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Monday, July 28, 2014

Neo-Noir Film #3: Memento

Happy Monday everybody!  A big thank you to everyone who made it out to our showing of Rian Johnson's directorial debut, Brick, we had a real nice turnout.
On to business.  This is the final week of the first leg of our Neo-noir series, which will pick up again Aug. 14th and continue for the following weeks (21st and 28th).
Now, after much deliberation, I have finally decided on Christopher Nolan's wonderfully inventive thriller: Memento, as the next entry in our exploration of neo-noir.

Memento is a 2001 American neo-noir psychological thriller directed by Christopher Nolan.  The screenplay was written by Nolan based on his younger brother Jonathan Nolan's short story "Memento Mori".  It stars Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Joe Pantoliano.  Memento is presented as two different sequences of scenes: a series in black-and-white that is shown chronologically, and a series of color sequences shown in reverse order.  The two sequences "meet" at the end of the film, producing one common story.  We follow Leonard Shelby (Pearce) as a man with anterograde amnesia (short-term memory loss) as he attempts to hunt down the man responsible for the murder of his wife.  Critics especially praised its unique, nonlinear narrative structure and motifs of memory, perception, grief, self-deception, and revenge.  The film was successful at the box office and received numerous accolades, including Academy Award nominations for Original Screenplay and Film Editing.  The film holds a 92% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes out of 167 reviews.
Roger Ebert awarded the film 3/4 stars saying, "The purpose of the movie is not for us to solve the murder of the wife.  If we leave the theatre not sure exactly what happened, that's fair enough.  The movie is more like a poignant exercise, in which Leonard's residual code of honor pushes him through a fog of amnesia toward what he feels is his moral duty."

We will be meeting this Thursday, July 31st at 6:15pm, hope to you there!

Here's the trailer:

Monday, July 21, 2014

Neo-noir Film #2: Brick

Hey everybody, thanks to all of you who made it out last week for our first neo-noir film, Blood Simple.  This week we will be watching the excellent debut film from Rian Johnson: Brick.

Brick is a 2005 American neo-noir thriller film written and directed by Rian Johnson, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  The film's narrative centers on a hard-boiled detective story that takes place in a Californian suburb.  Most of the main characters are high school students.  The film draws heavily in plot, characterization, and dialogue from hard-boiled classics, especially from Dashiell Hammett.  The origins of Brick were Rian Johnson's Hammett obsession.  Hammett was known for hard-boiled detective novels, and Johnson wanted to make a straightforward American detective story.  He realized that this would result in a mere imitation and set his piece in high school to keep things fresh.  Of the initial writing process he remarked, "it was really amazing how all the archetypes from that detective world slid perfectly over the high school types."

Brick was released to positive reviews.  It currently holds an 80% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, derived from 134 reviews.  Roger Ebert awarded the film 3/4 stars stating, "What is impressive is his commitment to his idea of the movie's style.  He relates to the classic crime novels and movies, he notes the way their mannered dialogue and behavior elevates the characters into archetypes, and he uses the strategy to make his teenagers into hard-boiled guys and dolls.  The actors enter into the spirit; we never catch them winking."

We will be meeting this coming Thursday, July 24th at 6:15pm, hope you can join us!

Here's the trailer:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Summer Film Club: Neo Noir

Hey folks, I am back and with my return comes also the return of Film Club!  For the remaining months of summer (July and August) we will be watching films that fit a theme, that theme is Neo-Noir.  Some of you may be unfamiliar with this sub-genre (some of you may even be unfamiliar with the genre of Film Noir altogether!), so allow me a moment to expalin.

Film Noir, as described by the internet (wikipedia), is as follows:  "Film Noir 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."

Neo-Noir, as also described by the internet (wikipedia), is as follows:  "Neo-noir is a style often seen in modern motion pictures and other forms that prominently utilize elements of film noir, but with updated themes, content, style, visual elements or media that were absent in film noir of the 1940s and 1950s."

Class dismissed.

SO, for the last three weeks of July (17th, 24th, 31st) and the last three weeks of August (14th, 21st, 28th) we will be watching films that fall into the sub-genre of Neo noir.  I sent out an email a few days ago explaining that I have not selected the second two films for July yet, but never fear!  For I have selected the first, and that's all that matters at the moment.  Regardless, here is the planned schedule:

July 17th- Blood Simple
July 24th- TBA
July 31st- TBA

Aug 14th- Fargo
Aug 21st- Chinatown
Aug 28th- LA Confidential

All films will begin at the regular Film Club time of 6:15pm.

Our first film in the Neo noir series is the stunning debut film by the extemely talented Coen brothers:

Blood Simple is a 1984 neo-noir crime film written, directed and produced by Joel and Ethan Coen.  The film's title derives from the Dashiell Hammett novel Red Harvest (1929), in which the term "blood simple" describes the addled, fearful mindset of people after a prolonged immersion in violent situations.  It was the directorial debut of the Coens and the first major film of cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld, who later became a noted director, as well as the feature film debut of Joel Coen's wife Frances McDormand, who subsequently starred in many of his features.

Blood Simple is an excellent example of the updated style found in neo-noir films.  I hope you are able to come out and see this fantastic film!

Here's the trailer: