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Thread: The Neo-Noir Thread - 1980s/1990s Neo-Noir Pictures

  1. #1
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul L's Avatar
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    The Neo-Noir Thread - 1980s/1990s Neo-Noir Pictures

    Alright, I know it's a tough label to pin down and 'neo-noir' is often said to run the gamut from EXPERIMENT IN TERROR to SF/noir hybrids like BLADE RUNNER.

    But there's a very specific run of neo-noir films of the 1980s and 1990s - John Dahl's KILL ME AGAIN, THE LAST SEDUCTION, RED ROCK WEST; Carl Franklin's ONE FALSE MOVE; James Foley's AFTER DARK, MY SWEET.

    I've been revisiting some of these as part of the podcast I've been recording with some of my teaching colleagues. Our next instalment is looking at one of my favourite neo-noir films, Carl Colpaert's DELUSION (1991), which is still unavailable on DVD or Blu-ray - and is absent, to my knowledge, from any of the streaming services. It's one of those films that, simply by having seen it, I feel as if I am in an increasingly small club

    As part of the research for this, I've made contact and interviewed the film's director of photography, Geza Sinkovics, and am currently in contact with Carl Colpaert himself and the film's editor (Mark Allan Kaplan), and asking them some questions about the picture - including their perceptions of the neo-noir label. (Some fascinating information is coming out of these interviews.)



    Does anyone have any specific favourites from amongst the crop of neo-noir films of the 1980s and 1990s?
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  2. #2
    Listening to the 'After Dark My Sweet' episode of your podcast Paul (which I greatly enjoyed by the way), led me to realise that this late 80s/early 90s run of neo-noirs is a complete blind spot for me. I've somehow never managed to see any of 'em, which is an oversight I need to correct.

    I mean, obviously there are a lot of good cop movies and crime movies from this era which could easily be tagged as 'neo-noir', but these more self-conscious, small cast Thompson/Cain-influenced thrillers very much seem to consititute their own particular 'thing' which seems long overdue some attention.

    As such, I have little to add to this thread, but look forward to reading it.

  3. #3
    MCMLXXX Matt H.'s Avatar
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    The Grifters
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    Bark! Go away Quot's Avatar
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    One of my favorites from this time is the 1985 film, Trouble in Mind ("The lives of an ex-con, a coffee-shop owner, and a young couple looking to make it rich intersect in the fictional and hypnotic Rain City.")

    Seattle stands in for Rain City (and it has a Blade Runner vibe to it, albeit minus most all the sci-fi elements). And what a cast: Kris Kristofferson, Geneviève Bujold, Keith Carradine, Lori Singer, Joe Morton and, oh yeah, Divine as a mob boss named "Hilly Blue".

    The cherry on top of this cake's icing is the immaculate soundtrack, which features Marianne Faithfull and Mark Isham. This soundtrack drips pure 100% noir:



    Btw, this film is where my avatar comes from.

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    And, the Shout! Factory trailer:


  5. #5
    MCMLXXX Matt H.'s Avatar
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    TROUBLE IN MIND is a masterpiece. One of my favourite films of the '80s.
    Why would anybody watch a scum show like Videodrome? Why did you watch it, Max?

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    Spoon! Dom D's Avatar
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    I'd love to be talking up a bunch of hyper obscure masterpieces but neo-noir was so prevalent over this period that it's hard to go past the mainstream classics. Blood Simple ranks with any noir ever. Basic Instinct is just such salacious fun. What a script and Shazza is the perfect femme fatale. The Last Seduction. Red Rock West. Wild Things. Bound. A Simple Plan. The Getaway.

    Lynch maybe made the best of them. Blue Velvet and Lost Highway hit every neo noir note and are still defiantly their own thing.

    There's a whole string of films here that really up the salacious angle. It's probably the trump card of the neo noir. The 40s ones were desperate to be sexy but were sadly restricted in what they were allowed to present. The remake of The Postman Always Rings Twice feels like the kind of production they wished they could do back then. Even while pursuing that angle they kept it pretty classy for a long time. Body Heat, The Last Seduction etc. Basic Instinct ruined it for everyoine by setting a bar so sleazy that to clear it you had to make stuff like Body Of Evidence and The Colour Of Night.

    Slightly obscure ones that weren't as good... The Underneath. Steven Soderberghs attempt is a bit of a mess but it hits all the noir notes so aggressively I feel like I've seen it before. Was it a remake? Think it might have been. Basically anything from this period with Richard Gere. I was watching Final Analysis the other day. In no way would I call it a good film but I'm such a sucker for the genre that I enjoyed the hell out of it anyway. American Gigolo is better. The Grifters, never liked it as much as everyone else.
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    Pallid Hands Andrew Monroe's Avatar
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    I immediately think of ONE FALSE MOVE when I think of neo-noir. LOVE that film. Billy Bob Thornton co-wrote it and also co-stars - in a particularly chilling role as a psychopath. One of Bill Paxton's best roles too. The ending of this film is so emotional and gut wrenching.

    Other favs - THIEF and JOHNNY HANDSOME (this one is a neglected gem).
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    MCMLXXX Matt H.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Monroe View Post
    I immediately think of ONE FALSE MOVE when I think of neo-noir. LOVE that film. Billy Bob Thornton co-wrote it and also co-stars - in a particularly chilling role as a psychopath. One of Bill Paxton's best roles too. The ending of this film is so emotional and gut wrenching.
    I love the scene where Paxton overhears the big city cops making fun of him - the look on his face is heartbreaking.
    Why would anybody watch a scum show like Videodrome? Why did you watch it, Max?

  9. #9
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BW Haggar View Post
    Listening to the 'After Dark My Sweet' episode of your podcast Paul (which I greatly enjoyed by the way), led me to realise that this late 80s/early 90s run of neo-noirs is a complete blind spot for me. I've somehow never managed to see any of 'em, which is an oversight I need to correct.

    I mean, obviously there are a lot of good cop movies and crime movies from this era which could easily be tagged as 'neo-noir', but these more self-conscious, small cast Thompson/Cain-influenced thrillers very much seem to consititute their own particular 'thing' which seems long overdue some attention.
    Thanks for the kind comments about the podcast, BW.

    Like you say, the neo-noir label is often painted in very broad strokes - and I agree with folks who argue that films like BLADE RUNNER, etc, are very much 'neo-noir' (or, I'd say, hybrids of noir and other genres such as SF) - but there's a smaller, subgroup of neo-noir pictures to which the label applies most directly and explicitly. Many of these, as you say, are low/mid-budget films based on, or at least inspired by, novels by 'hardboiled' writers - Goodis, Thompson, Cain, James Hadley-Chase.

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt H. View Post
    The Grifters
    House of Games
    At Close Range
    Some excellent choices there, Matt. (I recently bought the French BD release of HOUSE OF GAMES and revisited that and Mamet's HOMICIDE, which I like equally, as part of a writing project that never came through. Such superb films. I think Mamet's RED BELT has many neo-noir elements too, but that's away from the period we're discussing. Excellent film though.)
    Quote Originally Posted by Quot View Post
    One of my favorites from this time is the 1985 film, Trouble in Mind ("The lives of an ex-con, a coffee-shop owner, and a young couple looking to make it rich intersect in the fictional and hypnotic Rain City.")

    Seattle stands in for Rain City (and it has a Blade Runner vibe to it, albeit minus most all the sci-fi elements). And what a cast: Kris Kristofferson, Geneviève Bujold, Keith Carradine, Lori Singer, Joe Morton and, oh yeah, Divine as a mob boss named "Hilly Blue".

    The cherry on top of this cake's icing is the immaculate soundtrack, which features Marianne Faithfull and Mark Isham. This soundtrack drips pure 100% noir:
    TROUBLE IN MIND is superb. I first saw that one when it was shown on UK television - I'm pretty sure as part of Alex Cox's Moviedrome series, though I can't find confirmation of this online and will need to dig out my Moviedrome books for confirmation of this.

    Another interesting one is Marc Reichert's UNION CITY (1980), based on Cornell Woolrich's 'The Corpse Next Door', with the delectable Debbie Harry. Slightly earlier than these others but with a very David Goodis-esque plot and tone.

    These clips are all I can find of that movie online:



    Quote Originally Posted by Dom D View Post
    There's a whole string of films here that really up the salacious angle. It's probably the trump card of the neo noir. The 40s ones were desperate to be sexy but were sadly restricted in what they were allowed to present. The remake of The Postman Always Rings Twice feels like the kind of production they wished they could do back then. Even while pursuing that angle they kept it pretty classy for a long time. Body Heat, The Last Seduction etc. Basic Instinct ruined it for everyoine by setting a bar so sleazy that to clear it you had to make stuff like Body Of Evidence and The Colour Of Night.
    Definitely, Dom. The ante was upped in terms of sexual content, with overlap with those DTV erotic thrillers of the era (the Shannon Tweed/Whirry-type pictures). You're very correct in saying that BASIC INSTINCT set the bar for that so high that subsequent theatrical releases often felt more like DTV erotica - eg, as you say, COLOR OF NIGHT, but also a film like SLIVER, which I have to admit that I really like.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Monroe View Post
    I immediately think of ONE FALSE MOVE when I think of neo-noir. LOVE that film. Billy Bob Thornton co-wrote it and also co-stars - in a particularly chilling role as a psychopath. One of Bill Paxton's best roles too. The ending of this film is so emotional and gut wrenching.

    Other favs - THIEF and JOHNNY HANDSOME (this one is a neglected gem).
    JOHNNY HANDSOME... I've not seen that in an age, Andrew. I've been trying to track down my DVD copy of ONE FALSE MOVE for a while but to no avail. It's in the house somewhere, but I'm tempted to just go ahead and pay for the digital HD version on iTunes. I'd buy a decent Blu-ray release of that picture in a heartbeat: i
    'You know, I'd almost forgotten what your eyes looked like. Still the same. Pissholes in the snow'

    http://www.paul-a-j-lewis.com (my photography website)
    'All explaining in movies can be thrown out, I think': Elmore Leonard

  10. #10
    I really liked romeo is bleeding when I watched it for the first time a few years ago.

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