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Tiki Central Forums Beyond Tiki The Film Noir Thread
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The Film Noir Thread
JOHN-O
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Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2009-10-13 11:33 am   Permalink

Wow, that's a great link. http://www.filmforum.org/films/britnoir.html

Thank you for sharing that. Most of those films, I'm not familiar with.

How about posting your favorites, a brief synopsis (no spoilers please) and whether they are readily available on DVD?


[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2009-10-13 11:34 ]


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Atomic Tiki Punk
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Joined: Jul 19, 2009
Posts: 6183
From: Costa Misery
Posted: 2009-10-13 3:10 pm   Permalink

Wow, I have not seen many of these UK classics, are they available in the US on DVD?

 
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JOHN-O
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Joined: May 16, 2008
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From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2009-10-14 11:24 pm   Permalink

I've wanted to post my list of top ten favorite neo-Noirs for quite some time. I'll probably elaborate on my choices in future posts.

Here it is for now....

1. Memento (2000) - I'll stack this up with any of the original Film Noir classics. I love this movie.
2. Blade Runner (1982) - Even though I got burned out on it (too many versions).
3. Chinatown (1974) - Here's a true story. Faye Dunaway - "What's my motivation for this scene?" Roman Polanski - "Your paycheck's your motivation. Just say the fucking lines !!"
4. Taxi Driver (1976) - Possibly more ambitious than Noir but I'll put it on my list anyway.
5. The Grifters (1990) - I could have imagined this being made in the late 1940's.
6. Devil in a Blue Dress (1995) - Walter Mosley translates better to the screen than James Ellroy.
7. Hard Eight (1996) - Little known gem from Paul Thomas Anderson (his film before Boogie Nights). I love the final shot.
8. The Yakuza (1975) - Starring Robert Mitchum. Screenplay by Paul Schrader & Robert Towne !!
9. The Player (1992) - Arguably more of a satire but that's what they said about Sunset Blvd too.
10. Repo Man (1984) / Big Lewbowski (1998) - It's a tie between Punk Noir and Bowling Noir.

What JOHN-O, no "L.A. Confidential" ?? !! I admit I loved it when it first came out, but the more I watch it I don't think it holds up. It almost seems like a self-conscious and unintentional parody of period Noir. I think maybe they should have stopped doing period Noir after "Chinatown" (how are you going to top that one?). Chalk it up as "Ellroy Light". Read the book instead. I watch it now to see interior shots of Neutra's Modernist classic, the Lovell House. I got to visit that place once.


[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2009-10-15 07:59 ]


 
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JOHN-O
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Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2009-10-15 7:23 pm   Permalink

Here's a coincidence related to the prior post on British Noir. It just so happens this month in Los Angeles, the UCLA Film & Television Archive's Exhibition & Public Programs is featuring a festival of British Noir.

http://www.cinema.ucla.edu/screenings/screenings.html
http://www.cinema.ucla.edu/calendar/calendardetails.aspx?details_type=2&id=350

It's located at the Hammer Museum's Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood - 10899 Wilshire Boulevard.


[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2009-10-15 19:24 ]


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JOHN-O
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Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2009-10-15 7:57 pm   Permalink

OK, so maybe I was a bit overcritical on "L.A. Confidential".

Because so many people love it, I tend to be the contrarian. Sometimes though, I think of it as "Film Noir with training wheels" for today's young generation of self-professed film geeks. Here's an example. I was standing in line at Meltdown Comics on Sunset Blvd. The young twenty-something "film geek" in front of me was raving on and on about the movie which he had just seen on DVD . I asked him, how did he like it in comparison to classic Film Noir? He replied "Huh, you mean all those old black-and-white movies?".

You've got to admit though, there are a lot of cliches:

1. Kim Basinger as the hooker with a heart-of-gold.
2. The real criminal mastermind turns out to be the police captain.
3. The use of existing vintage locations. At first I thought it was cool, but then I was annoyed. "Look, it's the Frolic Room." "Look, it's the Formosa Cafe." How ironic. Oh well, at least they didn't use Bulgaria as an LA stand-in like they did in the "Black Dahlia".
4. The latter part of the movie turns into a Russell Crowe / Guy Pearce "buddy picture".

But you might argue, isn't this just an adaptation of James Ellroy's novel? Trust me, the book is much more complex and hard-boiled. So what does Ellroy think of all these adaptations? He's laughing all the way to the bank, especially when they pay him for options on books which he considers unfilmable. I actually spoke with him in 2007 when he hosted a tour retracing his non-fiction book "My Dark Places". I could write a whole another post on that interesting experience. The guy is a Noir character himself.

Here's a funny story that he told. Some little old lady comes up to him in a video store and just gushes on and on about how much she loved the movie "L.A. Confidential" (and whether Kevin Spacey was really gay). Ellroy asks if she had bought and read the book, and she admits she hasn't. Ellroy then replies "Then what the fuck good are you to me?"


[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2009-10-15 22:32 ]


 
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TikiHardBop
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Joined: Feb 21, 2009
Posts: 422
From: Rockledge, FL
Posted: 2009-10-16 10:02 am   Permalink

I agree with you that "L.A. Confidential" is "noir lite". But it does follow the noir tradition of a character seeking the truth and in doing so moving into a state of moral uncertainty. The most incredible thing about the film for me is how the screenwriters were able to take a 500-page novel that takes place over decades and includes dozens of characters and boil it down into a coherent story and still maintain the highlights of the original work.

Try to use people's interest in the film as means of introducing them to more "serious" noir films.

And some other great neo-noirs to consider:

The Last Seduction - 1994
Body Heat - 1982
Blood Simple - 1984
The Conversation - 1974
Night Moves - 1975


 
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54 house of bamboo
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Joined: Sep 28, 2006
Posts: 302
From: Cambridge UK
Posted: 2009-10-18 03:56 am   Permalink

Glad I could promote some British classics to you all - seems Noir is often perceived as an American preserve - bit like tiki...

About half of those films I can get on my LoveFilm subscription (like Netflix) so they are avaialable on DVD.

You could also try
http://www.theauteurs.com

In the UK we are blessed with the British Film Institute (www.bfi.org.uk) and in my home city of Cambridge we have one of their Mediatheque at our public library - 1,500 free films and TV shows on a video jukebox. Guess what I do in my lunch hour?!

James Ellroy is currently touring US bookshops promoting 'Blood's A Rover'
Here's an interview from 13 October http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipPrB2ti5oo

Oh, and last night I watched 'The Paradine Case'... more courtroom drama than noir, but good characterisation and less visual effects than the usual for Hitchcock.


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VampiressRN
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Nov 23, 2006
Posts: 5772
From: Sun City Lincoln Hills (NorCal)
Posted: 2010-01-25 05:50 am   Permalink

Wow...lot's of good lists here. I'm gonna have to come back and read this thread when I have more time.

I basically love any murder mystery British & American....the classics. Always watch a Hitch if it is on. Definitely "Double Indemnity" "Sunset Blvd" "Night of the Iguana" "Maltese Falcon" "Laura" "Casa Blanca"...pretty much anything with Bogie, Alan Ladd, Robert Mitchum, Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, Marlene Detriech, Marilyn Monroe, Fred McMurray, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, Dana Andrews, Dick Powell, Ava Gardner, Lauren Bacall, Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant...oh so many more.

Film Noir was just sooooo good, with great plots, good dancing (esp Buzby Berkley), great costumes (Edith Head was awesome)....

Sorry for all the bad spelling.


 
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JOHN-O
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Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2010-01-28 2:09 pm   Permalink

Aha, VampiressRN has brought this thread back from the dead. How appropriate (for both a vampiress and an RN) !!

OK, let me contribute. I finally saw "The Blue Dahlia". It was on a double bill with "Double Indemnity" at the New Beverly. "The Blue Dahlia" was just OK, but "Double Indemnity" is a hard act to follow.

