Saturday, November 30, 2019

30 Days Has Noirvember: Brian Lindenmuth

Anyone who knows me knows that I have an expansive definition of what is noir. Here's five I would argue are noir, noir adjacent, or have noir tendencies. - Brian Lindenmuth

Blue Collar -  Paul Schrader - Given its pedigree, Blue Collar still tends to be a forgotten flick. Those that know me, are by used to my constant referencing to it. Blue Collar doesn't start off as a noir, but it becomes one. When the trio of auto workers decide to climb out of their socio-economic stations by pulling off a robbery, they aren't ready for the hell that comes their way. Made all the more memorable because the job that they pull was never a huge score, just one that was going to, maybe, keep their heads just a little above water just for a bit.

Boyz N the Hood - John Singleton - Boyz in the Hood has some noir tendencies. Partly because a chance encounter leads to a main character demise. Yet again we see larger systemic forces work to crush anyone with notions of rising above those systems.

Night of the Living Dead - George A. Romero - It's a bit of an outlier for this subject. But again, if you look at noirs as explorations of larger forces against the individual, Night of the Living Dead fits in its own way, simply because of the ending. It's not that, with the protagonist's death, the movie ends on a dark note, and is therefore noir. It's math isn't that elementary. It's the protagonist's death at the hands of a white mob, after surviving the previous night, and the time period the movie out. It may have been an unintended statement, but it became a powerful one nonetheless.

To Live and Die in L.A. - William Friedkin - For me, To Live and Die in  L.A. is the most classically noir film on this list. The protagonist makes a seemingly righteous chouce to step off the path, and take matrers into his own hands. Initially, the notion of getting revenge for the fallen partner is one that the audience gets behind. But that deviation from the norm, incrementally and increasingly becomes far more than originally expected. By the time the audience realizes how far doen the dark path they are, they're already strapped in for the rest of the ride.
Up Tight! - Jules Dassin - I only just watched this for the first time this year and I'm sorry it took me so long to watch it. It's simply a stunning movie. I include it here because of the character Tank. Again, he makes a choice that he is unable, or unwilling, to see the consequences of. And those consequences are dire.

Brian Lindenmuth is a Bronzeville Books acquisitions team member and has been writing about crime fiction since 2006. He started off as the mystery/crime fiction editor for Mystery Book Spot and was the longtime non-fiction editor of Spinetingler Magazine. Additionally, his work has appeared in Crimespree Magazine, The Bronzeville Bee, Heliotrope Magazine, BSC Review, Mulholland Books website, and Galley Cat. He was the head of the reading committee for the annual Spinetingler Awards. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLindenmuth.

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