1983), dir. Jean-Jacques Beineix, from France

 

Ne le dis à personne (Tell No One) (2006), dir. Guillaume Canet, from France

Nine Queens (2000), dir. Fabián Bielinsky, from Argentina

 

The Outside Man (Un homme est mort) (1972), dir. Jacques Deray, from France and Italy

 

Red Road (2006), dir. Andrea Arnold, from Scotland (United Kingdom)

 

The Secret in Their Eyes (2009), dir. Juan José Campanella, from Argentina

Shallow Grave (1995), dir. Danny Boyle, from the United Kingdom

The Square (2008), dir. Nash Edgerton, from Australia

 

Thirty-Sixth (36th) Precinct (2004), dir. Olivier Marchal, from France

Tirez sur le pianiste (Shoot the Piano Player) (1960), dir. François Truffaut, from France

 

Where the Truth Lies (2005), dir. Atom Egoyan, from Canada

Wild Tales (2014), dir. Damian Szifron, from Spain and Argentina

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The updated chronological list of the Visual Neo Noirs (more to add as I come across them) from 1960 to 2015. These Neo Noir have the strong visual stylistics attributed to classic film noir and/or the visual archetypes associated with film soleil. Films that don't have these attributes that are Noir In Plot Only I label as NIPOs and are not on this list.

 

Girl Of The Night (1960)

Never let Go (1960) 

The Savage Eye (1960) 

The 3rd Voice (1960)

Why Must I Die? (1960)

Blast Of Silence (1961) 

The Young Savages (1961)

Night Tide (1961)

Underworld USA (1961) 

Something Wild (1961) 

Cape Fear (1962) 

Experiment In Terror (1962) 

Manchurian Candidate (The)(1962) 

Private Property (1962) 

Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962) 

Satan in High Heels (1962) 

Shock Corridor (1962) 

Stark Fear (1962) 

Twilight Of Honor (1963) 

The Naked Kiss (1964) 

The Pawnbroker (1964)

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Lorna (1964)

The Glass Cage (1964) 

The Thrill Killers (1964) 

Strange Compulsion (1964)

Angel's Flight (1965)

Brainstorm (1965) 

Flesh and Lace (1965)

Love Statue (The)(1965)

Mirage (1965)

Once A Thief (1965) 

Tell Me in the Sunlight (1965) 

Who Killed Teddy Bear (1965) 

Aroused (1966) 

Mister. Buddwing (1966) 

Espions à l'affût (aka Heat Of Midnight) (1966)

Seconds (1966) 

Rage (1966)

Harper (1966) 

The Chase (1966)

In Cold Blood (1967) 

The Incident (1967)

In The Heat Of The Night (1967) 

Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967)

The Pick-Up (1968)

Marlowe (1969) 

The Honeymoon Killers (1969) 

Darker Than Amber (1970) 

Shaft  (1971)

Across 110th Street (1971) 

The Getaway (1971) 

Get Carter (1971) 

Hickey & Boggs (1972) 

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) 

Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia (1974) 

The Nickel Ride (1974) 

Chinatown (1974) 

Lenny (1974) 

Road Movie (1974) 

The Drowning Pool (1975) 

Farewell My Lovely (1975)

Night Moves (1975) 

Seven Beauties (1975) 

Taxi Driver (1976) 

The Big Sleep (1978)

Dressed to Kill (1980) 

Union City (1980) 

Body Heat (1981) 

Thief (1981)

Blade Runner (1982) 

Hammett (1982) 

Blood Simple (1984) 

Paris, Texas (1984) 

Tightrope (1984)

After Hours (1985)

To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)

Blue Velvet (1986) 


Angel Heart (1987) 

Siesta (1987)

Slam Dance (1987)

Kill Me Again (1989)

The Grifters (1990) 

The Kill-Off (1990)

The Hot Spot (1990) 

Wild At Heart (1990) 

Impulse (1990)

Dick Tracy (1990) 

Delicatessen (1991) 

A Rage In Harlem (1991)

Delusion (1991) 

Reservoir Dogs (1992) 

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992) 

The Public Eye (1992) 

Red Rock West (1993) 

Romeo Is Bleeding (1993)

True Romance (1993) 

The Wrong Man (1993) 

China Moon (1994) 

The Last Seduction (1994) 

Pulp Fiction (1994) 

Natural Born Killers (1994)

Blink (1994)

Se7en (1995) 

Devil In A Blue Dress (1995)

Fargo (1996) 

Mulholland Falls (1996) 

Hit Me (1996)

Jackie Brown (1997) 

L.A. Confidential (1997) 

Lost Highway (1997) 

A Gun, A Car, A Blonde (1997) 

This World, Then the Fireworks (1997) 

Dark City (1998) 

A Simple Plan (1998) 

The Big Lebowski (1998) 

Palmetto (1998)

Payback (1999)

Night Train (1999) 

Sexy Beast (2000)

The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001) 

Mulholland Drive (2001)

Collateral (2004)  

Sin City (2005) 

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

The Black Dahlia (2006) 

36 Quai des Orfèvres (2006) 

No Country For Old Men (2007) 

The Lookout (2007)

Honeydripper (2007)

Dark Country (2009)

The Missing Person (2009)

The Killer Inside Me (2010)

Hotel Noir (2012)

The Iceman (2012)

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (2014)

Too Late (2015)

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U Turn (1997)

dir. by Oliver Stone

 

This film is a crime thriller with many neo-noir traits. Most of the characters and situations are absurd, yet the film, in my opinion, remains fun to watch. The fact that these actors are playing their roles without trying to by funny, adds to the absurdity and hilariousness.

On his way to California, Bobby Cooper (Sean Penn) experiences car trouble near Superior, Arizona. There he comes across a nerdy mechanic, a blind veteran, a sultry yet troubled woman, her hot-tempered husband, a seemingly underhanded sheriff, a flirtatious young woman and her jealous, combative boyfriend.

 

1. Chiaroscuro for black and white films, intense or muted color in movies filmed in color (In either black and white or color, the technique is used to enhance the mood and/or the emotional content.) Yes

The cinematography has elements of film brûlant in the way it reflects conditions outdoors. The bright sun acts like a spotlight on everything. Much too often (I lost count after 7) we see the sun shining directly into the camera perhaps to remind us why everything appears parched.

 

2. Flashbacks Half

Not deserving of a full point here because they are not in the tradition of noir. The flashbacks are more like visual snippets of events described by several characters. They never take over and tell their story.

 

3. Unusual narration N.A

 

4. Crime/planning a crime (usually—but not always—murder) Yes

Armed robbery

Assault

Conspiracy to commit murder

Illegally moving a corpse

 

5. Femme fatale and/or homme fatale Yes

Grace McKenna (Jennifer Lopez) is a true femme fatale. Here is a sample of her seductive verbiage:

“I bet right now, you don’t know if you want to kill me or @#$%&! me.”

 

6. The instrument of fate Yes

There are several fateful events that Bobby stumbles upon; busted radiator hose in the middle of nowhere, hiring “an ignorant, inbred tumbleweed hick mechanic,” encountering and enraging a husband, a fiancé, and a sheriff, all with serious consequences.

Sheriff Virgil Potter: Kind of peculiar how things happen. A man’s car breaks down. There’s a robbery, people get killed. All that money, and now- now old Jake is out looking for his young wife. And then you show up. Time’s running out, son.

 

7. Angst (for example, guilt, fear, self-doubt, confusion, and so on; in other words, anything that contributes to angst) Yes

There is plenty of angst to go around for every one. Bobby for example fears for his life, now that he’s been robbed of monies owed to a gangster. He also finds himself trapped in Superior because he is not able to get his car out, and he can not understand why a jealous boyfriend continues to assault him when he has nothing to do with the girlfriend.

 

8. Violence or the threat of violence Yes

Murder

Torture

 

9. Urban and nighttime settings Half

The setting is a small desert town in Arizona with several nighttime scenes towards the latter part of the film.

 

10. Allusion to post–World War II (or any postwar) themes (optional) Yes

Jon Voight plays an unsettled blind man, not shy to ask for a free drink, “Hey, you there. Run over to the corner store there to that machine and get me a pop.” When asked for change for the machine, he replies, “You want a blind veteran’s change?” His constant companion is a dog named Jesse. Perhaps a social commentary on the plight of returning Vietnam soldiers to an unwelcoming homeland.

 

11. Philosophical themes (existentialism in particular) involving alienation, loneliness Yes

Grace is a complicated character having an existential crisis. At one point she tells Bobby, “I don’t want to be alone. I wish I was a bird…Then I can die.”

 

12. Psychology (hypnosis, brainwashing, manipulation, amnesia) Yes

Jake McKenna (Nick Nolte) has such a psychological hold on Grace that she finds it hard to break free.

 

13. Greed Yes

Grace has dreams while Bobby has needs, and both are desperate. Having no money, they resort to thievery to get them what they want.

 

14. Betrayal Yes

Several betrayal by a number of characters.

 

15. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on)

16. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good”

 

12 of 16 neo-noir characteristics noted.

 

Billy Bob Thornton is unrecognizable as the mechanic, Darrell, and his scenes with Sean Penn’s Bobby are heated and funny.

Darrell: If you think bad, then bad is what you get.

Bobby: That’s a pretty decent philosophy you got there.

Darrell: Well, no charge.

 

Included in the soundtrack is the jazz song Speaking Of Happiness by Gloria Lynne. There are two lines that bring to bear two noir characteristics:

Mentioning loneliness, I feel lonely all the time (existentialism-loneliness)

There was nothing I could say, who could talk with a broken heart (angst-hopelessness)

 

Also worth noting on the cast are:

Power Boothe (Nashville, Guyana Tragedy: The story of Jim Jones) plays Sheriff Virgil Potter

Joaquin Phoenix [Gladiator- (2000) and Walk the Line- (2005)] plays the jealous boyfriend Toby N. Tucker (TNT)

Claire Danes (Homeland) plays Jenny, Toby’s giddy girlfriend.

