Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Forget it Jake, it's Chinatown ... Now, where was I?"

No matter which neo-noir you watched, Chinatown or Memento, you were treated to some shocking revelations near the end of the film that made you reevaluate everything that came before them. They also helped elevate their respective films from the thriller/crime genre into something harder to put your finger on -- both films transcend the fates of their protagonists and leave you (or should leave you) unsettled about the awful capabilities of human nature.

All of this is to say that thinking and writing about the larger implications of your film's mysteries might be one way to approach your last blog post on film noir. If you watched Memento, you might want to check out this site, which could shed some light on a few questions you have about the film. And as always, here are other possibilities:

o Discuss/analyze an important scene
o Expand on a discussion question from class, whether from a film or a reading
o Make a connection to the real world/current events
o Discuss/analyze an aspect of cinematic style important to the film
o Discuss/analyze a topic or theme important to the film
o Relate it to another film, either from class or personal viewing
o Discuss ideas for future viewing inspired by film

Note that none of these bullet-points includes saying that you really, really liked or disliked the movie and why (that's what the polls at the top of the page are for). It's not that I don't care whether or not you liked it, but I'm far more interested in your analysis and interpretation than a cursory opinion.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"I fell in to a burning box of fire ... "

If you're looking for ideas on what to write about Kiss Me Deadly, here's an idea: do a little research on one of the allusions that Dr. G.E. Soberin made -- he had quite a few, even one when he was dying of a gunshot wound -- and discuss the relevance of the allusion to the film. Here are the main ones I can think of: Pandora, Lot's wife, Medusa, Cerberus. Feel free to write about another one that you remember.

Or, if you want to continue to discuss the apocalyptic ending, here's a link to an excellent article about possible reasons why there are two different endings and the writer's (excellent film/DVD critic Glenn Erickson) interpretation of them. Neither of them look like this, the ending of Mickey Spillane's novel on which the film is based:
In the novel Hammer finally catches up with femme fatale Lily Carver just after she's taken an alcohol rubdown. He offhandedly ignites her with a Zippo. She burns in agony. He takes calm satisfaction from his deed. It's sort of a followup to outdo the sadistic I the Jury ending. There Hammer shoots a wrong dame in the stomach with the quip, "It was easy."
So, yes, it's actually possible for Mike Hammer to have been more sadistic than he was in this movie.

Lastly, just because I want to prove to you that this movie is regarded as a classic, and that I didn't choose it by throwing darts at a noir dartboard, here's a link to an essay by noted film noir scholar (yes, such people exist) Alain Silver that analyzes KMD's stylistic hallmarks. I don't expect you to read the whole thing, but at least glance at a few paragraphs.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

"Ass-kicked by fate"

That's one of the great quotes -- in this case, about the noir protagonist -- from this primer on film noir, which is written by noted noir expert Eddie Muller. I love his examples in answering the question of whether noir is a genre or a style, and he also talks about whether or not noir is made today.

Speaking of which, for you Sin City fans, here's an excellent site that comes to the conclusion that this movie might be the quintessential film noir. If you're a fan of the movie, you need to read it.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Groundhog is Jesus

Or so says a film critic in this article from The New York Times on the surprising popularity of Groundhog Day among religious scholars.

Michael Bronski, a film critic for The Forward who teaches a course in Jewish film history at Dartmouth, said he sees strong elements of not only Jewish but also Christian theology. "The groundhog is clearly the resurrected Christ, the ever hopeful renewal of life at springtime, at a time of pagan-Christian holidays," he said, adding: "And when I say that the groundhog is Jesus, I say that with great respect."

But before you dismiss the whole article as claptrap, you should read it and see how neatly the message of the film (the way the scholars interpret the message, anyway) fits into the beliefs of so many different faiths. Maybe it says more about the similarities of the world religions than it does about the movie, but it's still an interesting read. It would be fantabulous if you worked a reaction to this article into your post (4th and 6th hour students, that is).