Weekly Recommendation: Neo Noir

The evolution of the Noir was the Neo-Noir, they’re just like the Noirs of old but updated to a more modern setting. Everything is modernized, the themes, the characters, the setting, the visuals, etc. The obvious example is Blade Runner (1982), which is a fantastic film, but I tried to go for less obvious films. 

Here’s three neo-noir films:

  1. Le Samouraï (1967)

No other director makes films like Jean- Pierre Melville. His films are so cool, and I genuinely mean that, his films are awesome. They’re so swift and smooth, so calculated and meticulous; and Le Samouraï is no exception. The film is about a ronin samurai-like contract killer, Jef Costello (Alain Delon). After flawlessly completing a contract, Jef finds himself caught between a persistence police investigator and a ruthless employer. 

I have a theory, and it’s that the French make the best films, and Melville’s work is a testament to that. So many gangster and crime films wouldn’t exist without the foundation that he laid. 

The film is available to watch on HBO Max and Criterion Channel. It’s also available to rent on Amazon.

2. The Conversation (1974)

Francis Ford Coppola, director of The Godfather Trilogy, made this film, which is about surveillance expert Henry Caul (Gene Hackman) who is hired by a client to tail a young couple. As Caul tracks them down, he’s tormented by the haunting memories of a precious case gone wrong. Caul soon becomes obsessed with the current case, trying to figure out if the couple is in danger or not. 

Coppola was at the top of his game in the 1970s’. The Godfather was a hit, both critically and financially. 1974 was probably his best year, as he went up against himself in the ‘Best Director’ category at the 47thAcademy Awards. The Godfather Part II and The Conversation were in the running. Coppola won for Godfather Part II, but an achievement like that is basically unheard of. 

The film is a political-noir thriller and a perfect one at that. Like I said, the is peak Coppola, and he is killing it. Hackman’s performance is one of the best male leads ever. 

The film is available to watch on HBO Max and to rent on Amazon.

3. Blow Out (1981)

Blow Out is a political-noir thriller, in the vain of The Conversation, directed by Brian De Palma. The film is about movie sound technician Jack Terry (John Travolta) who, while recording sound for a film, accidentally captures audio evidence of an assassination involving a presidential hopeful. 

Travolta is truly great as Jack Terry. This role outweighs his other more famous works, like Pulp Fiction and Grease. De Palma’s direction, which is greatly inspired by Hitchcock and Giallo films (which he openly admits) is stellar. De Palma’s eye for striking visuals is unmatched. 

Unfortunately, I cannot find anywhere to rent or watch the film on any streaming service.

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