Mother! A Point Of View

*There will be spoilers, stop at the red message if you don’t want to know more*

Last night, hubby and I went to see Darren Aronofsky’s latest film, Mother! I had ‘ummed’ and ‘aahd’ about going to see if for a while, based on feedback from people I know and their usual tastes in films, I was not convinced. The I read a review by WordPress blogger, Misfit Vinagaroon and that made my mind up.

I had not read any reviews of the film, I had seen a single, brief trailer and was led to believe that it is a ‘psychological horror’.

Briefly, and basically, Mother! Is about a husband and wife who live in a beautiful yet isolated house. Their existence is, if not happy, then it has equilibrium. This is upset with the arrival of a stranger then his wife, and from this point on the couple have their lives turned upside down by a succession of ‘visitors’. Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence give wonderful performances; as do Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer.

motherposters
Mother! Movie Poster

*****SPOILERS*****

So, what’s my take on this movie? Did I enjoy it? Would I recommend it?

*****SPOILERS*****

 

So what is it all about? (in my opinion). Stop reading now if you don’t want your point of view ruined…

*****SPOILERS FINAL ALERT*****

 

If you are a creative type, and know your Biblical references, you will get this film pretty quickly.

The film is from the perspective of “The Woman”, Lawrence, who is in the process of repairing their home, decorating, plastering, painting; everything.

Bardem and Lawrence remain without names throughout the film – as does everyone. Lawrence’s character is easier to fathom – she represents Mother Earth, nature, Gaia if you like; she is part of the house, she listens to the house; she even feels it’s pain. Bardem, “The Man” I think, represents creativity, he is a poet yet is having writers block at the time we first meet them. Bardem could also be all that mankind represents materially – or he could be an aspect of God – I said he was more complicated!

The opening scene is the placing of a glass-like, rock onto a stand and a destroyed house ‘repairing’, a woman wakes up in bed and calls for her husband.

The man and woman who arrive (Harris and Pfeiffer) are “Adam and Eve”; he is ill, perhaps dying, and the house begins to display signs of this illness; as felt by Lawrence’s character. Eve brings disharmony, chaos, irritation. When the sons arrived on the scene, this was when it clicked with me – “Cain and Abel” – Cain slays his brother in a fight in the living room; with “The Woman” watching on in helpless horror – what are they doing to her home? The World????

mother!2
Harris and Pfeiffer

“The Man” invited them into their home, he invited them to stay; he even allows them to bring others when they have a funeral for their dead son.

As the film progresses we see how impotent “The Woman” is, she can only look on and plead and beg for people to stop intruding on her private space. “The Man” will not turn anyone away, despite the friction and the damage caused between himself and his wife, and their property – he keeps saying, “But where else will they go?”of “They have nowhere to go.”

Then despite all expectation, “The Woman” falls pregnant, ( I was not and still am not sure about this part of their relationship, why couldn’t “The Man” have sex with his wife previously?) And suddenly, “The Man” can write again, joy for both of them; he writes the most beautiful poem that makes her cry. His publisher turns up, fans of his writing turn up – and never leave!

Throughout “The Woman’s” pregnancy, the film appears to race through time. The house becomes crowded with people coming to see the poet and adore him and his work. We see people taking advantage of “The Woman’s” home (and you do feel it is her home – even though she is repairing it for her husband), they enter her bedroom, they eat their food, they steal things and break things.

There are groups of people putting up pictures of the poet in his honour, there are people chanting in another room, there are religious cults popping up all over the house.

It rushes through some awful scenes of protesters and police, it becomes a war-zone, people are herded behind barbed wire; incarcerated, executed. “The Woman”, by this point very heavily pregnant, seeks to leave her home with a little bag packed. She gets caught up in the ‘affairs of man’; we see a team of men digging away in her kitchen with pickaxes and shovels. And at each change, she feels the heart of the house shrivel, harden; die a little. Her birth pains start and at each wrack of agony, all about her shakes and blurs – (earthquakes)

“The Man” finally comes to her aid, ushering into a room where she gives birth to – you guessed it, a baby boy. For days she is trapped with him; she wants to leave, he wants to hold the baby; she won’t let him, and here we what I felt was the crux of the matter. He goes to take his child and when she refuses he says, “I am the Father.” and she retorts, “And I am the Mother!” (Hence the exclamation mark in the title.)

