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Entries in film noir (29)

Wednesday
Jun212017

Q&A: "Strong Female Characters" and Future AFI Honors

Okay last round of reader questions before we have to ask for a new batch. These are culled from the last "Ask Nathaniel" column as well as the open thread. Let's talk Wonder Woman and Oscar, "Strong Roles for Women," and more.

MARIE: Who are the next 3 women that should win the AFI Life Achievement Award?

NATHANIEL: A timely question since Diane Keaton just won hers. But I had to look back at who has previously been nominated to come up with an answer. Living female winners number only five: Diane Keaton (2017), Jane Fonda (2014), Shirley Maclaine (2012), Meryl Streep (2004), and Barbra Streisand (2000) with the other twelve winners in this new century being men (both actors and directors have won). It's actually a tough question because they have to be alive and *really* famous to get this honor and also elderly (though Streep was young for this honor taking it when she was 54ish I think). They also have to be American (for the most part) so I looked only at people who are almost 60 or older and this is what I came up with...

 

I would probably choose from among these five next:

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Monday
Nov282016

Veronica Mars: Noir Hidden in Teen Angst

by Jorge Molina

The thing about noir is that, at its purest, most classic, most Maltese-Falcon-iest form, it’s a fairly recognizable genre. The character tropes are clear, the themes are evident, and the stylistic elements jump off the screen. For the most part, you know a film noir when you see one.

However, the more interesting members of the genre are those that won’t have a smoky detective office telling you that what you’re about to watch. They either subvert the learned expectations of the noir, or they hide them in original packaging...

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Tuesday
Nov152016

Noirvember: Kiss Me Deadly (1955)

It's Noirvember. Here's Bill Curran on a Robert Aldrich's neo-noir

The world turned upside down, inside out. Film noir depends on following innate impulses to that most ultimate, unthinkable, irrational end: death. Noir explores that nasty thing called "human nature, revealing (and revelling in) the elemental urges that really make us tick. Noir unmasks the mechanics of this crazy world with some variation on a guy, a girl, and a gun. Upending sexual-patriarchal dynamics, leveling the tenants of justice and who is responsible for carrying it out, filming what we do in the shadows in the half-light: when you flip the script on taste and convention, you can learn a lot about how topsy-turvy this whole mess called Earth can be. 

Kiss Me Deadly stews in and subverts these genre contradictions more brazenly than almost any other film noir before or since, perhaps because it is, in the end, about the dawn of the end of the world. Gonzo and sophisticated in equal measure, from the backward title scrawl to the A-bomb finale, this loose 1955 adaptation of the Mickey Spillane novel could be called the first neo-noir and what the Cahier du cinema crowd dubbed, "the thriller of tomorrow.”

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Friday
Nov112016

Noirvember: L.A. Confidential (1997)

It's Noirvember. Here's Lynn Lee...

For a film set in the ’50s, L.A. Confidential (1997) looks and feels surprisingly contemporary.  Maybe it’s because so many of its themes still resonate today: police brutality (especially against racial minorities), broken Hollywood dreams, and the addictiveness of celebrity and power.  Maybe it’s because so much of the film is shot and lit in a more naturalistic, less stylized manner than your typical hardboiled crime movie, which makes the more obviously noir-ish sequences really pop by contrast.  But I think what distinguishes it most from its classic forbears is that it ends up being less memorable for its atmosphere or its plot twists than its character development of not one detective-protagonist but three, whose parallel narrative lines end up converging over the course of the film.

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Thursday
Nov102016

Noirvember Requests?

What are your three top noirs you'd love to see discussed this month? I mean besides the obvious choices like Gilda (a personal fav) and films we've discussed in the past few years already like Double Indemnity, Blood Simple, The Bigamist, and Woman in the Window.

Easy Access FYI:

• Netflix has a paltry selection of Noir but they are offering Dressed to Kill, Don't Bother to Knock, Laura, and House on Telegraph Hill

• Amazon Prime is streaming The Killer is Loose, The Man in the Attic, The Hitchhiker, Shoot to Kill, Scarlett Street, Dark Passage, Strange Woman, Fear in the Night, The Stranger, Port of New York, Strange Illusion, Whistle Stop and Woman on the Run

• The new FilmStruck service has several foreign titles mostly from Japan and France

Wednesday
Nov092016

Noirvember: "Bound" (1996)

by Chris Feil

It's worth remembering that while the Wachowski's career has been defined by The Matrix and to a lesser extent their following sci-fi films, they actually started their careers in another genre entirely. Bound, their 1996 queer crime thriller starring Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly, launched them onto the scene as audacious visual stylists and smart thrillmakers. If noir has basically died in our current film landscape, this film represents one of its great final moments.

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