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The Lookout (2007)

dir. Scott Frank

 

Four years ago Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) was in a fatal car accident which caused a brain injury and left him suffering from amnesia. Today he depends on his friend Lewis (Jeff Daniels) and a notepad to remind him of the daily basic requirements. This film examines how he adapts after the accident; his reluctance to get involved in a bank heist, courage to avenge the death of a friend and bravery to save the life of another. The film meets 12 of 16 characteristics on our neo-noir template.

 

. . .

 

 

The Lookout is a well made crime-thriller, neo-noir.

 

 

I have put The Lookout in my queue thanks to your write-up. Once I have seen it, we can compare notes, so to speak.

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In Bruges (2008, dir. Martin McDonagh)

 

I can give In Bruges only 10 out of 16 on our list of characteristics, but it is noir. In Bruges manages to get viewers to identify with, and to like, two hit men who have been sent to Bruges by their boss. The two main characters, Ray and Ken, are like a couple who bicker on a vacation. The result is a neo-noir with a dose of black humor.

 

Ray and Ken are two professional hit men who are sent to Bruges after Ray kills someone accidentally. In his boss’s code of ethics, Ray must pay for his mistake, and the tension in the film comes from what will happen when his boss catches up with Ken and Ray in Bruges.

 

*****Spoilers*****

 

In Bruges is a hard film to watch. The humor and the romance soften the story a bit, but not too much. In fact, as time passes since I saw it on DVD, and more than once, I find the film more and more unsettling. It doesn’t offer any easy answers for the characters or the viewers. The ending is ambiguous: Viewers aren’t completely sure what will become of Ray. But this ambiguity and ambivalence are features of noir.

 

1. Chiaroscuro for black and white films, intense or muted color in movies filmed in color N/A

2. Flashbacks Viewers learn about Ray’s mistake through a flashback.

3. Unusual narration N/A

4. Crime/planning a crime (usually—but not always—murder) The two main characters are hit men. Everything in this film is about their profession, so this one is definitely counted for In Bruges.

5. Femme fatale and/or homme fatale N/A

6. The instrument of fate Ray’s mistake, which happens before the start of the narrative portion of the film, haunts him throughout the film. His mistake is the reason that his boss, Harry Waters, comes to Bruges to find him and kill him.

7. Angst (for example, guilt, fear, self-doubt, confusion, and so on; in other words, anything that contributes to angst) Ray suffers from profound guilt over a mistake he makes in his first hit. Both he and his partner Ken discuss the implications of their profession of hit man.

8. Violence or the threat of violence Harry Waters is Ken and Ray’s boss. He’s determined to kill Ray for the mistake he made.

9. Urban and nighttime settings I’m going to count this one because the setting is everything, and Bruges is a city.

10. Allusion to post–World War II (or any postwar) themes (optional) N/A Medieval art and religious themes, but no postwar themes.

11. Philosophical themes (existentialism in particular) involving alienation, loneliness After seeing the medieval sights, which include lots of religious architecture and art in the city of Bruges, Ray and his partner Ken discuss religion and the implications of their occupation for their own salvation. Ray is despondent about the mistake he made on his first hit.

12. Psychology (hypnosis, brainwashing, manipulation, amnesia) N/A

13. Greed N/A

14. Betrayal There is some betrayal. Harry Waters orders Ken to kill Ray. Eirik, Chloë’s ex-boyfriend, betrays Ray when he tells Harry Waters when to find Ray.

15. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on) In Bruges manages to get viewers to identify with two hit men, with two people who kill people for a living. I was rooting for both Ken and Ray in this film.

16. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good” This one is open to interpretation really. The ending of the film is not definitive. But it’s clear that other characters in the film care about what is happening and care about both Ken and Ray.

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In Bruges (2008, dir. Martin McDonagh)

 

In Bruges manages to get viewers to identify with, and to like, two hit men who have been sent to Bruges by their boss. The two main characters, Ray and Ken, are like a couple who bicker on a vacation. The result is a neo-noir with a dose of black humor.

 

Ray and Ken are two professional hit men who are sent to Bruges after Ray kills someone accidentally. In his boss’s code of ethics, Ray must pay for his mistake, and the tension in the film comes from what will happen when his boss catches up with Ken and Ray in Bruges.

 

15. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on) In Bruges manages to get viewers to identify with two hit men, with two people who kill people for a living. I was rooting for both Ken and Ray in this film.

16. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good” This one is open to interpretation really. The ending of the film is not definitive. But it’s clear that other characters in the film care about what is happening and care about both Ken and Ray.

 

Marianne, I recently saw In Bruges and am in total agreement with the observations you make in your write-up. Ray, Ken, and their boss Harry are good-hearted, cold-blooded, murderers. Oxymoron?

 

Colin Farrell is excellent and shows wide range as Ray.

 

As the film moved forward, it became much darker than I expected and so you said it perfectly, "... a neo-noir with a dose of black humor." 

 

I enjoyed the film and the write-up.

Two Yeses'

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Marianne, I recently saw In Bruges and am in total agreement with the observations you make in your write-up. Ray, Ken, and their boss Harry are good-hearted, cold-blooded, murderers. Oxymoron?

 

Colin Farrell is excellent and shows wide range as Ray.

 

As the film moved forward, it became much darker than I expected and so you said it perfectly, "... a neo-noir with a dose of black humor." 

 

I enjoyed the film and the write-up.

Two Yeses'

 

So glad you enjoyed In Bruges. It's a very good movie, but it's not one I would recommend because it's unusually dark. I still find it unsettling, and I saw it a while ago!

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The Lookout (2007)

dir. Scott Frank

 

Four years ago Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) was in a fatal car accident which caused a brain injury and left him suffering from amnesia. Today he depends on his friend Lewis (Jeff Daniels) and a notepad to remind him of the daily basic requirements. This film examines how he adapts after the accident; his reluctance to get involved in a bank heist, courage to avenge the death of a friend and bravery to save the life of another. The film meets 12 of 16 characteristics on our neo-noir template.

 

. . . 

 

The Lookout is a well made crime-thriller, neo-noir.

 

 

The Lookout (2007, dir. Scott Frank)

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I found it to be an intriguing twist on the typical bank heist, with its main character who has suffered a traumatic brain injury. How much responsibility does he bear for the events in the bank heist, after being completely responsible for his injury in the crash at the start of the film? I give The Lookout 15 out of 16 on our list of neo-noir characteristics. See my comments in green below.

 

*****Spoilers*****          *****Spoilers*****

 

Four years ago Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) was in a fatal car accident which caused a brain injury and left him suffering from amnesia. Today he depends on his friend Lewis (Jeff Daniels) and a notepad to remind him of the daily basic requirements. This film examines how he adapts after the accident . . . . The film meets 12 of 16 characteristics on our neo-noir template.

 

1. Chiaroscuro for black and white films, intense or muted color in movies filmed in color (In either black and white or color, the technique is used to enhance the mood and/or the emotional content.) Yes Yes

The planning for the heist (setup and execution) is filmed in darker tones, as if denoting secrecy, taking cover and wrong doing. The clash at the end is filmed with snow as the backdrop, alluding to vulnerability and exposure; an effective contrast of tones and color; mood and emotions. The colors are muted throughout the telling of the present day events, almost like Chris is not really living his life. See number 2. The last sequence, in which he reflects on his past, is in full color: He is finally embracing his life.

 

2. Flashbacks Half Yes

The flashbacks never tell a story, they are used mainly to relive moments that Chris goes over in his mind. Chris’s flashbacks are instrumental to the story. Chris has no memory of the car crash, and only through the traumatic events of the bank heist does he regain those memories. After that point, he feels more in control and more able to continue putting his life back together.

 

3. Unusual narration Yes Yes

Chris’s narration is mostly present tense: "I wake up. Turn off the alarm. I look outside so that I know what to wear." It’s actually the vocalization of a writing assignment given at a Life Skills Center.

 

4. Crime/planning a crime (usually—but not always—murder) Yes Yes

Bank heist planning

Conspiracy

Felony murder

Kidnapping

 

5. Femme fatale and/or homme fatale Yes Yes

In order to lure Chris closer to Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode) and his den of thieves, Luvlee (Isla Fisher) seduces him in typical femme fatale fashion. While I agree that Luvlee is a femme fatale, she isn’t really a typical one because she suffers some remorse after her conversation with Chris’s roommate Lewis, and she leaves the plot altogether after she discovers that the gang members are stockpiling guns.

 

6. The instrument of fate Yes Yes

As luck would have it, Chris escapes the chaos at the bank by inadvertently (not so inadvertent on Chris’s part, but it is a happy coincidence that the car is there for him to drive away) driving away with the loot, further implicating him in the heist. This fateful incident also has dramatic effect on the outcome. Fate plays an even bigger role in this film for me, starting with the accident at the start of the film. Chris and his friends are driving on a deserted road, and there’s no reason to believe that anyone else would be on it at night. Fate seems to put the thresher, stalled, in the middle of the road for Chris to hit.

 

7. Angst (for example, guilt, fear, self-doubt, confusion, and so on; in other words, anything that contributes to angst) Yes Yes

Chris’s angst is a result of trauma he suffers after a fatal car accident. He is dependent on written notes to help him go through morning routines, "Take a shower…with soap. Then shave. Get dressed. Take meds… Sometimes I cry for no reason…I don’t read the paper. It confuses me, which makes me mad." I think there are many additional causes for Chris’s angst: guilt over inadvertently causing the accident; guilt over his friends’ deaths; guilt about the harm he is bringing to his coworkers and friends, most especially Lewis; and so on.

 

8. Violence or the threat of violence Yes Yes

Murder

 

9. Urban and nighttime settings Half Yes

The story takes place in Kansas City but the primary setting is a small time bank and a farm in the country. Most of the “troubles” occur at nighttime. In addition, Chris Pratt is taking life skills classes at the Independent Life Skills Center of Kansas City in Kansas City, Missouri, which immediately brought to mind (for me) another bank heist film, the 1952 film noir Kansas City Confidential.

