Neo-noir

Neo-noir is a modern or contemporary motion picture rendition of film noir. The term film noir (popularized in 1955 by two French critics, Raymond Borde and Etienne Chaumeton)[1] was applied to crime movies of the 1940s and 1950s, most produced in the United States. It meant dark movie, indicating a sense of something sinister and shadowy, but also expressing a style of cinematography. The film noir genre includes stylish Hollywood crime dramas, often with a twisted dark wit. Neo-noir has a similar style but with updated themes, content, style, visual elements or media.

Neo-noir, as the term suggests, is contemporary noir. The film directors knowingly refer to 'classic noir' in the use of tilted camera angles, interplay of light and shadows, unbalanced framing; blurring of the lines between good and bad and right and wrong, and a motif of revenge, paranoia, and alienation, among other sensibilities.

Definition

The term "neo-noir" is a contraction of the phrase "new film noir", using the Greek prefix for the word "new" rendered as "neo" (from the Greek neo). "Noir", when used as an isolated term in film theory and critique, is a short form reference to "film noir". As a neologism, neo-noir is defined by Mark Conard as "defining any film coming after the classic noir period that contains noir themes and noir sensibility".[2]

History

The term "film noir" (French for "black film" or "dark film") was coined by critic Nino Frank in 1946, and popularized by French critics Raymond Borde and Etienne Chaumeton in 1955.[1] The term became revived in general use beginning in the 1980s, with a revival of the style.

The classic era of film noir is usually dated to a period between the early 1940s and the late 1950s; the films were often adaptations of American crime novels of the era, which were also described as "hardboiled". Some authors resisted these terms. For example, James M. Cain, author of The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934) and Double Indemnity (1943), is considered to be one of the defining authors of hard-boiled fiction. Both these novels were adapted as crime films, the former more than once. But Cain is quoted as saying, "I belong to no school, hard-boiled or otherwise, and I believe these so-called schools exist mainly in the imagination of critics, and have little correspondence in reality anywhere else."[3]

Typically American crime dramas or psychological thrillers, films noir[a] had a number of common themes and plot devices, and many distinctive visual elements. Characters were often conflicted antiheroes, trapped in a difficult situation and making choices out of desperation or nihilistic moral systems. Visual elements included low-key lighting, striking use of light and shadow, and unusual camera placement.

Although there have been few new major films in the classic film noir genre since the early 1960s, it has had significant impact on other genres. These films usually incorporate both thematic and visual elements reminiscent of film noir. Both classic and neo-noir films are often produced as independent features.

It was not until after 1970 that film critics took note of "neo-noir" films as a separate genre. Noir and post-noir terminology (such as "hard-boiled", "neo-classic" and the like) are often denied by both critics and practitioners alike.

Robert Arnett stated that "Neo-noir has become so amorphous as a genre/movement, any film featuring a detective or crime qualifies."[4] Screenwriter and director Larry Gross, identifies Alphaville, alongside John Boorman’s Point Blank (1967) and Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye (1973), based on Raymond Chandler's 1953 novel, as neo-noir films. Gross believes that they deviate from the classic noir films in having more of a sociological than a psychological focus.[5]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ In the French from which the term derives, the plural is films noirs. Standard English usage is "films noir", as in "courts martial", "attorneys general" and so on, but "film noirs" is listed in the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary in first order of preference.[6]

References

Bibliography

  • Arnett, Robert (Fall 2006). "Eighties Noir: The Dissenting Voice in Reagan's America". Journal of Popular Film and Television. 34 (3): 123–129.
  • Conrad, Mark T. (2007). The Philosophy of Neo-noir. Lexington, Ky.: The University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-2422-0. The Philosophy of Neo-noir at Google Books.
  • Hirsch, Foster (1999). Detours and Lost Highways: A Map of Neo-Noir. New York: Proscenium Publishers. ISBN 0-87910-288-8. Detours and Lost Highways: A Map of Neo-Noir at Google Books.
  • Martin, Richard (1997). Mean Streets and Raging Bulls: The Legacy of Film Noir in Contemporary American Cinema. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-3337-9.
  • Snee, Brian J. (July 2009). "Soft-boiled Cinema: Joel and Ethan Coens' Neo-classical Neo-noirs". Literature/Film Quarterly. 37 (3).

Notes

  1. ^ a b Borde, Raymond; Chaumeton, Etienne (2002). A panorama of American film noir (1941-1953). San Francisco: City Lights Books. ISBN 978-0872864122.
  2. ^ Mark Conard. The Philosophy of Neo-noir. The Univ of Kentucky Press, 2007, p2.
  3. ^ O'Brien, Geoffrey (1981). Hardboiled America – The Lurid Years of Paperbacks. New York; Cincinnati: Van Nostrand Reinhold. pp. 71–72. ISBN 0-442-23140-7.
  4. ^ Arnett, Robert (Fall 2006). "Eighties Noir: The Dissenting Voice in Reagan's America". Journal of Popular Film and Television. 34 (3): 123–129.
  5. ^ "Where to begin with neo-noir". British Film Institute. Retrieved 2017-08-17.
  6. ^ "film noir". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Merriam-Webster Online. Retrieved 2009-02-10. Inflected Form(s): plural film noirs \-'nwär(z)\ or films noir or films noirs \-'nwär\
Collateral (film)

Collateral is a 2004 American neo-noir action thriller film directed by Michael Mann and written by Stuart Beattie. It stars Tom Cruise as Vincent and Jamie Foxx as Max. The film also features Jada Pinkett Smith and Mark Ruffalo.

