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What about Russell Crowe? He was great in L.A. Confidential. Can you suggest other movies of his that would put him in the same company as Ryan Gosling?

I would suggest Broken City (2013) another crime drama.

If I remember correctly, it had a neo-noir aura. Definitely one I would see again to see how well it does on the list of 16.

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What about directors who contribute to neo-noir?

 

In going over your list of "Ryan Gosling" suggestions, some directors' names that appear more than once are Nicolas Winding Refn and Derek Cianfrance. Other names that are already on our list and that come up a few times as directors of neo-noirs are Ben Affleck and Martin Scorsese.

 

Perhaps these three titles could be neo-noir films. 

 

Ben Affleck's Gone Baby Gone (2007) 

Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull (1980) and King of Comedy (1982)

 

It would be interesting to see them all again with a noir mindset.

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Perhaps these three titles could be neo-noir films. 

 

Ben Affleck's Gone Baby Gone (2007) 

Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull (1980) and King of Comedy (1982)

 

It would be interesting to see them all again with a noir mindset.

 

Gone Baby Gone (2007) is already on my list, so it must have been added since the last time I posted an update.

 

I will add Scorsese's Raging Bull (1980) and King of Comedy (1982) and post the updated list in a day or two. Just in case other ideas are posted.

 

Thanks!

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We are due for an update:

 

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:

After Hours (1985), dir. Martin Scorsese

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

Gone Baby Gone (2007), dir. Ben Affleck

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

 

Hard Boiled (1992) dir. John Woo

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

 

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

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

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

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

Not Forgotten (2009), dir. Dror Soref

 

Oldboy (2003) dir. Chan-wook Park

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

Zodiac (2007), dir. David Fincher

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You are still leaving out Italian Neo Noir Seven Beauties (Pasqualino Settebellezze) (1975)

 

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
2. Flashbacks MANY
3. Unusual narration VERY
4. Crime/planning a crime (usually—but not always—murder) Murder of a Pimp
5. Femme fatale and/or homme fatale The Femme Fatale is his SISTER
6. The instrument of fate YES
7. Angst (for example, guilt, fear, self-doubt, confusion, and so on; in other words, anything that contributes to angst) YES
8. Violence or the threat of violence YES
9. Urban and nighttime settings YES
10. Allusion to post–World War II (or any postwar) themes (optional) Pre, During, and Post
11. Philosophical themes (existentialism in particular) involving alienation, loneliness YES
12. Psychology (hypnosis, brainwashing, manipulation, amnesia) YES
13. Greed NO
14. Betrayal YES
15. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on) YES 
16. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good” YES his expertise as a ladies man.
 
At 15/16 Seven Beauties (Pasqualino Settebellezze) is one of the most tragic/humorous Neo Noirs out there.
 
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Blue Velvet (1986)

dir. David Lynch

 

Sandy: Well, aren’t you going to tell me about it?

Jeffrey: OK. It's a strange world, Sandy (Laura Dern). Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) is married to a man named Don. They have a son. I think the son and the husband have been kidnapped by a man named Frank. Frank (Dennis Hopper) has done this to force Dorothy to do things for him. I think she wants to die. I think Frank [violently assaulted] her husband as a warning for her to stay alive. Frank is a very dangerous man.

 

Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) here lays out the main idea of the story, but the director would much rather we home in on his characters’ exploits and idiosyncrasies, and as a result, these individuals become bigger than the picture.

 

The film is over the top and shocking at times, with stretches that are so peculiar, you are not sure whether to laugh or be awed. It has flashes of brilliance, yet characters that are difficult to watch. There is an aura of surrealism in certain scenes.

 

The choice in music along with the images and action we see in certain scenes, jell together well, and as with chiaroscuro, helps enhance the mood and emotional content.

 

An example (I will not describe in detail) would be the scene I call the Lipstick/love letter sequence, that begins with a punch thrown inside a car. The dialogue, acting, delivery, pace, lighting, editing, and CUT TO, are all amplified by the song played.

 

The tally is 9 of 16 for this black comedy neo-noir, whose director received an Oscar nomination. Dennis Hopper is excellent as the craze-tormentor, Frank Booth, as is Isabella Rossellini as the strong yet vulnerable, Dorothy Vallens.

 

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.

Red, blue and green are presented here brightly and often. The contrasts adds to the beautiful cinematography. The film is framed between colorful images of a white picket fence, bright red roses, dark green leaves, dark blue sky, and red fire truck moving along at the very start of the film and the same images in reverse at the very end.

 

2. Flashbacks Yes.

Perhaps not quite in the tradition of classic noir, but as Jeffery Beaumont gives an account of what he’s discovered, we get to see in flashback the people he mentions and their doings. It allows us to see what Jeffrey saw.

