WEIRDLAND: Noir Scenarios: Zodiac, The Killer inside me, Human Desire, etc.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Noir Scenarios: Zodiac, The Killer inside me, Human Desire, etc.

"Consequently, Zodiac forms something of a companion piece to Se7en and its cynical, world-weary view of personal quests for "justice." As with Brad Pitt's detective Mills, Gyllenhaal's Graysmith brings himself and his clan to the brink of ruin in order to stop a serial killer, and learns—albeit to a lesser extent than the tragic Mills—that happy endings are the stuff of fairy-tale fiction. Jake Gyllenhaal and Chlöe Sevigny as Robert Graysmith and Melanie in "Zodiac" (2007)

An honest man who pays a weighty price for trying to be something he's not (namely, a detective), Graysmith—despite a somewhat upbeat "where are they now" textual coda—thus eventually comes to resemble a classic noir hero. And the fact that he continues, to this day, to write about the infamous, never-captured S.F. boogeyman adds a final, poignant punctuation to Zodiac, with Graysmith's inescapable enthrallment suggesting that for many, true obsessions never really die". Source: www.slantmagazine.com

Jake Gyllenhaal and Chöe Sevigny attending 'Zodiac' Cannes Film Festival Photocall 2007

"Inquisitor centers on Dashe's character "Lulu", a young girl with a Louise Brooks hairstyle who finds a pile of suspicious old books. Based on the writings inside, she becomes convinced that they were once owned by the infamous Zodiac killer. What's more, she suspects that her elderly neighbor Hazel Reedy (Hunt) is Zodiac's widow. The two women sit across from each other in Reedy's claustrophobic home and trade subtle jabs while the truth lingers in the air like decades of trapped cigarette smoke. Both Hunt and Dashe are fantastic in this noirish tale". Source: www.midnightpalace.com

"Michael Winterbottom's adaptation of Jim Thompson's "The Killer Inside Me" is one of the deepest, darkest films noir ever made -- an unflinchingly nasty, nihilistic piece of work that pulls no punches, literally or figuratively. This is what noir is all about: facing the worst possibilities of human nature, a bottomless sense of dread that makes you feel like you're drowning in fetid bog of blood (see "Macbeth"). And it's all your fault, the undeniable consequences of following your own overpowering desires, of making your own messy mistakes. And maybe some rotten luck -- the kind you invariably bring on yourself.
At the start of the movie, on the drive out to what becomes the scene of his first pair of homicides, Lou lays the groundwork for what's to come in his choked, matter-of-fact voiceover:
"Out here you say yes ma'am an no ma'am to anything with a skirt on. Out here if you catch a man with his pants down you apologize, even if you have to arrest him afterwards. Out here you're a man and a gentle-man or you aren't anything at all. And god help you if you're not." Source: blogs.suntimes.com

Jessica Alba as Joyce Lakeland in "The Killer Inside Me" (2010)

"Bello counterbalances poignant hard-luck symphonies in Permanent Midnight or Paycheck with witty and fascinating studio gigs that betray a business acumen and an artistic dexterity all her own.
Bello bolted for New York City, toiling in telling off-Broadway fare like The Killer Inside Me, an adaptation of the Jim Thompson pulp noir""Maria Bello’s breakout screen performance arrived in 2003, opposite William H. Macy, in the form of emotionally battered cocktail waitress Natalie Belisario in Wayne Kramer’s romantic noir sleeper hit The Cooler. It featured what is perhaps the most joyful and unvarnished screen sex scene in many years—the scene made Bello a star but not strictly for its frank depiction of gritty motel room sex, which was at once giddy, erotic, playful and wise;" Source: fest08.sffs.org

Maria Bello and Kristen Stewart at "The Yellow Handkerchief" in Los Angeles on 17th February 2010

Maria Bello and Ben Stiller as Kitty and Jerry in "Permanent Midnight" (1998)

"Permanent Midnight is actually a personal memoir of scriptwriter Jerry Stahl, and David Veloz picks Ben Stiller to help him ponder the past; personal selection is a tasteful parallel for vindicating the performance you need out of your lead.

It's a film that's a lot about sex and even a lot more about drugs. Jerry is relating his sins to Kitty (while committing more sins with her, played by Maria Bello) and his dive to the deep funk of where losers lie". Source: members.tripod.com

"The part of his mind that considered odds and consequences had shut down entirely, snuffed by the sheer adrenal rush of holding her, falling together into the Impala's sunken upholstery. He took her face in his hands as he kissed her, wanting to just get it right, to stamp the moment, to blunt the thunder of fear pounding in his skull as the rest of him succumbed to a sensation beyond pleasure, a kind of twisted relief that he'd macheted all his moorings, that whatever happened now would happen because he'd said 'Fuck It' to everything that had rendered him, for more years than he could count, a soul-dead, heart-numbed misfit staggering from pill to pill just to get through the dull risk of his own existence."
— Jerry Stahl (Plainclothes Naked Copyright © 2001)

More Noir scenarios and femme-fatales:
Virginia Madsen as Dolly Harshaw in The Hot Spot (1990)

Gloria Grahame (archetypal femme-fatale)

Gloria Grahame and Sterling Hayden in "Naked Alibi" (1954)
Gloria Grahame and Glenn Ford in "The Big Heat" (1953)
Gloria Grahame and Humphrey Bogart in "In a Lonely Place" (1950)
Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame in "Human Desire" (1954)

"I used Gloria Grahame and Glenn Ford again, with Broderick Crawford, in Human Desire, but the picture was turned on its head. The Renoir film is about the psychopath, a sex killer. This is about a woman who cheats, for no good reason, really. The script was nowhere near the caliber of Clash By Night and very far from the Zola novel about the human beast. Alfred Hayes, the writer, and I wanted to go back to that concept in Zola, but the producer resisted. He wanted the woman to be a slut, a beast. To my surprise, after we changed Zola, we still got good notices in Paris. All Jerry Wald [the producer] cared about was the trains. He thought the train going through the tunnel in the Renoir was such a wonderful symbol of sex. I tried to do something different, with the tracks and the boxcars, to give the sense of fate, being hemmed in by massive objects. And we used low-key light in the studio interiors to make the surroundings seem shabby and dreary". -Fritz Lang about the shooting of "Human Desire"

Marie Windsor and Sterling Hayden in The Killing (1956)Rita Hayworth as Elsa Bannister in "The Lady from Shanghai" (1947)Joan Bennett in The Woman in the Window (1944)
Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall as Phillip Marlowe and Vivian Rutledge in The Big Sleep (1946)

2 comments :

Erin (penny. LA) said...

I always find out about amazing movies through you!

(By the way - just purchased The Good Girl.)

Kendra said...

thanks, Erin, I use to revisit old noir films because it's one of my favorite genres. The Big Sleep is pure Howard Hawks (although Chandler's novel is better), all these titles are superb, but I have a special nostalgia for "In a lonely place" (I think, third to Lauren Bacall and Ingrid Bergman, Gloria Grahame had the best chemistry with Bogart). And you'll like "The Good Girl" (the best dramatic role by Jen Aniston) but it's so depressing!