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Well I was joking about the creation a noir scoring model (but scoring models are what I do).   It wouldn't be that difficult.

 

 

 

Each of the 16  factors would be assigned a weigh value;  e.g.    If #1 (Chiaroscuro for black and white films etc..),  is the most important factor it would have the highest weigh.  

 

Next on a per movie basis, each of those 16 factors are assign a value,  like 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) as it relates to that factor and the movie.

 

The final step is to multiply the factor value by the weigh value and add them all up for a final noir movie score.  The higher the score the more 'noir' the movie.

 

But like all models it is very subjective how the weigh values are assigned.   It appears cigarjoe and you wouldn't be able to agree on the same weigh values since he favors visuals while you favor story\theme\plot.    But it would be fun if both of you had your own model and compared scores between films.    The scores would reflect the factors each of you like to emphasize.

 

I just went over the list and writing isn't even on it!!!

 

Still a fascinating idea, but I see that it would have to be a scoring model that could be adapted by anyone choosing to discuss noir according to a list.

 

Thanks for the explanation!

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My partial review of Devil in a Blue Dress (1995) Director: Carl Franklin, Writers: Walter Mosley (book), Carl Franklin (screenplay), Stars: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals. Great film, a good Neo Noir/PI genesis flick (Easy Rawlins), finally got around to seeing it last night. The recreation of 48 LA was very believable, and the story was interesting. All actors involved were excellent I gave it an 8/10. If it had just turned the gritty sleaze factor up a notch, delved more into the jazz scene, and toned down the shiny "new penny" look of all the automobiles it would have been a 10/10.

 

HEY! the cars were NEW in the 1940s. And the neighborhoods were new and clean. Everyone dressed well and were clean in the 1940s. This film was ABOUT the 1940s, and NOT about South-Central L.A. of today.

 

1940s:

 

r-CHICAGO-BLACKS-MIGRATION-large570.jpg

 

 

tumblr_lhaqgw4wFi1qfu6z3.jpg

 

 

blackwomen.jpeg

 

 

 

 

 

tumblr_inline_nrwgnsnfgA1syhv7i_500.jpg

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HEY! the cars were NEW in the 1940s. And the neighborhoods were new and clean. Everyone dressed well and were clean in the 1940s. This film was ABOUT the 1940s, and NOT about South-Central L.A. of today.

 

1940s:

 

r-CHICAGO-BLACKS-MIGRATION-large570.jpg

 

 

tumblr_lhaqgw4wFi1qfu6z3.jpg

 

 

blackwomen.jpeg

 

 

 

 

 

tumblr_inline_nrwgnsnfgA1syhv7i_500.jpg

Hey, the autos don't look like they do in most noirs, maybe its the color cinematography, when I watch films like The Strange Loves of Martha Ivers,  Framed, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Cry Danger, etc., etc., I never feel like I'm looking at bright shiny new cars. When I see Bunker Hill I don't get a neat and clean neighborhood impression either. Also, when I read Chandler or Ellroy writting about LA I don't get that everything was roses atmosphere. 

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Hey, the autos don't look like they do in most noirs, maybe its the color cinematography, when I watch films like The Strange Loves of Martha Ivers,  Framed, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Cry Danger, etc., etc., I never feel like I'm looking at bright shiny new cars. When I see Bunker Hill I don't get a neat and clean neighborhood impression either. Also, when I read Chandler or Ellroy writting about LA I don't get that everything was roses atmosphere. 

 

Some very good points.

 

First, BLUE DRESS purposely wanted to show modern LA like it really was in the late 1940s, and it did an excellent job of that, just like CHINATOWN did.

 

B&W noirs of the late 40s generally wanted to show grime, so they filmed in neighborhoods that were NOT new at the time they were filmed, but maybe 50 to 100 years old already.

 

Another point of BLUE DRESS was that although the blacks were neat and clean, the whites in LA and the LA government treated the blacks badly.

 

Also, the blacks in  the film being neat like the whites, had something to do with a key surprise point in the plot, regarding the background of the lady in the blue dress. Why did she fit into BOTH clean societies? Ah ha! She would not have fit so well into both, if the blacks had been dirty and grimy while the whites were neat and clean. She would not have fit into BOTH cultures at the same time at all.

 

I think there was even another reason the blacks and their cars were neat and clean..... so that white members of the audience would feel like one of them, right at home in Watts when it was nice, new, and modern.

 

Oh, and remember, I'm 73 years old. I remember the late 1940s in real life, when rural blacks wore old work clothes during the week, but they often wore very nice, new, clean, and fancy "white people's" type clothes when they went into town on Saturday and Sunday (see the downtown Saturday scenes in INTRUDER IN THE DUST in which most of the downtown blacks were dressed up). This dressed up look was also how the producers of the Amos and Andy TV show wanted their city actors to look, which made them look the same as the way white people dressed..