 

10. Allusion to post–World War II (or any postwar) themes (optional) N/A N/A

 

11. Philosophical themes (existentialism in particular) involving alienation, loneliness Yes Yes

Shortly after having a discussion with Lewis, it becomes apparent that Luvlee has taken responsibility for her actions in luring Chris into a dangerous situation. We see her get in a taxi cab and drive away never to be seen or heard of again.

Lewis is blind, yet very perceptive, "Luvlee I presume. I recognize the perfume." Chris has trouble remembering, yet he’s intuitive, "All I can do is…try to forgive myself…then maybe others will forgive me too." . . . At this point, near the end of the film, it is implied that Chris is regaining more and more of his memory and has more control over his life.

 

12. Psychology (hypnosis, brainwashing, manipulation, amnesia) Yes Yes.

Chris suffers from amnesia.

"I can’t remember any of it…I remember right before [the accident] right after it." But this changes by the end of the film: Chris regains some memories. However, this doesn’t take away from counting this point. In fact, it is an even stronger point because the amnesia, and recovery from amnesia, is an integral part of the plot.

 

13. Greed Yes Yes

As with most bank heist noir, greed is a motivating factor.

"Whoever has the money, has the power." This is what the leader of the heist group, Gary Spargo, tells Chris Pratt as part of his manipulation of Chris, and it works on Chris, too, at least temporarily.

 

14. Betrayal Yes Yes

Gary Spargo gains Chris’s trust with his charm and smooth-talk. Later, he coerces Chris into criminal activity.

 

15. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on) Yes

I would count this one because the only characters portrayed as evil are the original bank heist gang. All the others are much more complicated, especially Chris, who finally realizes that he has been manipulated and that he has more control over his life than he thought he did.

 

16. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good” N/A Yes

I would say that Chris is an expert here and that he is not totally good (that is, not completely without fault). He realizes that he was manipulated; he realizes that he is doing wrong, and he slowly begins to realize that he is betraying his friends and putting them in danger with his decisions. He tells Luvlee earlier in the film that he didn’t really enjoy hunting with his father and his brother, but he hunted with them because he was good at it. After suffering some traumatic events because of his participation in the bank heist, his is finally able to remember what happened the night of the crash, and he uses this new power (which has nothing to do with money and thus gives him an edge over Gary Spargo) and his expert marksmanship to save himself and his friend Lewis.

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The Lookout (2007, dir. Scott Frank)

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I found it to be an intriguing twist on the typical bank heist, with its main character who has suffered a traumatic brain injury. How much responsibility does he bear for the events in the bank heist, after being completely responsible for his injury in the crash at the start of the film?  See my comments in green below.

 

*****Spoilers*****          *****Spoilers*****

 

Four years ago Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) was in a fatal car accident which caused a brain injury and left him suffering from amnesia. Today he depends on his friend Lewis (Jeff Daniels) and a notepad to remind him of the daily basic requirements. This film examines how he adapts after the accident . . . . The film meets 12 of 16 characteristics on our neo-noir template.

 

1. Chiaroscuro for black and white films, intense or muted color in movies filmed in color (In either black and white or color, the technique is used to enhance the mood and/or the emotional content.) Yes Yes

The planning for the heist (setup and execution) is filmed in darker tones, as if denoting secrecy, taking cover and wrong doing. The clash at the end is filmed with snow as the backdrop, alluding to vulnerability and exposure; an effective contrast of tones and color; mood and emotions. The colors are muted throughout the telling of the present day events, almost like Chris is not really living his life. See number 2. The last sequence, in which he reflects on his past, is in full color: He is finally embracing his life.

 

2. Flashbacks Half Yes

The flashbacks never tell a story, they are used mainly to relive moments that Chris goes over in his mind. Chris’s flashbacks are instrumental to the story. Chris has no memory of the car crash, and only through the traumatic events of the bank heist does he regain those memories. After that point, he feels more in control and more able to continue putting his life back together.

 

3. Unusual narration Yes Yes

Chris’s narration is mostly present tense: "I wake up. Turn off the alarm. I look outside so that I know what to wear." It’s actually the vocalization of a writing assignment given at a Life Skills Center.

 

4. Crime/planning a crime (usually—but not always—murder) Yes Yes

Bank heist planning

Conspiracy

Felony murder

Kidnapping

 

5. Femme fatale and/or homme fatale Yes Yes

In order to lure Chris closer to Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode) and his den of thieves, Luvlee (Isla Fisher) seduces him in typical femme fatale fashion. While I agree that Luvlee is a femme fatale, she isn’t really a typical one because she suffers some remorse after her conversation with Chris’s roommate Lewis, and she leaves the plot altogether after she discovers that the gang members are stockpiling guns.

 

6. The instrument of fate Yes Yes

As luck would have it, Chris escapes the chaos at the bank by inadvertently (not so inadvertent on Chris’s part, but it is a happy coincidence that the car is there for him to drive away) driving away with the loot, further implicating him in the heist. This fateful incident also has dramatic effect on the outcome. Fate plays an even bigger role in this film for me, starting with the accident at the start of the film. Chris and his friends are driving on a deserted road, and there’s no reason to believe that anyone else would be on it at night. Fate seems to put the thresher, stalled, in the middle of the road for Chris to hit.

 

7. Angst (for example, guilt, fear, self-doubt, confusion, and so on; in other words, anything that contributes to angst) Yes Yes

Chris’s angst is a result of trauma he suffers after a fatal car accident. He is dependent on written notes to help him go through morning routines, "Take a shower…with soap. Then shave. Get dressed. Take meds… Sometimes I cry for no reason…I don’t read the paper. It confuses me, which makes me mad." I think there are many additional causes for Chris’s angst: guilt over inadvertently causing the accident; guilt over his friends’ deaths; guilt about the harm he is bringing to his coworkers and friends, most especially Lewis; and so on.

 

8. Violence or the threat of violence Yes Yes

Murder

 

9. Urban and nighttime settings Half Yes

The story takes place in Kansas City but the primary setting is a small time bank and a farm in the country. Most of the “troubles” occur at nighttime. In addition, Chris Pratt is taking life skills classes at the Independent Life Skills Center of Kansas City in Kansas City, Missouri, which immediately brought to mind (for me) another bank heist film, the 1952 film noir Kansas City Confidential.

 

10. Allusion to post–World War II (or any postwar) themes (optional) N/A N/A

 

11. Philosophical themes (existentialism in particular) involving alienation, loneliness Yes Yes

Shortly after having a discussion with Lewis, it becomes apparent that Luvlee has taken responsibility for her actions in luring Chris into a dangerous situation. We see her get in a taxi cab and drive away never to be seen or heard of again.

Lewis is blind, yet very perceptive, "Luvlee I presume. I recognize the perfume." Chris has trouble remembering, yet he’s intuitive, "All I can do is…try to forgive myself…then maybe others will forgive me too." . . . At this point, near the end of the film, it is implied that Chris is regaining more and more of his memory and has more control over his life.

 

12. Psychology (hypnosis, brainwashing, manipulation, amnesia) Yes Yes.

Chris suffers from amnesia.

"I can’t remember any of it…I remember right before [the accident] right after it." But this changes by the end of the film: Chris regains some memories. However, this doesn’t take away from counting this point. In fact, it is an even stronger point because the amnesia, and recovery from amnesia, is an integral part of the plot.

 

13. Greed Yes Yes

As with most bank heist noir, greed is a motivating factor.

"Whoever has the money, has the power." This is what the leader of the heist group, Gary Spargo, tells Chris Pratt as part of his manipulation of Chris, and it works on Chris, too, at least temporarily.

 

14. Betrayal Yes Yes

Gary Spargo gains Chris’s trust with his charm and smooth-talk. Later, he coerces Chris into criminal activity.

 

15. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on) Yes

I would count this one because the only characters portrayed as evil are the original bank heist gang. All the others are much more complicated, especially Chris, who finally realizes that he has been manipulated and that he has more control over his life than he thought he did.

 

16. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good” N/A Yes

I would say that Chris is an expert here and that he is not totally good (that is, not completely without fault). He realizes that he was manipulated; he realizes that he is doing wrong, and he slowly begins to realize that he is betraying his friends and putting them in danger with his decisions. He tells Luvlee earlier in the film that he didn’t really enjoy hunting with his father and his brother, but he hunted with them because he was good at it. After suffering some traumatic events because of his participation in the bank heist, his is finally able to remember what happened the night of the crash, and he uses this new power (which has nothing to do with money and thus gives him an edge over Gary Spargo) and his expert marksmanship to save himself and his friend Lewis.

 

 

I'm delighted that you enjoyed The Lookout. You picked up on more than I did and I thank you for sharing. Your enthusiasm leaves me wanting to see the film again, now that there are new observations and additional characteristics.

This truly is a collaboration, considering that together we have given this write-up a near perfect 15 of 16. Thank you again.

 

Two Yeses!

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Triple 9 (2016)

dir. John Hillcoat

 

A Russian mobster is serving time in a prison cell overseas, while his wife back in Atlanta is running the organization, doing all she can to get him out. The three men helping her are two former navy SEALs and one former cop. They recruit two additional cops to help carry out a heist.

 

This is a gloomy film with sinister characters all involved in criminal activities. There isn’t a “feel good” moment, in fact I found no redeeming values in this film. Yet, the film is well made and I recommend it- only it’s not fun.

With 12 of 16 characteristics, this is a crime-thriller neo-noir.

 

1. Chiaroscuro for black and white films, intense or muted color in movies filmed in color (In either black and white or color, the technique is used to enhance the mood and/or the emotional content.) Yes

There are several indoor scenes, where shadows and muted red hues dominate the visuals.

