The article is about Noir Films that you must watch! now, it’s not a very straightforward genre and many might question what constitutes Film Noir. Personally, I’m a huge fan of Noir and I would simplify it as dark movies with a lot of grey characters, usually involving a conspiracy where Femme Fatales join the equation with amazing antagonists [who may or may not have organisational backing ].
These latter characters could even be even considered as protagonists by some viewers. That’s typical of Noir. It’s a whole lot like real life, more Fuzzy Logic compared to Boolean logic. Enough with the foreplay let’s get straight to the action now
“Film noir (French: “dark film”): style of filmmaking characterized by such elements as cynical heroes, stark lighting effects, frequent use of flashbacks, intricate plots, and underlying existentialist philosophy. The genre was prevalent mostly in American crime dramas of the post-World War II era.”
If not hinted already, I must again warn you... All movies are 18+ and intended for mature audiences.
Noir Films that you must watch!
1) Chinatown (1974)
Straight out baller huh! Probably included in almost every list containing neo-noir films. Directed by Roman Polanski starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunway, Chinatown is a masterpiece and tops my list. This 1974 American neo-noir mystery film won Best Screenplay Oscar for Robert Towne in the 47th Oscar awards.
Plot: A private detective hired to expose an adulterer finds himself caught up in a web of deceit, corruption, and murder.
2) Inherent Vice (2014)
It’s not that Joaquin Phoenix hasn’t starred in amazing films before Joker. It’s just mainstream guys identified him now. He has acted/lived out in gems like Her, The Master (for which I believe he should have won an Oscar), and the film in discussion Inherent Vice.
More than Joaquin Phoenix’s acting bravado, I think the filmmaking is top-notch (nothing less expected from PTA (Paul Thomas Anderson) ) and keeps the whole noir elements intact with this neo-noir crime film.
Plot: In the 1970s drug-fueled Los Angeles, private investigator Larry “Doc” Sportello investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend.
3) LA Confidential (1997)
I honestly doubt if Neo-Noir can get better than this. Rollo Tomassi became a household name after this movie. It has all the elements of Noir. One of the best movies of the year.
L.A. Confidential is a 1997 American neo-noir crime film directed, produced and co-written by Curtis Hanson.
The film tells the story of a group of LAPD officers in 1953, and the intersection of police corruption and Hollywood celebrity. The title refers to the 1950s scandal magazine Confidential, portrayed in the film as Hush-Hush.
Plot: As corruption grows rampant in 1950s Los Angeles, three policemen – one strait-laced, one brutal, and one sleazy – investigate a series of murders with their own brand of justice.
At the time, actors Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe were relatively unknown in North America. One of the film’s backers, Peter Dennett, worried about the lack of established stars in the lead roles. However, he supported Hanson’s casting decisions, and the director had the confidence also to recruit Kevin Spacey, Kim Basinger and Danny DeVito.
4) The Departed (2006)
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. [The movie has quite a few of f words blown out of proportions – 237 times to be precise. If you’re offended already, f-off or check the next one in the list]. One of the best American movies of the 2000s.
Martin Scorcese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg all collaborated to make this thunder bastard of a movie which also bagged 4 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing.
Crime, seduction, a lot of grey characters, twists and turns at every corner, rats, yes RATS! all make this movie a compelling watch. Do miss it at your own peril. Sublime performances from the main characters as well.
5) Lolita (1962)
Probably not conventionally noir but thought you guys should see this. [Mah Lyf Ma Rules].
Lolita (1962) is a timeless film with timeless characters, directed by a maverick, Stanley Kubrick shot in Black and White and often described as a Comedy-Drama film is much more than that. I assure you. There is no certain hero/heroine in the film, all are very grey characters trying to fulfil their needs and deeds. Add in a very young, under-age Nymphet who is the titular character.
If you can take in lessons, from the mistakes and endeavours of others, then you can learn a lot from the characters of this movie. And Filmmaking wise, you can learn a lot from Kubrick. Even though the movie was set in 1950s, I never felt the gap of time in the characters. The main characters Humbert “Hum” Humbert, Charlotte Haze-Humbert, Dolores “Lolita” Haze, Clare Quilty are extremely well written and performed really well by the actors.
6) Nocturnal Animals (2016)
I have a lot of appreciation for this movie. The director of the movie, a true polymath, Tom Ford, known more popularly as a fashion designer. You can see the Designer behind the work in the stunning visuals, cinematography and mood of the film set by the colour tones. It’s dark, red and visually very aesthetic.
I really stand and applaud movies which make sense in multiple dimensions. For example on an unrelated note, think of movies like Parasite, The Platform, Mulholland Drive which have meanings beyond the superficial-straight in your face plot. This movie is one of them. There is more than one plot running in the movie, but are these plots related? Do they convey something? Watch this Brilliant Flick to find out.
7) The Nice Guys (2016)
The lame title of the movie is totally misleading and put me off from watching this magnifico until 2018 or 2019. I swear I would have watched it soon if it had a sexy and dark title like Inherent Vice.
The Nice Guys is an amazing neo-noir film that represents the beautiful vibe of 1970s Los Angeles really well with an undertone of humour.
Plot: Set against the backdrop of 1977 Los Angeles, The Nice Guys opens when single father and licensed Private Investigator Holland March (Gosling) is hired to investigate the apparent suicide of famous porn star Misty Mountains. Private eye Jackson Healey (Russell Crowe) also joins the party.
As we round up our list of Noir Films that you must watch, I couldn’t help but add a bonus feature.
Boogie Nights is a 1997 American period drama film written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.
[Sorry, I’m a huge PTA fan, bear with me, I promise it ends here for now…. in this article].
It is set in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley and focuses on a young nightclub dishwasher who becomes a popular star of pornographic films – chronicling his rise in the Golden Age of Porn of the 1970s through to his fall during the excesses of the 1980s. The film is an expansion of Anderson’s mockumentary short film The Dirk Diggler Story (1988) and stars Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds, Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Heather Graham. A star-studded cast since forever.
Boogie Nights was supposed to star Leonardo DiCaprio who rejected the role to star in Titanic but recommended Mark Wahlberg whose career turned around with this movie. Joaquin Phoenix was also approached to act as the main lead but turned the role down due to concerns about playing a porn star.