Best Neo-Noir Films

I have always been a fan of noir/hardboiled movies and fiction. There are many aspects of this genre that draws me to it: an emphasis on shadows, low-key lighting, and flawed characters. Film Noir in its golden age ran from the 1940s-1950s to which films made after this period were labeled as Neo-Noir. I have seen many films in this genre and have come up with a list of the absolute best Neo-Noir films.

1. Heat

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2. Lost Highway

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3. A History of Violence

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4. Body Heat

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5. Brick

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6.  Dark City

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7.  The Last Seduction

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8. Manhunter

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9. Road to Perdition

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10. The Grifters

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11. Sin City

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12. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

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13. Red Rock West

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14. To Live and Die in LA

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15. Se7en

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Monster’s Ball

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When I first saw “Monster’s Ball” many years ago, I became totally absorbed in the plot and the great performance by Billy Bob Thornton. The interconnecting lives of the main characters created a feeling of suspense throughout the entire film; with the viewer desperately waiting to see if everything will eventually come to light. The film does a great job of holding off what the audience so desperately want to know until the very end of the film.

“Monsters Ball” stars Halle Berry as a struggling single mother who is raising her son while her husband is awaiting execution for killing a cop. Billy Bob Thornton plays a corrections officer who has a hand in executing Leticia’s husband. The two meet after a series of misfortunate events and develop a romantic relationship while struggling with their own demons.

Billy Bob Thornton does a tremendous job as a complex man that does not know how to think for himself due to his father’s overbearing presence. He feels he must live up to his father’s expectations and beliefs even though he does not believe in anything that his father believes. This realization comes when he starts dating Leticia (Berry) and the suicide of his son.

“Monster’s Ball” is a movie about many things: race relations, loneliness and moving beyond one’s inner demons. It is a movie that focuses on trying to get past the hurt and regrets that always seem to linger.

 

Big Hero 6 Trailer

I just discovered that Disney is making an animated film of the Marvel comic “Big Hero 6”. After doing a little research of my own on the obscure comic, I must say I am really intrigued in how the finished product will look. The illustrations in the comic itself is quite beautiful with its Japanese manga drawings.

The trailer for this film is a shot of San Fransokyo which is fictional city in the comic. The look of the animated city is almost like a cyberpunk environment with its sleek look. This new year is already shaping up to be a great year for Disney and Marvel.

Django Unchained

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I just finished watching Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” and all I can say is why didn’t I see it sooner. Tarantino who is known for his extreme violence and gore in his movies does not spare a moment of it in this film. There are scenes where blood just leaps from the body.

Jamie Foxx, who I have always found hard to like as an actor, does a really good job as the title character. He plays Django as an arrogant and tough as nails man but with a sensitive side that comes out when he thinks of his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington).

The best performances in the film definitely go to Christoph Waltz as bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz and Leonardo Dicaprio as slave owner Calvin Candie. Waltz is hilarious as the articulate killer who guns down evil men that deserve their fate. Dicaprio who continuously astounds me, does a remarkable job as the money-hungry slave owner who has bought Django’s wife. Dicaprio is fierce and quite menacing in his performance as he shows just how cold and ruthless his character is.

“Django Unchained” does have its funny moments amidst the violence and brutality especially with Waltz’s character. I have always admired Tarantino’s works and most say that Django is definitely his best to date. This spin on the western drama is a must see.

Death at a Funeral

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British comedies have always been a uneven affair with me. A lot of them just fall flat when I expect it to be so much better, for example: “A Fish called Wanda”. I usually check out reviews or IMDB before watching a British comedy to make sure it is really worth watching. I recently watched “Death at a Funeral” and it turned out to be an incredibly funny movie.

“Death at a Funeral” stars Matthew Macfayden as Daniel who is trying to keep order at his father’s funeral. He is dealing with the knowledge that his brother is more liked than he is and that everyone would rather have his brother deliver the eulogy than him. He is also trying to move out of his parents’ house and get a flat with his girlfriend. With all this a mysterious man played by Peter Dinklage arrives at the funeral to shake things up which results in a series of hilarious events that throws the funeral into chaos.

“Death at a Funeral” is funny from the very opening scene and does not let up till the end of the movie. The funniest moments happen with Peter Dinklage’s character and when Macfayden tries his hardest to prevent disasters that keep occurring during the reception. This movies takes black comedy to quite extremes and does a great job of not falling into overdone cliche trappings.

Dredd

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When I first heard about a new Judge Dredd film coming out, I was skeptical about it. I thought it was going to be another typical cliche action movie from Hollywood so I skipped watching it last year. But after so many people telling me how good it was, I decided to check it out and I must say it is definitely one of the best adaptions of a graphic novel.

“Dredd” stars Karl Urban as the title character who tries to enforce the law in the dystopian city:  Mega-City One. He is assigned a rookie to train named Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) who is a mutant with psychic abilities. The two respond to a homicide in a high rise called Peach Tress which is run by drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). Dredd and Anderson become trapped in the high-rise when they try to take a suspect in the homicide which leads to a violent confrontation with Ma-Ma.

“Dredd” is a very visual movie with outstanding special effects especially when several characters use the Slomo drug that slows down time. There are several scenes that slow down the action and show in detail gunshots piercing body parts.

Urban’s performance as Dredd is also very good. He portrays Dredd as a man who plays by the book and does not stop till he gets his man or woman. He is a force to be reckoned with where no one can escape his pursuit.

Overall, “Dredd” is a great adaptation of the popular comic book series.  The visual effects as well as the performance by Urban alone is worth watching.

Morgan M. Morgansen’s Date with Destiny

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been on quite a momentous roll over the past few years. He had major supporting roles in “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Inception“. He has also starred in several independent films this year that have garnered critical praise including the sci-fi noir film “Looper“. He has his own online production company entitled, hitRECord which has him collaborating with a people on a variety of projects. One of those projects was the 2010 short film, “Morgan M. Morgansen’s Date with Destiny”.

This short film stars Gordon-Levitt as the title character Morgan M. Morgansen who prepares to have a date with a woman named Destiny. Gordon-Levitt narrates the short by using nonsensical and humourous words that sound like they came straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. The short is amazing visually with so much going on throughout it including black and white shots juxtaposed with 2D drawings. The five minute film is a captivating take on two people seeking a romantic connection.