Thursday, July 12, 2012

Neo noir: The aesthetics of manliness

Some visuals from Black Eye. First let's start with sex shall we.

As the Serpentine One would say if she were here, "That's quite the shirt she is not wearing. The camera works those breasts for all they are worth (and they are really nice breasts) while never quite giving a shot of her nipples. And they must have fallen out several times during the scene. You get the sense that the makers were packing as much sex as they could into the film but were told to do so in a way that wouldn't preclude going straight to television.

Our hero's love interest Cynthia. Cynthia's lesbian lover on the other point of the triangle calls her "Sin-Sin". The movie is simply drenched with sex but never uses it to any end. And it's the sort of PG-13 movie that parents just hate. Seeing a woman's nipples would cause you to worry far less about your child than the nine million questions you'd have to answer along the lines of, "Mommy why did they ...?"

By the way, the movie ends ambiguously with a suggestion that Cynthia is sin, sin, sinning again. Another moment that could have been great if anyone had bothered tie it into a larger theme.

One of the ways that neo noir evokes nostalgia for a lost era of manliness is the shot of a classic man's bar. This one is where our hero keeps his office. Love it.

Another way is to evoke nostalgia the hero's car. This is a manly car but it's old and it and it's type are about to disappear. Literally, the classic Mustang was discontinued the year this movie came out to be replaced by a piece of crap Ford should have been embarrassed to put their name on. Notice by the way that every car in that shot is a manly icon: classic Mustang, classic Beetle, classic Land Rover. Wow. Now hold that thought and look at this:

Every single car in that shot is a thing of beauty. That's just amazing. And we lost all of that. Okay, let's carry on, our hero crosses the street as the light changes and then this unfortunately blurry shot:

E-type Jaguar, ooh baby ooh! (By the way, the radio station advertised on the bus is a an iconic one in the history of AM radio.)

Final shot is on religion. This is supposed to be a Protestant cult:

Really, just try taking a crucifix with a figure of Jesus on it into a Protestant gathering and see what sort of reception you get. There is also a statue of Christ displaying his Sacred Heart! These are both hard-core Catholic items that would never see the inside of a gathering of the type we are supposed to be presented with in a thousand years. The sheer laziness and carelessness in this scene is appalling.

And that is the problem wit the whole movie. It could have been a  contender but no one cared enough to even try.

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