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alenoir

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Everything posted by alenoir

  1. I really like the feeling of going full circle with this particular daily dose. A lot of the early films had that same sense of mystery, danger and urgency, and also dialogue that was quick and revealed little and left a lot of questions. It's also nice to see the progression from small casts and venues to the bigger, badder city or town (in this case, Los Angeles). Speaking of, I love films set in LA. I think that's the quintessential noir city, even more than the unnamed midwest town. It has that glamour and tempo that I associate so dearly with noir. It has that unabashed sense of danger and of humanity challenged or twisted. This femme fatale has me worried. She's not in control, not even by appearance. Maybe she's not going to be a fatale at all. I also liked the humor of the head waiter. "Oh these kinds of people" amazing line. That's what noir really is. All these sorts of terrible people that meet each other and that do or suffer terrible things.
  2. I really enjoyed the composition of the scene and the high and constant tense contrast between Captain in his position of power and prisoner in his position of submission. It's a really interesting scene, too, because typically in noir, the shady characters are the criminals. They're the ones ruling the underworld and comitting all kinds of atrocities for their benefit. Of course, we don't know enough from this clip to know if perhaps the Captain is bending the law for the greater good, but I don't think that'll be the case after seeing the response of fellow officers from outside of the room as they hear the beating happening. In fact, I think that re-establishes the previous imbalance, in which those who are supposed to be the good guys had yet to be good in the film. But, we don't know yet if those cops/officers on the outside will be able to do anything. If I've learned anything in noir, is that good results for good people are not free. It's possible that the choice to show those who are about being moral and ethical are in an outside room because, despite their good intentions, they'll be unable to affect a change. They're the real good guys, but their efforts might be in vain.
  3. There have been a lot of Daily Doses that have made me feel like I need to watch the entire film immediately after finishing the clips. Desperate has created the most powerful response yet. I really enjoyed the play of light and shadow accompanied by the musical score. It's the music that really highlights the darkest parts of this scene, and it comes to fit so neatly with what's going on, helping the audience delve deeper into this underworld. Poor Steve that almost got away with innocence, if it wasn't for his bride. I wonder what the connection between all parties is, especially between the boss of the gang and the quiet, shorter man next to him, probably his right-hand man. Those few seconds of where they're both framed, looking unemotionally at the beating of Steve, had a strong impact upon me. Yeah, they're so tough that they don't flinch at violence, they don't flinch at the possibility of losing (because they know they'll get their way), they won't flinch at the actions that they need to undertake to win it all. I think that I need to make it a point to watch this film in particular. It's strenght and spirit is off the charts!
  4. There are echoes of Detour in this film as an accidental death occurs but the person nearest to it does the unthinkable, they run away perhaps thinking or assuming their guilt. The movie doesn't really feel like noir, not even when things get juicy. The setting, the build up and even the music start to feel more like traditional dramas. Some elements, of course, resonate such as the trains and the murder-mystery. Yet, I would have to watch it all to really get a full sense of its noirness. Even the lighting is off: it's so clear and fresh and bright. How is this noir? Also, did anyone notice she blinked? At first I thought that was part of the movie and was very upset he ran when she was still alive! After a second viewing, I decided it was probably accidental. What a miss from the director! Some typical noir themes: that discontent and upset that's underneath a rosy facade, danger in suburbia, strangers that infiltrate a home and disrupt it, the corruption of the homely characters. The salvation army: even in its name, it's supposed to evoke goodness (that the organization does or does not do good is outside of the question. we're not trying to critique reality, we're trying to critique the film and its elements within its world). The boiling obvious to signify the change of fate. the christmas and wholesome streets and joy and carols as means to show how good things are but to foreshadow falls from grace.
  5. -- Do you see evidence, even in the film's opening scenes, for Foster Hirsch's assessment that the dialogue in this film sounds like a "parody of the hard-boiled school" or that "noir conventions are being burlesqued"? It does sound like a parody. Though it feels like a natural progression of conversation, the things that are being said and what's being spent time on is silly. The classic noir PI doesn't care about cigarettes, but these guys do. They don't care about the damme, they just wan't to get things done, but these guys do. The aloofness and hardness of the classic is not there, though it pretends to be, in the film. Not to mention that there's just more legitimate humor such as the bags in LA without owners joke. -- What are some of the major noir elements in this film's opening, and do they seem to be variations on similar elements we have encountered in other noir films from the mid to late 1940s? As others have said: the train, the city noise, the two men, the taxi, the smoking, the dame, the mystery, the danger. Somethings atypical, especially in early films, the quick movement of scenes and the largness of the world of the film.
