Project Reflection

Before taking this class, I had little to no knowledge about noir films or everything that represented the idea of this “genre”. I would like to think, at this point of the semester, I have a much clearer idea of the production and styles that tie this all together. I think a key role in establishing the means to these elements was our student assignment of making a short film as a group. Not only were we able to use our own imagination to create a story line and create our own characters, but we were pretty much in control of the entire project with little leadership from Brett. I thought this was neat because this allowed us to explore our ideas of noir films and apply it to a project that all of us found pretty interesting. This project allowed us to reflect on everything we have learned throughout the semester and apply it to what we thought would expand on this idea of dark films that students would hopefully understand and see the messages we were trying to portray. I think our film related to previous ways, especially the scene in the lab with the multiple cuts. This reminded me of the fight scene we discussed in class covering Unforgiven and how it affected the scene as a whole. Although we were just arguing and not actually fist fighting, the quick cuts added suspense as a whole to the film and left the audience on edge when myself, Julia, stepped over Richard and grabbed the flash drive. This angle is seen throughout noir films, like the one I mentioned above, to add suspense and keep the audience engaged. As well with the scene cuts, I really liked how our film emphasized highly on the dark lighting and use of street lights and such. I felt like this compared to Touch of Evil when the couple is first walking in the street to their car and there is a huge emphasis on the street lights and other natural night lights. The scene where Brian and Julia are leaving dinner, the street lights and use of neon signs behind them reiterate the importance of these elements in noir films and compare well with the elements of the scene I mentioned above from Touch of Evil. I think we did a fantastic job thriving with these elements and adding our own twist to them. This semester, we have talked highly on the idea of the female fatal. I find this idea to be extremely prominent throughout noir films because it offers a romantic side to a crime feel. I think we touched on this element well when introducing Julia and all the things she brings to the film. She offers somewhat sexual characteristics when we learn she is playing both Brian and Richard in order to get what she wants. We see on the couch that she seems empathic and caring for Brian but we later learn that’s not the case at all. Again, I really enjoyed this project. It allowed us to take what we learned over the semester and apply it to our own work in a very unique way.


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Blog Post 5:

Brick, unlike any other noir film we have seen this semester, follows the story of an outsider main character, whom wishes to figure out how his girlfriend was killed. His plan of staying out of trouble and all that comes with fitting in with the crowds gets destroyed when he has to become the detective of the murder. I found this story line to be very unique compared to recent films we have watched, not only because it was made more recently so the elements differ from the other films, but because of the story it tells. In this movie, it emphasized the common idea of high school and all the cliques that make it up. It was apparent Brendan wanted nothing to do with this but yet it seemed to still be a large part of the story line. This might have been due to the fact of dealing with the “druggies” but also it is often very stereotypical in today’s society. The media portrays high school to consist of different cliques such as the common druggies, jocks, nerds, and popular kids. This film coming out in 2005 still carries the weight of this being apparent to this day. I wonder why more noir films did not take the approach of being a breakout film in Hollywood and following many of the stereotypical ideas that we see every day. Not saying this film was huge, but it definitely seemed as though it could be seen by more audiences with an easy story line to understand and the typical stereotypes being portrayed.


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Compare and Contrast Essay

Noir films have a very distinct feel about them. Whether it may be the black and white tint or the use of intense lighting and shadows, these films provide a different look on cinema. Comparing and contrasting two crime films from different decades gave me a unique way of interpreting how time has changed this genre and what we might be able to expect in the future of noir films.

The first film I watched, Touch of Evil, released in 1958, follows the story of a recently married couple on their honeymoon. While Mike, the main character, gets tied up in his work life, he leaves his wife, Susie, unattended who eventually gets kidnapped by his enemies. The second film, The Man Who Wasn’t There, released in 2001, tells quite a different crime story. The main character, Ed, lives a very quiet life with his wife Doris. From the beginning, you can tell something is going on with her and her boss Dave. This doesn’t seem to really bother Ed and he even states, “it’s a free country, she can do whatever she wants.” This laid back attitude he has is prominent throughout the film. After a business deal goes bad, Ed has no choice to kill her boss but she ends up going to jail for it. Both of these films fall under the genre of crime noir films even though there is little similar about them.