 

3. Unusual narration N/A

 

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

Assault

Blackmail (not actually witnessed but part of the narrative)

Kidnapping- one as part of the narrative and another where a character is taken for a joyride against their will.

 

5. Femme fatale and/or homme fatale Yes.

Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) is a women in trouble and does what she needs to

do, to find closure. When she meets Jeffrey she does not ask for his help; she seduces him in femme fatale fashion. She’s a victim of Frank but the culprit that lures Jeffrey further into the world (hole) she finds herself in.

 

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.

We have Dorothy’s fear and agony for her kidnapped family, Sandy’s uneasiness over Jeffrey’s looking into matters that are best left to the police, and Frank’s inner turmoil and demons, which at times appear to be causing great angst to himself and others.

 

8. Violence or the threat of violence Yes.

Killings

Rape

 

9. Urban and nighttime settings Yes.

At first you get the sense that the setting is suburbia, but then we see a tall multiple story building and hear that the town has a Coroners office and so we get our bearings. Many nighttime scenes 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.

Frank, Dorothy, and Jeffrey find themselves alienated as a result of each coming to terms with choices they have made or which others have forced on them, indicating the necessity to redefine their lives or at least make changes before they destroy themselves. Essential because two experience bouts of crying and twice we see Frank displaying moments of vulnerability. Dorothy for one, does not always look as if she is in turmoil over her predicament, and could actually be taking pleasure with what’s happening to her. Jeffrey perhaps in hopes of finding himself, feels compelled to returning to Dorothy’s apartment because, I’m seeing something that was always hidden, (perhaps in himself).

 

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

First, Frank is a psychopath able to manipulate through intimidation. I can make him do anything I please,he once boasted of Jeffrey. Secondly, he totally dominates Dorothy after kidnapping her husband and son. Finally, we see how Frank is first affected by a song he hears; first he seems moved by it, as if he’s recalling something pleasant from his past, then his disposition changes as he suffers some sort of physical fit with facial twitches later followed by a pained expression suggesting some remembrance of a tragic event.

 

13. Greed N/A

14. Betrayal N/A

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

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Relatos Salvajes

Wild Tales (2014)

Dir. Damian Szifron

 

This film is a joint venture between Argentina and Spain and comprises six separate stories about revenge carried out by acts of violence. The first, second, fourth, and sixth stories have many noir elements and since this makes up a majority, it warrants a write-up. Had this film been made here in America, it is likely I would not be introducing it here. But it being a foreign film, I believe it’s important to consider it’s multi-story structure as a potential new form to the genre (neo-noir).

 

The six tales:

1. Pasternak- Two strangers meet on a flight and find that they have a common foe; others discover the same.

2. The Rats- The contentious goings on between a restaurant patron and his waitress.

3. The Strongest- Road rage gone amok.

4. Little _****_ - A man’s troubles with a towing company run by DMV.

                Spoiler

5. The Proposal- A father conspires to cover-up a car accident involving his teenage son.

6. Till Death Do Us Part- Wedding reception gone wild.

(Each itemized digit below relates to the numbered films listed above)

 

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.

Excellent cinematography throughout each story. Every scene is well photographed with the appropriate blend of colors needed. (see 9.6 below)

 

2. Flashbacks N/A

 

3. Unusual narration N/A Yes

The entire film [rolls along] without a connection between either vignette.

Courtesy of ThePaintedLady

 

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

Arson

Collusion

Destruction of property

Hit and run

Leaving the scene of a crime

Piracy

Obstruction of justice

Vehicular homicide

 

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

Not a dominant theme throughout, but shows up in the 6th story. (see last paragraph) *

 

6. The instrument of fate Yes.

2. A man chooses the wrong diner.

3. A tire blowout changes everything for a driver.

4. Another accepts his fate of being a victim of a corrupt DMV, but not before asserting his will.

6. A couple come to realize that their fate (destiny) is inevitable and cannot be done away with.

 

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

(All six stories are represented here.)

1. Panic and dread

2. Man comes in from the rain.

Waitress: Good Evening. Party of one?

Man: I see you’re good at math.

They make eye contact. She becomes less engage because she recognizes him. She returns to the kitchen rather upset and panting as if suffering an anxiety attack and here is why:

Cook: Did he order?

Waitress: That guy is from my hometown. He’s a loan shark, a gangster. He auctioned our house. Because of him, my father killed himself. Two weeks after the funeral, he tried to seduce my mom. He wouldn’t leave her alone so we moved here. You know how many times I’ve dreamed of having him right in front of him? I’m going to say something.

Cook: Say something? Your dad kills himself because of this guy and you’re just going to insult him?