  6. Discuss the role of time and timing in this scene.As the Daily Dose says, it really is all about timing. Unlike other films, this one keeps things low key. Yes, the atmosphere has certain tension, but it's mostly because we don't really know what's happening yet know something crazy will. The cold and calculated approach of Foster paints a dry picture of what's to come. Time is slow, time is key and time is of the essence. What are the film noir elements (style or substance) that you notice in the opening of this film?Part of what's been discussed before: the realist/docu style. The music as a great asset to set the mood. The sense of impending doom and of crime. Why is a heist a good subject for a film noir to tackle? Put another way, how or why might a film that involves a heist affect or change what we think about criminals and/or criminal behavior on screen?I think a heist is a good subject; I think anything that deals with the "underworld" fits the noir style because that's what noir is about. Not the overt, but the hidden. Not the goody two-shoes, but the dark, broken, mysterious, damaged. It would, depending on how the film treats the criminals, romantice them and their antics, just as noir romantices that amoral detective or femme fatale. Nonetheless, it just fits the world of noir to talk about heists and it heightens themes formerly explored in older films (maltese falcon, for example).
  7. Very powerful first scene. Long, winding hallways underscored by the music and the back of a man, walking non-stop towards his destination. -- Compare the opening of this film with the other three Daily Doses this week? Do you see parallels in the opening scenes of these films? There is a parallel as was said in this last dose about loss of freedom. But also, a parallel in the way that each scene opens. It's a look to the distance and to the isolation of the characters. The contrast is clear when it comes to gender, as the men, even those who claim to have been "murdered" are more in control. However, that is not to make an assumption that things won't get out of hand for every character. -- How does the style and substance of this film's opening reinforce a feeling of pessimism or hopelessness in the character of Frank Bigelow? The length of th walk, the solitutde of that walk, his stained clothes, himself surrounded by cops but only one he's actually communicating with. The rest are interested in him as one would be to an animal in a cage. He's trapped and this journey has only taken him farther into his cage. Very interesting. I look forward to watching it today.
  8. I would argue, Noirnado, that perhaps there's something darker to Mike than whiteknighting. Because of what he says, "I'll throw you off the cliff" and his behavior, cold and detached, with no lingering sights or loving gestures, I wonder if he's doing her a favor for other reasons. As our protagonist, it's unlikely that he will do her real harm, but a key feature of these noir characters, especially the PIs, is that they straddle good and bad. Maybe he's just curious about her situation in a more morbid fashion, maybe he cares so little that she could be with or without him and he wouldn't bat an eyelash. Even the music helps to show the contrast. It's so mellow and romantic and yet he's so distant and basically threatening to kill her. At the end of the scene, when he agrees to sneak her past the cops, it's clear his interest has peaked.
  9. Not only do I want to 'bump' your work to top of thread but I want to take you. I think seeing these stills really helps me understand the noir visual conventions. They'll be easier to recognize as I go along! I really enjoyed this week's lecture and am about to delve into the readings. The studio system is a very interesting beast, and I am really interested in reading more about the audience perspective. So this was the kind of entertainment people went to see weekly, how did that really work? Did people have the same loyalty to studios as they had for genres or actors? Was there the same sort of hype that exists today when a certain movie genre came out? Or because of how often movies were released, did it even matter?
  10. What makes Harry Lime's (Orson Welles) "entrance" in this film so effective?It's very unexpected, veiled in mystery, but, above all, humorous. His smile says it all. Yes, he's the ghost, the stalker, he's the one that is in the know and has control. The film doesn't start out with a serious air of anything. For the first few seconds, it's just a man walking at night, which can mean a lot of things, but not always danger/mystery. However, as things progress and he becomes aware of someone watching him and then is chasing down Harry only for him to disappear, the tension rises.
  11. It's definitely important to note that Lorre is definitely not as afraid as he may initially have seen and that he holds more power over Greenstreet by virtue of knowing more about Demetrius than he. That is, of course, why they're where they are at the beginning of the film. Though not much is revealed about what ties these two men together, it's clear that Lorre knows more and Greenstreet is absolutely desperate to find out. It'll be very interesting to see how the power struggle develops. Will Lorre end up with the upper hand? Or will Greenstreet?