In the opening scene three men are planning a crime and conclude that more hands are needed. They sit inside a car in the dark except for the break light casting a red shadow on their faces- illuminating nothing else. In essence, the car’s interior takes the place of the back alleys “secret meeting spot” of classic noir with limited lighting and shadows.

 

2. Flashbacks N/A

 

3. Unusual narration Yes

Normally, radio communications are not unusual in cops-and-robbers capers, but here, not only do they happen often, they also help tell the story as well. In fact the very last piece of the puzzle for the detective comes through a radio call.

 

4. Crime/planning a crime (usually—but not always—murder) Yes

We see arson, corruption, heists, kidnapping, robbery, and witness tampering.

 

5. Femme fatale and/or homme fatale Yes

Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet) is not your conventional femme fatale. She makes do without seducing and instead uses threats and violence to make Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor) yield to her demands. Not the ideal femme fatale but she certainly is cold-hearted, in control, and dresses to kill.

Her sister Elena (Gail Gadot*) completes the tag team and offers conjugal visits at his home.Now hurry, okay; I only have an hour.”

 

6. The instrument of fate N/A

 

7. Angst (for example, guilt, fear, self-doubt, confusion, and so on; in other words, anything that contributes to angst) Yes

-Detective Jeffrey Allen’s (Woody Harrelson) career appears heading towards a cul-de-sac; he loses his composure (his case stuck in a quagmire) and carries on abusing drugs and alcohol.

-Michael Atwood makes life-threatening decisions when unreasonable demands and threats are made against him.

-Gabe Welch (Aaron Paul) puts his life on the line in order to save another’s, perhaps needing to overcome his guilt and fear for having putting them in danger.

 

8. Violence or the threat of violence Yes

Assault; Murder; Torture

 

9. Urban and nighttime settings Yes

The setting is Atlanta, Georgia (expressways, tall buildings) also, the film begins and ends with nighttime settings with a few more in between.

 

10. Allusion to post–World War II (or any postwar) themes (optional) Yes

It is implied and inferred that Russell (Norman Reedus) and Michael are ex-Navy SEALs.

“Cops look after cops, same as you Special Ops do.”

“These guys have tactical training. Some of these guys are military for sure.”

 

11. Philosophical themes (existentialism in particular) involving alienation, loneliness Yes

Some characters are without a moral compass:

- I don’t care. Come down to us or some cop, I’ll be damned it’s not us who walk away from this thing.

While others have a nihilistic view of the world:

- Keep your head on a swivel, out-monster the monster.

Also, Michael and Irina are in do-or-die mode; What could be more alienating?

 

12. Psychology (hypnosis, brainwashing, manipulation, amnesia) Yes

Irina Vlaslov uses both violence and threats of violence to manipulate Michael into doing exactly what she wants.

 

13. Greed Yes

Money is not the focus of the heist, a security deposit box is, but one of the thieves, showing no discipline, sees it lying around and takes it. As a result, the team suffers a setback.

 

14. Betrayal Yes

There are several betrayals and double-crosses among the cohorts. One in particular, so flagrant and unnerving that the backstabber is tormented as the betrayal is about to happen.

 

15. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on) N/A

16. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good” N/A

 

* Represented Israel in the 2004 Miss Universe pageant and plays the lead role in the recently released film Wonder Woman.

 

Final observation

Cars are prominent throughout the film whether in the open or inside parking garages. They are often set on fire, part of crime scenes, interrogations, hiding place, shootouts, chases, and even a mercy killing. I can not say if this was part of the screenplay or the director’s call, but cars are definitely a favorite for one of them.

 

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So glad you enjoyed In Bruges. It's a very good movie, but it's not one I would recommend because it's unusually dark. I still find it unsettling, and I saw it a while ago!

 

I saw "In Bruges" quite a while ago too.  I remember not liking it all that much, but it is one I would like to see again. 

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I saw "In Bruges" quite a while ago too.  I remember not liking it all that much, but it is one I would like to see again. 

 

If you decide to see In Bruges again, I hope you'll post your reactions and thoughts about its being a neo-noir here. I have seen it several times, and it's still unsettling. But the relationship and the humor between the two main characters made it worth repeated viewings.

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Les cowboys (2015, dir. Thomas Bidegain)

 

Les cowboys is a powerful film and worth watching whether you decide it’s neo-noir or an updated Western (see below). I found the story incredibly moving and the characters entirely believable. I enjoyed it even more than I thought I would. And John C. Reilly was fantastic in his part as the unnamed American. I’ve enjoyed his acting in many films, and I can add Les cowboys to the list.

 

The Balland family members attend a country festival in a rural area of France; it’s October 1994 (before the 9/11 attacks, which becomes more significant later in the story). Alain Balland, the father, is well known in the community and is asked to sing on stage. He later dances with his daughter, and viewers see that there is real affection between them, between all the Balland family members. But before the festival is over, Kelly disappears, and her parents learn some secrets that she has been keeping from them. It becomes obvious that finding Kelly will be the responsibility of her family, and not of the authorities, and they do what they can to find her.

 

I can give Les cowboys 13 out of 16 on our list of neo-noir characteristics.

 

Les cowboys is described as an updated version of The Searchers. I didn’t research this too much so it might be true, but I didn’t find anything about it, at least, not from a brief online search and not from the director’s discussion about the making of the film on the DVD.

 

*****Spoilers*****     *****Spoilers*****

 

1. Chiaroscuro for black and white films, intense or muted color in movies filmed in color Color, the nighttime scenes, and the blinding sunlight are used to great effect in Les cowboys. There is one scene in which Georges Balland languishes in a Pakistani cell, and the colors remind me of Renaissance paintings.

2. Flashbacks N/A

3. Unusual narration I counted four distinct “periods” in the Balland family’s evolution from 1994 to 2015. The shifts or cuts are abrupt, at least for American viewers who are probably not as familiar with cultural clues that are probably more evident to French, Belgian, and European viewers in general. But the abrupt changes are jarring, which adds to the dislocation felt by the Balland family members.

4. Crime/planning a crime (usually—but not always—murder) Murder. Wrongful imprisonment. Mass murder.

5. Femme fatale and/or homme fatale N/A

6. The instrument of fate Fate plays a large role, but I don’t want to give too much away by describing why that is so. Suffice to say that the Balland family members left behind after Kelly’s departure did not ask to be put in that situation and must confront its ramifications almost daily.

7. Angst (for example, guilt, fear, self-doubt, confusion, and so on; in other words, anything that contributes to angst) The basis of Les cowboys is angst and confusion. The story centers on the Balland family’s struggles, but the parents of the boy that Kelly leaves with also struggle with doubt and confusion about their son.

8. Violence or the threat of violence Alain and Georges Balland (Kelly’s father and brother, respectively) negotiate illegal dealings for information about Kelly’s whereabouts, which puts them in danger. When Georges travels to the Middle East, he is in even greater danger.

9. Urban and nighttime settings The film includes many nighttime scenes in dark threatening places, but the same could be said about the bright expansive scenes that are part of Georges’s travels in the Middle East. The threat is real, whether it’s an urban nighttime scene or broad daylight in the heat of the desert hills.

10. Allusion to post–World War II (or any postwar) themes I am going to count the milieu of terrorism for this one. Although the film is a very personal story of one family’s struggle, most of the film takes place against the backdrop of terrorism.

11. Philosophical themes (existentialism in particular) involving alienation, loneliness Alain Balland is relentless in his search for his daughter. His zeal, although appreciated on some levels, begins to tear his family apart because he is so single-minded about it. The unnamed American in the story explains it to Georges Balland, Alain’s son, with something like this: “You can never go back. Once you have seen a place like this, your home becomes too small for people like us.”

12. Psychology (hypnosis, brainwashing, manipulation, amnesia) I’m going to count this one because viewers are never quite sure what happened to Kelly, whether it was her decision to leave or not. But the uncertainty about this plot detail is very noir, in and of itself. See also number 7.

13. Greed N/A

14. Betrayal I’ll count this one because it’s unclear if Kelly betrayed her family by leaving or whether the decision was made for her. Again, the fact that viewers aren’t entirely sure about this is noir enough for me.

15. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on) The film portrays the characters rather evenhandedly. Yes, there are some characters who perform evil acts, but the main characters are fleshed out, and one cannot say that each character’s decision is either right or wrong. Each character does what he or she feels is best under the circumstances.

16. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good” I suppose expertise does triumph, but on the small scale, in the world of the main characters. The film does not offer any answers for the grand scale, the global and political backdrop against which the characters are forced to live.

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We are repeating the list of film noir and neo-noir characteristics (borrowings) we have been using to investigate neo-noir. Please use as many or as few characteristics as you like to discuss neo-noir. I started the discussion thread as a way to continue applying what we learned in Dr. Edwards’s course, TCM Presents Into the Darkness: Investigating Film Noir (aka Summer of Darkness: Investigating Film Noir).

 

Also included (below the list of characteristics) is the most up-to-date list of neo-noir films; we have been adding—and continue to add—titles to the list. The list is broken down by decade, and alphabetized within each decade.

 

In the future, I’ll alternate between the neo-noir film list alphabetized by decade and the list alphabetized in its entirety.

 

Characteristics borrowed from film noir to define neo-noir and modern neo-noir:

1. Chiaroscuro for black and white films, intense or muted color in movies filmed in color (In either black and white or color, the technique is used to enhance the mood and/or the emotional content.)