3. As in any road rage episode, a certain degree of angst will be experienced by some or all involved. Fear, wrath, confusion

4. The frustration and exasperation felt when a DMV representative fails to see and address your issues.

5. The teenager, who ran away from an auto accident, is both remorseful and emotionally crushed, as he witnesses what others are sacrificing to help him.

6. The dilemma the bride finds herself in causes great wrath and angst.

 

8. Violence or the threat of violence Yes.

Bombing

Murder

 

9. Urban and nighttime settings Yes.

1. Busy urban airport

4. Bustling big city streets

6. A city’s landscape is captured from atop a building in a nighttime scene. The light source on the rooftop, casts shadows on the faces of both actors, while at the same time, bouncing off their white attires, making them shine brilliantly, thereby creating a visually stunning chiaroscuro of color tones and shades. High quality cinematography.

 

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

 

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

1. A sense of alienation and loneliness resulting from having been rejected and being made fun of, and for others, is becoming aware of having been manipulated into a vulnerable position.

2. The waitress’ self-esteem surely suffers as a result of the patron, who having once brought harm to her family, now takes to speaking to her in an abrupt and snippy manner.

Sort of like adding insult to injury.

4. Bureaucracy makes a wronged man feel insignificant and keeps pushing him aside as if irrelevant.

 

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

1. We see the results of manipulation as passengers become aware of their circumstances.

3. Each party in a road rage incident pushes the other to up the ante, raise the stakes and push to the limit with each escalation of violence.

5. A desperate father hopes to influence his groundkeeper with the following:

Father: I’m really embarrassed to have to make this proposition, but we’ve known each other for years, and I feel we have this kind of bond. Besides, you’re a father, I know you want the best for your kids. So I think this arrangement may be good for you too.

If you say you took the car for a drive last night while we were sleeping, and that you were driving at the time of the accident, I’ll hire the best lawyer, to get you the shortest sentence possible. With good behavior, you’ll be out in a year and a half. And for doing me that huge favor, I will pay you $500,000. You wouldn’t earn that in a lifetime. And your family would be set for life.

 

13. Greed N/A

14. Betrayal

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

16. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good”

 

The music heard in Wild Tales does much to enhance the tone of the picture. The first story, lasting eight minutes, begins right away and ends with a freeze frame when we immediately hear the title song play as the opening credits begin their display on screen with still photos of animals. The music bridges the last images of the first story with the current images of wild animal and the start of the second story. The soundtrack helps give the film character and softens the effects of the violence depicted. The best example of this is found in the fourth story when (Simon) withdraws money from an ATM and Aire Libre begins to play. The viewer, having seen what has happened thus far, begins to sense what is happening and what may happen, as the soft angelic chants plays over the images of Simon methodically at work and then having a meal; sitting calm as ever.

 

8 9 of 16 for this Oscar nominated neo-noir film.

There is one particular scene that epitomize neo-noir and it is found in the 6th story “Till Death Do Us Part” when the bride (Romina) escapes to the rooftop. In just those 4 and a half minutes we see the following themes: Chiaroscuro, Femme fatale,* Angst, Threat of violence, Urban/nighttime setting, Philosophical themes (alienation), Psychology (manipulation), and betrayal.

 

Romina: You don’t know who you’re messing with! I’ll take every penny you have, every property your dad put in your name to get around taxes will be mine.

 

I would be remiss if I do not mention the closing song of the 6th story. It’s a soulful rendition (I never heard before) of the wonderful Frank Sinatra classic, Fly Me to the Moon, sung by Bobby Womack.

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Relatos Salvajes

Wild Tales (2014)

Dir. Damian Szifron

 

This film is a joint venture between Argentina and Spain and comprises six separate stories about revenge carried out by acts of violence. The first, second, fourth, and sixth stories have many noir elements and since this makes up a majority, it warrants a write-up. Had this film been made here in America, it is likely I would not be introducing it here. But it being a foreign film, I believe it’s important to consider it’s multi-story structure as a potential new form to the genre (neo-noir).

 

The six tales:

1. Pasternak- Two strangers meet on a flight and find that they have a common foe; others discover the same.

2. The Rats- The contentious goings on between a restaurant patron and his waitress.

3. The Strongest- Road rage gone amok.

4. Little _****_ - A man’s troubles with a towing company run by DMV.

                Spoiler

5. The Proposal- A father conspires to cover-up a car accident involving his teenage son.

6. Till Death Do Us Part- Wedding reception gone wild.

(Each itemized digit below relates to the numbered films listed above)

 

 

 

I saw Wild Tales at the famed California Theatre in San Jose last year. I loved this film! My favorite vignette was story #4 about the man vs. towing company.