  12. Very much enjoyed the clip. There is stark contrast between the daylight scene and usual older film noirs where the mystery and the drama take black in dark street corners or abandoned homes. Here, the mystery is exposed yet covered up. We know little of the two characters outside of what can be expected of the genre: femme fatale and PI, both strong, smart and uncompromising. The music as well as the aerial shots really build a sense of realism. Everything looks and feels neat, including the street vendor that is quickly shushed and provides little actual conflict or trouble to the characters. Surely things will start going downhill soon.
  13. -- How does this opening sequence establish Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe? What do we learn about Marlowe in these first few moments of the film? Though it's slower-paced than other films, we learn quite a bit about the situation in just a few minutes. First off, we learn of Marlowe that he's a secure, knowledageble, witty and independent man. He's honest and not afraid to be who he really is. Additionally, we learn that there's something amiss (as in any noir film) that will certainly involve money and women. The greenhouse is probably a headsup of things getting hot pretty quickly, both in the mystery at hand and in the relationships that Marlowe is sure to have.
  14. -- What mood or atmosphere—through the visual design and the voiceover narration—is being established in this realistic documentary sequence? Unlike other films, this sequence does not set a mood of danger or mystery right off the bat. In fact, if I didn't know it was a fictional film, I very much would've thought it a documentary. What it sets up, rather than danger, is a more subtle air of conflict because while it starts off on a high note: "look at all these wonderful farms and fields..." continues to a mid-note: "look at all these people that we legally allow to work..." it ends on something more sinister: "some are illegally here... and they are robbed...and it's dangerous." So unlike other openings, there is no sense of immediate danger or urgency, but a slow and steady sense of something being amiss grows. -- What do you think documentary realism adds to the evolution and increased range of the film noir style? It definitely does, as it breaks some of the conventions that we've grown accustomed: intense scenes, PI and femme fatale characters, quick and witty dialogue, etc. Instead, it starts to play with our expectations and leaves us wanting to know more of what the situation is. I'm sure we're to fall upon a mystery, tension, danger, but how, where, when? -- In what ways can the opening of Border Incident be considered an important contribution to the film noir style? The play of the documentary style, forcing even more movie theme (lines: crop lines, people lines, border lines, etc) through cinematography, a voice-over that is not a character, etc.
  15. -- What did you notice about Rita Hayworth's performance when you were watching this scene? Off the bat, it's her clunkiness in dancing. Though I don't know what the proper style was in that era, it's clear that her movements are somewhat forced or difficult. It's more apparent that she's drunk towards the end of the scene, and that perhaps explains her behavior, including the striptease and the request for someone to pull her zipper. The scene shows her lack of care, a rowdyness, that is quite possibly due to her husband's overbearingness? He's clearly unhappy with her and set to control her to his liking. What's most interesting is that at the beginning of the scene he appears gentle and calm with his friend and completely loses it with her. -- What are some of the deeper layers of meaning that are contained in this film noir musical sequence? The lyrics: Place the blame on mame. Who's to blame for the catastrophe of SF (and the film)? She is. Her behavior: something shady is going on in her life and she's fighting it, albeit badly. Her seductiveness: above all, she is a full woman and she's not to forget that part of herself. -- In what ways do you think music influenced and contributed to the development of film noir? Perhaps it centralizes the importance of musical numbers, of femme fatales that are more vulnerable and not in control, of empowering (?) the female characters with more sex appeal and brashness.
  16. I really enjoyed this scene, although it's certainly missing the female character to make it what I distinguish as "full" noire. Nonetheless, the tension is heightened greatly by the music and the shots of the running character. That tension is fully contrasted by the calm and apathy of the Swede. He knows they're coming for him and he accepts responsiblity for what he did wrong... once. This definitely creates a bigger air of mystery in the film. If he's done something wrong, if people are trying to kill him for it, but he doesn't seem fazed or worried, what exactly did he do? Is he going to fight them? It doesn't look like it. I also like the contrast in sets. The dinner is well lit and there's hardly mystery about what's going on: two guys want info on the swede. On the other hand, in the swede's bedroom, everything is darkened, including his face, motivation and feelings.