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Some very good points.

 

First, BLUE DRESS purposely wanted to show modern LA like it really was in the late 1940s, and it did an excellent job of that, just like CHINATOWN did.

 

B&W noirs of the late 40s generally wanted to show grime, so they filmed in neighborhoods that were NOT new at the time they were filmed, but maybe 50 to 100 years old already.

 

Another point of BLUE DRESS was that although the blacks were neat and clean, the whites in LA and the LA government treated the blacks badly.

 

Also, the blacks in  the film being neat like the whites, had something to do with a key surprise point in the plot, regarding the background of the lady in the blue dress. Why did she fit into BOTH clean societies? Ah ha! She would not have fit so well into both, if the blacks had been dirty and grimy while the whites were neat and clean. She would not have fit into BOTH cultures at the same time at all.

 

I think there was even another reason the blacks and their cars were neat and clean..... so that white members of the audience would feel like one of them, right at home in Watts when it was nice, new, and modern.

 

Oh, and remember, I'm 73 years old. I remember the late 1940s in real life, when rural blacks wore old work clothes during the week, but they often wore very nice, new, clean, and fancy "white people's" type clothes when they went into town on Saturday and Sunday (see the downtown Saturday scenes in INTRUDER IN THE DUST in which most of the downtown blacks were dressed up). This dressed up look was also how the producers of the Amos and Andy TV show wanted their city actors to look, which made them look the same as the way white people dressed..

My only problem as I said was with the cars, they all looked bright and shiny, I would think you'd get a lot of oxidation under an LA sun, and don't you get those Santa Anna winds, so I'd think it would be somewhat dusty also.

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My only problem as I said was with the cars, they all looked bright and shiny, I would think you'd get a lot of oxidation under an LA sun, and don't you get those Santa Anna winds, so I'd think it would be somewhat dusty also.

 

People took care of their cars in those days. They waxed their cars. Even if they bought used cars, they would clean them up, wax them, and make them shine. I remember. On a weekend, in a nice little-house neighborhood, 20 men would be outside washing their cars. It's like the way many of the Cubans have been keeping their 1950s cars clean and spotless.

 

In Los Angeles, people, including blacks, would keep their yards clean and spotless. We today are living in an era of messy people. Remember this: Bank robbers in the 1930s and 40s wore suits. They would dress up to go rob a bank.

 

john-dillinger-public-enemy-no-1-daniel-

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People took care of their cars in those days. They waxed their cars. Even if they bought used cars, they would clean them up, wax them, and make them shine. I remember. On a weekend, in a nice little-house neighborhood, 20 men would be outside washing their cars. It's like the way many of the Cubans have been keeping their 1950s cars clean and spotless.

 

In Los Angeles, people, including blacks, would keep their yards clean and spotless. We today are living in an era of messy people. Remember this: Bank robbers in the 1930s and 40s wore suits. They would dress up to go rob a bank.

 

 

 

Yes, they took care of their cars in the 1960s and 1970s in NYC, too. I know my uncles did!

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People took care of their cars in those days. They waxed their cars. Even if they bought used cars, they would clean them up, wax them, and make them shine. I remember. On a weekend, in a nice little-house neighborhood, 20 men would be outside washing their cars. It's like the way many of the Cubans have been keeping their 1950s cars clean and spotless.

 

In Los Angeles, people, including blacks, would keep their yards clean and spotless. We today are living in an era of messy people. Remember this: Bank robbers in the 1930s and 40s wore suits. They would dress up to go rob a bank.

 

john-dillinger-public-enemy-no-1-daniel-

I'm sure they did, but every car that you see on the street, it seems a bit implausible, that's what I'm getting at.

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Out of the Past: Podcast for The Ice Harvest (dir. Harold Ramis)

 

No one added The Ice Harvest to our list of neo-noirs, but I decided to see it. I noticed that Shannon Clute and Richard Edwards had a podcast about it, and I decided to check that out, too. You can listen to the podcast at http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/d/3/e/d3e6f259125213c0/OOTP_2007_12_01_TIH.mp3?c_id=2060278&expiration=1447647112&hwt=c322f8aeddc93f7a55dc8e1f229d4d3a

If the link is deleted, search online for Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir and scroll down to Episode 42.

 

The podcasts are a lot of fun to listen to, especially after seeing the movie. Even if I don’t agree with Clute’s and Edwards’s opinions, it’s fun to hear their observations.

 

I posted almost the same post at the Out of the Past Podcast: Official Discussion Topic thread.

 

To reiterate: The Ice Harvest does indeed have lots of noir characteristics. In fact, the podcast hosts made a lot of great observations about the use of film noir techniques that I probably wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. And the film does have some comedic moments. It takes place on Christmas Eve, and that alone lends itself naturally to some comedy. But I was surprised how bored I was too in spots, and it’s less than an hour and half long! I really wanted to like the film. John Cusack (one of my favorites) and Billy Bob Thornton are great, but Oliver Platt really steals the show. He has some of the best lines, both serious and funny. I found his scenes with John Cusack to be the highlights; they are especially funny, but I just don’t think of them as noir.

 

The podcast is about twice as long as usual because it includes an interview with the author Scott Phillips, who wrote the book The Ice Harvest, on which the film is based. This part of the podcast was fascinating because Phillips, Clute, and Edwards discuss the differences between the book and the film, and how hard it is to translate literature to film. It was also great to hear Phillips discuss his writing of the novel and how he felt about its translation to the screen. He talks about some of his experiences living in the Midwest and gives some facts about Wichita I hadn’t known.

 

Still wish that I had read the novel first. Wouldn’t have known that without the podcast.

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Yes, they took care of their cars in the 1960s and 1970s in NYC, too. I know my uncles did!

Well I was around for the 50's also, and I can assure you there were a lot of clunkers around too. And lots of used cars driven by teens with just primer on the bodies. 

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1940s:

 

r-CHICAGO-BLACKS-MIGRATION-large570.jpg

 

 

tumblr_lhaqgw4wFi1qfu6z3.jpg

 

 

blackwomen.jpeg

 

 

Thanks so much for supplying these photos. I especially like the street scenes. They really help to put the period portrayed by Devil in a Blue Dress in perspective.

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Out of the Past: Podcast for The Ice Harvest (dir. Harold Ramis)

 

No one added The Ice Harvest to our list of neo-noirs, but I decided to see it. I noticed that Shannon Clute and Richard Edwards had a podcast about it, and I decided to check that out, too. You can listen to the podcast at http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/d/3/e/d3e6f259125213c0/OOTP_2007_12_01_TIH.mp3?c_id=2060278&expiration=1447647112&hwt=c322f8aeddc93f7a55dc8e1f229d4d3a

If the link is deleted, search online for Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir and scroll down to Episode 42.

 

The podcasts are a lot of fun to listen to, especially after seeing the movie. Even if I don’t agree with Clute’s and Edwards’s opinions, it’s fun to hear their observations.

 

I posted almost the same post at the Out of the Past Podcast: Official Discussion Topic thread.

 

To reiterate: The Ice Harvest does indeed have lots of noir characteristics. In fact, the podcast hosts made a lot of great observations about the use of film noir techniques that I probably wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. And the film does have some comedic moments. It takes place on Christmas Eve, and that alone lends itself naturally to some comedy. But I was surprised how bored I was too in spots, and it’s less than an hour and half long! I really wanted to like the film. John Cusack (one of my favorites) and Billy Bob Thornton are great, but Oliver Platt really steals the show. He has some of the best lines, both serious and funny. I found his scenes with John Cusack to be the highlights; they are especially funny, but I just don’t think of them as noir.

 

The podcast is about twice as long as usual because it includes an interview with the author Scott Phillips, who wrote the book The Ice Harvest, on which the film is based. This part of the podcast was fascinating because Phillips, Clute, and Edwards discuss the differences between the book and the film, and how hard it is to translate literature to film. It was also great to hear Phillips discuss his writing of the novel and how he felt about its translation to the screen. He talks about some of his experiences living in the Midwest and gives some facts about Wichita I hadn’t known.

 

Still wish that I had read the novel first. Wouldn’t have known that without the podcast.

 

I have listened to a few of their podcasts. Thus far their discussions have included historic perspectives in relation to noir or they have analyzed certain scenes in extreme detail. The podcasts are very informative; my favorite is Detour, but I still have plenty more to listen to. 

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I have listened to a few of their podcasts. Thus far their discussions have included historic perspectives in relation to noir or they have analyzed certain scenes in extreme detail. The podcasts are very informative; my favorite is Detour, but I still have plenty more to listen to. 

 

I think the podcast about Detour was one of the first I listened to, when the Summer of Darkness was still in session. Great podcast because it convinced me to see the movie a second time. I couldn't finish the movie the first time because I couldn't listen to Vera any more!

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El aura (The Aura) (2005, dir. Fabián Bielinsky)

 

Many of the descriptions that I have read online of El aura don’t do the film justice. The plot is much more complicated than a one-paragraph description can convey. The film takes its time building scenes (and building tension) and examining the character of Esteban, and it still allows viewers to make up their own minds about him. El aura is over two hours long, but it is well worth seeing this portrait of a man in a particular and peculiar situation.

 

I give El aura 10½ out of 16 on our list of neo-noir characteristics, but it’s really a neo-noir through and through. Other features give El aura the neo-noir label:

• Esteban’s seeming lack of motivation

• Dietrich’s dog as a character throughout (and maybe even a killer)

• The many times that the relentless music is the only sound that can be heard during the film

• The significance of the title and Esteban’s epilepsy

We don’t have categories for these features, but they play a big part in making El aura a neo-noir.

 

***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.) Muted, drab color throughout. Mostly green-tinted, with black, gray, white, brown, and more green. Even though most of the film is shot outdoors, we rarely see the sun.

2. Flashbacks Half. Instead, we see Esteban’s epileptic attacks, which greatly influence his portrayal as a character, of course, and have a dramatic effect on the plot.

3. Unusual narration N/A

4. Crime/planning a crime (usually—but not always—murder) Casino heist is planned, multiple murders, accidental homicide

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

6. The instrument of fate Esteban suffers from epilepsy. He accidentally shoots another man while out hunting. This accident leads to a string of events that he could have avoided but seems almost unable to stop.

7. Angst (for example, guilt, fear, self-doubt, confusion, and so on; in other words, anything that contributes to angst) This film is the opposite of angst for Esteban because he doesn’t seem to have any emotions at all, so I am going to count this. He shows compassion toward Diana, but that’s about it. It’s the viewer who hears the music on the soundtrack and feels the suspense and unease and the building tension.

8. Violence or the threat of violence Constant threat of violence from others involved in the casino heist. A lot of the film has no dialogue, but the music is on an almost constant single note that increases suspense and unease.

9. Urban and nighttime settings The woods and the countryside count as characters, as far as I’m concerned. Dietrich’s dog goes hunting at night; it seems to be the only creature comfortable in the milieu.

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

11. Philosophical themes (existentialism in particular) involving alienation, loneliness Esteban’s wife leaves him at the start of the film. He seems not to care about anything after that. He is completely alone in his dilemma; he’s the one guarding the central secret of the plot. The viewer knows it and is thus drawn in inextricably.

12. Psychology (hypnosis, brainwashing, manipulation, amnesia) I’m going to count this because Esteban suffers from epilepsy, and he has at least three seizures during the film that affect the action. In a very poignant scene, he describes what it’s like to have an epileptic seizure to Diana Dietrich.

13. Greed Everyone, except Esteban, is in it for the money, although the others are not always in it because of pure greed.

14. Betrayal Half. One could make the case that Dietrich, Diana, and Julio betray each other, but it’s not because of the heist that Dietrich is planning.

15. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on) N/A Almost all the characters, except Diana Dietrich and the emotionless Esteban, are ugly to one another and treat each other badly. And this is before the bodies start dropping.

16. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good” Half. Esteban is in over his head. Fate is the only reason things work out the way that they do.

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Behind the Black Mask: Podcast Interview

with Rian Johnson, director of Brick

 

Shannon Clute and Richard Edwards also host another podcast called Behind the Black Mask: Mystery Writers Revealed, in which they interview mystery writers. One of their earliest interviews is with Rian Johnson, director of Brick.

 

You can check out Clute’s and Edwards’s podcast interview with Rian Johnson at http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/2/f/1/2f1a53c2ccd7d73c/BTBM_2006_08_15.mp3?c_id=2667487&expiration=1448243388&hwt=61cbf324939c68fb0a3bfb30ce0ca581

If the link is deleted, do an online search for Behind the Black Mask: Mystery Writers Revealed and scroll down to Episode 2.

 

Brick is on our list of neo-noir movies, and discussion about it has already started on this thread; listening to this podcast should be especially intriguing for those who have seen the film already. This podcast was great fun for me because Rian Johnson talks about writing and crafting his film Brick. In particular, Johnson discusses his literary inspirations (Dashiell Hammett), cinema inspirations (film noir and 1930s screwball comedies), and writing and creative process, and the quirky and wonderful dialogue and characters of Brick.

 

I thought the dialogue was the strongest feature of Brick, and Clute’s and Edwards’s podcast made me appreciate the film even more because of the discussion with Rian Johnson about the many other elements that went into making this film. In fact, the podcast discussion has inspired me to see Brick a second time.

