Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Neo-noir films

From: E.Borgers (
Date: 17 Jul 2004

Commenting Neddal Ayad's message: The list you give here are all good films but I see *most* of them more as an evolution of "modern noir" than related to "neo-noir" as described in my first message. They are mostly belonging to the mainstream of present days "modern noir" films ( do not stop here, pls read the rest of my answer...)

Not in the spirit of "I'm right, you wrong", but in order to clarify my view on noir evolution in films, I would name "modern noir" most of these films after 1955. This modernization of the filming, characters and plots led to a quick evolution of the noir American film that benefited from the general evolution of films (American and foreign) during the 60s and 70s (formal, characters...). This does not diminish at all the high value of the best noir films from the 40s and 50s, from the- let say- "classic noir" period.

I personally see Point Blank (67) and some Peckinpah (early 70s) films as the turn point of modernization; these are achievements of modern noir, but not an end as they bore enough innovations and strength as to influence a good part of the following period of "modernization".

Then, during the mid eighties appeared some films amongst the "modern noir" that were carrying something more, slightly different, even if we still can link them directly to the film noir evolution; these last are the ones are the ones I would like to name "neo-noir". Of course there is no real pivotal year showing a limit in time, it's diffused and appeared more often since the end of the 80s. Then became common during the 90s and 00s. But, again, all the HB/noir films issued during these periods of time do not belong to this new category... Modern noir continues to live its own evolution during the same periods
(re: Good Fellas, Grifters, Heat, LA Confidential, etc.) As I said in my previous message, speaking of neo-noir:
"Maybe calling these modern films (appearing after the fifties)
"neo-noir" could conciliate both approaches? But then I'm not totally for this idea, as I should prefer to call "neo-noir" a breed of films appearing during the end of the 80s, during the 90s and still existing today."
"These last types of films are often closer to the spirit of the B series of the 40s an 50s by the relative freedom of scripts and filming, leading to fast, violent, dark films with stories close to nihilism. They are mostly American color movies, and generally with more substance than the Tarantino films. "

But there are no strict borders and we see that recently mainstream modern noir films become more and more influenced by their "neo-noir" cousins. All this just to give some tracks that could help to see how the noir film evolved from its origin to contemporary noir, and not to give rules or limitations.

WRITERS AND FILMS About the question coming from Mark about writers, scripts and today films, I would like to underline that the present day real evolution of what we could name contemporary HB/noir is happening in these neo-noir films. They are the today equivalent of the "paperback originals" of the fifties and sixties, with a lot of these films being second rate but really HB, fast, and now nihilist-noir by intention. The rest, the quieter part of the mystery genres -HB and others- are found in TV serials. Even if these films and serials have been influenced by modern writers it does not change anything in this analysis: there is a much wider public for the films and series, a real popular public. Number of productions is high and widely distributed through TV, cable, and DVDs. Worse ( or better?) a lot of recent writers are more influenced by the cheap movies cuts, and their cinematography, in their style of writing than by their peers writers of the field. Of course this does not mean that there are no real contemporary top HB/noir writers, but their readership is restricted (even for the higher sellers) and the "book form" becomes more and more something elitist as a consequence. Just my two cents for this vast question of influences between HB/noir lit. and films. And vice versa.

E.Borgers Hard-Boiled Mysteries

Neddal Ayad :

>>I gathered here in a list some films I consider belonging to the
>>neo-noir breed....
>I'm inclined to agree with your definition although I'm not sure about
>the cut-off point. Maybe early 80's? That way you'd get the early
>Cohen bros. movies, BLOOD SIMPLE, and BLADE RUNNER.
>A few additions:
>RISK (2000) Aus.
>FOLLOWING (1998) U.K.
>U TURN (1996) USA
>SE7EN (1995) USA
>FARGO (1996) USA

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