The term classic, by definition, implies its longevity and its everlasting mark on culture and society. I agree with this statement, and I thoroughly enjoy a good Austen novel or Hitchcock film. But after watching the handful of assigned, classic movies thus far, I can’t help but strongly feel the generation gap. For example, I really liked D.O.A. , and even as a contemporary viewer with a generation Y-er lack of patience, the movie kept my attention. But there were certain parts where I found myself laughing at the dramatic shots, or the way Paula, Frank’s girlfriend, says “I’m gonna get a permanent to make myself all pretty for you.” Or, my favorite line of the movie, “If I wear a man, I’d punch your dirty face in,” spoken by Marla Rakubian, the infamous “femme fatale.” (It’s funny how she can be one of the movies villains but can’t punch a man). Yes, after reading Schrader on Film Noir I have a deeper understanding of the style-genre-time period (whatever it may be) and the themes- crime, psychosis, murder, backstabbing, etc. of Film Noir transcend time, but I must admit there is an aspect of movies made over 50 years ago that is unreachable to the modern audience.
I was doing some research on Film Noir online, as I was curious to see what films today can be classified as such, and I came upon a critic that was bold enough as to characterize one of my favorite movies, Memento, as a current Film Noir. For those that don’t know, Memento, directed by Christopher Nolan, is a modern masterpiece about a man with a memory disorder that is on a quest to find his wife’s killer. The genius of the movie lies not in its plot but in its composition- the scenes work backwards, playing on the audiences’ memories. A second or third viewing of the film is not even sufficient to fully grasp its hints and clues splattered throughout. I would give a spoiler to the film but its too good of a movie to ruin : ) So here’s the trailer for those not familiar.
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Even from the trailer, you can see there are aspects of the film that are synonymous with Schrader’s definitions of Noir- the dark scene in the beginning, feelings of psychosis (not knowing where he is, his memory loss), even the running around, trying to find the killer, is very similar to the action in D.O.A. I think classifying Memento as a modern-day Film Noir is a pretty accurate description, and perhaps one that today’s audiences can relate to more easily.
*I really do love old movies! I was just observing that there are really differences in movies made for a contemporary audience. Just putting that out there.