Thursday, November 3, 2016

'Noir' or 'Noirs'? Someone Has to Put His Foot Down

Don't ever say 'film noirs' to me again, baby!
No matter what they're supposed to be ranking, top 20 lists usually leave out some of the best of the best.
But that's the nature of the beast.
There's no such thing as a top 20 list that actually picks the best of anything. That's the fun of reading the things.
You can look at the list and pick apart each one of the selection. You'll say, "Uh-huh, they got that one right." Or, "What morons! They actually chose that?!"
Then there's the case of the U.K. Independent's "The art of darkness: the top 20 film noirs."
Love the films they chose.
Hate the title.
The plural of film noir is "films noir," not "film noirs." Notice the placement of the "s."
However, in my humble opinion, it's OK to refer to the genre as a whole as "noirs."
Americans and European expatriates in America originated the genre, but the French identified and named it. Let's not obscure that fact with a sloppy translation of the name.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

What the Devil is Film Noir, and Who Named It?

A scene from 'The Crimson Kimono,'  a 1959 thriller directed by Samuel Fuller.
I'm a little late in posting a link to the great 2014 New Yorker article by Richard Brody, "Film Noir: The Elusive Genre."
It's a smart discussion about what exactly makes a movie a noir. I won't be spoiling anything by saying that it's hard to really pin it down.
There are all kinds of crime films that you'll recognize, including gangster pictures, heist films, movies with kidnapping plots and murder mysteries. But film noir is defined not so much by the kind of criminals involved or the sort of crime that gets committed.
So what makes it noir?
It's the characters involved and the kinds of conflicts that they face.
Check out the article. It's a fairly short read, by New Yorker standards, anyway. And as always for that magazine, the writing is tops.
If the online link doesn't work, download a PDF copy of it here.