Often when you think of crime films, you think of a lot of action, blood, fighting, and even death. In Touch of Evil you definitely get a good amount of this. At the four-minute mark, the audience is already exposed to a car explosion and two deaths. This immediately adds suspense to the movie because of how early we are exposed to the action. This then carries on throughout the movie. The way this opening scene all allows to set the tone for crime gives the audience an idea of all that they can suspect from the rest of the movie. Unlike The Man Who Wasn’t There, there is little to no action throughout the movie. The first bit of crime we are exposed to is at the forty-minute mark where Ed kills the boss Dave. This scene goes into great detail and spends quite a bit of time showing the death. The audience at this point is finally exposed to some action with the stabbing and struggling of Dave bleeding out. While this scene appears about half way through the film, it is the only bit of action we see. This is also the only point in which we see Ed, the main character, reacting to a situation. This fighting scene is so significant because it compares so easily to the fight scene in Touch of Evil, at the seventy-three-minute mark the main fight scene begins. Similar to the other fight scene, this action provides the audience with an extreme feeling of suspense. With quick cuts and the use of lighting and shadows, this bit of action sets the tone for the rest of the movie. The quick cuts, as discussed in class, is an extremely beneficial way to film a fight scene. Both of these films did a great job of really setting the tone of this crime scene. This is one of the few ways these films seemed to be achieving the same idea of suspense.

Although these two films were released about fifty years apart from each other, they share more similarities in sets than you would think. Throughout Touch of Evil, the ability to use lighting and shadows adds to the idea that they are living in a very dark and dim time. For example, the way the shadows always seem to be covering Captains face and features allow him to put off a mean and dark persona. This is then prominent when little to no shadows are shown on Susie, who is kind and always adding a sense of humor. This is as well seen in The Man Who Wasn’t There. Ed, a very laid back man who is always seeming to keep to himself, has very little to no shadows on his face making him seem very unthreatening. His face is constantly being lit up with natural high lighting, similar to Susie’s. Contradicting this, boss Dave’s face is often covered with shadows similar to Captain’s.

Contradicting the similarities in lighting, the sets were extremely different. While Touch of Evil primarily took place at the night time, or at least portraying the look of night, it added to the idea of suspense and a scary feeling. This fit the film well because of the amount of action, crime, and suspense being portrayed throughout. This set would not have fit the idea for The Man Who Wasn’t There because of it happening mostly during the day with little to no action scenes. Besides the fight scene mentioned above, there was no significance or draw to the idea that this was even a crime movie. Therefore, the constant light with no shadows supports the idea that the audience will not be startled with a sudden car explosion or death like in the other movie.

The idea of suspense was also prominent throughout Touch of Evil because of the use of background music. Similar to horror movies, background music often gets louder when something intense is about to happen. As well in action movies, this music would often get louder before Ed was about to make a move, before Captain would get angry, and before fight scenes. Contradicting this idea of suspense, there was little to no music being played in the background of The Man Who Wasn’t There and instead there was a voice over of Ed throughout the entire movie. Because he never seemed to really get angry or upset about things, his soothing voice never seemed to add suspense to the film or give off the idea something was about to happen.

Character portrayal is extremely prominent in both of these films. As previously mentioned in class, the idea that women are seen as sexual objects for their men are both obvious in these films. In Touch of Evil, Susie waits for her husband to get done with his work in a hotel room. Not only is she sitting and waiting, but she awaits in revealing underwear. She doesn’t go off on her own but instead stays waiting for his arrival. This idea portrays the idea that she lives for her man and that’s it. This is relevant in The Man Who Wasn’t There as well because of Doris working for the undergarment company. The first time the audience is exposed to her, she is lying seductively on the bed, pulling up her stockings. It is obvious her man is there and that she is trying to turn him on. These images the women portray carry on throughout the movie in different scenes. The way these women are shown so similar in both films reiterate the idea that women are shown sexually for the pleasure of men.

As previously mentioned, it is apparent how these two films have quite a bit in common but even more not. Whether it may be the fifty year difference of the story line, these two films both take crime noir films and go in different directions. Not saying one way is better than the other, but their similarities and differences are obvious. From the sets and lighting, to the characters motives, the films both touch base on the idea of what it takes to supply the audience with the right amount of suspense needed for their stories. I found the way the shadows highlighted the characteristics of each character a neat way to portray their image. This idea is not often seen in cinema anymore. I think this allows the audience to have a different perspective of what makes each character unique and induvial without only relying on their actions to do so. As well as the use of shadows and lighting to portray the characters motives, both films use the women to give off a sexual persona. The women in both films are quite similar in the sense that they wear extremely revealing clothes and are seen by all men in a way that shows them to be living only for their well-being. I really enjoyed comparing these two films and contrasting what they both have to offer. Because they were both released in different decades, it was fascinating to see how this specific genre had changed over time, and they stayed the same. It is obvious that lighting, character portrayal, and the use of sets allows these two stories to go in two completely different directions yet stay similar at the same time.

 

Touch of Evil scenes referred to:

The Man Who Wasn’t There scenes referred to:


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Blog Post 4

While connecting the film Unforgiven to the reading by Rick Altman covering genre, it is easy to see how this reassures this category of westernized films. Genre, as mentioned in the reading, can be identified as blueprint, structure, label, and contract of a film. Although this is prominent in the reading published recently, it still relates back to 1992 when Unforgiven was released. Genre plays a key role in deciphering how films are shown and how the viewers may relate. While the previous films we have watched in class primarily fall under the genre of romance or violence, this specific one was primarily western leaving only a few similarities to the others. It seems like this was the case for most noir films at the time. Dating back to the time majority of these films were being released, it was often rare to not see some sort of violence being portrayed whether it was in the city or in the middle of no-where. Because of the relevance between genre at this time, it shows how these noir films all relate in a similar way, whether that may be violence in a western setting or crime in the city. Genre was a key term at this time and remains a key element within the greater category of film noir. Relating different genres while still tying together the main focus and purpose of these films is what makes them so unique at the time.


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In Class Writing

For scenes, I found it fascinating in Touch of Evil, how many cuts their were in the specific scene we analyzed in class. The quick cuts led the scene to be extremely chaotic and really grabbed my attention as the audience. While the were fighting, the dark lighting added to the suspense as well. We discussed this in class and counted how many cuts this short clip had and I found it to be quite shocking because while watching it the first time, I was unaware there was that many.


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Post 3:

While comparing Touch of Evil to previously seen film noirs, it is easy to see how this one seems a little more intense. This film, having to do with a lot of drugs, alcohol, and sex, relies heavily on the idea that this is a criminal set movie. It seems as though at the time that this movie went above and beyond the drug and alcohol use of other movies at this time. This could be solely on the fact that majority of this film had to do with drugs in Mexico but as well that this film tried pushing the boundaries at this time. As well, I have mentioned in previous posts how things are often implied but maybe not understood. In this film this occurs again when Susan is lying in bed, obviously naked, but with blankets covering her. This supports the idea of modesty at the time in the sense that women were to be viewed either fully clothed or show little skin. This allowed the woman to be viewed in a sexual way just as the rest of the film seemed to push the boundaries. Along with the drugs and alcohol, this film really expands on the extreme violence. This is seen throughout the film with the car blowing up and the constant fighting. Overall, this film does a nice job of pushing the boundaries of other films at the time with the extreme violence, sex, and drugs.