2. Flashbacks

3. Unusual narration

4. Crime/planning a crime (usually—but not always—murder)

5. Femme fatale and/or homme fatale

6. The instrument of fate

7. Angst (for example, guilt, fear, self-doubt, confusion, and so on; in other words, anything that contributes to angst)

8. Violence or the threat of violence

9. Urban and nighttime settings

10. Allusion to post–World War II (or any postwar) themes (optional)

11. Philosophical themes (existentialism in particular) involving alienation, loneliness

12. Psychology (hypnosis, brainwashing, manipulation, amnesia)

13. Greed

14. Betrayal

15. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on)

16. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good”

 

List of neo-noir titles, alphabetized by decade:

Branded to Kill (1967) dir. Seijun Suzuki

Bullitt (1968), dir. Peter Yates

Cape Fear (1962), dir. J. Lee Thompson

Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), dir. Stanley Kubrick

Harper (1966), dir. Jack Smight

The Manchurian Candidate (1962), dir. John Frankenheimer

 Marlowe (1969), dir. Paul Bogart

Mickey One (1965), dir. Arthur Penn
The Naked Kiss (1964), dir. Samuel Fuller
Point Blank (1967), dir. John Boorman

Shock Corridor (1963) dir. Samuel Fuller

Underworld U.S.A. (1961), dir. Samuel Fuller

Wait Until Dark (1967), dir. Terence Young

 

The Big Sleep (1978), dir. Michael Winner 

Chinatown (1974), dir. Roman Polanski

Farewell, My Lovely (1975), dir. Dick Richards

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), dir. Peter Yates

Get Carter (1971) dir. Mike Hodges

Klute, (1971), dir. Alan J. Pakula

The Long Goodbye (1973) dir. Robert Altman

Night Moves (1975) dir. Arthur Penn

Pulp (1972), dir. Mike Hodges

Taxi Driver (1976), dir. Martin Scorsese

 

After Hours (1985), dir. Martin Scorsese

Against All Odds (1984), dir. Taylor Hackford

A Better Tomorrow (1986), dir. John Woo

The Big Easy (1986), dir. Jim McBride

Blade Runner (1982), dir. Ridley Scott

Blood Simple (1984), dir. Joel Coen

Blue Velvet (1986), dir. David Lynch

Body Heat (1981), dir. Lawrence Kasdan

Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982), dir. Carl Reiner

Down by Law (1986), dir. Jim Jarmusch

House of Games (1987), dir. David Mamet

King of Comedy (1982), dir. Martin Scorsese

The Long Good Friday (1980) dir. John Mackenzie

Manhunter (1986), dir. Michael Mann

The Morning After (1986), dir. Sidney Lumet

No Way Out (1987), dir. Roger Donaldson

Pennies from Heaven (1981), dir. Herbert Ross

Raging Bull (1980), dir. Martin Scorsese

Sea of Love (1989) dir. Harold Becker

Something Wild (1986), dir. Jonathan Demme

Stormy Monday (1988), dir. Mike Figgis

Year of the Dragon (1985), dir. Michael Cimino

 

Angel Heart (1997), dir. Alan Parker

Barton Fink (1991), dir. Joel and Ethan Coen

The Big Lebowski (1998), dir. Joel Coen

Blink (1994), dir. Michael Apted

Bound (1996), dir. The Wachowski Brothers

City of Hope (1991), dir. John Sayles

Dark City (1998), dir. Alex Proyas

Deep Cover (1992), dir. Bill Duke

Devil in a Blue Dress (1995), dir. Carl Franklin

Fargo (1996), dir. Joel Coen

Following (1999), dir. Christopher Nolan

Hard Boiled (1992) dir. John Woo

Heat (1995) dir. Michael Mann

Jackie Brown (1997) dir. Quentin Tarantino

Jade (1995) dir. William Friedkin

King of New York (1990) dir. Abel Ferrara

L.A. Confidential (1997), dir. Curtis Hanson

The Last Seduction (1994), dir. John Dahl

Limbo (1999), dir. John Sayles

Lone Star (1996), dir. John Sayles

Mulholland Falls (1996), dir. Lee Tamahori

Miller’s Crossing (1990), dir. Joel Coen

One False Move (1992), dir. Carl Franklin

Palmetto (1998), dir. Volker Schlondorff

The Public Eye (1992), dir. Howard Franklin

Q&A (1990), dir. Sydney Lumet

A Rage in Harlem (1991) dir. Bill Duke

Red Rock West (1992), dir. John Dahl

Reservoir Dogs (1992) dir. Quentin Tarantino

Romeo Is Bleeding (1993), dir. Peter Medak

Serial Mom (1994), dir. John Waters

Se7en (1995), dir. David Fincher

Silence of the Lambs (1991) dir. Jonathan Demme

State of Grace (1990) dir. Phil Joanou

True Romance (1993) Tony Scott

The Two Jakes (1990), dir. Jack Nicholson

The Usual Suspects (1995), dir. Bryan Singer

U-Turn (1997), dir. Oliver Stone

 

Batman Begins (2005), dir. Christopher Nolan

The Black Dahlia (2006), dir. Brian DePalma

Brick (2006), dir. Rian Johnson

Collateral (2004) dir. Michael Mann

Criminal (2004), dir. Gregory Jacobs

Derailed (2005), dir. Mikael Hafstrom

Femme Fatale (2002), dir. Brian de Palma

Gangs of New York (2002), dir. Martin Scorsese

Gone, Baby, Gone (2007), dir. Ben Affleck

Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), dir. George Clooney

Hollywoodland (2006), dir. Allen Coulter

The Ice Harvest (2005), dir. Harold Ramis

Insomnia (2002), dir. Christopher Nolan

Killshot (2009), dir. John Madden

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), dir. Shane Black

The Lookout (2007), dir. Scott Frank

Memento (2000), dir. Christopher Nolan

Mulholland Drive (2001), dir. David Lynch

Mystic River (2003) dir. Clint Eastwood

Not Forgotten (2009), dir. Dror Soref

Oldboy (2003) dir. Chan-wook Park

Out of Time (2003), dir. Carl Franklin

The Red Riding Trilogy (2009), dirs. Julian Jarrold, James Marsh, Anand Tucker

Sexy Beast (2000), dir. Jonathan Glazer

Silver City (2004), dir. John Sayles

Training Day (2001), dir. Antoine Fugua

Twisted (2004), dir. Philip Kaufman

Welcome to Collinwood (2002), dir. by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo

Zodiac (2007), dir. David Fincher

 

All Good Things (2010), dir. Andrew Jarecki

Blue Valentine (2010), dir. Derek Cianfrance

Broken City (2013), dir. Allen Hughes

Drive (2011), dir. Nicolas Winding Refn

The Equalizer (2014), dir. Antoine Fuqua

Gangster Squad (2013), dir. Ruben Fleischer

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), dir. David Fincher

Go for Sisters (2103), dir John Sayles

Irrational Man (2015), dir. Woody Allen

John Wick (2014), dir. Chad Stahelski

Lost River (2014), dir. Ryan Gosling

Manhattan Night (2016), dir. Brian DeCubellis

The Nice Guys (2016), dir. Shane Black

Nightcrawler (2014), dir. Dan Gilroy

Nocturnal Animals (2016), dir. Tom Ford

Only God Forgives (2013), dir. Nicolas Winding Refn

The Place Beyond the Pines (2012), dir. Derek Cianfrance

Shutter Island (2010), dir. Martin Scorsese

Stonehearst Asylum (2014), dir. Brad Anderson

The Sweeney (2012), dir. Nick Love

The Town (2010), dir. Ben Affleck

Triple 9 (2016), dir. John Hillcoat

2 Guns (2013), dir. Baltasar Kormakur

Winter’s Bone (2010), dir. Debra Granik

 

Neo-noirs from abroad, alphabetized by decade:

Blow-Up (1966), dir. Michelangelo Antonioni, from United Kingdom and Italy

Le doulos (1962), dir Jean-Pierre Melville, from France

Tirez sur le pianiste (Shoot the Piano Player) (1960), dir. François Truffaut, from France

 

Le cercle rouge (The Red Circle) (1970), dir. Jean-Pierre Melville, from France

Flic Story (1975), dir. Jacques Deray, from France

The Outside Man (Un homme est mort) (1972), dir. Jacques Deray, from France and Italy

 

The Moon in the Gutter (La lune dans le caniveau) (1983), dir. Jean-Jacques Beineix, from France

 

Delicatessen (1991), dirs. Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, from France

Foreign Land (1996), dirs. Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas, from Brazil

Insomnia (1997), dir Erik Skjoldbjær, from Norway

León: The Professional (1994), dir. Luc Besson, from France

Shallow Grave (1995), dir. Danny Boyle, from the United Kingdom

 

Amores perros (2001) dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu, from Mexico

El aura (The Aura) (2005), dir. Fabián Bielinsky, from Argentina (France and Spain)

 

Caché (Hidden) (2005), dir. Michael Haneke, from France

The Crimson Rivers (2000), dir. Mathieu Kassovitz, from France

La demoiselle d’honneur (The Bridesmaid) (2004 in France), dir. Claude Chabrol, from France

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest (2009), dir. Daniel Alfredson, from Sweden

The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009), dir. Daniel Alfredson, from Sweden

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009), dir. Niels Arden Oplev, from Sweden

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (2003), dir. Mike Hodges, from the United Kingdom

In Bruges (2008), dir. Martin McDonagh, from Britain and the United States

Jerichow (2008), dir. Christian Petzold, from Germany

Just Another Love Story (2007), dir. Ole Bornedal, from Denmark

Lantana (2001), dir. Ray Lawrence, from Australia

Ne le dis à personne (Tell No One) (2006), dir. Guillaume Canet, from France

Nine Queens (2000), dir. Fabián Bielinsky, from Argentina

Red Road (2006), dir. Andrea Arnold, from Scotland (United Kingdom)

The Secret in Their Eyes (2009), dir. Juan José Campanella, from Argentina

The Square (2008), dir. Nash Edgerton, from Australia

Thirty-Sixth (36th) Precinct (2004), dir. Olivier Marchal, from France

Where the Truth Lies (2005), dir. Atom Egoyan, from Canada

 