  17. -- How would you compare the opening of M to the opening of Ministry of Fear? There are definitely a lot of coinciding factors in both openings. I think it would've been easy enough to recognize the film as Lang's without being told. It's not only the clock motif that ecchoes of his earlier work, M, but much of the control of the scene and the tempo of the scene. Lang, unlike other filmmakers we've experienced, is slow to the punch and very deliberate. The dialogue is slow and doesn't contain much concrete information. The timing within the film is almost slower than our reality (despite the humorous commentary on the clock being sped up, etc). The scenes are bare bones. Only the necessary. This is in stark contrast to other films we've talked about, such as Laura, for example, in which there is a lot going on in dialogue, characters and set or even in Murder, My Sweet, the attention to fill in the detail and the smaller gaps that would normally not matter (having a purse full of cosmetics, etc). This is a work done by Lang, no doubt. It'll be interesting to see how it develops within the context of the rising noir. -- Describe in your own words how Fritz Lang uses the clock in this scene as a major element to set mood and atmosphere. It's all about time. Time spent. Time to come. Time that may be frozen. It sets out the protagonist as someone that's perhaps lost time and is looking to make it up, but also maybe someone ready to abandon or avoid some time (past or future) that could be unpleasant. It also highlights the slowness and stillness of the scene, perhaps to help understand the character as he excitedly waits for his time to pass and be served so he can start anew. Unlike with M, it doesn't set a tone of fear and paranoia. Though there are dark undertones to the scene, the clock doesn't chill the audience, but merely sets it up for something to come. Perhaps, I could see, the movie's tone will quicken and become more urgent as the character encounters danger or falls from grace. -- In what ways can this opening scene from Ministry of Fear be considered as an important contribution to the film noir style? Definitely brings back or reestablishes the German Expressionism. It reiterates certain key elements of the style such as the lighting, the pace and the use of sound to establish or reiterate messages.
  18. I want to bring up two things in reference to what you've said. One, like others have said, this scene definitely has a very distinct European taste. I cannot distinguish the style from M, even though this film was made later and in a different filmmaking environment. Nonetheless, Lang has a very distinct symbolic signature. With him, it's all about specific contrasts: light and dark, silence and noise, insance and sane. What he does is that he emphasizes and then blurs those contrasts throughout his films. Second, though I've yet to see the film, I actually liked that the asylum was revealed. It adds a layer of complexity because the character is told to avoid the police prior to this information. Though I didn't think he was in a prison, I got the early notion that he had been freed from some detention facility. That he's released from an asylum and yet warned about the police intrigues me. So was he really crazy or did he fake crazy to avoid harder punishment for a crime?
  19. -- Describe some of the things Marlowe says or does that make him a new kind of private detective? Marlowe seems much more aggressive and physical as a detective. He's not as cerebral as detectives in the past; he's an action man. Additionally, he seems to be playing his interests. At first, he claims no interest to the case much, but the jade and the animosity between step-mother and daughter arouse his curiosity. He's cynical, as many have said, which will probably contribute to him making interesting choices through the movie. Already his cynicism has paid off and he is able to uncover Grayle's identity in a swift moment. -- Why do you think this kind of private detective fits so well within the film noir context? Noir seems to be about mystery and danger. Thus, the addition of a detective that plays by his rules and is out to take care of himself first and foremost, with whatever means necessary, supports the world that noir creates: shady, treacherous, dark. Additionally, it makes for a more interesting film because the audience looks to see what these rugged detectives will do. Will they work for justice? Will they work for the dame? Will they work for themselves? It adds a layer of complexity when a central character such as the detective, unlike the typical view of detectives as moral do-gooders, is straddling the line between right and wrong. -- In what ways can this scene from Murder, My Sweet be considered as an important contribution to the film noir style? The development of the morally ambiguous detective is definitely something that we'll continue to see in future films.
  20. -- What examples do you see that fit with Nino Frank's contention that Laura is a "charming character study of furnishings and faces?" Furnishings and faces being how the environment and the characters reflect double meanings. McPherson's smirks or Lydecker's masks and his clock. It all seems boyish and innocent, but as the scene closes as the characters discuss the article, the darkness surrounding the case and Lydecker deepends. -- What do you think about how Preminger introduces the character of Waldo Lydecker in this scene? It's very humorous and smart. The typical self-absorbed rich guy that can read McPherson from behind closed doors, that is a talented artist and an art and history conoisseur. It also highlights the affluence that will mark the film and the mystery as contrast to McPherson's more gritty and realist charater. I think this is an incredibly strong opening scene, and one that packs more in its punch that some from last week. For example, I loved The Letter, but Laura packs way more in less minutes. The decorations, the two men, the murder, all leave the reader expecting the story to be incredibly complex due to the different opposing forces involved in the matter. We also see a protagonist that is smart and down-to-earth; that will be an asset in a case involving two people that perhaps go back and forth between absurdity (through their wealth) and reality (through one's mortality).
