Re: RARA-AVIS: Kiss Me Deadly

From: Patrick King (
Date: 09 Dec 2007

--- jacquesdebierue <> wrote:
> Coppola's _The Conversation_, Antonioni's _Blow Up_,
> Hellman's _The
> Shooting_, Boorman's _Point Blank_, Saura's _La
> Caza_ (his best film,
> too little known outside of Spain), Leconte's _The
> Man on the Train_,
> Polanski's _Knife in the Water_, Kubrick's _The
> Killing_, among many
> others. Some noirs are very cold, whereas others are
> superhot (like
> the great _White Heat_, which I mentioned jokingly
> earlier).
***************************************************** Not to be contentious, but when you have mimes miming a tennis game at the end of a movie, that is NOT subtle. I don't think there's anything subtle about Blow-Up.

Again, when a movie is put together back to front, and the camera angles are so unusual that you think about them as you're watching the film, this is the definition of Wellsian "heavy handed" directing. The Killing is a brilliant film, but it is far from subtle. Polanski, be it Knife in the Water or Repulsion or Rosemary's Baby or Chinatown, is very overt in the use of his techniques.

To my mind a subtle noirish movie might be Woody Allen's Match Pointe. The dead talking to their killer is a bit heavy handed but he doesn't over do it and it's an effective method of showing what the protagonist is going through. His camera work, in this movie anyway, does not call attention to itself. It's subtle. Tony Richardson's Saturday Night and Sunday Morning is a fairly subtle noir, as is his Lonliness of a Longdistance Runner. Brilliant use of the black & white medium, but it's not set up like a comic book, the way most of the noir films we're talking about are. Lindsey Anderson's This Sporting Life is fairly subtle in its cinematic technique.

I don't think subtlety is anything to strive for in noir fiction. It is related to melodrama and its purpose is to invoke excitement and emotions. Certianly I wouldn't say Saturday Night and Sunday Morning is a "better" film than Touch of Evil or The Killing by a long shot. But it is more subtlely crafted in terms of plot turns, shot set up, and characters. Its a different type of film making yet still "noir."

Patrick King

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