Neo-Noir

Insomnia 2002 Movie

For a man who has 8 films under his belt as a director, it seems like Christopher Nolan has been in the movie world forever. His dominance of the 2000s was so thorough and immediate that it only seemed natural to include his name amongst the greats even with a relatively limited resume. Even so, whenever conversations of the director emerge, they seem to focus on his take on Batman, his exploration of magic and deception, the idea of memory loss and toying with narrative. The movie that’s notoriously missing is his sophomore feature, his first studio picture, Insomnia. The remake of the 1997 Norwegian film of the same name starred Al Pacino as a LA detective brought to the no-horse town of Nightmute, Alaska during a time of year when the sun never sets. Brought in to help with a brutal homicide, Detective Dormer finds himself mentally unraveling after a foggy accident, many sunny nights without sleep and an internal investigation back home that threatens to end his career. It’s a strong crime film with outstanding performances that doesn’t deserve to be forgotten about in the wake of Batman, Bale and breaking into dreams. Insomnia is a movie worth a second look.

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The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained. The Film: Brick (2005) The Plot: When his ex-girlfriend goes missing, teenage Brendan dives into the seedy underworld of High School, digging his way through political allegiances and a youthful criminal enterprise in this seedy neo-noir tale.

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Quick, name the best film directed by Michael Mann about career criminals. Yeah, you probably just blurted out Heat without giving it a second thought, and you’d be about 58,396 miles from being alone. However, you’d be wrong. Before you start going off about “matter of opinion” and “how can he say these words” repeat these after me. “Heat is NOT, I repeat, NOT, Michael Mann’s best film.” There, now doesn’t that feel loads better? Oh, what’s that? you want to know what is Michael Mann’s best film? Let’s go back to 1981 where Mann offered up his second feature film, Thief, a film about a career criminal trying for his one last score – you can forgive this particular film for that cliche. It was the catalyst for all these other heist films using it that runs over the surface of rainy, Chicago streets. It’s cool. It’s energetic. It features one of James Caan‘s best performances. So, here, in honor of all the inspiration the film brings to Refn’s Drive, we offer up what Mann and Caan had to say about this milestone-of-cool film in their respective careers. You can even go watch Heat afterwards. I’ll forgive, but remember those words.

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!Commentary Commentary weekly your to back Welcome See what I did there? This week, we’re hitting up one of the finest pieces of cinema in the last 15 years and hearing from the uber-intelligent man behind it. The film? Memento. The director? Christopher Nolan. In this commentary, you’ll uncover mysteries, technique, and styles the filmmaker put into one of his several masterworks. What you won’t be getting is any information on Dark Knight Rises. Sorry, but me just including that title here ensured 54 more hits. It’s a proven fact. So, without further ado, here is what I learned from listening to Christopher Nolan’s commentary track on Memento. In addition, I also learned a thing or two about my own short-term memory problems. Yeah, I have some trouble remembering things. Like that time I took a picture of Joe Pantoliano’s corpse. See what I did there? This week, we’re hitting up one of the finest pieces of…Oh, never mind!

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There are few comic books that so obviously needed to be adapted into a mini-series, and “100 Bullets” is one of them. It’s a fantastic neo-noir that works issue to issue just as well as it works as a long-form story with far more going on underneath its surface. Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso created an engaging underworld where a mysterious agent hands you a briefcase with proof of who ruined your life, a gun, and 100 bullets that, if analyzed, will instantly halt any police procedure by federal mandate. It’s a violent golden ticket to get away with murder. Now, according to Deadline Dimsdale, that golden ticket will be heading to Showtime as a new series under the writing and executive producing of David S. Goyer. There’s no doubt that this material is rich and ready for the screen, but Goyer is a bit of a wildcard. He has some phenomenal credits under the umbrella of Christopher Nolan, but he’s also been a part of middle projects and downright unwatchable crap. This is not quite the abomination that Akiva Goldsman writing The Dark Tower is, but it’s not exactly the perfect pairing this show deserves. It’s not like he’s shown off noir chops as of yet (unless you loosely count the Blade movies), and there are definitely a few names that would have caused more of a spark here. Or, like the comic book itself, maybe Goyer has a few surprises up his sleeve.

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Criterion Files

Just as film noir isn’t one single definable thing, noir itself contains many offshoots and categories. And every Noirvember, it’s important to not only examine good ol’ film noir, but its corresponding variants as well. One aspect of noir that complicates its designation as a genre or a style is the persistence of neo-noir, a cinematic form that arose in direct reaction to noir. In the US, canonical neo-noirs include films like Roman Polanski’s Chinatown or Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye. These were films made by filmmakers who knew cinema’s history, who have seen and studied noir’s origins and staples. These were filmmakers who worshiped film history and used classic cinema as a prototype for their own creation, embedding references to the old while departing from it in creating the new.

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blood-simple-pic-3

Let me get this straight. An Asian director is remaking an American director’s movie? And it’s a revenge film?

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