 

(You can still check out Shannon Clute’s and Richard Edwards’s podcast/review about Brick at http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/f/a/c/fac25a0716cf037b/OOTP_2008_02_01_B.mp3?c_id=2060301&expiration=1446651447&hwt=829d541ded30d3b79a7c8e64a10ca17d

In case the link is deleted, go to Out of the Past at outofthepast.libsyn.com/ and scroll down to Episode 44.)

 

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The Glass Cage (1964) Flip this smoggy LA neighborhood over like a rock and see what crawls out.
 

The Glass Cage is a very Noir-ish styled Mystery with some great experimental cinematography. The tale begins at night in a Los Angeles Bunker Hill neighborhood. At a low rent dump called The Melvin, a "housekeeping apartments" converted Victorian apartment house. An attempted break in is abruptly thwarted. We see a hand break open a screen door we see a revolver in extreme close up. A muzzle flash. A man is shot. He tumbles doing a back flip down a flight of stairs breaks through the railing on a landing and falls vertically head first to the concrete pavement two stories below. A stream of blood flows quickly from his corpse towards a sewer drain.

A crowd gathers and the LAPD arrives. A meat wagon is called in and a corpse is removed. In a macabre touch one of the coroners men, after they load the dead man on a wheeled gurney, sings dirge like "merrily we roll a long, roll a long, roll a long" as they glide off into the darkness. 

Two detectives are assigned to the case Lt. Max Westman (Hoyt), the by the book veteran and Sgt, Jeff Bradley (Keljan). The dead man turns out to be a local business man and not a burglar as suspected. The beautiful young woman Ellen (Sax) who shot him tells a story that conflicts with the facts, but Jeff is smitten by Ellen who comes off as sweet and demure and he believes her while Max stays aloof and by the book. Sax, later known as Arlene Martel, was a staple of 50s-60s TV. 

Ellen claims the intruder was in the kitchen when she shot him. When contradicted with the facts by Max she claims she really doesn't remember. When asked where she got the gun she says that her sister Ruth gave it to her for protection that same night. When questioned about any other relatives she says that her father is living in Arizona, Asked what he does for a living she says that he's an evangelist in a tone of voice that one would use to say he's a card carrying communist. Ellen is a troubled woman with serious daddy issues. 

King Moody who will remind you a bit of Timothy Carey is Tox, a kooky troubled beatnik artist who lives across the alley from Ellen. The police question Tox because he witnessed the events after the gunshot. Tox knows the score with Ellen Jeff doesn't. 

Jeff begins to get seriously involved with Ellen and Tox ever surveillant of the goings on in Ellen's apartment starts to have issues with Jeff moving in on his "good thing". He drops over later that day to "borrow a cup of sugar", but it isn't the granular kind that he's looking for. 

The rape of Ellen triggers a flashback/nightmare sequence where she is dressed in her prom gown carrying a bouquet and running through crowds of people away from an ominous man who walks with a cane. This sequence features experimental cinematography combined with Noir stylistics part of the chase sequence features the The Bradley Building an iconic location for Classic Noir.

The appearance of Ellen's evangelistic father triggers another flashback.

I was pleasantly surprised, the film was produced by Futuramic Productions whose only other efforts was Squad Car (1960) and Come Spy with Me (1967). Its Available on DVD from Sinister Cinema, it could use a full restoration 7/10

A highly visual Neo Noir.

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House of Games (1987)

dir. David Mamet

 

Dr. Margaret Ford (Lindsey Crouse) a psychiatrist, walks into a games tavern hoping to help one of her patients get out of a $25,000 gambling debt. There she meets Mike (Joe Mantegna) who she calls a bully for threatening to kill her young sick friend if he fails to pay him the next day. Soon she learns that the debt owed is actually $800 which Mike is willing to forget if Dr. Ford agrees to do him a favor:

 

Mike: The guy from Vegas (pointing to the back room) has got [lots] of money. . .when he’s bluffing, okay, he plays with his little gold ring. Now, I caught him doing it. He knows I did, so he stopped. He’s conscious of himself. I want you to do me this favor. I want you to be my “friend” for a while, come in the game, you stand behind me, watch me play. We get in a big hand, okay? I go to [the bathroom] - you watch this guy, and tell me, does he play with his gold ring. I know he’s bluffing, I win the big hand. I’ll forget the $800 your friend owes.

 

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.

Mike’s entrance has him first standing mostly in silhouette then beside a hanging lamp, slightly illuminating the outline of his right side. Then as he moves forward, the light source is obscured and we see him now as a dark shadow. Next, he walks through the light source again and we finally see him in full light. (Reminiscent of other classic noir entrances we saw in the summer.) Also, the entire scene where the card game (mentioned above) takes place, makes good use of lights, shadows, and colors to create great contrast. Red and green seem to be the dominant hue here as faces show hints of red/orange, and a pendant light illuminates both the green-top card table and the slightly rustic, dull-looking cherry-red door.