Finally, exhausted, she sleeps, then awakens to discover baby boy gone, door open, and “The Man” presenting his son to the people. The crowd are ecstatic, Mother is terrified and chases her baby through the tight crows as we see his little form passed overhead throughout the house – until the inevitable happens. Baby boy dead, Mother inconsolable, a new religion emerges – Christianity – and everyone eats little bits of the dead child.

“The Woman”, after being beaten and abused escapes and makes her way to the basement, opens the fuel tank of the burner and sets fire to it all. “The World”, “The Woman”, “The Man” and “Mankind” go up in smoke.

But then there is a twist.

The next scene has “The Man”; unharmed, carrying the burnt, barely alive “Woman”, he asks for her help,he wants one more chance, he thinks he can make it right this time, but she has nothing to offer him – but her ‘heart’, which he removes from her body in the form of a crystal we saw placed on a stand in the beginning – and the destroyed house ‘repairing’. A woman awakes in bed and calls for her husband…The End.

I really enjoyed this film, I love the symbolism, and if you go to see it expecting a horror film, then you will be disappointed. I have never before watched something where everyone, literally every cast member is a symbol for someone or something else. Mother is an allegorical piece, much like religious paintings from the Middle Ages I feel.

I would recommend it to people who enjoy heavy symbolism in their movies. To people who like to think about what they watched, rather than be spoon-fed. Creatives will recognise themselves – I did; the selfish, self-obsessive nature of creativity. I could actually go on for ever about what Aronofsky did or did not mean when making this film, what message is he trying to convey? I think we need to take care of the world, it’s our only home (for now), is one message for sure.

The camera work can be a bit dizzying, lots of tight close-ups, hand held and following Lawrence around made me feel motion sick at the beginning, so if you like your multi-cam, tripod mounted mid shots, this might be awkward for you visually.

But yes, go and see it, I’d love to know what others thought, and whether my take on it makes any sense to other viewers.

Thank you for reading.

Advertisements

Skyrim – When Will It Ever End!?

dragonborn Solitude_Marsh
The beautifully realised Solitude, Skyrim

I bought Skyrim for my daughter (Yeah, sure I did) some six years ago, and I have been playing it ever since.

For those who do not know, Skyrim is a fantasy video role-playing game. It’s correct and full title is, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It is an open world action role-playing video game by Bethesda Game Studios.

I am onto my fourth or fifth incarnation; the others got lost in PS3 game wipes, or I got bored and started a new character following a different allegiance.

When the first Skyrim games came out, game-players of all stripe were excited – video-gamers, LARPs and Dungeon and Dragons fans, flocked to play this well-rendered, highly populated, multi-themed addition to the Fantasy genre – who didn’t want to be that hero with the horn-ed helmet we saw as a cut-out stand throughout stores?!

Dragonborn1
Who could forget this guy? Dragonborn

There is just so much to do and it keeps on coming (though some might argue it’s the same fight in a different guise).

The main quest is the resolution of the so-called Dragon Crisis – you do this, you become the Dragon Borne – cue expansive, emotional music. Then there are the the secondary quests: that’s all the ‘factions’; Thieves Guild, Companions Guild, Mages Guild etc, etc. Added to each guild are side quests. Add to this a civil war, which prompts you to choose sides, and all the side quests that go along with that. Then there’s the ‘gods’, dungeons, city stories, and bounty hunts.

Do I cheat? Of course I do! What’s a laptop for?

Currently I am playing a Level 62 Wood Elf (oh, did I not mention the races? Human, Elf, Argonian, Khajit, I’m not explaining them all), called Gylia Whitethorn. And this is one of the things I like about the game, you get to choose your race, your gender, your looks, your name; women enjoy playing sword and sorcery genres as much as males – and you don’t get the sexism like in Grand Theft Auto (that is such a male cisgender, ‘duh’ scenario). Gylia Whitethorn is, I suppose, what D&D players would recognise as a Rogue. She is an excellent Archer (100), Thief (100) and almost perfect Enchanter. What more could a girl want?!

