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billybaker

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About billybaker

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  1. I love that we hear Marlowe introduce himself before we see him. Excellent entrance for a protagonist. As Marlowe, Bogart is cool-headed and witty. His quick on his feet, too. It's evident the lack of respect he has for Carmen, introducing himself with a fake name and totally immune to her charms. We can tell he's not going to be seduced by her. On the flip side, he displays respect for the general, following the general's requests that he take off his coat, drink brandy, and smoke a cigarette.
  2. After the credits, the music is dreamlike. It almost feels like watching a propaganda newsreel. Of course, we are looking from above, where everything seems perfect. When I hear "monument of the vision of man" combined the music, I'm thinking about the American Dream. This theme stays as we first meet the Braceros, who are waiting for their own little piece of the American Dream. The tone quickly shifts from whimsical to something darker.
  3. I love how the camera lingers outside the diner after a patron enters. Even if he's not speaking, I was immediately drawn to the man on the left. The way this shot is set up, I'm reminded of both Edward Hopper and Weegee. When the music kicks in, it really heightens the tension, signaling a deep sense of urgency. There's an interesting contrast between that sense of urgency and the calm, slow, deliberate speech of the Swede. We move from a sense of urgency to a man who seems resigned to his fate.
  4. I think music has played an essential role in solidifying the feel of film noir. Speaking personally, I have a difficult time separating noir from its music. To take a detour, I went searching for a compilation of jazz noir and found a great one in the "Jazz Noir" box set; I highly recommend it. Whereas a scene like M was able to build tension without music, creating a sense of gritty realism, the music of film noir enhances the formalistic elements. I feel as if the music is a character unto itself. In modern cinema, it seems as though music is often either a distraction, or a cue to inform the viewer of how they should feel. Music is a highly manipulative cinematic device. Noir represents, in my opinion, the best use of music in cinema. Noir doesn't leave music in the background, creating a subliminal message. Rather, noir turns the music up, its an essential part of the tension. The scene from "Gilda" shows the music being not a sidestep, but an integral part of the story, revealing much about the characters.
  5. Love this opening! Reminiscent for me of La Bete Humaine, at least of terms of grit. Noticeable is the Noir hallmark voiceover. The voiceover puts us in the head of the escapee, and with that identification, he kind of becomes the hero. We root for him - ourselves - to escape the cops, rather than for him to be caught. In fact, we're nervous about getting caught. I find it interesting that this identification is built before we learn why the person we are in the head of was in prison in the first place. As viewers, the first face we meet is not that of the protagonist, but that of the driver. Upon realization of who he's picked up, the scared driver is a mirror reflection of what we the viewer feel.
  6. There is so much here that is indicative of noir in terms of score, look and lighting. I especially like the slow zoom in at 1:35 - after the final shot is fired - to the cold look on her face. Also, at 2:13 where the moon exposes her crime into the light. She is so cold and matter-of-fact as she gives directions, another hallmark of noir.
  7. There are some shots and sounds that strike me as influential on the noir look. The first is that hard open with a screech and fire. The shot quickly reveals what is happening, but for a few seconds it is an ominous opening. Also, at 1:20 when the train goes into a tunnel and everything is black (the sound remains); there is a slow build back into the light. This scene lacks the glamor that I associate with film noir, but certainly contains a great deal of grit. Also, with the sounds and the high speed, everything feels dangerous and almost fragile, however, when the scene cuts to the men on the train, they seem totally in control of everything. This reminded of how noir detectives are consistently teetering on the edge emotionally, yet remain in control.
  8. I consider dramatic score to be one of the hallmarks of noir, but this opening shows that the power of sound to build tension need not lie only with music. In fact, music would likely remove some of the tension from this opening. The children's game has dark content to build a sense of foreboding. Alas, it could still be a game, until one of the parents says, "as long of we can hear them." As a viewer, I find the cuckoo startling and unsettling. The reaction of the mother, however, shows relief and even joy. The tolling of the bells accompanied by the mother tasting her food heighten this contrast between anticipation of something good and of something bad. This play between the safe and the unsafe happens again - the child narrowly dodges a honking car, and then is nicely aided by a police officer. Again, without the need of music, we are given the impression that something bad will happen with the back and forth scenes of mother setting the table and daughter tossing her ball (seemingly in no hurry). Another contrast: the carelessness with which she tosses the ball up against a sign that warns her to be very careful. And, then, that shadow - this introduction must have had a tremendous influence of the American filmmakers who would make films noir.
  9. I feel that there is real kinship between Mildred Pearce and Stella Dallas. Though both are melodramas, I wouldn't consider the latter to be film noir. One of the main hallmarks of film noir for me in this scene is the dramatic score. What really makes this noir for me is that the scene really gets into the darkness and corruption of the human soul - a young woman who, as her mother points out, will do just about anything for money. Where this has an interesting link with melodrama and Stella Dallas is the class issues, and the broader struggles of single moms.
  10. Much like the opening of M, Lang uses everyday sounds absent of score to build tension beginning with the ticking and toll of the clock. Interestingly, the reveal of the asylum is accompanied practically by silence (only footsteps) rather than dramatic strings. In both openings, the cues for our reactions and responses and removed and we are left simply with honest reaction. Where music is absent, sound still plays an essential role. We wait eternal seconds in silence to hear what the waiting by the clock was about - freedom. There are also interesting references to the type of life Neale should live that incorporate sound. His doctor recommends a "quiet town" over London. Neale says he wants to "hear people talk and laugh" but later assures the doctor, "quiet life from here on."
  11. In a traditional police drama, the objective is simply justice. While noir private detectives may also be in the pursuit of justice, they are also in the pursuit of something else. As far as being on the "fringes of the law," Marlowe makes multiple references to calling or going to the police, but doesn't - at least not yet. This is a new kind of detective who chooses when (and how) to involve the police and often uses the support of untrustworthy individuals in pursuit of what they're after. And what are they after? My favorite piece of dialogue is, "I'm just a small businessman in a messy business, but I like to follow through on a sale." Marlowe will be pursuing this case without any further financial incentives. Noir detectives are driven by something in their investigations that separates them from traditional investigators.
  12. Our introduction to Lydecker is his voice, but our visual introduction is not to him, but rather to his things. These things are lavish, but they are also fragile; the first words Lydecker says to the detective are, "Careful there, that stuff is priceless." When Lydecker tells the detective, "My version was obviously superior" and "I never bother with details you know," you receive clues that Lydecker is perhaps an unreliable narrator. At 0:54, Detective McPherson seems to hold pose with the masks, all looking the same direction; we soon realize he is looking at the clock. The camera follows McPherson's slow but deliberate steps. We first meet him after a slow pan across the room. In contrast, there is a very quick pan to our first visual encounter with Lydecker.
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