To me though it was significant for the following reasons:

1. The 2nd Noir pairing of Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake (after the superior "This Gun for Hire"). Veronica Lake was Alan Ladd's favorite leading lady since she stood 4'11" to his 5'5". He had to stand on an apple crate when paired with other actresses. Veronica Lake had a real Noir life herself. After peaking in the 1940's, she was found working as a cocktail waitress in the 1960's. Kim Basinger was "cut" to look like her in "LA Confidential".

2. Elizabeth Short was nicknamed the "Black Dahlia" after being found mutilated and severed in half in a Leimert Park vacant lot. The nickname was based on this movie's title which played the previous summer in 1946.

[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2010-01-28 16:47 ]


 
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JOHN-O
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Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2010-01-28 2:16 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2010-01-25 05:50, VampiressRN wrote:
Film Noir was just sooooo good, with great plots, good dancing (esp Buzby Berkley), great costumes (Edith Head was awesome)....


Busby Berkeley ?? !!

Are you sure you're not mistaking 1930's Pre-Code with Film Noir (which was post-Code) ??


 
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khan_tiki_mon
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Joined: Sep 15, 2006
Posts: 278
From: Syracuse, NY
Posted: 2010-01-28 3:14 pm   Permalink

Here's a question for John-O: I too enjoy a good Film Noir classic. Watched an awful lot of them in my youth. A couple of years ago I took my kids to see the movie Sin City when it came out. Based on a graphic novel. My kids hated it and I loved it. I told them you don't understand film noir. To me that movie was a perfect example of neo-film-noir. The Bruce Willis character who says as he dies, "Old man dies, young girl lives, fair trade." - or something like that as I remember. The Mickey Rourke character that ends up in the electric chair. Jessica Alba as the pole-dancer, stripper, with a heart of gold. Do you agree? Neo Film Noir?
_________________


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JOHN-O
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Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2010-01-28 4:35 pm   Permalink

Excellent question. Is "Sin City" Neo-Noir ?? Many people consider it to be.

I do consider "Sin City" to be one of the most faithful adaptations of a comic book (or graphic novel if you prefer). I however DO NOT consider it to be true Noir and I'll tell you why.

There's a fine line between between classic Noir and a horror show. In fact, Eddie Muller in his book "Dark City" hypothesized that the original Film Noir period ended when movies went over the edge into shock/psycho/horror land. The landmark film in this case was Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho".

To me, "Sin City" was a cruel ugly horror show. I didn't hate it but I did want to take a shower afterward.

Your kids have good taste.

[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2010-01-28 16:39 ]


 
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JOHN-O
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Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2010-01-29 08:26 am   Permalink

Classic Noir vs. Neo Noir

Veronica Lake vs. Kim Basinger

Black & White vs. Color



 
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TikiHardBop
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Joined: Feb 21, 2009
Posts: 422
From: Rockledge, FL
Posted: 2010-01-29 10:25 am   Permalink

No matter what you thought of "Sin City", I think it fits the definition of film noir. It has a morally ambiguous universe, characters making moral choices, the use of light and dark to depict the morality of the characters, etc.

I think you could probably classify it as "extreme noir" or even "hardcore noir" because it takes every aspect of traditional noir and takes it to an almost absurd limit - kind of like the films of Tarantino.


 
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JOHN-O
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Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2010-01-29 11:02 am   Permalink

Good points TikiHardBop, I agree with your assessment.

I guess I was just venting on popular fiction's tendency to justify violent or cruel behavior on knee-jerk psychopathy. It's just plain lazy writing.

To me, good Noir illustrates how a cynical world can drive regular people (that you or I might sympathize with) to extreme or criminal behavior. Films like "Taxi Driver" and "The Sniper" would fit into this category for me.

BTW, I liked your inclusion of "The Conversation" as Neo Noir. I think it's a overlooked film for the genre.

[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2010-01-29 11:13 ]


 
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