Animal Kingdom (2010), dir. David Michôd, from Australia

Black Coal, Thin Ice (2014), dir. Diao Yinan, from China

Les cowboys (2015), dir. Thomas Bidegain, from Belgium and France

Dancing on the Edge (television series) (2013), dir. Stephen Poliakoff

La haine (2012), dir. Mathieu Kassovitz, from France

Kill Me Three Times (2014), dir. Kriv Stenders, from Australia

Kill Your Friends (2015), dir. Owen Harris, from United Kingdom

Wild Tales (2014), dir. Damian Szifron, from Spain and Argentina

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And in comparison Visual NEO-NOIR Chronological film list (a work in progress)

 

Girl Of The Night (1960)
Never let Go (1960) 
The Savage Eye (1960) 
The 3rd Voice (1960)
Why Must I Die? (1960)
Blast Of Silence (1961) 
The Young Savages (1961) 
Night Tide (1961) 
Underworld USA (1961) 
Something Wild (1961) 
All Fall Down (1962)
Cape Fear (1962) 
Experiment In Terror (1962) 
Manchurian Candidate (The)(1962) 
Private Property (1962) 
Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962) 
Satan in High Heels (1962) 
Shock Corridor (1962) 
Stark Fear (1962) 
Twilight Of Honor (1963) 
The Naked Kiss (1964) 
The Pawnbroker (1964)
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
Lorna (1964)
The Glass Cage (1964) 
The Thrill Killers (1964) 
Strange Compulsion (1964) 
The Strangler (1964)
Angel's Flight (1965)
Brainstorm (1965) 
Flesh and Lace (1965)
Hot Skin And Cold Cash (1965)
Love Statue (The)(1965)
Mirage (1965)
Once A Thief (1965) 
Tell Me in the Sunlight (1965) 
Who Killed Teddy Bear (1965) 
Aroused (1966) 
Mr. Buddwing (1966) 
Espions à l'affût (aka Heat Of Midnight) (1966)
Seconds (1966) 
Rage (1966)
Harper (1966) 
The Chase (1966)
In Cold Blood (1967) 
The Incident (1967)
In The Heat Of The Night (1967) 
Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967)
The Sex Killer (1967)
The Pick-Up (1968)
Marlowe (1969) 
The Honeymoon Killers (1969) 
 
Darker Than Amber (1970) 
Shaft  (1971)
Across 110th Street (1971) 
The Getaway (1971) 
Get Carter (1971) 
Hickey & Boggs (1972) 
Fat City (1972) 
The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) 
The Long Goodbye (1973)
Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia (1974) 
The Nickel Ride (1974) 
Chinatown (1974) 
Lenny (1974) 
Road Movie (1974) 
The Drowning Pool (1975) 
Farewell My Lovely (1975)
Night Moves (1975) 
Seven Beauties (1975) 
Taxi Driver (1976) 
The Killer Inside Me (1976) 
Bad (1977) 
The Late Show (1977)
The Big Sleep (1978)
 
Dressed to Kill (1980) 
Union City (1980) 
Body Heat (1981) 
Thief (1981)
Blade Runner (1982) 
Hammett (1982) 
Blood Simple (1984) 
Paris, Texas (1984) 
Tightrope (1984)
To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)
After Hours (1985)
Blue Velvet (1986) 
Angel Heart (1987) 
Siesta (1987)
Slam Dance (1987)
Kill Me Again (1989)
 
The Grifters (1990) 
The Kill-Off (1990)
The Hot Spot (1990) 
Wild At Heart (1990) 
Impulse (1990)
Dick Tracy (1990) 
Delicatessen (1991) 
A Rage In Harlem (1991)
Delusion (1991) 
Reservoir Dogs (1992) 
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992) 
The Public Eye (1992) 
Red Rock West (1993) 
Romeo Is Bleeding (1993)
True Romance (1993) 
The Wrong Man (1993) 
China Moon (1994) 
The Last Seduction (1994) 
Pulp Fiction (1994) 
Natural Born Killers (1994)
Blink (1994)
Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
Se7en (1995) 
Fargo (1996) 
Mulholland Falls (1996) 
Hit Me (1996)
Jackie Brown (1997) 
L.A. Confidential (1997) 
Lost Highway (1997) 
A Gun, A Car, A Blonde (1997) 
This World, Then the Fireworks (1997) 
Dark City (1998) 
A Simple Plan (1998) 
The Big Lebowski (1998) 
Palmetto (1998)
Payback (1999)
Night Train (1999) 
 
The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001) 
Mulholland Drive (2001) 
Sin City (2005) 
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
The Black Dahlia (2006) 
36 Quai des Orfèvres (2006) 
No Country For Old Men (2007) 
The Lookout (2007) 
Honeydripper (2007)
Across The Hall (2009) 
Give 'em Hell Malone (2009)
Dark Country (2009) 
The Missing Person (2009) 
The Killer Inside Me (2010)
Hotel Noir (2012)
The Iceman (2012)
Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (2014)
Too Late (2015)

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We are repeating the list of film noir and neo-noir characteristics (borrowings) we have been using to investigate neo-noir. Please use as many or as few characteristics as you like to discuss neo-noir. I started the discussion thread as a way to continue applying what we learned in Dr. Edwards’s course, TCM Presents Into the Darkness: Investigating Film Noir (aka Summer of Darkness: Investigating Film Noir).

 

Also included (below the list of characteristics) is the most up-to-date list of neo-noir films; we have been adding—and continue to add—titles to the list. The list is broken down by decade, and alphabetized within each decade.

 

In the future, I’ll alternate between the neo-noir film list alphabetized by decade and the list alphabetized in its entirety.

 

Characteristics borrowed from film noir to define neo-noir and modern neo-noir:

1. Chiaroscuro for black and white films, intense or muted color in movies filmed in color (In either black and white or color, the technique is used to enhance the mood and/or the emotional content.)

2. Flashbacks

3. Unusual narration

4. Crime/planning a crime (usually—but not always—murder)

5. Femme fatale and/or homme fatale

6. The instrument of fate

7. Angst (for example, guilt, fear, self-doubt, confusion, and so on; in other words, anything that contributes to angst)

8. Violence or the threat of violence

9. Urban and nighttime settings

10. Allusion to post–World War II (or any postwar) themes (optional)

11. Philosophical themes (existentialism in particular) involving alienation, loneliness

12. Psychology (hypnosis, brainwashing, manipulation, amnesia)

13. Greed

14. Betrayal

15. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on)

16. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good”

 

List of neo-noir titles, alphabetized by decade:

Branded to Kill (1967) dir. Seijun Suzuki

Bullitt (1968), dir. Peter Yates

Cape Fear (1962), dir. J. Lee Thompson

Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), dir. Stanley Kubrick

Harper (1966), dir. Jack Smight

The Manchurian Candidate (1962), dir. John Frankenheimer

 Marlowe (1969), dir. Paul Bogart

Mickey One (1965), dir. Arthur Penn

The Naked Kiss (1964), dir. Samuel Fuller

Point Blank (1967), dir. John Boorman

Shock Corridor (1963) dir. Samuel Fuller

Underworld U.S.A. (1961), dir. Samuel Fuller

Wait Until Dark (1967), dir. Terence Young

 

The Big Sleep (1978), dir. Michael Winner 

Chinatown (1974), dir. Roman Polanski

Farewell, My Lovely (1975), dir. Dick Richards

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), dir. Peter Yates

Get Carter (1971) dir. Mike Hodges

Klute, (1971), dir. Alan J. Pakula

The Long Goodbye (1973) dir. Robert Altman

Night Moves (1975) dir. Arthur Penn

Pulp (1972), dir. Mike Hodges

Taxi Driver (1976), dir. Martin Scorsese

 

After Hours (1985), dir. Martin Scorsese

Against All Odds (1984), dir. Taylor Hackford

A Better Tomorrow (1986), dir. John Woo

The Big Easy (1986), dir. Jim McBride

Blade Runner (1982), dir. Ridley Scott

Blood Simple (1984), dir. Joel Coen

Blue Velvet (1986), dir. David Lynch

Body Heat (1981), dir. Lawrence Kasdan

Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982), dir. Carl Reiner

Down by Law (1986), dir. Jim Jarmusch

House of Games (1987), dir. David Mamet

King of Comedy (1982), dir. Martin Scorsese

The Long Good Friday (1980) dir. John Mackenzie

Manhunter (1986), dir. Michael Mann

The Morning After (1986), dir. Sidney Lumet

No Way Out (1987), dir. Roger Donaldson

Pennies from Heaven (1981), dir. Herbert Ross

Raging Bull (1980), dir. Martin Scorsese

Sea of Love (1989) dir. Harold Becker

Something Wild (1986), dir. Jonathan Demme

Stormy Monday (1988), dir. Mike Figgis

Year of the Dragon (1985), dir. Michael Cimino

 

Angel Heart (1997), dir. Alan Parker

Barton Fink (1991), dir. Joel and Ethan Coen

The Big Lebowski (1998), dir. Joel Coen

Blink (1994), dir. Michael Apted

Bound (1996), dir. The Wachowski Brothers

City of Hope (1991), dir. John Sayles

Dark City (1998), dir. Alex Proyas

Deep Cover (1992), dir. Bill Duke

Devil in a Blue Dress (1995), dir. Carl Franklin

Fargo (1996), dir. Joel Coen

Following (1999), dir. Christopher Nolan

Hard Boiled (1992) dir. John Woo

Heat (1995) dir. Michael Mann

Jackie Brown (1997) dir. Quentin Tarantino

Jade (1995) dir. William Friedkin

King of New York (1990) dir. Abel Ferrara

L.A. Confidential (1997), dir. Curtis Hanson

The Last Seduction (1994), dir. John Dahl

Limbo (1999), dir. John Sayles

Lone Star (1996), dir. John Sayles

Mulholland Falls (1996), dir. Lee Tamahori

Miller’s Crossing (1990), dir. Joel Coen

One False Move (1992), dir. Carl Franklin

Palmetto (1998), dir. Volker Schlondorff

The Public Eye (1992), dir. Howard Franklin

Q&A (1990), dir. Sydney Lumet

A Rage in Harlem (1991) dir. Bill Duke

Red Rock West (1992), dir. John Dahl

Reservoir Dogs (1992) dir. Quentin Tarantino

Romeo Is Bleeding (1993), dir. Peter Medak

Serial Mom (1994), dir. John Waters

Se7en (1995), dir. David Fincher

Silence of the Lambs (1991) dir. Jonathan Demme

State of Grace (1990) dir. Phil Joanou

True Romance (1993) Tony Scott

The Two Jakes (1990), dir. Jack Nicholson

The Usual Suspects (1995), dir. Bryan Singer

U-Turn (1997), dir. Oliver Stone

 

