Article: Noir Is Protest Literature: That’s Why It’s Having a Renaissance

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Nicholas Seeley over at Electric Lit has a great little article about the state of noir and some ideas on what direction it needs to go in the future. He has some interesting takes on the genre and brings up some great points about the state of the noir in today’s media. Do you agree with Seeley that noir went away in the 60’s and 70’s? Is noir having a Renaissance? Read the full article here:

Noir Is Protest Literature: That’s Why It’s Having a Renaissance

And let me know your thoughts in the comments.

 

Article: ‘Hap And Leonard’ Review: SundanceTV’s Texas Noir Series Shines

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The Hap And Leonard series debuts March 2nd on Sundance and Dominic Patten over at Deadline has a rave review for the new series. The same team brought us Cold Day in July, which I loved, also based on a Joe R. Lansdale’s novel. Here is my look at the book and film for Cold in July:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/03/04/review-book-vs-film-cold-in-july-2/

Here is the link to Patten’s video review at Deadline:

‘Hap And Leonard’ Review: SundanceTV’s Texas Noir Series Shines

Who else is excited for this new series?

Book Review: Chance by Kem Nunn

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Chance by Kem Nunn tells the story of Dr. Eldon Chance, a psychiatrists in the San Francisco area. Chance is on a downward spiral starting with a recent divorce and on top of that the I.R.S. is auditing him. To help get himself out of debt, he looks to sell some antique furniture. Turns out he can get more for the furniture if big D uses his wood working skills to make it something it quite isn’t.

Big D is a large man with a unique set of skills. He can work with furniture as well as wield a knife with deadly skill. He is a master of urban warfare, knowing where to be and when to be there.

Chance also gets involved with a femme fatale with multiple personality disorder. Chance’s love interest happens to be married to a crooked cop. You mix these four characters and you have a crazy noir trip through the Bay Area.

Kem Nunn is known for his surfer noir books and this is a bit of a departure for him, though we do get a minor character towards the end that is a surfer.

This book was released in 2014 and soon after Nunn started working on a screen adaption. Originally looking at a movie deal, it soon switched to a television series. Scoring major talent behind the camera for this series also attracted a major star for the character of Chance. Hugh Laurie will be playing Chance in a guaranteed two season deal. After a bidding war for the distribution rights to the series, Hulu won. The first season will follow the story ark from the book, not sure if season 2 will see a book first or if it will be an original story for the series itself. Nunn will be the writer either way. You can read all the details about the new show that will start filming soon here:

‘Chance’ Drama Series Starring Hugh Laurie Lands 2-Season Order At Hulu

This is a good book and I can see potential for a great television series. Noir fans should check out this novel and look forward to another great noir series coming to a television or computer near you soon.

 

True Detective Season 2-What Went Wrong?

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I don’t have H.B.O., so I had to wait 6 months for the Blu-Ray release of Season 2 to get a chance to watch this. In that 6 months I have seen reviews from critics and other looks at the series from novelists and fans. All of these reviews were negative, I did not read one thing about this second season that was positive. Some of these looks where things like how Ray Donovan was the better show on Sunday nights or how Fargo Season 2 got it right and True Detective got it wrong, etc. Needless to say, I had low expectations of this when I started watching it.

Season 1 of True Detective may have been the best first season of a television series in history, it maybe the best season of television ever. I really was amazed by Nic Pizzolatto story and the acting was second to none.  Here is my look at Season 1:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/04/23/re-watching-the-best-of-2014-true-detective-season-1/

Season 2 is a totally new cast, story and location, the only thing that is the same is Pizzolatto is in charge again and we are going to cover another story of crime. From this alone Pizzolatto was set up to fail. How could he ever match his masterpiece of season 1? How could he create a completely new world with no connection to season 1 and make it just as good?

I don’t believe Pizzolatto failed at all! Where Season 2 fails is only when it is compared to something else. Stop comparing this 8 hours to something else and just enjoy it for what it is.

For me Season 2 was a great modern take on California’s noir world, a homage to noir of the past. I think Pizzolatto took cues from past greats and put them in a big stew and threw them into modern Southern California. I seen hints of Chandler, Hammett, Macdonald and a lot of Ellroy in the story. I seen scenes that looked a lot like scenes from High Sierra, Mulholland Drive, L.A. Confidential, and others. The best thing I liked about this series is he took some of classic film noir tropes and characters and threw them into a modern setting and gave them an original spin.

Lets break down each of the four main characters:

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Colin Farrell is Detective Ray Velcoro

Ray is our classic hardboiled detective for this story. He takes a bit of the cop looking for revenge, and a pinch of dirty cop, add a man that has lost his way and his family. The twist here is we learn what set this good guy into a downward spiral of evil.

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Taylor Kitsch is Officer Paul Woodrugh

Woodrugh is a motorcycle cop who is part of a tabloid news story involving a famous actress. Woodrugh maybe the most classic film noir style character of the group. He is back from the war and that war has effected him. He is trying to fit into a society, he no longer recognizes. He is trying to hide his homosexual tendencies by making a nice family life everybody expects of him.

 

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Rachel McAdams is Detective Ani Bezzerides

Ani is the cop with the dirty mouth. The cop that uses the opposite sex and throws them away. The cop that is as hard as nails and you want by your side in a knife fight. In today’s world this is the cop that needs to go to sexual harassment meeting for their affairs with co-workers. Pizzolatto flips the scrip here and makes this cop a female.

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Vince Vaughn is Frank Semyon

Frank is a gangster who has worked his way up to the top and used his life savings to go legit with a land purchase. Frank is our classic gangster getting out, but never really does. He made it to the top by surrounding himself with loyal guys he trusts, and that may be his downfall.

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Kelly Reilly and Abigail Spencer play opposites. One will do anything to stay with her husband and the other will do anything to get as far away as possible from her ex-husband.

Pizzolatto uses a lot of classic film noir tropes in this basic 8 plus hour movie. We see the heist film, the gangster film, the hardboiled cop film, and the revenge film all rolled into one. There is a couple McGuffins, one in the form of some rare blue diamonds and another in the form of a hard drive with some compromising films on it. We have double crosses, corrupt politicians and police, a prostitution ring, a freaky psychologist(played by an almost unrecognizable Rick Springfield), a dark and dingy bar, a night club where it is easy to get whatever you want, a semi legit casino and it goes on and on.

Pizzolatto’s plot is not easy to follow and doesn’t take you on simple A to B trip. This series takes some thinking and may even need to be watched more then once to get everything out of it. Some didn’t like how all the questions are not answered, but I think it is more like the answers they got are not the ones they wanted. This may upset the average viewer, but is right up the noir fan’s alley. Not having a clue on how a show is going to end is half the fun of the ride. So what went wrong with Season 2? Personally I don’t think anything went wrong. I really enjoyed this season. I think what went wrong is when it is compared to the first…or a totally different show. No Season 2 is not as good as Season 1, but it is still very good. I look forward to a third season and hope Pizzolatto takes on some different film noir tropes, like a really interesting femme fatale, maybe a location in New York, Atlantic City and Philadelphia. How about taking on the subject of drug dealers and using the Canadian/American border as a focal point? Whatever you do, Mr. Pizzolatto, I look forward to watching it.

2015, A Look Back at a Year in Noir

Coming off one of the best years in the genre in 2014, 2015 was a bit of a let down. With box office and critical hits Gone Girl and Nightcrawler and a cult classic in the making with surprise hit John Wick along with a crowd sourced funded return of Veronica Mars just to name a few of the highlights at the theater in 2014. 2015 really didn’t see any success at the box office for films in the neo noir genre.

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The year started out with a bang, when in January, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice was released. Inherent Vice was a critical success, even if it didn’t do well at the box office and was not well received by the general public, it was my favorite film of the year. Here is my review of that film:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/06/02/review-inherent-vice/

On the same day as Inherent Vice was released, a film from Australia was released in the States. It stared an always good Ethan Hawke in a sci-fi neo-noir that will make you think. Predestination from the Spierig Brothers is a stylish film worth watching. Here is my full review of that film:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/02/20/review-predestination/

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Though we got a lot of good small budget neo noir films this year, the stand out for me was Glass Chin. Read the full review here:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/08/24/review-glass-chin/

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Though film didn’t have a stellar year, television did! I have not seen it yet(hope to watch it with in the next week) True Detective Season 2 sounds like it was a bit of a let down(season 1 may have been the best television season ever, 2 was bound to be a bit of a let down), other programs stepped it up.

Season 4 of Ray Donovan was the best season yet and Season 2 of Fargo was my favorite series this year.

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/10/06/article-rolling-stone-fargo-how-the-midwestern-noir-just-got-even-better/

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We also got the Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul that came out in February and seems like a decade ago in a time of great television. Here was a look at Season 1:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/04/09/review-season-1-of-better-call-saul/

One of my favorite characters was back for a short special, Luther. Here is a look at season 4 of that series:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/12/29/review-luther-season-4/

Public Morales debuted on TNT, but got poor ratings and was cancelled after season 1. You can see how high the competition is, when this fine series only made it through one season.

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https://everythingnoir.com/2015/10/25/review-public-morals-season-1/

Gotham had another great season as well. For sci-fi neo noir fans, check out the Expanse, which as just started on SyFy. There is also a long list of television I have not got to see, but want to soon. Netflix has released Bloodlines, Daredevil and Jessica Jones while Amazon has Bosch just to name a few. It is safe to say, we are in the golden age of television.

