Friday, February 22, 2013

Blog Post #2-Film Noir

    In the beginning of the documentary, director Errol Morris said "For me the great noir films, are films about fall guys. A person who finds himself caught in a net; the more he struggles, the deeper and deeper he becomes entwined in nightmare." and that often when bad things happen to the protagonist, it's "for no reason at all". In "The Postman Always Rings Twice", by coincidence, Frank happens to stop at Nick and Cora's restaurant, ends up working there and falling in love with Cora. Frank was caught between having an affair with Cora and lying to Nick. Frank tries to escape his situation by eloping with Cora, but was inevitably pulled back into the diner. The more Cora wanted to own the diner, the more Frank was tied to the place, which led to plotting the murder of Nick so both Frank and Cora can be free. Instead, Frank and Cora was caught in a feud to fight each other for freedom under the manipulation of their lawyers. The film ended with Cora dying in a car accident and Frank was executed to death.
   The description of a femme fatale that best fits Cora from "Postman Always Rings Twice" is that she's ambitious, indepedent, and sexual. She uses her sexuality not to get the man, but to use the man to get something for herself. Cora's ambition was clearly shown in the film, she mentioned more than once how she wanted to take over the diner herself and be somebody through hard work. She definitely was very diligent, eager to prove to herself and others that she's capable of achieving her goals. She married Nick to settle down, but she's willing to operate the diner with or without him. As it becomes apparent that Nick is standing in the way of her dream, she desperately wanted to get rid of him. Whether she really loved Frank or not, it is definite that she used her sexuality to get Frank as her accomplice in the murder. Multiple times she tried to convince Frank by saying "Don't you love me?" or "If you loved me you'll do it", almost as a form of threat.

    As a film noir, "The Postman Always Rings Twice" uses light/dark contrast, and camera angles to depict the elements that constitute a film noir: deep, obscure story lines that don't necessarily have a good or bad, but rather reflects a dark side of people. For example, the scene when Cora and Frank first met. Frank picks up Cora's lipstick but instead of handing it to her, he kept it in his hand and lures her to him. At this point there was a close up scene on Cora's face, where her face was shone under bright light but the rest of her head/body was in the shadows. The contrast in this scene suggests Cora seem to be a beautiful young woman, but there are parts of her that are actually sinister than one might think. Unfortunately since all the light is focused on her face, one may be distracted by her beauty and ignores the danger of being with her.

    As for camera angles, it's common for film noirs to use deep focus and wide angle lenses to broaden the scene, giving the audience a sense of a big environment. Also having one character close and facing the camera, while having another character further away from the camera and talking to the back of the first person gives an effect of depth. In the scene where Cora told Frank to paint the chairs, Frank was in the foreground preparing the paint while talking to Cora, who was behind him. This allows two characters to have an effective conversation while seeing both of their facial expressions. Also having the characters not look directly at each other gives the scene a more dramatic feel.

    Compared to film noirs, neo-noirs is an upgraded version, at least graphics-wise. As technology advances, colored films are able to be made so the story seem more realistic and less mysterious. In "Blade Runner" one of the most obvious film noir style it has is the darkness feel overall. It was rainy and smoky throughout most of the film, and none of the characters had a jolly personality. Story-wise, "Blade Runner" was about hunting down human-killing robots, which is quite sinister in itself. The brutal Replicants, especially Roy, who shows absolutely no mercy to human beings, adds to the uneasiness of the film. As for its mise en scene, Deckard's apartment is a good example. Most of the time, the only source of light in his apartment is sunlight, more specifically sunset, when the sunlight is the darkest. Otherwise his apartment is nearly completely dark. Even the sound effects adds to the dark feel. At the end part when Roy is chasing Deckard, not only does it take place at night in an unlit building, Roy howls like a wolf, putting more emphasis on the darkness of the scene.

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