Batman Begins (2005), dir. Christopher Nolan

The Black Dahlia (2006), dir. Brian DePalma

Brick (2006), dir. Rian Johnson

Collateral (2004) dir. Michael Mann

Criminal (2004), dir. Gregory Jacobs

Derailed (2005), dir. Mikael Hafstrom

Femme Fatale (2002), dir. Brian de Palma

Gangs of New York (2002), dir. Martin Scorsese

Gone, Baby, Gone (2007), dir. Ben Affleck

Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), dir. George Clooney

Hollywoodland (2006), dir. Allen Coulter

The Ice Harvest (2005), dir. Harold Ramis

Insomnia (2002), dir. Christopher Nolan

Killshot (2009), dir. John Madden

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), dir. Shane Black

The Lookout (2007), dir. Scott Frank

Memento (2000), dir. Christopher Nolan

Mulholland Drive (2001), dir. David Lynch

Mystic River (2003) dir. Clint Eastwood

Not Forgotten (2009), dir. Dror Soref

Oldboy (2003) dir. Chan-wook Park

Out of Time (2003), dir. Carl Franklin

The Red Riding Trilogy (2009), dirs. Julian Jarrold, James Marsh, Anand Tucker

Sexy Beast (2000), dir. Jonathan Glazer

Silver City (2004), dir. John Sayles

Training Day (2001), dir. Antoine Fugua

Twisted (2004), dir. Philip Kaufman

Welcome to Collinwood (2002), dir. by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo

Zodiac (2007), dir. David Fincher

 

All Good Things (2010), dir. Andrew Jarecki

Blue Valentine (2010), dir. Derek Cianfrance

Broken City (2013), dir. Allen Hughes

Drive (2011), dir. Nicolas Winding Refn

The Equalizer (2014), dir. Antoine Fuqua

Gangster Squad (2013), dir. Ruben Fleischer

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), dir. David Fincher

Go for Sisters (2103), dir John Sayles

Irrational Man (2015), dir. Woody Allen

John Wick (2014), dir. Chad Stahelski

Lost River (2014), dir. Ryan Gosling

Manhattan Night (2016), dir. Brian DeCubellis

The Nice Guys (2016), dir. Shane Black

Nightcrawler (2014), dir. Dan Gilroy

Nocturnal Animals (2016), dir. Tom Ford

Only God Forgives (2013), dir. Nicolas Winding Refn

The Place Beyond the Pines (2012), dir. Derek Cianfrance

Shutter Island (2010), dir. Martin Scorsese

Stonehearst Asylum (2014), dir. Brad Anderson

The Sweeney (2012), dir. Nick Love

The Town (2010), dir. Ben Affleck

Triple 9 (2016), dir. John Hillcoat

2 Guns (2013), dir. Baltasar Kormakur

Winter’s Bone (2010), dir. Debra Granik

 

Neo-noirs from abroad, alphabetized by decade:

Blow-Up (1966), dir. Michelangelo Antonioni, from United Kingdom and Italy

Le doulos (1962), dir Jean-Pierre Melville, from France

Tirez sur le pianiste (Shoot the Piano Player) (1960), dir. François Truffaut, from France

 

Le cercle rouge (The Red Circle) (1970), dir. Jean-Pierre Melville, from France

Flic Story (1975), dir. Jacques Deray, from France

The Outside Man (Un homme est mort) (1972), dir. Jacques Deray, from France and Italy

 

The Moon in the Gutter (La lune dans le caniveau) (1983), dir. Jean-Jacques Beineix, from France

 

Delicatessen (1991), dirs. Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, from France

Foreign Land (1996), dirs. Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas, from Brazil

Insomnia (1997), dir Erik Skjoldbjær, from Norway

León: The Professional (1994), dir. Luc Besson, from France

Shallow Grave (1995), dir. Danny Boyle, from the United Kingdom

 

Amores perros (2001) dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu, from Mexico

El aura (The Aura) (2005), dir. Fabián Bielinsky, from Argentina (France and Spain)

 

Caché (Hidden) (2005), dir. Michael Haneke, from France

The Crimson Rivers (2000), dir. Mathieu Kassovitz, from France

La demoiselle d’honneur (The Bridesmaid) (2004 in France), dir. Claude Chabrol, from France

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest (2009), dir. Daniel Alfredson, from Sweden

The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009), dir. Daniel Alfredson, from Sweden

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009), dir. Niels Arden Oplev, from Sweden

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (2003), dir. Mike Hodges, from the United Kingdom

In Bruges (2008), dir. Martin McDonagh, from Britain and the United States

Jerichow (2008), dir. Christian Petzold, from Germany

Just Another Love Story (2007), dir. Ole Bornedal, from Denmark

Lantana (2001), dir. Ray Lawrence, from Australia

Ne le dis à personne (Tell No One) (2006), dir. Guillaume Canet, from France

Nine Queens (2000), dir. Fabián Bielinsky, from Argentina

Red Road (2006), dir. Andrea Arnold, from Scotland (United Kingdom)

The Secret in Their Eyes (2009), dir. Juan José Campanella, from Argentina

The Square (2008), dir. Nash Edgerton, from Australia

Thirty-Sixth (36th) Precinct (2004), dir. Olivier Marchal, from France

Where the Truth Lies (2005), dir. Atom Egoyan, from Canada

 

Animal Kingdom (2010), dir. David Michôd, from Australia

Black Coal, Thin Ice (2014), dir. Diao Yinan, from China

Les cowboys (2015), dir. Thomas Bidegain, from Belgium and France

Dancing on the Edge (television series) (2013), dir. Stephen Poliakoff

La haine (2012), dir. Mathieu Kassovitz, from France

Kill Me Three Times (2014), dir. Kriv Stenders, from Australia

Kill Your Friends (2015), dir. Owen Harris, from United Kingdom

Wild Tales (2014), dir. Damian Szifron, from Spain and Argentina

Marianne, I notice several titles highlighted in purple, was this your doing? If so, what does it mean. ? Or, were these titles contributed by other members and are just carried through in their original colors sent by them? Just curious.

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Marianne, I notice several titles highlighted in purple, was this your doing? If so, what does it mean. ? Or, were these titles contributed by other members and are just carried through in their original colors sent by them? Just curious.

 

Not sure why those titles are in purple. They may have been suggested by other people and I just copied and pasted. I'll fix the list for the next posting.

 

Thanks for pointing this out, HEYMOE!!!

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Body Heat (1981)

Dir. Lawrence Kasdan

 

At its core, Body Heat resembles Double Indemnity (1944) and The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946); each begins with an illicit affair involving a married woman, followed by a plot to do away with the husband, and finally, unforeseen complications shake things up.

 

In our film, the couple having the affair are lawyer Ned Racine (William Hurt) and Matty Tyler Walker (Kathleen Turner) who is married to Edmund Walker (Richard Crenna).

 

1. Chiaroscuro for black and white films, intense or muted color in movies filmed in color (In either black and white or color, the technique is used to enhance the mood and/or the emotional content.) Yes

A couple of early barroom scenes shows the red tint popular in neo-noir. Cinematographer Richard H. Kline (Hang ‘Em High, The Fury, All of Me) does excellent with all the nighttime scenes. The color-shades range from bright nighttime explosions (orange/yellow) to a gray, obscuring fog, illuminated by headlights.

 

2. Flashbacks N/A

3. Unusual narration N/A

 

4. Crime/planning a crime (usually—but not always—murder) Yes

Arson; Conspiracy; Forgery

 

5. Femme fatale and/or homme fatale Yes

Matty Tyler Walker is a true femme fatale. She cleverly lures her men in and then does away with them as soon as they have served their purpose.

 

6. The instrument of fate Yes

We see a chance meeting between Ned Racine and Matty Tyler Walker on a boardwalk and all that goes wrong afterward. Later, Ned mistakes a woman for Matty which will prove troublesome for all.

 

7. Angst (for example, guilt, fear, self-doubt, confusion, and so on; in other words, anything that contributes to angst) Yes

We believe Matty’s angst when she has this discussion with a paranoid Ned:

Matty: I couldn’t call. I was afraid to. I was afraid you wouldn’t let me come.

Ned: That’s right, you mustn’t call…The phone company keeps records.

Matty: I am careful. Ned, I hated it. I hated sitting there with the two of you. I thought I’d scream.

Ned: You have to be careful now about the phones.

Matty: Why do you say this now?

Ned: We can account for a couple of calls. We’ve had some contact. It’d make sense.

Matty: Why, Ned? What’s happened.

Ned: Because we’re going to kill him. We both know that…

Matty: It’s real then?

Ned: It’s real. And if we’re not careful, it’ll be the last real thing we do.

 

8. Violence or the threat of violence Yes

Murder

 

9. Urban and nighttime settings - Yes

A boardwalk with an open concert hall, a busy diner with professional looking patrons, and a freeway suggests, at the very least, a big urban town. Nighttime settings are plentiful and well photographed.

 

10. Allusion to post–World War II (or any postwar) themes (optional) N/A

 

11. Philosophical themes (existentialism in particular) involving alienation, loneliness Yes

Matty and Ned are making decisions that may have long range effects. Their scheme to strike it rich and,get away from …all of this,” comes with risks neither are considering. Each is struggling to overcome their emotional loneliness.

