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About VanHazard

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  1. Totally agree that Blade Runner is Neo Noir, and one of the very best and then some. In many ways it's more Noir than Neo Noir, and also happens to be one of my all-time favorite films. Blade Runner has an alternating Noir and Neo Noir palette, contrasting mute black and white tones and shadow against entirely artificial color...perhaps a reminder that nature has been discarded in the world that unfolds before us, and that everything in this world might be man-made. The set design embraces this same contrast, a bleak, acid-rain futuristic landscape of the nightmarish union o
  2. I think it's that her 'masters' had the audacity and devious cruelty of making her own son the instrument of their plot that she objects to and seeks revenge for. I agree that she doesn't care about her son any more than they do, and that she's as willing to use him to further their plot as they are.... ....but it's their arrogance and callousness in doubting HER loyalty and dedication to the cause, and that they would dare to use HER the same way she and they have used Raymond, Senator Iselin and everyone else that whets her appetite for revenge. I am absolutely convinced she will hol
  3. Mrs. Iselin's betrayal goes deeper still when you think about it. I may have noted it before, in my earlier comment; not only has she betrayed her country and her own motherhood/son, but she clearly says that she in effect will betray her 'masters' in Moscow and Beijing once she's in power, vowing to "make them pay" for making her own son the assassin operative she's handling. This is an amazing role and an amazing performance by Lansbury.
  4. I think it's less that I have a 'stronger grasp' on what constitutes a homme fatale (or anything else, for that matter), than perhaps a broader definition of it. To me, the key element in being a homme or femme fatale is that they are dangerous, even lethal characters. Who they are dangerous/lethal for is almost immaterial...it can be someone with whom they're romantically attached or interested, a rival or competitor, or, in Travis Bickle's instance, target of fixation or even a complete stranger. Scorsese uses Bickle's internal volatility in a very 'Hitchcockian' way: he establish
  5. Exactly right...Travis is on a trajectory all his own, and Iris, like Betsy and everyone else in the film are simply along for the ride. He really does expand the concept of 'homme fatale', as you say. As I noted, he's a ticking time bomb; the tension inside him, and in the film, builds and builds until he explodes. I also like the ending, because Scorsese actually just sets the spring inside Travis all over. Nothing's changed. We're back where we started. Travis is still cruising the streets picking up the refuse of the cities sordid shores, and every day the spring winds another
  6. I'd probably rank Taxi Driver a little higher on the Neo Noir scale. I think it qualifies in all the categories you check off, and a few you don't. In ways, Travis is a homme fatale, a ticking time bomb who could go off and strike out at any time. He's fixated, obsessive, at war with himself and the squalid urban world he prowls at night in his cab. He's also a stalker of sorts, however well-intended, and for a while during the film you think he might target Betsy. Also think Psychology does apply here, albeit not in the conventional sense of hypnosis, amnesia, etc., but in
  7. True, and you could also add Contraband, The Mask of Dimitrios, Hangmen Also Die, Foreign Correspondent, Ministry of Fear, and others to the list of political action thrillers that might be considered film noir, or vice versa. (That list would probably greatly expand many fold if Neo Noir was concerned.) Subjective as it might be, I make an admittedly subtle distinction between plots/themes that are overtly political, i.e. propaganda, such as The Woman on Pier 13, I was a Communist for the FBI, and The Manchurian Candidate, and those where politics, ideology and spies, etc. are more sec
  8. Although I very much like the original The Manchurian Candidate and think it clearly employs many film noir motifs and elements, I don't really consider it a film noir; I think of it as a political/action thriller because, at it's core, the motives of the central characters are political at heart, with overtly political, as opposed to personal, objectives. I think of noir as being very apolitical, a shadowy world of highly personal and competing appetites, agendas and desires. I don't feel noir has a particular ideology; if anything, I think of it as running against ALL ideology and d
  9. I'm not all that big on 'lists' and 'categories' either, but it also seems to me that defining and refining those categories we're calling Noir/Neo Noir is not only essential but that doing so will, in the end, better allow us to appreciate these films when we see them. Wasn't this, more or less, the basic approach taken in Prof. Edwards' course? Like you, I want to watch these films more than create lists and categories, just as I'm more interested in watching/enjoy films than categorizing them. Having said that, I have to admit to being intrigued with better understanding what make
  10. I very much agree that not all categories/tropes/elements of noir/neo noir carry the same weight, and also understand what you're saying, and largely agree...with some of your other points, but would add that no genre of film is an island, totally isolated and cut-off from it's brethren. Taking your example of the Western genre, we have the classic Westerns of John Ford, etc. in the Thirties and Forties, replete with Cowboys, Indians, etc. in very Western locales. But then Kurosawa appropriated the American Western and replaced Cowboys with Samurai, Indians with rival warlords, six-s
  11. From what we’ve been posting and discussing so far, it seems that neo-noir is a rather tight category—with perhaps more exceptions than classic noir. I suspect that Neo Noir can be as tenuous and amorphous a category to pin down as is Noir, but more so, and that, as you suggested in an earlier post, whether a film 'qualifies' as one or the other is more the result of a preponderance of traits and characteristics rather than any focus on just one or two. Further complicating any firm definition of Neo Noir is the fact that so many of the core elements of Noir had, by the Late Fifties
  12. Like your analysis and approach. Unfortunately, Memento is one of only a handful of films on our neo noir list I haven't seen, so cannot comment further until after I've seen it. Several of your comments, however, reminded me of another recurring element in neo noir and other contemporary films in general, that I'll refer to as an extended and deliberate disorientation, even displacement, on the part of either a character, the viewer or both. I'll use two recent films as examples, both, curiously, including Ben Kingsley in the cast: Scorsese's Shutter Island (2010) and Brad And
  13. Agree. Chart is intended as a work-in-progress we can tweak as we go along. Deciding what's noir/neo noir and not noir/neo noir is a separate issue. I think once we get things further defined/refined we might consider some sort of basic formula to decide such issues...like...if we have 'X' number of core elements/categories that constitute noir and neo noir then perhaps a film needs to have 'X' number of those qualities to qualify...but it's always going to be subjective and too rigid/restrictive a set of criteria might be counter-productive in the end.
  14. Maybe a two-column approach would work better, with Column A being Classic Noir and Column B being Neo onwards Noir, and then try listing the differences within the same basic themes/characteristics for both; using some of the core themes we've already outlined. Example: Classic Noir Neo Noir Palette B&W Mostly Color Chiaroscuro Accentuated play light
  15. Some interesting thoughts in this thread. I agree with CigarJoe that Noir (and Neo Noir) is in all of us, and think that connects directly to your comments above re confusion and angst, etc. because they, too, are in all of us. The same is true to varying degrees re our sense of alienation and estrangement, of our fears, anxieties, awareness (or lack thereof) of our own personal fatal flaws, and of our own ambitions, dreams, fantasies and secrets. In a very Conradian way, we are the Darkness, so it's not surprising that we can tune it in, any more than we can also project it, or infe
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