As most of you know, I've been a fan of Film Noir for going on 30 years now. I've poured over most of the classics and still derive great pleasure from watching some poor schmuck make the slightest error in judgment and then find himself unable to extricate himself from the inevitable results (Kadas comes to mind for some reason here). The best of the classic cycle found the central character dead, doomed or dying (the three “D”s as I like to call them), but it was actually a fairly rare occurrence in most '40s and '50s Noirs for the protagonist to pay the ultimate price. There were exceptions of course (Ace in the Hole, Double Indemnity, Pushover and few others) and it was these early films in the Noir canon that hooked me. The later French Noirs of Jean-Pierre Melville (and others) pushed the genre into bleaker territory and still stand as amongst the most accomplished and satisfying films I've seen.
In subsequent years, films with noirish plot lines have cycled in and out of popular film making and have been given the “Neo” moniker to delineate them from the earlier classic period. There have been a few standouts, but for the most part they've paled in comparison to the originals. Even though the origins of Film Noir stem from a uniquely American perspective, Hollywood hasn't been able to expand on the genre in recent decades. Perhaps this stems from the fact that present day America rarely examines its failings and instead concentrates on endlessly trumped up flag waving and goofball escapist entertainment. It has morphed into a country that abhors doubt and sees any criticism as undermining the American way of life, regardless of its intent. The classic Noir period found American film makers exploring the inherent human weaknesses in all of us and the ramifications, both social and personal, that those weaknesses provoked. It was Freudian introspection on a pop culture level, something that's almost impossible to imagine today. Interestingly, the purveyors and champions of the early Film Noir period were predominantly European directors transplanted by world conflict to Hollywood and perhaps it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the best examples of Neo-Noirs continue to come from Europe.
All this is a precursor to provide some framework for a particularly effective 2007 Danish film I watched tonight called Just Another Love Story (Kærlighed på film). I'd never heard of it until Joe mentioned it earlier today and while I'm not sure if it's a great film, it's certainly a very good one. As I watched, I found myself thinking about Godard's famous adage “All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun” and how that idea was melded with some very slick technical prowess to come up with a wonderfully engaging Neo-Noir that felt both contemporary and traditional. The story is wonderfully twisted with a solid mystery at its core, but what makes it particularly effective is the terrific cast and a shifting time-line that opens with a dying man lying on wet sidewalk with blood draining away from some mortal wound in the rain (thoughts of Kadas again). The “look” of the film ranges from creepy Lynchian to stylized Asian crime drama, but at its heart this is about as Noir as Neo gets and a terrific updating of oft-reworked but rarely-improved-upon genre.
A must see for Kris & Joe and recommended to anyone looking for a solid thriller with some style.