 

2. Flashbacks N/A

 

3. Unusual narration N/A

 

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

Larceny

 

5. Femme fatale and/or homme fatale Yes.

Here Mike is the homme fatale- the seducer and manipulator. Unbeknownst to him, his exploits may have helped shape a femme fatale.

 

6. The instrument of fate Yes.

The film’s conclusion would be entirely different but for two fateful occurrences:

the point in time when a garbage bag is disposed of and the slight slip of a word: the first results in a realization and the second in a violent confrontation.

 

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

 

8. Violence or the threat of violence Yes.

Murder

 

9. Urban and nighttime settings Yes.

Dark back rooms, empty wet streets, alleys- all found here. Dr. Ford seems out of place in these seedy looking taverns patronized by shady character in neon-lit locations.

 

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

William H. Macy plays marine Sergeant John Moran, a soldier returning to his base; it’s a small but essential role towards the development of the story.

 

11. Philosophical themes (existentialism in particular) involving alienation, loneliness N/A

 

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

Mike is a master in manipulation.

 

13. Greed Yes.

Con artist- greed goes with the territory.

 

14. Betrayal Yes.

Again goes with the territory. A con artist when successful, ultimately betrays the person whose trust he has won.

 

Mike: I used you. I did. I’m sorry. And you learned some things about yourself that you’d rather not know. I’m sorry for that too. You say I acted atrociously. Yes, I did. I do it for a living.

 

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

Mike is a con man and admits as much when he demonstrates how easy it is for him to have a total stranger insist on giving him money. There is no start contrast between good and evil when pulling off a successful scam.

 

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

 

11 of 16 makes it a convincing neo-noir. I enjoyed watching it. My guess is many might too.

 

The lines delivered by Lindsey Crouse as Dr. Ford come with little emotions. They seem to be read not acted out. In 1984, she was nominated by the academy for best supporting actress in the film, Places in the Heart. David Mamet directed her in House of Games and I will assume he got from her what he wanted.

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Bullitt (1968)

Directed by Peter Yates

Bullitt_poster.jpg

 

This is my first post of a film analysis using the list. I'm quite surprised this film has not yet been mentioned nor is it on our list of neo-noir films.

 

Really Brief Overview

A San Francisco district attorney, who is also an ambitious politician, has a "star witness" who is about to testify in a Senate Subcommittee hearing on organized crime. He puts The SFPD, specifically Frank Bullitt, in charge of protective custody for 40 hours until his court appearance. 

 

Analysis

Bullitt gets 12 out of 16. Usually when films noir are based off police procedure and investigation there may be fewer items to check off on the list below. What seemed to stand out most for me was Steve McQueen's eyes. They're a character within the character. We want to see what he sees; we need to know. And it's usually this monitoring that advances the plot.

 

The cinematography is on point with traditional film noir, not only with the chiaroscuro but also the camera angles. The one scene I liked best was McQueen at a high society party; the angle is looking up from the floor and our protagonist is framed by the legs of female patrons standing around (nothing sexual. It's like being a small child or a pet that sees nothing but legs in their line of vision).

 

The San Francisco Bay Area is also prominently featured throughout the film. There are no closed (studio) sets. Some locations include SFO; San Francisco's Mission District, North Beach, Downtown, Embarcadero, Russian Hill, Marina District; Guadalupe Parkway in Brisbane; Sausalito. Side note: The taxi driver (played by Robert Duvall) says that the suspect made a long distance call...to San Mateo. It's only 15 miles away. I just started laughing.

 

My only negative was the car chase scene (which is what Bullitt is praised for). Be forewarned. You WILL get dizzy. We see them pass the same green VW Beetle at least 5 times. And it's geographically impossible to make that chase. How does one get from Mission District to North Beach in mere seconds? But I'm a native, so no one outside of SF would probably care. 

 

What I really liked about this film was the jazz score. It also contains live performances by local jazz musicians to create realism.

 

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; muted color in some scenes.

 

2. Flashbacks 

No, but this is an investigation where Bullitt has to continuously backtrack and interview witnesses, but the scenes stay in real time.

 

3. Unusual narration 

No

 

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

Yes; stalking, murder, the car chase

 

5. Femme fatale and/or homme fatale

I'll say yes. I definitely see the DA as homme fatale as well as the witness because his actions do result in the deaths of innocent victims.

 

6. The instrument of fate 

I would say YES. Particularly during the investigation where one major question is answered.

 

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

Yes, the title character seems to work on his own accord with little regard to what his superiors think.

