Sunday, February 1, 2009
Reflections en noir
Maybe it's that I've been corresponding with an writer of "noir" crime novels or maybe it's thinking of the view from my friend David's workshop window on Sunset. The kind of window that Phillip Marlowe wood peer out of, cigarette smoke between he and the views. If there was color it was undersaturated. Muted and moody. What Marlowe would see was a hell of a lot different than what David sees.
Los Angeles is as much a character in hardboiled fiction as the bad guys... and Marlowe.
But then there is that French Twist on noir. Alphaville. Eddie Constantine spewing grim gibberish or, more aptly Euro-Existentialism.
From the back of a cab...
Driver: Which way? Through the North Zone, or the South?
Johnson: What’s the difference?
Driver: There’s snow in the North...
...and sun in the South
Johnson: Anyway, it’s my Journey to the End of the Night
It was my first night in Alphaville...
...but it seemed to me that centuries had passed
Earlier, Johnson (Eddie Constantine) asks if Dick Tracy is dead. What about Guy LeClair?
Guy LeClair is Flash Gordon in France. And Alphaville, directed by Jean Luc-Godard is both a film of its time and a work of art for the ages. In what other work of art does an intergallactic private eye quote Franz Fanon? If you said The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, you'd be close. Actually, Nick Belaine, in Bukowski's classic "Pulp" is on the trail of Céline-- closer, and replete with the level, if not the style, of humor in Alphaville. The humor in Alphaville is multilayered-- at once both slapstick absurd and dark, dark, dark. I suppose before I wax on further, I should see it again. A few years ago, I rented Putney Swope. I hadn't seen it since it first came out. It doesn't hold up, but perhaps now that we have an African-American president, it may resonate a bit more.
But I digress...