  21. This may be an important aspect of the movie later on. If McPherson is smarter than he looks (or pretends), I can see how he'll quickly start tying things together under the shadows. I also was struck by the observation, and I think that the contrast and hubris of Lydecker in his comment about the piece being better writen, sets us up for a later conflict between reality and fantasy. Very excellent first scene. A lot to think about.
  22. I was surpirsed to read that some people didn't enjoy the 1st person POV. I really did. In particular, perhaps, because it wasn't the entire scene. I find films (or even full scenes) which are filmed in their entirety in 1st person POV to be extremely annoying. However, I enjoyed the back and forth. It helps create a sense of identity for the character and also to heighten the tension from his perspective. The urgency felt in parts of the scene is just underscored further by seeing things through his perspective. I do happen to think it's successful in creating expectations for the rest of the film (which I haven't watched) in regards to the sense of urgency and desperation, but also in understanding the characters strenghts, motivations and personality.
  23. -- Were you surprised by what happens in the opening scene of The Letter? I think, after watching M and the opening of The Bete Humaine, I'm starting to grow accustomed to the main genre convention: that is, that everything seems peaceful at first, but that peace will soon be dislogdged by the darkest side of human nature. Thus, I was not particularly surprised with what happens. Although, I guess, to be fair, I also had read about this in the 1st module. What's most surprising is how Bette Davis holds herself throughout. This is true cold-blooded murder and the only thing that disrupts her demeanor is the Moon which illuminates a dark nature that demands to be submerged in darkness. I also love the detail at the end in which her hand is open, tight, still probably fighting the urge to hold the gun again. -- In what ways can the opening of The Letter be considered an important contribution to the film noir style? Probably as mentioned, the convention of just jumping into the action with little set up. Also, I read from someone the "femme fatale," and, lastly, the (murder)-mystery typical of these movies. Overall, incredibly strong opening. I wonder if the Singaporeans will play a role later on in the movie. I think that would be a great contrast between "savage" and "civilized" here, where one faction sleeps at peace and the other is wreaking havoc among its fellow humans. I also liked Davis' expression. Mostly cool and collected, but her lips show certain disdain or disgust, which later evaporates at the sight of the moon, perhaps her own recognition and acceptance of her regretless crime.
  24. I'm not familiar with the film whatsoever, but the opening minutes set the stage for, at least a beginning, of tension and urgency. Even though, especially at the end of the clip, everything is coming to a stop or a pause, everything is building up in urgency towards that moment. From the quiet of the men to their gentle whistling and handgestures to their shouts, to the train traversing prairies and then dark tunnels to finally arrive to a industrial place, that looks part train-graveyard and part abandoned or semi-abandoned town. The music at the end heightens this sense of urgency. It grows quickly and ends just as so after a climax. The scene seems to hint the transition from a pastorial life with workers doing their work unified, in peace, to what may disrupt that peace, the foreboding and empty station in which they stop.
  25. I agree that the long and silent (nearly silent) shots add to the tension and slight growing sense of paranoia. The song itself is harrowing but you don't take it seriously off the bat because a lot of children songs are like that. However, as the mystery and crime start to quickly unfold through the conversation between the two women and, ultimately, the sign at the end of the clip, the significance of the song grows. It's also probably important to note that the children disregard the danger and fear of the adults through the clip. It's not just the group that enjoys the song, but the little girl who almost gets run over because she's unaware and unafraid of the world. I wonder if this will have an impact on the rest of the film. Will there be a conflict of innocence vs XXX? Be it experience, cynicism, paranoia... Also, incredible powerful moment when we see the shadow of the man who will most likely be the culprit. There is more tension and impact from the silloutte and darkness (in the mystery) than if we had seen a man. Which, brings to my attention, and I haven't seen the film at all, that it's in stark contrast to the police officer whose face we see clearly and who obviously has the little girl's safety in mind. What a great start. I sure hope to catch the entire film at some point.
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