 

I think it meets 11 (maybe 12) of the 16. Unusual Narration is the entire film without a connection between either vignette. I would say there is indeed betrayal in the 1st and 6th vignettes. Greed appears in vignette 5.

 

The contrast between good/evil is a bit iffy. I can see it in vignette 4 with the man vs THE MAN. Maybe even between the drivers in the road rage incident (vignette 2).

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I saw Wild Tales at the famed California Theatre in San Jose last year. I loved this film! My favorite vignette was story #4 about the man vs. towing company.

 

I think it meets 11 (maybe 12) of the 16. Unusual Narration is the entire film without a connection between either vignette. I would say there is indeed betrayal in the 1st and 6th vignettes. Greed appears in vignette 5.

 

The contrast between good/evil is a bit iffy. I can see it in vignette 4 with the man vs THE MAN. Maybe even between the drivers in the road rage incident (vignette 2).

I agree with your observations.

 

I decided not to give Yes to any one characteristic, unless it applied to at least 3 of the tales because I was focusing on the film as a whole. Had I given Greed a Yes based solely on vignette 5, The Proposal, it would have awarded the film 100% credit to a characteristic that only had 17% exposure. But you are correct; greed is certainly relevant in vignette #5, just as 14. Betrayal, and 15. Contrast between good/evil are in one or two other stories.

 

You suggest that Unusual narration’s N/A be changed. I have no objection. If you could write it into your own words, I will update the post verbatim:

 

3. Unusual narration N/A Yes

(Your comments here)

 

I appreciate your enthusiasm and positive comments. 

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The Town (2010, dir. Ben Affleck)

 

This film has it all—and then some—for a neo-noir: honor among thieves, betrayal, murder, bank robberies, armored car heists, loyalty to family and friends, and romance. And a greater Boston location. I read the novel (Prince Among Thieves) and enjoyed that even more, but the film, The Town, is a great story. The writers did a wonderful job adapting it to the screen.

 

According to our list of noir characteristics, The Town gets only 11½ out of 16, which still makes it a neo-noir, but that number just doesn’t seem right. I think it should be higher. Or maybe I’m biased because it takes place in the greater Boston area. And I read the book. And I rooted for Doug and Claire in the book and in the film. And Ben Affleck gets the Boston accent right.

 

*****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.) I’m going to give this film a half-point, not for lighting but for the wonderful use of music and sound. There’s a great scene when Doug and his crew are deafened by some sort of bomb set off by the FBI, and the audience hears only what they hear, that is, no sound at all that leads to a slow fade into ringing like ringing in the ears.

2. Flashbacks N/A

3. Unusual narration N/A

4. Crime/planning a crime (usually—but not always—murder) Practically the entire film is about planning the heist of banks and armored cars. People get killed along the way, too.

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

6. The instrument of fate If you are born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, it is practically a given that you will be inducted into a life of crime. Here are a couple of opening quotes from the film (I think they open the novel, too, as I recall):

“One blue-collar Boston neighborhood has produced more bank robbers and armored car thieves than anywhere in the world.

Charlestown.”

 

“Bank robbery became like a trade in Charlestown, passed down from father to son.”

—Federal Agent

Boston Robbery Task Force

7. Angst (for example, guilt, fear, self-doubt, confusion, and so on; in other words, anything that contributes to angst) Doug suffers because he doesn’t know how to tell the truth to Claire, and when she finds out the truth, she lashes out at him. Claire suffers because she feels betrayed by Doug.

8. Violence or the threat of violence See number 4 above. Doug’s friend Jem threatens Doug at one point, so there is even some violence among the friends.

9. Urban and nighttime settings The greater Boston area is the setting for the film. The nighttime scenes are rather few and far between, but I’ll still count this one. The setting is almost like another character in the film.

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

11. Philosophical themes (existentialism in particular) involving alienation, loneliness Doug becomes caught between his world in Charlestown and the world he glimpses because of his feelings for Claire. It puts him in a new position that alienates him from the people he grew up with.

12. Psychology (hypnosis, brainwashing, manipulation, amnesia) Fergie the florist is a master manipulator. He has the goods on everyone and uses the information to his advantage when he needs to, and he’ll wait for as long as it takes to use it. The FBI agent Adam Frawley is also a master manipulator: He is willing to use people to get the information that he needs. Krista Coughlin is the one who suffers the most from the position that she finds herself in and the way that Frawley uses her to get what he wants.

13. Greed This one is a hard one to count because the heists are considered part of the job for Doug and his friends, but it’s still theft and they still want the money, so I’m counting it.

14. Betrayal No one rats on their friends in Charlestown, but Jem’s sister Krista is forced to make a choice about her daughter that leads her to make a betrayal she doesn’t want to make. Doug betrays Claire by not telling her the truth.

15. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on) Doug is one of “the bad guys” but how the heck did I end up rooting for him throughout the film? And for him and Claire to come to terms with their feelings for one another? No one, except maybe Fergie the florist, can be called all good or all bad in this film.

16. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good” Doug’s expertise at pulling off crimes, robberies specifically. If I say any more, I’ll give even more away than I already have.

 

I recently saw this film and agree with your assessment that the film has it all, including a great story. 

 

There you write: The Town gets only 11½ out of 16, which still makes it a neo-noir, but that number just doesn’t seem right. I think it should be higher. I think I may have found two points:

2. Flashbacks Yes.

As FBI agents Frawley (Jon Hamm) and officer Dino Ciampa (Titus Welliver ) brief the task force investigating the bank heist, flashbacks (b&w) show the suspects in various criminal activities in their past.

 

3. Unusual narration Yes.

I think what makes the narration unusual is that it only occurs once at the start of the film to indicate the meticulous preparation that Doug must have gone through when casing the bank, enabling him to foresee the movements of each armored-truck guard. The narration serves a purpose and perhaps be a characteristic. 

 

Two Yesses for Neo-noir. An excellent and well acted film.

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I recently saw this film and agree with your assessment that the film has it all, including a great story. 

 

There you write: The Town gets only 11½ out of 16, which still makes it a neo-noir, but that number just doesn’t seem right. I think it should be higher. I think I may have found two points:

2. Flashbacks Yes.

As FBI agents Frawley (Jon Hamm) and officer Dino Ciampa (Titus Welliver ) brief the task force investigating the bank heist, flashbacks (b&w) show the suspects in various criminal activities in their past.

 

3. Unusual narration Yes.

I think what makes the narration unusual is that it only occurs once at the start of the film to indicate the meticulous preparation that Doug must have gone through when casing the bank, enabling him to foresee the movements of each armored-truck guard. The narration serves a purpose and perhaps be a characteristic. 

 

Two Yesses for Neo-noir. An excellent and well acted film.

 

I appreciate your comments.

 

How about a half-point for each of characteristics 2 and 3? That would bring the total up to 12½ out of 16 for The Town.

 

The flashbacks are few and far between in the film, but they do serve to accentuate the weight of the past for almost all the characters, especially Doug. The narration still doesn't strike me as all that unusual, but the way that Doug's voice-over at the start of the film segues into him and his friends talking about the imminent bank heist is clever.

 

Does 12½ out of 16 work for The Town?

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Marianne, I appreciate the opportunity to take part in this discussion. It is very kind and generous of you to ask for my opinion.

 

Yes, 12 ½ out of 16 works very well for The Town.

 

A half point for “some” flashback, while still “accentuating” past events, and then another half point for “some” unusual narration, and its “clever use of Doug’s voice-over,” is certainly more than fair.

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The Black Dahlia (2006)

Dir. Brian De Palma

 

Everything is going well for three friends: Detective Dwight ‘Bucky’ Bleichert ( Josh Hartnett), his partner Lee Blanchard (Aaron Eckhart), and Kay Lake (Scarlett Johansson).

Dwight: After tour duty, Lee and I would go to the house and find Kay. Sometimes she made dinner for us, other times the three of us would go dancing, or see a flick. Always she’d be there, never in between us, but always in the middle. It was the best time of my life.”

Then, Elizabeth Short (Mia Kirshner) happens. Her naked and mutilated body is found on a roadside.  Lee Blanchard eventually lies in order to get to work the case, who by now the press is referring to her as the Black Dahlia, “…Like some actress in that Alan Ladd movie, The Blue Dahlia. The case eventually affects the trio’s friendship.

 

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.

Bright, rich, and intense colors throughout, particularly in the film’s opening credits and a New Years party. Academy Award winning cinematographer, Vilmos Zsigmond (The Deer Hunter, Close Encounters of the Third Kind) was nominated a fourth time for his work in this film.

 

2. Flashbacks Yes.

There are many flashbacks with Dwight “Bucky” Bleichert’s voice over narration and b&w footage of Elizabeth Short talking with a casting director, auditioning and performing on the set. These footages function as flashbacks, giving us a peek into her activities just prior to her death.

 

3. Unusual narration Yes.

The first person narration reminds me, in tone and rhythm of classic noir. I’m referring to both the dialogue and delivery of the narration.

 

A. Dwight: I don’t get modern art.

Madeleine: I doubt modern art gets you either.

 

B. Dwight: The rich live differently. I guess they get to die differently too.

 

C. Dwight: Three days since we killed four men. Three days till Bobby DeWitt got out. I tried to tell myself I was the sturdy leg in our triangle. I was worried it was true.

