|Clockwise from top left: Joe Pesci, Gina Gershon and Billy Zane, Woody Harrelson and Robert Mithum.|
The best thing about noir as a genre is that it can be bent a thousand ways from Sunday. I've said that once and I'll continue.
While most classic noir films we've come to love have stemmed from the 40s and 50s (too many to name), plenty of neo noirs have been delivered in the modern day from director Roman Polanski's take of the private eye film in "Chinatown" to the burnt-neon world of Ridley Scott's sci-fi "Blade Runner." Those are givens. But what about the flicks off the beaten path?
Just as in my prior post, I'm going to recommend four more neo-noirs that some of you may have missed the first time around.
Why I loved it: Woody is fabulous and the humid Florida atmosphere drips off the screen. And Shue... Wow. Was she born to play a femme fatale. A solid neo-noir.
FAREWELL MY LOVELY (1975)
Why I loved it: Robert Mitchum, for my money, is one of the best Marlowe's I've seen. Dare I say, he might be better than Bogie? Shot in lush, period detail, everything about it works. Look for a Sly Stallone cameo. Trivia: In 1978, Mitchum reprised the role of Marlowe in "The Big Sleep" but the drama was oddly set in the present day and in England.
THIS WORLD THEN FIREWORKS (1997)
The gist: Undoubtedly the oddest of this lot, the neo-noir is based on a posthumously published Jim Thompson story in all its seedy glory. And I DO mean seedy. Billy Zane stars as Marty Lakewood, a reporter forced to leave Chicago because he had uncovered too much police corruption (sounds similar to 'Palmetto.') He returns to his small hometown on the California coast to his ailing mother and prostitute sister (Gina Gershon), with whom he had an incestuous affair. The scheming begins...
Why I loved it: This is by far the kinkiest noir I've ever seen. And yes, kinkier than Thompson's other adaptation, 2010's 'The Killer Inside Me.' This B picture is filled with gangsters, policewomen and LOTS of double-crossing. No doubt, the film feels icky. A real neo-noir, but be warned. Caveat: This is a tough film to find. While some may be able to find it on VHS, I was able to snag it a few years ago on cable.