Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Film Noir - Sin City

Sin City (2005) is adapted from three hardboiled comic books by the renowned graphic novelist Frank Miller, who has directed the film. The film explores the dark and miserable town, Basin City, and tells the story of three different people, all caught up in violent corruption. The stark black and white images, with beautifully calculated splashes of vivid color, are shockingly faithful to Miller's lurid, ultra-violent, crime-riddled world. It's an alternative universe where almost everyone is a perpetrator, a victim or a witness.

Co-directed by Miller and Robert Rodriguez, with a special guest director stint by Quentin Tarantino, the film was shot entirely against green screens using the latest in high-definition cameras. Rodriguez and Miller have lifted the comic-book panels from page to screen. The result is an eye-popping visceral feast.

The film opens with a brief teaser featuring a doomed dame standing on a terrace high above the cold, teeming city. Her flaming red dress is in high contrast to the black and white world she inhabits. In a cameo role, Josh Hartnett enters the scene with the words, "She shivered in the wind like the last leaf on a dying tree." He then simultaneously kisses and kills her. The stage, and the tone, is set.

Then, like a smack in the face, the action charges into the first of three graphic novels, "That Yellow Bastard." This story is cut in two, thereby framing the film's beginning and conclusion. A good cop, Bruce Willis, with a bad ticker, it's a tragic tale of the hunt for a raging pedophile named Roark Jr. Jessica Alba who plays Nancy, an erotic dancer who, as a child, was one of Roark's victims.  

The attention then switches to Miller's "The Hard Goodbye," starring an unrecognizable Mickey Rourke as a half-man, half-beast killing machine named Marv. He's seeking revenge for the murder of a hooker named Goldie (Jaime King) who showed him the only touch of kindness he ever received. 

The final vignette "The Big Fat Kill" includes some major performances. Clive Owen is Dwight, one of Sin City's only good guys. Rosario Dawson plays Gail, his ex-lover and the leader of a gang of Amazonian hookers. Benicio Del Toro does a great turn as Jackie Boy, a ruthless, corrupt cop. Brittany Murphy portrays Jackie Boy's reluctant girlfriend, Shellie. When Jackie Boy is murdered, Dwight steps in and maintains the truce set up between the hookers of Old Town and the cops. 

We can compare the visual characteristic of  Sin City to film noir style, because of the technics that was used. For example, all of the shots were black and white, and the lighting was dramatic. There was a lot of shadows which represents film noir style, and the light was crucial as it highlighted the most important parts of each shot, for example, a gun. Subject matter was Mafia, murderers, femme fatal, guns and blood. Clothing of the male characters has also indicated the film noir style, as they wore hats and long coats, therefore they have looked both, mysterious and dangerous.  

Monday, 4 April 2011

Film Noir - description of the visual, and the general idea of the films.

Film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. The term film noir, it's French for 'black film'. 
 Classic film noir developed during and after World War II, taking advantage of the post-war ambience of anxiety, pessimism, and suspicion. Hollywood's classic film noir period is generally regarded as stretching from the early 1940s to the late 1950s. Film noir of this era is full of urban crime and vice.
Film noir has a distinct style, with shadow-filled low-key lighting. Night rules in film noir, where the shadow more important than the light in the general style of the mood, although light is crucial as it highlight the most important aspect in the single frame, for example, gun.
The primary moods of classic film noir were melancholy, alienation, bleakness, disillusionment, disenchantment, pessimism, ambiguity, moral corruption, evil, guilt, desperation and paranoia.
Strictly speaking, film noir is not a genre, but rather the mood, style, point-of-view, or tone of a film. It is also helpful to realize that 'film noir' usually refers to a distinct historical period of film history - the decade of film-making after World War II, similar to the German Expressionism or the French New Wave periods.
The heroes, corrupt characters and villains included down-and-out, conflicted hard-boiled detectives or private eyes, cops, gangsters, government agents, a lone wolf, socio-paths or killers, war veterans, politicians, petty criminals, murderers, or just plain Joes. These protagonists were often morally-ambiguous low-lifes from the dark and gloomy underworld of violent crime and corruption. Distinctively, they were cynical, tarnished, obsessive (sexual), brooding, menacing, sinister, sardonic, disillusioned, frightened and insecure loners (usually men), struggling to survive - and in the end, ultimately losing. 
On the other hand, femma fatal in film noir were either of two types - dutiful, reliable, trustworthy and loving women, or femmes fatales - mysterious, duplicitous, double-crossing, gorgeous, unloving, predatory, tough-sweet, unreliable, irresponsible, manipulative and desperate women. Usually, the male protagonist in film noir wished to elude his mysterious past, and had to choose what path to take.
Invariably, the choice would be an overly ambitious one, to follow the dangerous but desirable wishes of these dames. It would be to pursue the goadings of a traitorous, self-destructive femme fatale who would lead the struggling, disillusioned, and doomed hero into committing murder or some other crime of passion coupled with twisted love. When the major character was a detective or private eye, he would become embroiled and trapped in an increasingly-complex, convoluted case that would lead to fatalistic, suffocating evidences of corruption, irresistible love and death. The femme fatale, who had also transgressed societal norms with her independent and smart, menacing actions, would bring both of them to a downfall.
Storylines were often elliptical, non-linear and twisting. Narratives were frequently complex, maze-like and convoluted, and typically told with foreboding background music, flashbacks (or a series of flashbacks), witty, and/or reflective and confessional, first-person voice-over narration. 
Overall, I can conclude the film noir films to be (mostly shot in gloomy grays, blacks and whites) thematically showed the dark and inhumane side of human nature with cynicism and doomed love, and they emphasized the brutal, unhealthy, seamy, shadowy, dark and sadistic sides of the human experience.