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  1. This discussion thread is based on ideas taken from the Summer of Darkness, HEYMOE, VanHazard, and me (Marianne). We’re working on defining neo-noir and all its subcategories and on compiling a list of neo-noir movies. This first post is simply a way to continue the discussion, which got started under the discussion thread called “Irrational Man: Neo-Noir Masquerading as a Film About Philosophy?” I hope the discussion includes reactions to seeing some of the movies. Borrowings 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. Narration 4. Crime/planning a crime (usually—but not always—murder) 5. Femme fatale 6. The instrument of fate 7. Angst (for example, guilt, fear, self-doubt, and so on) 8. Violence or the threat of violence 9. Urban and nighttime settings 10. Allusion to post–World War II 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” Early examples of neo-noirs: Underworld U.S.A. (1961), dir. Samuel Fuller, b&w Cape Fear (1962), dir. J. Lee Thompson, b&w The Manchurian Candidate (1962), dir. John Frankenheimer, b&w Shock Corridor (1963) dir. Samuel Fuller, b&w The Naked Kiss (1964), dir. Samuel Fuller, b&w Point Blank (1967), dir. John Boorman, color Modern neo-noirs: Chinatown (1974), dir. Roman Polanski Taxi Driver (1976), dir. Martin Scorsese Body Heat (1981), dir. Lawrence Kasdan Blade Runner (1982), dir. Ridley Scott Blood Simple (1984), dir. Joel Coen Blue Velvet (1986), dir. David Lynch House of Games (1987), dir. David Mamet Miller’s Crossing (1990), dir. Joel Coen Red Rock West (1992), dir. John Dahl Se7en (1995), dir. David Fincher The Usual Suspects (1995), dir. Bryan Singer Fargo (1996), dir. Joel Coen L.A. Confidential (1997), dir. Curtis Hanson Memento (2000), dir. Christopher Nolan Mulholland Drive (2001), dir. David Lynch Brick (2006), dir. Rian Johnson Additional noir film ideas (dates, directors? Just to be consistent and to avoid confusion, not required): The Two Jakes Dark City Mulholland Falls Bound The Black Dahlia Devil in a Blue Dress The Last Seduction Palmetto The Last Seduction Angel Heart U-Turn Deep Cover Manhunter Klute Stormy Monday Romeo Is Bleeding
  2. I saw Woody Allen's latest movie Irrational Man yesterday afternoon, and I am still thinking about it. Joaquin Phoenix plays a philosophy professor who lays out his rationale for committing the perfect murder. There's a lot of talk throughout the film about philosophy and finding meaning to one's existence, and then the ending blows it all wide open. I don't want to give anything away in case anyone really wants to see it and hasn't yet. The film hasn't gotten very good reviews, but I would argue that Irrational Man is very clever. And not just because the main character (played by Phoenix) can talk a good line. He can, but his actions really tell the whole story. Has anyone else seen it? If you have, would you classify it as neo-noir? Did you enjoy it, regardless of trying to classify it in anyway?
  3. I watched Nightcrawler on Netflix last night. It is a terrific piece of neo-noir staring Jake Gyllenhaal as a low life hustler who stumbles into the world of stringers who monitor police-band radio for horrific (fatal automobile accidents, shootings, etc) events and sell the video footage to tv studios. Gyllenhaal is wonderful as Lou Bloom, a guy who's approach to life comes from on-line courses he takes. Once he decides that this is what he is meant to do, we see him learn the trade, getting more and more sophisticated. I credit this course enabling letting me see this film with a more critical eye. I know I'm to see it several times.
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