My dear friend F. Lee has a new webcomic up at New Paradigm Studios called Justice Is Nocturnal. Go check it out — the art is stunning (like always) and it’s a wonderful mythological twist on noir. I know a little of what’s in store, and I can’t wait for more!
Today I read:
. . . honesty is an art. The poor writer is dishonest without knowing it, and the fairly good one can be dishonest because he doesn’t know what to be honest about.
— Raymond Chandler, “The Simple Art of Murder“
LiAnn sent me this amazing list of Raymond Chandler’s unused titles. You better believe I’m gonna make every effort to use them.
Some of my favorites:
Here It Is Saturday
The Corpse Came In Person
Stop Screaming — It’s Me
No Third Act
Expect all of these gems to appear from yours truly soon.
Fala and I went to see Gangster Squad today.
It was a bit more graphic than I expected (although I’m not sure what I was expecting from a movie called Gangster Squad), but it was an entertaining, decently-made movie. It felt very much like a film right out of another era — straightforward, comfortably formulaic, and not terribly reflexive. It was a straight-up old school sort of film, as if they’d found the long-lost script for some 50s crime thriller and simply polished it up for contemporary tastes (with more violence and more nudity, obviously). This meant a lot of stylish retro banter and gorgeous sets and costumes, but it did leave me wondering where to draw the line between paying homage to another era and glorifying the more suspect aspects of that time. There were some nice little moments here and there, though, and everyone in it was pretty great, especially Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling (who may have gotten his break playing nice but might just make his career playing charming-but-dangerous). It may not have done anything too innovative with the material, but it knew exactly what sort of film it was trying to be, and, as such, succeeded as a well-executed example of its genre (pun intended).
Oh, you know, just an average evening: researching crime scene clean-up and writing about blood spatter.
What is my life.
In honor of the holiday season, here’s a piece of fiction. It’s a mystery story of sorts, wrapped in a Christmas party — but be warned, it’s not exactly what I’d call “merry and bright.”
Not a lot of peace on Earth and good will toward men in my line of work . . .
Salon shared a great excerpt from Richard Lingeman’s book The Noir Forties on the rise of the femme fatale, in which he attributes the genesis of the noir genre to war-era German immigration to America, and connects the femme fatale to postwar male anxieties about self-reliant women. Characterizing the femme fatale type, he says:
Feminist critics would later celebrate the noir woman — the iconic femme fatale — as a lioness of empowerment and sexual freedom. Janey Place articulates this view when she writes that the noir era “stands as the only period in American film in which women are deadly but sexy, exciting, and strong . . . active, not static symbols . . . intelligent and powerful if destructively so.” The femmes fatales were certainly more than just sexpots; they were apolitical rebels against the traditional female role. Depression babes ambitious for a materially richer life but lacking education or business ambitions, they rejected domesticity (unless they wanted to negotiate a marriage of convenience to a wealthy man) and used their sexual wiles to undermine patriarchal power — to “unman” a man and thus control him.
Lingeman mentions Mildred Pierce in the article, and it just so happens that Michelle and I were recently discussing the trailer for the 1945 adaptation, which grossly mischaracterizes the plot and themes of the film in order to emphasize exactly the qualities Lingeman is describing. Check it out: