Weekly Film Recap #17 (Neo-Noir)

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Coming off the heels of studying the classic Film Noirs that took moviegoing audiences by storm in the 40s and 50s, we settle into one of the most dynamic genres in cinema. Neo-Noirs are exactly how they sound, a new take on the ‘Noir.’

Film Noirs were characterized by their stories on individuals who lived or were forced to live outside the margins of society. Style was a major driving force in Film noirs and Neo-Noirs took that to the next level.

Neo-Noirs take the dark, shadow infested cinematography of the Noir and update it by giving us some of the most visually striking films in modern history. From the 60s to modern time, Neo-noirs have played on the tropes of film noirs and use them to evolve the cinematic form!

Below are some notable Neo-Noirs from over the past 50 years.

LE SAMOURAÏ     (dir. Jean-Pierre Melville)    Le Samouraï  is Melville’s ode to American crime cinema from the 40s and 50s with a flare of modern French pop culture.   Le Samouraï  stars Alain Delon as a hired assassin with a samurai-like mythos sent to take out the owner of a nightclub. When he gets questioned and taken in by the police, the men who hired him now set him up to ensure that he doesn’t squeal.  Melville took all the striking and moody aspects of the American film noir and incorporated it into a modern setting in 60’s France.  Le Samouraï  is one of the best examples at how dynamic film noir traits are and how far their influence reached!    5/5     WATCH: The Criterion Channel

LE SAMOURAÏ

(dir. Jean-Pierre Melville)

Le Samouraï is Melville’s ode to American crime cinema from the 40s and 50s with a flare of modern French pop culture.

Le Samouraï stars Alain Delon as a hired assassin with a samurai-like mythos sent to take out the owner of a nightclub. When he gets questioned and taken in by the police, the men who hired him now set him up to ensure that he doesn’t squeal.

Melville took all the striking and moody aspects of the American film noir and incorporated it into a modern setting in 60’s France. Le Samouraï is one of the best examples at how dynamic film noir traits are and how far their influence reached!

5/5

WATCH: The Criterion Channel

THE LONG GOODBYE     (dir. Robert Altman)   Robert Altman’s take on Raymond Chandler’s classic crime novel  The Long Goodbye  makes for one of the most exciting and mysterious films to come out of the 1970s!  Elliott Gould (yes, Monica and Ross’ dad in Friends) tries his hand at playing the legendary PI, Philip Marlowe. This time, it’s set in 1970s California where Marlowe finds himself entangled in a mysterious plot after he takes his friend Terry down Tijuana. When he comes back to LA, he finds out that Terry’s wife has been murdered and Terry is the prime suspect. After hearing reports of Terry committing suicide in Mexico, Marlowe is let free and is then hired by a woman to find her alcoholic husband. This woman, however seems to have a shady past with Terry and his wife…   The Long Goodbye  displays a man who’s inadvertently been drawn into a world of self-obsession. The world that Marlowe lives in for the nearly two hours of the film is a world of pure narcissism and disregard for human life. It’s a world where people are so self-absorbed in themselves that they have no clue the trauma they cause other people. 46 years later and it’s still an accurate warning sign of what could be, or more accurately, what already is.    5/5     WATCH: Putlocker / iTunes

THE LONG GOODBYE

(dir. Robert Altman)

Robert Altman’s take on Raymond Chandler’s classic crime novel The Long Goodbye makes for one of the most exciting and mysterious films to come out of the 1970s!

Elliott Gould (yes, Monica and Ross’ dad in Friends) tries his hand at playing the legendary PI, Philip Marlowe. This time, it’s set in 1970s California where Marlowe finds himself entangled in a mysterious plot after he takes his friend Terry down Tijuana. When he comes back to LA, he finds out that Terry’s wife has been murdered and Terry is the prime suspect. After hearing reports of Terry committing suicide in Mexico, Marlowe is let free and is then hired by a woman to find her alcoholic husband. This woman, however seems to have a shady past with Terry and his wife…

The Long Goodbye displays a man who’s inadvertently been drawn into a world of self-obsession. The world that Marlowe lives in for the nearly two hours of the film is a world of pure narcissism and disregard for human life. It’s a world where people are so self-absorbed in themselves that they have no clue the trauma they cause other people. 46 years later and it’s still an accurate warning sign of what could be, or more accurately, what already is.

5/5

WATCH: Putlocker / iTunes

BLOOD SIMPLE     (dir. Joel Coen)   The now legendary Coen Brothers made their feature film debut in 1984 with  Blood Simple , a gritty noir set in the heartlands of Texas.  Starring their favorite collaborator, Frances McDormand,  Blood Simple  follows a bartender named Ray who starts up an affair with his boss’s wife. When his boss Marty finds out, he hires a private detective to take them both out. But, the sketchy ‘detective’ fakes photos to make it look like he killed them and instead kills Marty and takes his money. Now, with Ray finding his boss dead, he’s thrown into a confusingly violent world.  The Coen Brothers are among the most idiosyncratic directors in the game right now and their auteur-ish qualities are as present in their first film as they are now. The Coen’s take influence from the film noirs in the 50s and defy the genre by placing it in Texas, a fairly uncommon place compared to the usual Los Angeles or NYC in film noirs.    4/5     WATCH: Criterion Channel

BLOOD SIMPLE

(dir. Joel Coen)

The now legendary Coen Brothers made their feature film debut in 1984 with Blood Simple, a gritty noir set in the heartlands of Texas.

Starring their favorite collaborator, Frances McDormand, Blood Simple follows a bartender named Ray who starts up an affair with his boss’s wife. When his boss Marty finds out, he hires a private detective to take them both out. But, the sketchy ‘detective’ fakes photos to make it look like he killed them and instead kills Marty and takes his money. Now, with Ray finding his boss dead, he’s thrown into a confusingly violent world.

The Coen Brothers are among the most idiosyncratic directors in the game right now and their auteur-ish qualities are as present in their first film as they are now. The Coen’s take influence from the film noirs in the 50s and defy the genre by placing it in Texas, a fairly uncommon place compared to the usual Los Angeles or NYC in film noirs.

4/5

WATCH: Criterion Channel

BLUE VELVET     (dir. David Lynch)   I’m going to try to compose myself for this one, considering  Blue Velvet  is my favorite film of all time.   Blue Velvet  is one of David Lynch’s many masterpieces and stars Kyle Machlachlan as Jeffery, a student in town from school when his father falls ill. While walking home from the hospital he spots a severed ear on the ground and decides to take it to the detective. This leads Jeffrey on a surreal journey through the dark underworld of a suburban American town lead by the violently wild Frank Booth, played by Dennis Hopper in arguably his career defining performance.  David Lynch set this story in the suburban town of Lumberton, North Carolina; a nice, quiet slice of Americana. However, Lynch takes the noir approach and expands it to depths never reached before within the genre. Lynch shows us how noir elements are universal and introduces these elements in conjunction with surrealism to make for one of the most original mysteries/neo-noirs of all time!    5/5     WATCH: Putlocker, iTunes

BLUE VELVET

(dir. David Lynch)

I’m going to try to compose myself for this one, considering Blue Velvet is my favorite film of all time.

Blue Velvet is one of David Lynch’s many masterpieces and stars Kyle Machlachlan as Jeffery, a student in town from school when his father falls ill. While walking home from the hospital he spots a severed ear on the ground and decides to take it to the detective. This leads Jeffrey on a surreal journey through the dark underworld of a suburban American town lead by the violently wild Frank Booth, played by Dennis Hopper in arguably his career defining performance.

David Lynch set this story in the suburban town of Lumberton, North Carolina; a nice, quiet slice of Americana. However, Lynch takes the noir approach and expands it to depths never reached before within the genre. Lynch shows us how noir elements are universal and introduces these elements in conjunction with surrealism to make for one of the most original mysteries/neo-noirs of all time!

5/5

WATCH: Putlocker, iTunes

RED ROCK WEST     (dir. John Dahl)   John Dahl, a director with a real fetish for the Neo-noir genre, takes the two last films we talked about it and almost combined them to create this unique little 90’s noir.   Red Rock West  stars three David Lynch alum with Nicolas Cage, Dennis Hopper, and Lara Flynn Boyle. Cage stars as a loner named Michael who stumbles through small town Wyoming. He’s in need for money and unknowingly accepts $5,000 to kill a bar owner’s wife. He takes it, but doesn’t go through with it and the real hitman, played by Dennis Hopper in a toned down Frank Booth-esque role, wants his money.  Dahl takes a lot of influence from Blood Simple in putting this noir in a desolate, western environment and presents us with some idiosyncratic characters like Lynch. In 1994, Dahl made his most critically acclaimed film with  The Last Seduction , but there’s just something about the unique setting and quirky group of characters that give this film a unique place in the Neo-noir world.    4/5     WATCH:  Putlocker, iTunes

RED ROCK WEST

(dir. John Dahl)

John Dahl, a director with a real fetish for the Neo-noir genre, takes the two last films we talked about it and almost combined them to create this unique little 90’s noir.

Red Rock West stars three David Lynch alum with Nicolas Cage, Dennis Hopper, and Lara Flynn Boyle. Cage stars as a loner named Michael who stumbles through small town Wyoming. He’s in need for money and unknowingly accepts $5,000 to kill a bar owner’s wife. He takes it, but doesn’t go through with it and the real hitman, played by Dennis Hopper in a toned down Frank Booth-esque role, wants his money.

Dahl takes a lot of influence from Blood Simple in putting this noir in a desolate, western environment and presents us with some idiosyncratic characters like Lynch. In 1994, Dahl made his most critically acclaimed film with The Last Seduction, but there’s just something about the unique setting and quirky group of characters that give this film a unique place in the Neo-noir world.

4/5

WATCH: Putlocker, iTunes

KISS KISS BANG BANG     (dir. Shane Black)   Shane Black’s directorial debut came with the more comedicly-toned Neo-noir  Kiss Kiss Bang Bang .  The film stars Robert Downey Jr. as Harry, a thief in New York City who unknowingly stumbles into a movie audition when running from the police. He just so happens to get the part that sends him down to LA where he runs into a childhood friend. While following a detective played by Val Kilmer in order to prep for a role, Harry gets involved in a very real murder plot.   Kiss Kiss Bang Bang  works as a Neo-noir, because it so consciously dismisses, and at times makes fun of, the rudimentary ‘noir’ tropes. Downey’s character is a quick witted smart mouth that narrates the film and constantly finds himself poking fun at himself, the viewer, and any genre expectations. It’s pretty obvious that this role helped shoe him into the role of Tony Stark later on.   Kiss Kiss Bang Bang  satirical approach to the genre makes for one of the most interesting Neo noirs of the 00s!    4/5     WATCH: Putlocker, iTunes

KISS KISS BANG BANG

(dir. Shane Black)

Shane Black’s directorial debut came with the more comedicly-toned Neo-noir Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

The film stars Robert Downey Jr. as Harry, a thief in New York City who unknowingly stumbles into a movie audition when running from the police. He just so happens to get the part that sends him down to LA where he runs into a childhood friend. While following a detective played by Val Kilmer in order to prep for a role, Harry gets involved in a very real murder plot.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang works as a Neo-noir, because it so consciously dismisses, and at times makes fun of, the rudimentary ‘noir’ tropes. Downey’s character is a quick witted smart mouth that narrates the film and constantly finds himself poking fun at himself, the viewer, and any genre expectations. It’s pretty obvious that this role helped shoe him into the role of Tony Stark later on.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang satirical approach to the genre makes for one of the most interesting Neo noirs of the 00s!

4/5

WATCH: Putlocker, iTunes

DRIVE     (dir. Nicolas Winding Refn)   Nicolas Winding Refn’s masterpiece  Drive  was one of the best films of 2011 and is still one of the best films of the 2010’s.  Ryan Gosling stars as a Hollywood stunt driver that works as a getaway driver on the side. He barely speaks and maintains a pretty icy exterior until he gets to know his neighbor and her daughter. When his neighbor’s husband gets home from prison, The Driver offers to help be the getaway driver for a heist job in order to ensure the safety of his neighbor and her son. Things go wrong and now the Driver must deal with the consequences.  Refn’s style almost becomes fetishized in the film with his intricate use of the camera and lighting, giving  Drive  this iconic noir look with colors that are normally left out of noirs. Of all the films to come out this decade,  Drive  is easily one of the finest examples on how a modern noir should be handled.    5/5     WATCH: Putlocker, iTunes

DRIVE

(dir. Nicolas Winding Refn)

Nicolas Winding Refn’s masterpiece Drive was one of the best films of 2011 and is still one of the best films of the 2010’s.

Ryan Gosling stars as a Hollywood stunt driver that works as a getaway driver on the side. He barely speaks and maintains a pretty icy exterior until he gets to know his neighbor and her daughter. When his neighbor’s husband gets home from prison, The Driver offers to help be the getaway driver for a heist job in order to ensure the safety of his neighbor and her son. Things go wrong and now the Driver must deal with the consequences.

Refn’s style almost becomes fetishized in the film with his intricate use of the camera and lighting, giving Drive this iconic noir look with colors that are normally left out of noirs. Of all the films to come out this decade, Drive is easily one of the finest examples on how a modern noir should be handled.

5/5

WATCH: Putlocker, iTunes