 

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

Blackmail

Conspiracy

Corruption

 

5. Femme fatale and/or homme fatale Yes.

Madeleine Linscott (Hilary Swank) is the seductress who hopes to distract Bucky and keep him from finding out certain truths (things).

A. Madeleine: So…what do I have to do to keep my name out of the paper?

Dwight: What do you mean?

Madeleine: That’s not very convincing.

Dwight: I don’t need your daddy’s money, if that’s what you’re saying.

Madeleine: No, it’s not what I’m saying.

Dwight: I might be convinced

 

B. Madeleine: I think you’d rather %!@?! me than kill me, but you don’t have the guts to do either.

 

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.

The angst that comes with multiple betrayals, a loveless marriage, and fear of retribution when a murderer you helped convict is about to be released.

When Dwight sees scarred initials on a woman’s back indicating torture, he grows concerned:

Who are these men who feed on others? What do they feel when they cut their names into somebody else’s life.”

 

8. Violence or the threat of violence Yes.

Murder

Suicide

Torture- (not witnessed, but implied and later important to the plot)

 

9. Urban and nighttime settings Yes.

Los Angeles in the 1940s with numerous nighttime filming.

 

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

 

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

Ramona Linscott (Fiona Shaw) is at her wits’ end; she believes her husband Emmett married her for her father’s money. He further promised to have a street named after her, But all he could manage was a dead end street in a red light district…where Mexican prostitutes expose themselves out of windows to attract customer.”

Knowing that his wife Ramona had an affair, Emmitt (John Kavanagh) discovers an even bigger betrayal and disfigures her lover, George; further making it difficult for Ramona to cope. She increasingly begins to lose control, then shockingly goes mad.*

 

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

At different times during the story, we see both Dwight Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard become obsessed with the murder/mystery of Elizabeth Short.

 

13. Greed Yes.

Greed appears in the form of blackmail. Lee finds out about an illicit affair and blackmails Emmett.

 

14. Betrayal Yes.

The most alarming is revealed by Madeleine Linscott (Hilary Swank) when discussing a mounted (stuffed) Spaniel with a newspaper in his mouth:

Dwight: Who’s this?

Madeleine: Balto. The paper is the L.A. Times for August 1, 1926. Balto was bringing in the paper when Daddy found out he made his first million. He wanted to consecrate the moment so- he shot him.

Also, mentioned above, is unfaithfulness, (see No. 11)*

 

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

Dwight, overall a good person, lovingly tends to his ill father’s needs. We also see him deliberately execute an unarmed, but ruthless murderer.

 

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

 

13 of 16 for this visually stunning neo-noir. The story lacks fluidity and is not easy to follow. The film is an adaptation of the James Ellroy crime novel by the same name.

The credits lists two co-executive producers, nine executive producers and four producers. Their final product may be an indication that more emphasis was placed on aesthetics, and less so on the story.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I saw Wild Tales at the famed California Theatre in San Jose last year. I loved this film! My favorite vignette was story #4 about the man vs. towing company.

 

I think it meets ... Unusual Narration -  the entire film without a connection between either vignette.

This comes late, I know. I have just updated the post from June 17 to read as follows:

 

3. Unusual narration N/A Yes

The entire film [rolls along] without a connection between either vignettes.

Courtesy of ThePaintedLady

 

Thanks for your contribution.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Great lists above as well as the noir tropes.  In terms of settings, I wholeheartedly agree that nighttime urban settings are the default noir location, but would it be fair to add desolate or rural landscapes, the kind found in:  Nightfall 1956, Jacques Tourneur;  ​They Live By Night 1948, Nicolas Ray;  On Dangerous Ground 1951, Nicolas Ray;  High Sierra 1941, Raoul Walsh;  The Hitchhiker 1953, Ida Lupino and the more modern Fargo 1996, Coen Bros., film and TV series?

 

Modern or Neo-Noir also include suburban locations:  Blue Velvet 1986, David Lynch;  Brick 2005, Rian Johnson.

 

There are also several southwest locations and or films that take place in Mexico, notably Out of The Past 1947, Jacques Tourneur; Touch of Evil 1958, Orson Welles as well as, Ride The Pink Horse 1947, Robert Montgomery.

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Just a thought about quintessential actors of the noir genre. Most would think of Humphrey Bogart, Alan Ladd, and Robert Mitchum. Then I started to reflect on actors of neo-noir. I find that Ryan Gosling is the go-to guy for neo-noir flicks as he's done many of them: The Nice Guys, Drive, Blue Valentine, All Good Things, Gangster Squad, Only God Forgives, Lost River. 

 

Any thoughts?

 

Just about Blue Valentine, which I saw again recently. I just can't call this one a neo-noir, but it's on the list: Others are free to disagree with me! It's a great movie, well worth seeing whether you want to call it a neo-noir or not.