 

8. Violence or the threat of violence 

Yes. We have a "protected witness" whose life is in danger.

 

9. Urban and nighttime settings 

Yes...my hometown of San Francisco. Night time settings during film's climax as well as more high tension scenes.

 

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

No.

 

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

Yes; particularly in the scene between Bullitt and his girlfriend as she is questioning the man she "thought she knew".

 

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

Yes, of course. It's politicians, DAs, and police officers. It's in their nature to be masters of manipulation.

 

13. Greed 

Yes. The DA in the film has a clear agenda that best serve his interests.

 

14. Betrayal

Yes. DA feels betrayed by Bullitt, The state's witness betrays the DA.

 

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

No. The lines are pretty clear. HOWEVER, Bullitt does break procedure (if not making quite illegal decisions) to move the investigation forward.

 

16. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good” 

Yes.

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Jackie Brown (1997, dir. Quentin Tarantino)

 

Jackie Brown must have been a fun film for Pam Grier. She has the lead role and it’s a strong portrayal of a woman in a tight spot. It was fun to see both her and Robert Forster. Max Cherry (Forster) falls for Jackie Brown (Grier) the moment he sees her, he knows he’s hooked, and he isn’t unhappy about. He buys a tape of The Delfonics because Jackie Brown plays the album when he is in her apartment: a detail that is a great touch and a revealing peek into the character of Max Cherry.

 

The soundtrack does not make Jackie Brown a neo-noir, but it is central to the film. Even though the film was released in 1997, Tarantino has succeeded in giving it a 1970s feel with the music, which is fantastic; some examples:

• “Across 110th Street” by Bobby Womack and Peace

• “Street Life” by Randy Crawford

• “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time” and “La La La Means I Love You” by The Delfonics

• “Midnight Confessions” by The Grass Roots

• “Inside My Love” by Minnie Riperton

I suspected the soundtrack was an homage to Pam Grier because she was active in 1970s films, so I had to look this up. Per Wikipedia: “The film pays homage to the 1970s blaxploitation films, particularly the films Coffy (1973) and Foxy Brown (1974), both of which also starred Grier in the title roles.”

 

*****Spoilers*****

 

Jackie Brown has some examples of macabre humor that work (i.e., they’re funny), for example:

• Melanie and Ordell are in their living room entertaining Louis and the phone rings. He wants her to answer the phone; she doesn’t want to answer the phone. The staring contest between them is hysterical.

• Melanie and Louis argue in the parking lot. Is it this aisle? Do you think it’s this aisle? How did you ever find the getaway car for your bank robbery? (He probably didn’t and that’s why he was arrested.) For some reason, Melanie hits all of Louis’s buttons. It’s true that he shoots her in exasperation, but the exchange between them before that happens is hilarious.

• Louis finally finds the getaway car/van, and he and Ordell are in the front seat when Louis tries to re-create the conversation between him and Melanie. The humor is uneasy because the viewer can guess how it’s going to turn out this time, but the scene starts out humorously enough.

• The rapid-fire exchange between Ray and Jackie in the interrogation room is funny. In addition, Jackie spends the whole time smoking and there is a sign over Ray’s shoulder, on the wall, that reads “No smoking.” Neither one of them acknowledges the sign or the fact that Jackie is smoking.

 

I give Jackie Brown 10 out of 16 on our list of noir characteristics, which may not seem like a lot but it’s still a strong neo-noir. Dark humor isn’t on our list of noir characteristics, but this film has plenty of examples. And what a great movie!

 

1. Chiaroscuro for black and white films, intense or muted color in movies filmed in color N/A

2. Flashbacks N/A

3. Unusual narration The split screen that shows the moment Max realizes that Jackie has his gun. The multiple takes on the double-cross money exchange.

4. Crime/planning a crime (usually—but not always—murder) Murder, gun running, bank robbing (Louis’s past). From the moment that Ordell asks Beaumont to get into the trunk of his car, maybe even before that, the viewer knows that Ordell is trouble. (Great camera shot tracking left as Ordell’s car turns left, then moving up to an overhead shot to see Ordell take Beaumont, now in the trunk, to the empty lot.)

5. Femme fatale and/or homme fatale Jackie brings Max Cherry into her plot, but she never lies to him. Still, she knows that he is in love with her; she falls for him later in the movie.

6. The instrument of fate Jackie Brown’s past comes back to haunt her. After she’s found smuggling money and drugs, her past squeezes her out of options.

7. Angst (for example, guilt, fear, self-doubt, confusion, and so on; in other words, anything that contributes to angst) It’s the audience who feels most of the angst and the tension, so I am going to count this one.