Classic film noir fans had a great summer with The Summer of Darkness over on TCM. They also offered a college course on film noir for free. I took the class and found it very informative.

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TCM debuted a few newly restored classic films noir this summer, including Woman on the Run and Too Late for Tears. Look for a full review of Too Late for Tears soon and here is a link to the review of Woman on the Run:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/06/24/review-women-on-the-run/

In Noir literature we had a number of big and small releases. Publishers like Hard Case Crime and All Due Respect continue to release pulp noir books worth checking out. Hard Case Crime continues to re-print the Quarry books which I have fallen in love with. All Due Respect had a couple of releases I loved including Selena by Greg Barth and Love You to a Pulp by CS Dewildt:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/12/01/book-review-quarrys-list-by-max-allan-collins/

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/12/07/book-review-selena-by-greg-barth/

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/04/19/book-review-love-you-to-a-pulp-by-c-s-dewilt/

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We also got the second book by Rob Thomas continuing the multi-media story of Veronica Mars:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/02/01/review-the-first-two-veronica-mars-books-the-thousand-dollar-tan-line-and-mr-kiss-and-tell/

There was a number of books that came out this year that I did not get a chance to get to(I’m not the fastest reader in the world). The Cartel by Don Winslow, World Gone By by Dennis Lehane and Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy just to name a few.

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2016 looks to hold many new television shows, movies and books worth watching. Check back to Everythingnoir.com for the latest news and reviews as I will try and keep the noir fan abreast. What was some of your favorite noir works of the last year?

 

 

 

Review: Luther Season 4

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Luther Season 4 has just debuted on BBC recently and has had its highest ratings yet, here in the United States. Season 4 is much shorter then the past seasons, as it is only 2 episodes long, or more accurately one, 2 hour film.

This Season we see Luther(Idris Elba) in a bit of a different place then we have before. He is living in the county, in a small home, by himself. He is still on the edge of suicide and though he is not in the city fighting crime he still seems battered. He soon gets a visit from two detectives, Theo played by Darren Boyd and Emma played by Rose Leslie. They report to Luther that Alice has been killed, and they must question Luther and search his home. This is of course a shock to both us as an audience and Luther. We really see in this opening that Luther is truly all alone now. Everybody close to him is gone in one way or another.

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Luther is on leave from the police force and he is not in his usual suit and tie. He soon jumps right into investigating what happened to Alice, not as a detective, but as his broken self. As the two new detectives we meet earlier, are on a case of a serial killer, Luther takes a tour of the London underworld looking for clues in Alice’s murder.

I don’t want to give anything away, but we soon see Luther put on his suit and tie, like it is his superhero outfit or his battle armor and re-joins the force.

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Neil Cross has written another amazing story with some twists and turns we do not see coming. I was disappointed that Alice is dead, or is she? We do get some new characters that will challenge Luther and some that will support him. Idris Elba has recently stated about Luther”It’s unfinished business, it’s fertile ground,” and. “The character continues to challenge me.” With Elba’s rising star in film, I would say the biggest hurdle for more Luther is Elba’s other projects, but with these statements, he seems open to playing Luther again. Lets hope we get to see Luther again soon.

For more inside information to Season 4 of Luther and what the future may hold for the series, check out Mandi Bierly interview with Neil Cross here:

https://www.yahoo.com/tv/luther-special-postmortem-neil-cross-044729299.html

 

 

Review: Re-watching Luther Season 3

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Luther Season 3 finds Luther(Idris Elba) in a deeper hole then ever. He starts out having to take on two cases at the same time. One is a fetish killing that seems linked to some murders that took place 30 years ago. The second seems a simple open and shut case of an internet troll who has been killed.

To make things worse Erin Gray(Nikki Amuka-Bird) has been promoted to I.A. and is gunning for Luther. She partners with George Stark, played by David O’Hara. They recruit Ripley(Warren Brown) to help them.

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Luther also finds a new love in Mary Day, played by Sienna Guillory.

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Luther takes on his hardest case in the last two episodes, when a vigilante who has lost his wife to a convicted rapists, butts heads with Luther on what is right and what is wrong.

Neil Cross does another amazing job taking us on this journey with Luther. Season 3 follows the formula of Season 2 where we only get 4 episodes and each case takes two episodes to close. Luther has a lot to overcome in this season, on both a personal level as well as a professional one. As always nobody is safe and oh yeah…Alice is back!

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Each season of Luther gets a little darker then the last and this one tops season 2 in that way. There are many scenes of horror and fright that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  So…now what? Come back tomorrow to take a look at season 4.

Here is a link to a look at Season 2:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/12/28/review-re-watching-luther-season-2/