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Blue Valentine (2010, dir. Derek Cianfrance)

 

Blue Valentine is a wonderful movie, and I can recommend it wholeheartedly, but I just can’t think of it as a neo-noir. No femme fatale, no sense that fate is taking the main characters on a tragic path, no criminal activity (unless one counts the assault and battery by Bobby Ontario). It has flashbacks: They tell the story about how Dean and Cindy met and fall in love. The flashbacks are interwoven throughout the story that takes place in the present time of the film, and that makes the narration a bit unusual, but I didn’t get a noir feel.

 

I can give it only 2 out of 16 on our list of noir characteristics. But it’s a great movie, with powerful performances from Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. Even the child who plays their daughter is amazing!

 

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 See above.

3. Unusual narration See above.

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

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

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) N/A Only the confusion and sadness that comes from falling out of love.

8. Violence or the threat of violence N/A

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 N/A

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

13. Greed N/A

14. Betrayal N/A

15. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on) N/A No one is at fault for the dissolution of the relationship, but this doesn’t count as a noir characteristic for me.

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

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Blue Valentine (2010, dir. Derek Cianfrance)

 

I can give it only 2 out of 16 on our list of noir characteristics. But it’s a great movie, with powerful performances from Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. Even the child who plays their daughter is amazing!

 

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 See above.

3. Unusual narration See above.

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

5. Femme fatale and/or homme fatale N/A   YES - I would say the are both fatales where the victim is the marriage itself.

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) N/A Only the confusion and sadness that comes from falling out of love. YES - especially for the husband.

8. Violence or the threat of violence N/A YES...though it may not be physical violence, I saw quite a bit of emotional turmoil.

9. Urban and nighttime settings N/A YES...nighttime settings dominate the film.

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

11. Philosophical themes (existentialism in particular) involving alienation, loneliness N/A  YES  The dissolution of marriage. 

12. Psychology (hypnosis, brainwashing, manipulation, amnesia) N/A YES. Manipulation by both sides but more so on the husband.

13. Greed N/A

14. Betrayal N/A  YES. There was a betrayal of trust particularly the wife's distrust of her husband.

15. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on) N/A No one is at fault for the dissolution of the relationship, but this doesn’t count as a noir characteristic for me. YES...by definition of the no stark contrast, I would say it's evident. You want to feel there is a person at fault, but because no one has 100% fault makes it ambiguous...the very definition of neo-noir.

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

 

 

I'm going to have to completely disagree here. Whether or not you want to call it neo-noir is up to the observer, and I won't argue that. But the film definitely had many of the characteristics that you mark as n/a. The green text is my response. I would give the the film 10/16

 

Great acting yes, but I did not like the film very much. I left the theatre feeling really depressed. 

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I'm going to have to completely disagree here. Whether or not you want to call it neo-noir is up to the observer, and I won't argue that. But the film definitely had many of the characteristics that you mark as n/a. The green text is my response. I would give the the film 10/16

 

Great acting yes, but I did not like the film very much. I left the theatre feeling really depressed. 

 

Well, I guess we'll just have to disagree on Blue Valentine. I read your responses and still don't see it as a neo-noir.

 

Thank you for your responses.

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Harper (1966)

dir. Jack Smight

 

Harper, is an adaptation of a Ross Macdonald novel, The Moving Target, where he introduces private detective Lew Archer in the first of a series of crime fiction novels.

 

Archer is now Lew Harper, a private investigator not quite in the tradition of those in the classic noir era.

Mrs. Sampson and Lew Harper have just met at her home.

Mrs. Sampson: A drink Mr. Harper?

Harper: Not before lunch, thanks.

Mrs. Sampson: I thought you were a detective.

Harper: New type

 

New type indeed.

First, Harper does not look as sharp in a suit as Phillip Marlowe and Sam Spade did in their respective 1940s films. His suits seem untailored and less spiffy.

Next, he may not being doing as well financially, for instance his office acts as a temporary home; complete with sofa bed, coffee maker, and ice box.

Lastly, Harper’s approach is less formal as he prefers going about his work with a certain casualness, such as when he answers the phone in someone else’s home and saying little, still is able to get information before being made, or when without drawing suspicion to himself, he slyly gets total strangers to reveal crucial clues.

 

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.) Half only because chiaroscuro is not stressed throughout by 10 times nominated and 3 time Oscar winning cinematographer, Conrad L. Hall. The lighting and shadows are not used to create suspense and seldom enhances emotional content or mood.