 

12. Psychology (hypnosis, brainwashing, manipulation, amnesia) Yes

Matty has a plan and with precision, sees it through: “Some men, once they get a (whiff), they trail you like a hound.” There is no question who is in control here. Matty and Ned have obsessions; hers is money; his is needing tending to.

 

13. Greed Yes

I’m greedy, like you said. I wanted us to have it all.”

 

14. Betrayal Yes

Matty agrees to having her husband killed then throws some friends under the bus.

Matty: When I think about it, I wish he’d die.

Ned: That’s where we’re at, isn’t it?

Matty: What do you mean?

Ned: That’s what we’re both thinking. How good it would be for us if he was gone.

 

15. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on) N/A

16. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good” N/A

 

13 of 16 for this really classic-noir-looking neo-noir.

 

The soundtrack by John Barry adds to the overall mood of the film. The opening theme plays like an ode to classic noir with its slow-tempo, soft jazz, piano/sax arrangement.

At the time, he had already won three Oscars and would go on to win two more.

 

Here is a sample of the noir banter in this film:

Ned, noting a woman (Matty) standing alone on the boardwalk, approaches:

Ned: You can stand here with me if you want… …but you’ll have to agree not to talk

about the heat.

Matty: I’m a married woman.

Ned: Meaning what?

Matty: Meaning I’m not looking for company.

Ned: Then you should’ve said, “I’m a happily married woman.”

Matty: That’s my business.

Ned: What?

Matty: How happy I am.

Ned: And how happy is that?

Matty: You’re not too smart, are you? I like that in man.

 

Ned: Can I buy you a drink?

Matty: I told you, I’ve got a husband.

Ned: I’ll buy him one too.

Matty: He’s out of town.

Ned: My favorite kind. We’ll drink to him.

Matty: He only comes up on weekends.

Ned: I’m liking him better all the time.

 

 

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Jack Reacher (2012)

dir. Christopher McQuarrie

 

Tom Cruise plays Jack Reacher, the title character in this film adaptation of British author Lee Child’s novel One Shot. Since the film mostly follows Jack, I thought it was best to let the author describe in his own words, his “iconic hero”:

“He’s two things in one. On the surface, he is an ex-military cop who is suddenly dumped out into the civilian world. He doesn’t fit in, and he spends his time wandering America, seeing the things that he’s never had time to see before. He’s trying to stay out of trouble, but masterfully once a year getting into trouble. He’s also the descendant of a very ancient tradition: the noble loner, the knight errant, the mysterious stranger, who has shown up in stories forever.” *

 

1. Chiaroscuro for black and white films, intense or muted color in movies filmed in color (In either black and white or color, the technique is used to enhance the mood and/or the emotional content.) No

 

2. Flashbacks Yes

As Jack Reacher goes over the crime scene and envisions what occurred there, the audience has an opportunity to see what he seeing, on the screen. It helps emphasize several key points and also functions as an excellent visual guide for us.

 

3. Unusual narration No

 

4. Crime/planning a crime (usually—but not always—murder) Yes

Conspiracy; Corruption; Kidnapping; Murder

 

5. Femme fatale (and/or homme fatale) Yes

At first, Sandy (Alexia Fast) seems an unlikely femme fatale; she is young, unsophisticated, and her quarry shows no interest, yet the results prove just as troublesome for one and deadly for the other.

 

6. The instrument of fate Yes

Multiple victims of a sniper’s attack are chosen at random, a simple case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

 

7. Angst (for example, guilt, fear, self-doubt, confusion, and so on; in other words, anything that contributes to angst) Yes

While visiting with a distraught parent, armed with a hand gun, defense attorney Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike) begins to fear for her life when she is ordered to,…stay where you are! That man deserves to die, why would you defend him?”

As she discusses the evidence, Helen suddenly is stunned when realizing that her life may be in danger because someone she trusts may not have her back. Whatever happens to me next is on your head. …I’ve given you compelling evidence to investigate. Your next move will tell me which side you are on.”

 

8. Violence or the threat of violence Yes

Murder; Torture

 

9. Urban and nighttime settings Yes

The setting is Pittsburgh. There is a nighttime brawl filmed outside a bar and later a car chase sequence involving Pittsburgh police, also filmed at night. Except for the opening scenes, most of the violence takes place at night.

 

10. Allusion to post–World War II (or any postwar) themes (optional) Yes

Reacher is a veteran of the Iraq, Afghanistan, and Balkans wars. He teams up with former marine sharpshooter Martin Cash (Robert Duval) to help get the bad guys.

 

11. Philosophical themes (existentialism in particular) involving alienation, loneliness Yes

Jack Reacher is a ghost. No driver’s license- current or expired, no residence- current or former; no credit cards, no credit history, no PO box, Cell phone, email- nothing. After a lifetime in the military he just up and quits and then… simply disappears. He is alienated, as if abstracted from the world and for most of the story, has no allies.

 

12. Psychology (hypnosis, brainwashing, manipulation, amnesia) Yes

The evidence found at the crime scene has been tampered with and manipulated, in order to draw investigators away from those responsible.

The suspect, James Barr, has trouble remembering anything about the incident. I don’t remember wanting to do it. Look, I am not going to fight this, if they say I done it, then I did.”

 

13. Greed Yes

Corporate greed

Here the counselor explains the background story to the plot:

Helen: [A Russian corporation acquires] local construction [businesses] just a head of major civic redevelopment projects. They build bridges no one needs, and highways no one uses…They moved 12 times in 15 years, Atlanta, Albuquerque, Austin, Oklahoma City, Sacramento, always amidst allegations of corruption including millions of dollars in missing public funds and yet never an investigation, never even an inquiry! 

 

14. Betrayal Yes

Definitely yes, but no SPOILERS here.

 

15. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on) Yes

Jack Reacher is a brilliant investigator with good instincts, but he also has “attitude” and often views with contempt, most of the people he engages. His final act in the story calls into question the moral ambiguity of the true nature of his character. Is he a flawed man looking for justice by any means? Or is he an idealist who gets carried away? The viewers must decide.

There’s this guy. He’s a kind of cop; at least he used to be. He doesn’t care about the law, he doesn’t care about proof, he only cares about what is right.”

 

16. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good” Yes

Jack Reacher’s expertise in pursuing trained killers during his service in the military police, goes a long way into solving this case.

 

14 of 16 neo-noir characteristics for this well written, directed and produced crime thriller.

 

* http://entertainment.time.com/2012/09/19/lee-child-on-his-new-thriller-tom-cruise-as-jack-reacher-and-wandering-heroes/ 

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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.

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In the Lake of the Woods (1996, dir. Carl Schenkel)

John Waylan is running for U.S. senator from Minnesota when it is discovered that he either participated in or did nothing when he witnessed a massacre of civilians while he served in Vietnam. (The village is called Son My, but details about the massacre are comparable to the massacre at My Lai.) John and his wife Kathy escape to a friend’s cabin on a lake in Minnesota to put their lives back together when John loses the election after the scandal. Kathy disappears in the remote area, and people who know the couple start to wonder if John played a part in her disappearance. The rest of the film examines John Waylan’s state of mind and his relationship with his wife.

In the Lake of the Woods is based on the book of the same name by Tim O’Brien. I became interested in his writing again after seeing his interviews in the recent PBS documentary The Vietnam War by Ken Burns. I read the novel, too, and I can recommend it, but it is tragic and sad, with discussion of the war and My Lai in particular.

I was surprised by two details about the film version of O’Brien’s book: It was made for television and Hallmark Entertainment distributed it!

I can give In the Lake of the Woods 11 out of 16 on our list of noir characteristics.

*****Spoilers*****          *****Spoilers*****          *****Spoilers*****

1. Chiaroscuro for black and white films, intense or muted color in movies filmed in color (In either black and white or color, the technique is used to enhance the mood and/or the emotional content.) N/A

2. Flashbacks Flashbacks are interwoven throughout the story, and they are used in some innovative ways. See number 3.

3. Unusual narration See number 2. Are all the flashbacks really flashbacks, or are they alternative versions of what really happened? The film leaves it up to the viewer to decide.

4. Crime/planning a crime (usually—but not always—murder) This one is a hard one to answer without giving anything away. I’ll count it for this film.

5. Femme fatale and/or homme fatale N/A

6. The instrument of fate Fate plays a role in John Waylan’s life in many ways, although one could also make the argument that he brought some of his troubles on himself. The one thing that is a constant in the story, however, is the PTSD that he suffers after his tour in Vietnam, and that certainly is not his fault.

7. Angst In the Lake of the Woods is all about angst, in all its forms: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for John Waylan as a Vietnam vet, despair for John after losing an important election because of scandal, worry about the disappearance of his wife Kathy for all who knew her, fear that John may have killed her.

8. Violence or the threat of violence John Waylan is a bit of a loose cannon, so no one seems to know what he is capable of.

9. Urban and nighttime settings N/A I can’t really count this one because most of the film takes place at an isolated cabin in the Minnesota woods.

10. Allusion to post–World War II (or any postwar) themes John’s experiences in Vietnam, and one experience in particular, haunt him. These experiences affect his life and his relationship with his wife.

11. Philosophical themes (existentialism in particular) involving alienation, loneliness John Waylan is isolated both physically and emotionally. He feels alienated from everyone because of what he saw and experienced during his tour in Vietnam. He suffers from flashbacks and from PTSD.

12. Psychology (hypnosis, brainwashing, manipulation, amnesia) Does John’s PTSD lead him to commit violent acts? Does the PTSD cause his mind to blank out any events that he finds too troubling to remember?

13. Greed N/A

14. Betrayal N/A

15. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on) The story is told simply. None of the main characters are depicted as either good or bad.

16. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good” I’m going to count this one, not because expertise triumphs but because no one triumphs. The ending is clear in some ways, but no one who knows the Waylans has any answers. The ambiguity is perfect for a situation that is impossible to know with absolute certainty.

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