I have completed the main quest, I am leader of ALL the guilds, I have been a were-bear and a vampire, I have lost, slain or accidentally had killed dozens of companions. I married and adopted 2 children, built my own houses and have collected enough gold and gems to choke even Smaug.

dragonborn Hearthfirecustomhome
Lakeview Manor – my first home don’t y’know

So why am I still playing it? When will it end?

Well simply put, the game NEVER ends; it keeps spawning dungeons, monsters, minor quests. I was expecting (five years ago) that there would be an ‘Hallelujah’ moment. I would be crowned Queen of Skyrim and all would come and bow before me -nah – members of the guilds are just as snotty towards me as ever before, and that is an irritating point, the ‘little people’ all have set dialogue, so even when you’re the head honcho of The Companions in Whiterun, no-one actually gives a toss, you still get sent on crappy little missions (should you choose them).

So why am I still playing?!

I honestly don’t know – sometimes I have played as a relief from a crappy day at work, “Eat my ebony arrow, Management.” In the beginning it was obviously to complete quests and gain treasure. But now I have so many magic staffs that I don’t know what to do with them all, honestly it’s ridiculous. I like the world the game is set in, I like to wander sometimes and just look about, until some wretched Ash Spawn attacks, and then, yawn, I take it out. However, when I look at images of Skyrim on the internet, there are many places I do not recognise or creatures I have not encountered, so what have I been doing all these years?

There have been long gaps between gameplay, over the years those gaps have grown, sometimes it is a couple of months I don’t play it.

Maybe the gaps will get longer until I just stop playing altogether, I can’t see me stopping altogether any time soon.

Maybe I will be an eighty year old granny, sitting in my fluffy slippers and dressing-gown, yelling at the screen through my false teeth as I take down another Draugh with a balletic swipe of my Daedric Blade. They will have to peel the controls from my cold, dead hands…

                                             “By Ysmir, you won’t leave here alive!”

dragonborn2
Skyrim, Slippers and Scones…

Short Story – Wedding Day

Each year Wirral Writers holds an in-house competition. A theme is selected from ‘the hat’, we have up to 500 words and about two months before presenting to the group. Voting is anonymous. This year the theme was key/keys or quay if you wished. I generally write sci-fi or horror based pieces, this time I decided to write something positive and bearing in mind the wars going on currently –  a resolution…it was also influenced by Irish folk melody ‘She Moved Through The Fair’.

I didn’t win. I came joint third. This is my piece. (488 words)

Wedding Day or The Key

Our country is wracked by civil war. Suspicion and hatred spread like infection. We are tired; our people are tired, our land is tired. Love blooms rarely, so when it does, we hold fast. She said to me,

‘It will not be long now till our wedding day.’

The Generals had tasked us with finding a covert way to destroy the enemy en masse; to spread like wind across the land. Instead we discovered the genetic base marker for aggression; more accurately, I made the discovery; the bitter irony. My reputation grew tenfold, yet despite the wonder we have before us, despite the mounting joy everyone feels, I alone am sorrowful. I was given infinite resources; becoming head of my own research facility; surrounded by seasoned specialists. I hadn’t intended to be a scientist, I almost, almost went to war, but when she came close beside me; placing her white hand softly on my cheek, I saw the tears and could not go.

“It will not be long now.”

We found The Key to end the war – perhaps all wars, all conflict; for ever. Less than 90 years ago, in 2007, we knew of this process and for the last two decades our scientists have been using the qPCR-based tests to amplify the results. Manipulation created a violence suppressor and developed empathetic building blocks. The full genotype was found to survive in the rare few who experienced extreme empathy; the carriers.

DNA fragments, that linger in the mouth even after the briefest contact, were artificially increased, the life-span was extended, its function mutated; to create an Anti-weapon. Like invisible secret agents our mutation would attach itself swiftly to the recipients neurons, unlock and create new base pairs.

All the love in the world – that’s how one technician described it. But it doesn’t make it any easier.

“It will not be long.”