 

2. Flashbacks N/A

3. Unusual narration N/A

 

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

Illegal smuggling of immigrant workers

Kidnapping

 

5. Femme fatale and/or homme fatale No.

Miranda Sampson (Pamela Tiffen) flirts with Lew Harper in hopes of distracting him, but then quickly backs down when things threaten to heat up. Harper is hired by Elaine Sampson (Lauren Bacall) to look for her missing husband, whom she does not love. Then while looking for him, Harper is threaten with a gun and almost killed, on three separate occasions. Betty Fraley (Julie Harris) knowing Harper is “fuzz” grows uncomfortable with his questions and thus orders a bouncer to work him over. None are able to pivot up to noir standards as femme fatale, but each woman shows some signs. Collectively-Yes; individually-No.

 

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

There are a handful of suspects with angst (heartbroken by betrayal, loss of loved ones, dissolutions) but to explain further, would spoil the mystery.

 

8. Violence or the threat of violence Yes.

Murder

Torture

 

9. Urban and nighttime settings No.

Although set in Los Angeles, we never see the city. There are several nighttime scenes but not filmed as noir.

 

10. Allusion to post–World War II (or any postwar) themes (optional) No.

 

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

Mrs. Sampson asks that her husband be found although, “I only want to see him in his grave.”

Albert Graves is heartbroken by his unrequited love for Miranda.

“Did she say anything about me? … She didn’t even mention my name?”

Lew Harper is lonely and desperate because his marriage with Susan Harper (Janet Leigh) will soon be over; divorce proceedings are in the final stages. He charms himself back into her bedroom then immediately returns to his apathetic ways. When we last see them, they are pondering; self-doubt and guilt on her part, apprehension and confusion on his.

Susan: You are really ending things this time, you know that?… I feel like such a fool.

After he leaves, and she is alone, she says, “Just an infinitely lingering disease.”

 

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

Thinking Fay Estabrook (Shelley Winters) my have information on the whereabouts of the missing Ralph Sampson, Harper manipulatively engages with her, having drinks and conversation, pretending he is a fan of the once,pretty hot young starlet.” Later he plays the charmer and gets valuable answers from an unsuspecting tavern employee and later does the same with her boss only this time he throws him off by misspeaking:

Harper: You must be physic.

Boss: Psychic, you mean.

 

13. Greed Yes.

First there is a kidnapping for ransom, and then Mrs. Sampson, who is more inclined to receiving an inheritance than in negotiating alimony with her husband,I have no intention of divorcing him. I only intend to outlive him. I want to see him in his grave.”

 

14. Betrayal Yes.

A sibling kills another, a daughter reveals a hatred, and a friend turns on another.

 

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

As Harper continues searching for Mr. Sampson, he encounters several suspects along the way, which then leads to others. When the case is finally solved, we are surprised to learn that the culprit, whom we thought of as “innocent” all the while, was in fact capable of such evil all along. This being a mystery- it is best to leave it there.

 

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

 

8.5 of 16 for this early transitional neo-noir.

 

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Harper (1966)

dir. Jack Smight

 

Harper, is an adaptation of a Ross Macdonald novel, The Moving Target, where he introduces private detective Lew Archer in the first of a series of crime fiction novels.

 

Archer is now Lew Harper, a private investigator not quite in the tradition of those in the classic noir era.

Mrs. Sampson and Lew Harper have just met at her home.

Mrs. Sampson: A drink Mr. Harper?

Harper: Not before lunch, thanks.

Mrs. Sampson: I thought you were a detective.

Harper: New type

 

New type indeed.

. . .

 

 

8.5 of 16 for this early transitional neo-noir.

 

 

I found your write-up intriguing and now I want to see Harper, but did you like it? You never said one way or the other.

 

By the way, it's a new one for our list!

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I found your write-up intriguing and now I want to see Harper, but did you like it? You never said one way or the other.

 

By the way, it's a new one for our list!

Thank you for asking.

 

I did enjoy Harper. It features interesting characters, an easy story to follow, and a cast that make it memorable: Paul Newman, Shelley Winters, Lauren Bacall, and Janet Leigh.

 

Yes, I recommend Harper with no reservations, but keep in mind, as with all opinions, mine too are subjective.

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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 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

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

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

Mulholland Falls (1996), dir. Lee Tamahori

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

Palmetto (1998), dir. Volker Schlondorff

The Public Eye (1992), dir. Howard Franklin

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

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

Training Day (2001), dir. Antoine Fugua

Twisted (2004), dir. Philip Kaufman

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

Irrational Man (2015), dir. Woody Allen

Lost River (2014), dir. Ryan Gosling

The Nice Guys (2016), dir. Shane Black

Nightcrawler (2014), dir. Dan Gilroy

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

2 Guns (2013), dir. Baltasar Kormakur

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

 

Neo-noirs from abroad:

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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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