8. Violence or the threat of violence See number 4 above. Ordell is a constant threat.

9. Urban and nighttime settings Half. Nighttime settings, yes, but a lot of the crime “transactions” take place in a shopping mall and in Ordell’s living room. He lives in a beach house with a lot of windows.

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 Everybody on the wrong side of the law is at least a bit greedy. But not Ray: The ATF doesn’t endorse that position.

14. Betrayal Crosses and double-crosses abound. In fact, I would like to see the movie again to make sure that I didn’t miss anything.

15. No stark contrast between “good” and “evil” (characters, forces, emotion, and so on) Half, but only because of Jackie Brown and Max Cherry. They’re not completely clean, but the audience roots for them anyway.

16. Expertise triumphs, perhaps rather than “good” Jackie triumphs. She smuggled money for Ordell, she has a lot of his money and his car at the end of the movie. But I was rooting for her and Max Cherry from the moment he saw her leaving the prison after he paid her bond.

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The soundtrack does not make Jackie Brown a neo-noir, but it is central to the film. Even though the film was released in 1997, Tarantino has succeeded in giving it a 1970s feel with the music, which is fantastic; some examples:

• “Across 110th Street” by Bobby Womack and Peace

• “Street Life” by Randy Crawford

• “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time” and “La La La Means I Love You” by The Delfonics

• “Midnight Confessions” by The Grass Roots

• “Inside My Love” by Minnie Riperton

I suspected the soundtrack was an homage to Pam Grier because she was active in 1970s films, so I had to look this up. Per Wikipedia: “The film pays homage to the 1970s blaxploitation films, particularly the films Coffy (1973) and Foxy Brown (1974), both of which also starred Grier in the title roles.”

 

 

Yes! I love the music in this film. You left out "Long Time Woman". It played as Jackie is being processed and sitting in jail.  The singer is Ms. Pam Grier, herself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlfoJC__6pE

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Yes! I love the music in this film. You left out "Long Time Woman". It played as Jackie is being processed and sitting in jail.  The singer is Ms. Pam Grier, herself.

 

Oh, I would have listed everything on the soundtrack of Jackie Brown if I thought the music had enhanced the "noir-ness" of the film! Maybe others think it does and I would be perfectly happy with that! But for me, I thought of disco (not very noir). And I thought The Delfonics playing when Max Cherry sees Jackie Brown for the first time spelled R-O-M-A-N-C-E (not noir, not yet femme fatale).

 

Such a wonderful movie, though. Can't recommend it enough.

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Oh, I would have listed everything on the soundtrack of Jackie Brown if I thought the music had enhanced the "noir-ness" of the film! Maybe others think it does and I would be perfectly happy with that! But for me, I thought of disco (not very noir). And I thought The Delfonics playing when Max Cherry sees Jackie Brown for the first time spelled R-O-M-A-N-C-E (not noir, not yet femme fatale).

 

Such a wonderful movie, though. Can't recommend it enough.

 

Oops, I wasn't clear. I was just referring to the point about the soundtrack as homage to Pam Grier (not necessarily the noirness of it) and that Long Time Woman was on target with that point since Grier is the singer.

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Oops, I wasn't clear. I was just referring to the point about the soundtrack as homage to Pam Grier (not necessarily the noirness of it) and that Long Time Woman was on target with that point since Grier is the singer.

 

"Long Time Woman" is about serving prison time. I got the lyrics from stlyrics.com:

 

I'm a long time woman

And i'm serving my time

I've been lock away so long now

I forgotten my crime

 

I've been working on the road now,

I've been working by the sea

I've been working in them cane fields

And I wanna be free

 

Well ninety nine years is a long long long time

Ninety nine years is such a long long long time

Ninety nine years is a long long time

Well look at me, I'll never be free

 

I'm a long time woman

Ain't nobody to please

I got a natural feelings

Like a bad disease

 

Well ninety nine years is a long long time

Well ninety nine ninety nine years is such a long long time

Well ninety nine years is a long long time

Well look at me, I'll never be free

 

I'm a long time woman

Hmm, hmm, hmm ..

Doo, doo, doo, doo...

 

I think lyrics about serving prison time are noir. So maybe it's not too much of a stretch to say that at least some of the soundtrack on Jackie Brown could be considered noir.

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"Long Time Woman" is about serving prison time. I got the lyrics from stlyrics.com:

 

 

That the song is about prison is obvious.

 

I always thought the line was  "Got unnatural feelings" instead of "a natural feelings" It makes more sense that way considering if she's got no one to please, implying no sex with men and thus her only option for pleasure is with other women.

 

And yes, prison films were a theme in films noir such as Caged (1950) and Brute Force (1947)

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