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Post 2:

As previously mentioned in an earlier post, it is apparent that women play a key role in noir films. Not only do they supply a spark to the cast due to their usual prominent attitude, but as well they support the idea in this era that women are their to support a male figure. Females are seen to the public as Dicos mentioned as they are only after three things: sex, power, or wealth. Because control over men was often hard to come by, they would use jealousy to get them. This jealousy brings an extreme form of sexual tension. Sexual tension can often be shown in many ways but culturally at the time it was frowned upon. These ways portrayed women to be weak and again, their for a man. I found it fascinating that at the time, you often did not see a man or women sleeping in the same bed. If they were to have sexual tension before bed, they would speak and the scene would cut until the next day. This left the audience to conclude what the couple must have done that night. In today’s media, very little things go unseen in films. This progress may seem extreme to many but it has become the norm to see couples interacting today. whether it may be in the bedroom or just simple sexual tension anywhere else, very little things need to be assumed today.


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Post 1:

Post 1: In both The Asphalt Jungle and Into the Labyrinth, two women are portrayed in sexy sequences with low cut tops and portrayed to be very flirtatious. While comparing these two forms of media, women are often seen as extremely iconic objects while comparing them to the men. While previously watching Double Indemnity, a woman was also seen to be flirtatious yet appealing to the main character. In this specific film, the woman makes the excuse that the man “leaves his hat” at her place in order for her to show up at her house. The opening of Into the Labyrinth, Christopher makes a point to say “Picture first, flickering before you, impeccably photographed in rich tones of black and white, a sleek young woman with long dark hair, a cream- colored dress, low-cut and sashed, and a large, flat white hat the conceals her.” (Christopher 1) While this specific scenario goes into great detail of this woman, it compares to the scene in The Asphalt Jungle where the woman is laying seductively across the coach and then proceeds to make a move portraying that she throws herself on the man. I find this interesting, that in both forms of media, women are seen as very sexual, and almost as if they pressure the man to fall for them. This has not changed over time and is still present in media today. Whether we mentally make note of it or not while watching films, women are often shot to be wearing revealing clothes that fancy a man. With times changing this form of feminism will gradually progress with time to be less noticeable throughout media.


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Post 1: In both The Asphalt Jungle and Into the Labyrinth, two women are portrayed in sexy sequences with low cut tops and portrayed to be very flirtatious. While comparing these two forms of media, women are often seen as extremely iconic objects while comparing them to the men. While previously watching Double Indemnity, a woman was also seen to be flirtatious yet appealing to the main character. In this specific film, the woman makes the excuse that the man “leaves his hat” at her place in order for her to show up at her house. The opening of Into the Labyrinth, Christopher makes a point to say “Picture first, flickering before you, impeccably photographed in rich tones of black and white, a sleek young woman with long dark hair, a cream- colored dress, low-cut and sashed, and a large, flat white hat the conceals her.” (Christopher 1) While this specific scenario goes into great detail of this woman, it compares to the scene in The Asphalt Jungle where the woman is laying seductively across the coach and then proceeds to make a move portraying that she throws herself on the man. I find this interesting, that in both forms of media, women are seen as very sexual, and almost as if they pressure the man to fall for them. This has not changed over time and is still present in media today. Whether we mentally make note of it or not while watching films, women are often shot to be wearing revealing clothes that fancy a man. With times changing this form of feminism will gradually progress with time to be less noticeable throughout media.


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Student-Designed Assignment

For 30% of our final grade, students will be paired with one other student and assigned a specific film that allows the group to dig deeper and create a 10 minute presentation as to why this film falls into the film noir category. After the presentations I think it would be beneficial to discuss how these specific films have similarities and differences as well as other elements that fall into this genre. Groups will be graded on their ability to portray their specific films and how they interact with other groups when comparing and contrasting.

I think a topic proposal discussing your groups film choice and the elements you wish to research should be due on Thursday, February 25th. Presentations would then be due on Thursday, March 24th.


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