Collateral was released in the United States on August 6, 2004 and grossed $217 million worldwide.

The film received positive reviews from critics, and was chosen by the National Board of Review as one of the top ten films of 2004. Cruise and Foxx's performances were widely praised, with Foxx being nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, while the film's editors, Jim Miller and Paul Rubell, were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Film Editing.

Film noir

Film noir (; French: [film nwaʁ]) is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood's classical film noir period is generally regarded as extending from the early 1940s to the late 1950s. Film noir of this era is associated with a low-key, black-and-white visual style that has roots in German Expressionist cinematography. Many of the prototypical stories and much of the attitude of classic noir derive from the hardboiled school of crime fiction that emerged in the United States during the Great Depression.

The term film noir, French for "black film" (literal) or "dark film" (closer meaning), was first applied to Hollywood films by French critic Nino Frank in 1946, but was unrecognized by most American film industry professionals of that era. Cinema historians and critics defined the category retrospectively. Before the notion was widely adopted in the 1970s, many of the classic film noir were referred to as "melodramas". Whether film noir qualifies as a distinct genre is a matter of ongoing debate among scholars.

Film noir encompasses a range of plots: the central figure may be a private investigator (The Big Sleep), a plainclothes policeman (The Big Heat), an aging boxer (The Set-Up), a hapless grifter (Night and the City), a law-abiding citizen lured into a life of crime (Gun Crazy), or simply a victim of circumstance (D.O.A.). Although film noir was originally associated with American productions, the term has been used to describe films from around the world. Many films released from the 1960s onward share attributes with film noirs of the classical period, and often treat its conventions self-referentially. Some refer to such latter-day works as neo-noir. The clichés of film noir have inspired parody since the mid-1940s.

Gone Baby Gone

Gone Baby Gone is a 2007 American neo-noir mystery drama film directed by Ben Affleck. In his feature-length directorial debut, Affleck co-wrote the screenplay with Aaron Stockard based on the novel Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane. The film stars Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan as two private investigators hunting for a little girl who was abducted from the Boston neighborhood of Dorchester. The supporting cast includes Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris and Amy Ryan.

Released on October 19, 2007, the film was well-received by critics and grossed $34.6 million worldwide against its $19 million budget. Ben Affleck was lauded for his directing debut by many critic organizations, and Amy Ryan received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

L.A. Confidential

L.A. Confidential (1990) is a neo-noir novel by James Ellroy, and the third of his L.A. Quartet series. James Ellroy dedicated L.A. Confidential "to Mary Doherty Ellroy". The epigraph is "A glory that costs everything and means nothing—Steve Erickson."

List of neo-noir titles

The following is a list of films belonging to the neo-noir genre. Following a common convention of associating the forties and fifties with film noir, the list takes 1960 to date the beginning of the genre.

Nocturnal Animals

Nocturnal Animals is a 2016 American neo-noir psychological thriller film written, produced and directed by Tom Ford, based on the 1993 novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright. The film stars Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough, and Michael Sheen. The plot follows a divorced art gallery owner as she reads the new novel written by her ex-husband and begins to see the similarities between it and their former relationship.

Principal photography began on October 5, 2015, in Los Angeles. The film premiered at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival on September 2, 2016 and was released in North America on November 18, 2016, by Focus Features. It received largely positive reviews and grossed over $32 million worldwide.Nocturnal Animals was selected to compete for the Golden Lion at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Prize. It received numerous accolades, including Shannon earning a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the 89th Academy Awards. It also received nine BAFTA Award nominations and Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Director and Best Screenplay, plus a Best Supporting Actor win for Taylor-Johnson.

Poodle Springs (film)

Poodle Springs is a 1998 neo-noir HBO film directed by Bob Rafelson, starring James Caan as private detective Philip Marlowe.The film is based on the unfinished novel Poodle Springs by Raymond Chandler, completed after his death by Robert B. Parker and published in 1989.Playwright Tom Stoppard wrote the screenplay.

Pulp noir

Pulp noir is a subgenre influenced by various "noir" genres, as well as (as implied by its name) pulp fiction genres; particularly the hard-boiled genres which help give rise to film noir. Pulp noir is marked by its use of classic noir techniques, but with urban influences. Various media include film, illustrations, photographs and videogames.

Serpico

Serpico is a 1973 American neo-noir biographical crime film directed by Sidney Lumet, and starring Al Pacino. Waldo Salt and Norman Wexler wrote the screenplay, adapting Peter Maas's biography of NYPD officer Frank Serpico, who went undercover to expose corruption in the police force. Both Maas's book and the film cover 12 years, 1960 to 1972.The film and principals were nominated for numerous awards, earning recognition for its score, direction, screenplay, and Pacino's performance. The film was also a commercial success.

Seven (1995 film)

Seven (stylized as SE7EN) is a 1995 American neo-noir crime thriller film directed by David Fincher and written by Andrew Kevin Walker. It stars Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, John C. McGinley, R. Lee Ermey, and Kevin Spacey. It tells the story of David Mills (Pitt), a detective who partners with the retiring William Somerset (Freeman) to track down a serial killer (Spacey) who uses the seven deadly sins as a motif in his murders.

The screenplay was influenced by the time Walker spent in New York City trying to make it as a writer. Principal photography took place in Los Angeles, with the last scene filmed near Lancaster, California. The film's budget was $33 million.

Released on September 22, 1995, by New Line Cinema, Seven was the seventh-highest-grossing film of the year, grossing over $327 million worldwide. It was well received by critics, who praised the film's darkness, brutality and themes. The film was nominated for Best Film Editing at the 68th Academy Awards, but lost to Apollo 13.

Shutter Island (film)

Shutter Island is a 2010 American neo-noir psychological thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Laeta Kalogridis, based on Dennis Lehane's 2003 novel of the same name. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as U.S. Marshal Edward "Teddy" Daniels who is investigating a psychiatric facility on Shutter Island after one of the patients goes missing. Mark Ruffalo plays his partner officer, Ben Kingsley is the facility's lead psychiatrist, and Michelle Williams is Daniels' wife. Released on February 19, 2010, the film received generally favorable reviews from critics, was chosen by National Board of Review as one of the top ten films of 2010 and grossed over $294 million worldwide.

Tech noir

Tech-noir (also known as future noir and science fiction noir) is a hybrid genre of fiction, particularly film, combining film noir and science fiction, as seen in Blade Runner (1982) and The Terminator (1984).

Director James Cameron coined the term in The Terminator, using it as the name of a nightclub, but also to invoke associations with both the film noir genre and with futuristic sci-fi.

The Hot Spot

The Hot Spot is a 1990 American neo-noir film directed by Dennis Hopper and based on the 1952 book Hell Hath No Fury by Charles Williams, who also co-wrote the screenplay. It stars Don Johnson, Virginia Madsen, and Jennifer Connelly, and features a score by Jack Nitzsche played by John Lee Hooker, Miles Davis, Taj Mahal, Roy Rogers, and drummer Earl Palmer.

The Rosary Murders

The Rosary Murders is a 1987 American neo-noir mystery film starring Donald Sutherland as Father Koesler, based upon the novel by William X. Kienzle. Kienzle received screenplay credit, as did Elmore Leonard.

The story involves a series of murders in which the victims are all either Roman Catholic priests or nuns, each of whom is found with a black rosary. Father Koesler goes in search of the murderer but is caught in a quandary when the murderer confesses the crimes to him. He is unable to break the seal of confession by going to the police.

The film was shot in Detroit, Michigan at Holy Redeemer parish, a century old Roman Catholic church on Detroit's Southwest side.

Tony Rome

Tony Rome is a 1967 American Neo Noir detective film directed by Gordon Douglas and starring Frank Sinatra, Jill St. John, Sue Lyon and Gena Rowlands. It was adapted from Marvin H. Albert's novel Miami Mayhem.

The story follows the adventures of Miami private investigator Tony Rome (Sinatra) in his quest to locate a missing diamond pin that belongs to a wealthy heiress.

A sequel, Lady in Cement, was made in 1968, again featuring Sinatra as Tony Rome, and co-starring Raquel Welch and Dan Blocker. Appearing in both films was Richard Conte as Miami police lieutenant Dave Santini.

Both films are examples of a late-1960s neo-noir trend which revived and updated the hard-boiled detective and police dramas of the 1940s. Other films in this genre include The Detective (1968), which also starred Sinatra, as well as Point Blank (1967), Bullitt (1968), Madigan (1968), and Marlowe (1969).

Sinatra had originally been considered for the lead role as the tough private eye in Harper (1966), but lost out to Paul Newman.

Tony Rome, The Detective, and Lady in Cement were all directed by Gordon Douglas. The three films were packaged together in a DVD box-set by 20th Century Fox in 2005. Douglas also directed Sinatra in Young at Heart (1954) and Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964).

Randy Newman is co-credited on a soundtrack song.

Twilight (1998 film)

Twilight is a 1998 American thriller neo-noir film directed by Robert Benton, written by Benton and Richard Russo, and starring Paul Newman, Susan Sarandon, Gene Hackman, Reese Witherspoon, Stockard Channing and James Garner. The film's original score was composed by Elmer Bernstein.

U Turn (1997 film)

U Turn is a 1997 American western neo-noir crime thriller film directed by Oliver Stone and starring Sean Penn, Billy Bob Thornton, Jennifer Lopez, Jon Voight, Powers Boothe, Joaquin Phoenix, Claire Danes, and Nick Nolte. It is based on the book Stray Dogs by John Ridley.

Witch Hunt (1994 film)

Witch Hunt (1994) is an HBO horror detective film starring Dennis Hopper and Eric Bogosian, directed by Paul Schrader and written by Joseph Dougherty. The original music score was composed by Angelo Badalamenti.

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