Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sunshine Noir


In an effort to shake things up a bit, I'm trying something new here.  With some help from my flatmate Clyde, I've finally started to learn some Final Cut basics and I've used those new found "skills," to construct a video essay of sorts.


Sunshine noir.  Swelter noir.  Yuppie noir.  Boomer noir.  For a few years, I've been thinking about some of the characteristics shared by several of my favorite neo-noirs of the early to mid-'80s and tried to attach a suitable moniker to this grouping.  I thought about writing an essay or article, but after a couple false starts, I realized constructing a short clip reel or video essay could be more effective and more fun.  The Cinefamily put together a series a couple years back calling some of these films, in addition to a few others, "Neon Noir."  For the record, I had already been thinking of my own "Sunshine Noir" series / article independent of the Cinefamily thing.


There is some crossover in these two strands, of course, but I think of these five films as being distinct from the Neon Noir sub-genre, which, incidentally, encompasses just about all of the cinematic antecedents to Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive.  Cinefamily's series came about a year before Drive and from what I understand, unfortunately, was not very well-attended.  Perhaps if it had coincided with the opening of Drive, it may have fared better.


Since I promised this wouldn't be a written essay, let's just go to the videotape and hope that it explicates things as effectively, or more so, than a written essay would.  Music is by Tangerine Dream, by the way.  "Love on a Real Train (Movie Version)" from Risky Business and "Igneous" from Thief.





9 comments:

Her, Suzanne76 said...

TOTALLY STELLAR VID DUDE!

Ned Merrill said...

Ha, thanks!

Terry McCarty said...

Though it's not well known today, 1978's THE BIG FIX is a sort-of-predecessor to these films. And Robert Towne's flawed 1988 TEQUILA SUNRISE counts as the coda.

Ned Merrill said...

Thanks for checking it out and commenting, Terry!

Can't say I'm a huge fan of THE BIG FIX, but I can see some parallels in that the protagonist is a '60s casualty in the same way most of the protags in the above films also are and is set all over the greater LA area. That said, its focus is more on political corruption and concerns of the '60s spilling over into the '70s, whereas the "Sunshine" titles tend to be have more individualized concerns--drug deals gone bad, missing heiresses, love triangles, etc. CUTTER'S WAY is definitely something of an outlier in this regard, but it's Santa Barbara locale and clash between average folks and an extremely wealthy, powerful villain made it fit in my eyes.

Love Towne's PERSONAL BEST, but I never saw TEQUILA SUNRISE all the way through. Wanted to see it when it came out back in '88...I guess I should finally correct that. As it turns out the films I focused on didn't have cop protagonists nor straight-up criminals, which I think is an important distinction. But the Towne film is certainly in the neighborhood of, if not Sunshine Noir, then Neon Noir.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I enjoyed that. How about some shots from 'Manhunter' by Michael Mann or 'Body Double' by DePalma?
BTW, 'Love on a Real Train' was a perfect choice to soundtrack this. Good stuff!

P

Ned Merrill said...

Thanks, P. Those could easily fit in there...I guess with these 5 films I had something pretty specific in mind. As you'll notice, the "Neon Noir" series / video, which I've linked to, includes MANHUNTER and BODY DOUBLE, 2 of my personal favorites.

Ned Merrill said...

Oh, and glad you dug the choice of "Love on a Real Train"...I could listen to that over and over again.

bill teck said...

Great stuff man, beautifully cut.

Ned Merrill said...

Thanks, Bill! Very kind of you to say.