Noir movies are always interesting, and this year’s offerings have been no exception. From Martin Scorsese’s “The Asphalt Jungle” to David Fincher’s “Se7en,” the list of new releases in this genre is as varied as the films themselves. From a Bret Easton Ellis novel adapted for the screen to a Mary Harron adaptation of an Arthur Miller novel, the list has something for everyone.
David Fincher’s “Se7en”
“Se7en” is a crime thriller about a serial killer. It follows retired police detective William Somerset, who takes on his final case. His partner, newly transferred David Mills, played by Brad Pitt, finds out that Spacey has been committing elaborate murders. These killers are targeting individuals who represent the seven deadly sins. Meanwhile, Tracy Mills, David Mills’ pregnant wife, is befriended by Morgan Freeman.
The film’s nihilistic theme is well-executed, and Fincher’s cinematic style demonstrates this. As in his earlier films, Se7en contains elements of moral ambiguity. The film is reminiscent of the philosophy of nihilism, which is prevalent throughout his works. While a murderous act might be the result of a selfish desire, in Se7en, the nihilism and rapid decay of the city provide a dark and appealing world.
Before directing Se7en, Fincher had directed Alien 3, a film that received mixed reviews and did poorly at the box office. The rewritten ending was considered so audacious that Fincher was coerced into directing it. Fincher’s films are often accompanied by director’s commentary, allowing audiences to hear his ideas in the film.
The film’s visual aesthetics were also remarkable. In keeping with Friedkin’s The Exorcist, Fincher wanted to shoot the film in colour, but the director had to turn to an Iranian-French cinematographer to accomplish this. The resulting film was beautifully rendered, with many luminous and striking shots. However, the film’s actors’ performances are somewhat wooden.
Martin Scorsese’s “The Asphalt Jungle”
“The Asphalt Jungle” is a hard-hitting crime story with no identifiable heroes. The film follows a gang of criminals who plan a major heist. The heist goes as planned until bad luck strikes and everything falls apart.
Film critics are divided on this satire. Some can’t stomach the film’s religious views. Some religious fundamentalists have railed against the film’s violence, while pseudo-progressives blame Scorsese for being too demanding for Hollywood’s commercial machine. But cinephiles have a different opinion.
While “Goodfellas” is more recent, the original “The Asphalt Jungle” still looks great today. The cast features some of the best talent in American cinema at the time. Besides Sam Jaffe, it also stars a brilliant performance from James Franco, arguably the country’s most underrated actor.
Mary Harron’s adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis novel
The adaptation does a great job of highlighting the strengths of the original novel while also minimizing its flaws. It adds new scenes and changes existing ones to create a more compelling atmosphere and highlight Bateman’s witty passages. It also uses satire to highlight the feminist viewpoint.
The film’s first draft lacked some of the gore that made the novel so notorious. Despite this, Harron and her co-writer Guinevere Turner did an excellent job incorporating the novel’s wry humor and dark themes. Although there are still phallic chainsaws and spiral staircase zooms, the film does not have the gore of its predecessor.
The adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ novel has become a cult classic, gaining even more public esteem than its controversial source. As Angelica Jade Bastien points out, “American Psycho” succeeds in its role as a satire of male vanity and pathology, by employing the female gaze. This technique is also present in the film’s cast, including the female director, Mary Harron, and the female co-writer, Guinevere Turner.
Harron makes some interesting choices in her casting of Bateman. She casts a more realistic narrator than Ellis, which helps create an eerie atmosphere. While Bateman is the unreliable narrator, his role as a ruthless murderer is believable. The film also plays with the idea of erasability, which plays into the meaning of the story.
Anatomy of a Murder by Mickey Spillane
Anatomy of a Murder by Mick Spillane is one of the best hardboiled mysteries. In this book, Mike Hammer solves a murder with the help of a narrator named Stefan Rudnicki. The story is based on an unpublished manuscript of Spillane’s from the 1960s. If you like Spillane novels, you’ll love the new audiobook from Stefan Rudnicki.
When Spillane passed away from pancreatic cancer, he left unfinished materials for other novels in his oeuvre. Max Allan Collins, a long-time fan, completed this story. Collins used Spillane’s synopses and has earned praise for his work.
Alfred Hitchcock’s “Taxi Driver”
“Taxi Driver” is one of the most famous movies of the 1970s and will be shown for two weeks at Nuart in West Los Angeles starting this Friday. Sony Pictures Entertainment and the New York Museum of Modern Art are bringing the classic movie back to the big screen, updating its classic score and presenting it in stereo for the first time.
The movie is a great example of the classic noir genre and was adapted into a teleplay by Alan Parker. Martin Scorsese is the director, and he admitted that Hitchcock’s “Taxi Driver,” from 1959, was one of his influences.
The film has one of the most memorable opening scenes in modern American cinema. It is a masterpiece of film noir, a crime drama with elements of western, horror, and urban melodrama. The movie was released just after the Watergate scandal, Nixon’s resignation, and a decade of war in Vietnam.
In addition to its iconic climax, “Taxi Driver” also satirizes the social injustices of the modern world. Its characters are flawed due to the unfair world they live in. The film points out that we can never fully understand our own character, because we are all shaped by our society.
“Taxi Driver” has received great praise ever since it came out. It was nominated for four Oscars and won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Its significance has only grown over time.
Terry Schrader’s “First Reformed”
“First Reformed” is a powerful film that examines the nature of belief and the importance of personal sacrifice. Schrader, who also directed Taxi Driver, draws on a diverse array of influences to create a movie that feels as if it were a first attempt. It is less academic than some of his other works and less careful to finish one plank before beginning the next. This movie also falls prey to self-parody and absurdity, but Schrader treats it as a religious experience.
While Schrader begins his film with a grand cosmic view of the cosmos, the story devolves into nightmare images of environmental degradation. While this might not seem like a good fit for a book, it is an important book to read and discuss. It is a testament to the power of art and its ability to transform a worldview into a powerful, lasting message.
The film’s sound is also outstanding. Its 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio track has a rich, vibrant sound and excellent dynamic range. It is also rich in sonority. The voice-overs cut through the gloomy stillness. The climax rendition of “Leaning On the Everlasting Arms” is particularly powerful.
The film’s characters struggle to find redemption in their lives. They are mired in their circumstances and seek higher ground, but eventually they become firmly entrenched in their quagmire. The story’s themes are universal.