noir

Sin City 2

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? Commanding acting, a tense monologue and a young man strapped to a chair are at the heart of Marc Thomas’ stellar crime film. With unblinking camera shots, Javier (Juan Carlos Hernandez) delivers thoughts on fine tailored suits, a terrible childhood event, and how Michael (Devon Goffman) fits into his plans. It’s the kind of stripped down story that makes sweat appear on your brow. It’s as crisp as the way Javier displays his tools – beautifully arranged and brimming with violent anticipation. What will it cost? Only 24 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films

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Culture Warrior

Part of the appeal of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films is that the basic conceit informing their aesthetic seems so natural. Batman is one of few major superheroes that isn’t actually a super-hero. Batman mythology, then, lends itself to a degree of plausibility more than, say, Superman or Spider-Man, so why not manifest a vision of Batman that embraces this particular aspect that distinguishes this character from most superhero mythologies? But realism has not been a characteristic that unifies Batman’s many representations in the moving image. Through the eyes of Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher, the Batman of tentpole studio filmmaking has occupied either a world of gothic architecture and shadowy noir, or one of schizophrenic camp. From 1989 to 1997, Batman was interpreted by visionary directors with potent aesthetic approaches, but approaches that did not necessarily aim to root the character within a landscape of exhaustive Nolanesque plausibility.

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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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Robert Towne won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, but what most don’t realize is that the original script for Chinatown was over 300 pages long. That would have made quite the shooting schedule. Roman Polanski‘s enduring noir classic is headed to Blu-ray soon which means seeing J.J. Gittes getting his nose cut in high definition. Plus, we’re giving a copy away, and the one we have has Robert Towne’s signature on it (thanks to the intrepid team at Dolby Labs who secured it legally). If you’re into that sort of thing. So how do you get your hands on it? Glad I made it seem like you asked.

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? With its noir sensibilities, gorgeous animation and killer cool concept, this short film from Eddie White and Ari Gibson is like taking a long drag off a cigarette that’s been kept in the freezer. It toys around with double meanings as if words were its catnip, and Nick Cave offers his world-weary voice as narrator, tripping his tongue over some rich texts and tricky art work. What will it cost? Only 8 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films. Thanks to Rosie H. for sharing this with us.

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? Smartly shot with an engaging lead this short film from Takashi Doscher brings a story literally to life. In it, an author consumed by writing his next novel ignores the real world at his own peril, and when his work bleeds into reality, he’ll have to deal with some severe consequences. It flashes with a noir sensibility and style but manages a lot of humor without crossing the line into parody. With subtle nods and a nice mirroring technique, it’s clever work that’s got a great eye for location, art direction, and camera work. What will it cost? Only 7 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films.

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Based on Win Lyovarin‘s novel, Headshot (Fon Tok Kuen Fah) is a noir assassin story that features a killer who takes a bullet to the brain – leaving him seeing the world upside down. Considering that it’s from Thailand, has a crazy premise and involves violence, there’s a word of warning that should come along with writer/director Pen-En Ratanaruang‘s film: it’s far more drama than action film. For whatever reason, Ratanaruang and company chose to abandon anything about the story’s gimmick that makes it viable and loaded down their structure with faulty flashbacks and confused caricatures. It’s a fairly standard crime story with wasted potential, but it has a leading man that comes close to making it worthwhile.

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Why Watch? Steeped in the sleek saturation of a 1960s R&B club, writer/director Quoc Bao Tran‘s short film is soulful and dangerous all at once. Amidst the soaring vocals and human silk, a young bookie risks everything to mess with the boss’s goods – a waitress that can’t catch a solid break. It’s heroism and grit with a great soundtrack, and the visual style is as sharp as the script. What does it cost? Just 20 minutes of your time. Check out Bookie for yourself:

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Why Watch? Because great art can be thought-provoking and delicious. Animation gets a bad reputation as being “something for kids,” but this noir-esque short demanded to be animated. Drawn and painted art play a direct role in the plot in this story about an art thief who does something very unusual with his ill-gotten works. The execution is a jaw-dropper of clever turns which all lead to an end that’ll keep eyes wide. Plus, it’s all carried by an intricate, jazzy score. Delightful, clever and peculiar – it’s a must-see. What does it cost? Just 7 minutes of your time. Check out Dripped for yourself:

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Every day, come rain or shine or internet tubes breaking, Film School Rejects showcases a trailer from the past. Orson Welles is unrecognizable onscreen here, but his directing touch is absolutely all over it. Somehow, Charlton Heston as a Mexican is all over it too. With a stellar cast, this taut noir-ish drama has got everything sizzling in a border town that’s just waiting for a lit match. So why is everyone always smoking? Check out the trailer for yourself:

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Without a synopsis beyond being called a contemporary noir movie, Ashes nonetheless earns some respect for the cast it just hired. Ray Winstone and Leslie Manville are veterans, and Jim Sturgess is a rising actor who has the talent to back up his growing fame. According the The Hollywood Reporter, those actors will be joined by Jodie Whittaker (Attack the Block) and the consistently strong Luke Evans (Robin Hood, Clash of the Titans) for the project written by Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll team Mat Whitecross (who will direct) and Paul Viragh. Any noir news is good news, and this cast is something to look forward to. Oddly enough, the film is being financed partially by the band Coldplay which creates the interesting possibility of the pop band also scoring a dark drama. That’s speculation, but it would either be a fascinating success or an unmitigated disaster, and that’s the kind of scenario to get out of bed for in the morning. Production starts next week.

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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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doubleindemnityposter

What begins as a standard sales visit about car insurance renewal, slowly builds piece by piece into a tale of infatuation, intrigue and murder.

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mwl-thegame

Wealthy-beyond-belief Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) is gifted entrance into a strange game by his prodigal brother Conrad (Sean Penn). He goes in for extensive testing, and when he’s told he doesn’t qualify, the game begins in earnest, testing his wits, physical strength and the emotional scarring caused by witnessing his father’s suicide as a child.

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Muppet Noir

Would you see a movie where Miss Piggy is murdered, turned into bacon, and force fed to Kermit the Frog? Of course you would you sick bastard. But that will never happen…

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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