Many had been whittled down to a few, the few to a half dozen and the half dozen to a couple. Intense experimentation conditions had caused most potential keys to become…damaged. The pain was unbearable; I know this, I watched. At the last hour, one of the keys broke, and now only mine is left. There are many ways to end a war, we chose love. Once the good virus was administered to a few, it would spread exponentially. Saliva carrying our mutated DNA would rush through the recipient’s bodies controlling rage. A sneeze would carry compassion, spittle in shouted commands would bear humanity.

We gather on the edge. Her hand brushes mine as she steps away from me.

“It will not take long.”

I watch her, on monitors, move here and move there through the camp. She lays a kiss on the lips of an astonished officer, she softly kisses another. I see a distant soldier raise his weapon and take aim.

He fires.

But they are too late; the Key has already opened the lock.

End

shemovedthroughthefair
She Moved Through The War

Writing Prompts Linked List

Writing Prompts

It’s a list day!

Some people write for pleasure, some people write to inform, some write for money, others for therapy. Whatever your reason, sometimes you might find yourself stuck for an idea. Don’t be; there’s loads of sites out there to get your creative juices flowing.

As a writer however, I would urge everyone to at least try to come up with your own ideas – take pictures, go for a walk, even in your own neighbourhood, take a bus ride and write down what other passengers say (old people are the best!), sit alone in silence for fifteen minutes, keep a dream diary, question yourself.

It’s a list day!

So you tried all that and today your brain went on holiday. Instead of trawling through your search engine, I have dragged together a list of 15 sites you might like to visit. I have included fiction, non-fiction, poetry and Y.A links.

1.Penguin Random House Writers Academy                                                                

Divided into categories – so you can find the genre you prefer. This is a shareable site, so you can add your own prompts if you like.

http://www.thewritersacademy.co.uk/writing-prompts/

2.Daily Writing Prompts

As well as a list of prompts to get your ideas started, they have other suggestions for making your own prompts.

https://www.dailywritingtips.com/writing-prompts-101/

3.Edutopia

Primarily aimed at school students, but there is no reason why an adult could not find something of interest here. Can also be used to prompt essay writing as much as fiction. N.B: Star Wars fans might be interested to learn that this was set up by George Lucas as part of the George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF)

https://www.edutopia.org/article/50-writing-prompts-all-grade-levels-todd-finley

4.Tumblr

Snapshots of quotes, opening lines, pictures and more to get the juices flowing. Great idea as some of us are visually stimulated rather than through other people’s words.

http://writingprompts.tumblr.com/

5.Pinterest

Similar to tumblr. If you are not familiar with Pinterest it is like a massive series of online message boards. You can find quotes, images and text to get you started.

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/explore/writing-prompts/?autologin=true

6.Think Written

Need a prompt for each day of the year? Here you will find 365 writing prompts, simple one-liners without too much input from the creators.

http://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/

7.Reddit

Ideas submitted by members of the public (you can too!) Some of these ideas are really interesting.

https://www.reddit.com/r/WritingPrompts/

8.Writers Digest

Hundreds of ideas to scroll through here, from the light-hearted and fun to more potentially serious issues. Click on one of the idea links and you are provided with some background to start you off.

http://www.writersdigest.com/prompts

9.Poets & Writers

I found this site a little awkward to use, you have to read through a lot of other stuff until realising, oh, this is the prompt.

https://www.pw.org/writing-prompts-exercises

10. The Writer magazine

As well as having lots of prompts ready to use, right there on the first page, you can sign up (free) to get weekly prompts in your mailbox!

https://www.writermag.com/writing-prompts/

11. Letterpile

Although small and limited, in comparison to other sites, I quite like the mixture of pictures and single lines as prompts.

https://letterpile.com/writing/200-Creative-Writing-Prompts

12. The New York Times

For narrative and personal writing, the New York Times has collected ideas from students, who had previously been prompted to write something in response to articles in the NYT.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/20/learning/lesson-plans/650-prompts-for-narrative-and-personal-writing.html?mcubz=3

13. The Poetry Society

Ideas from tutors and poets, not just prompts but how to go about writing a poem on a theme. Contains links to poets and other helpful sites. You can download and print off a PDF of ideas so that you can get off the computer and let your poetic mind wander over paper!

https://poetrysociety.org.uk/competitions/national-poetry-competition/resources/poetry-writing-prompts/

14. Poetry Prompts

Although this is a tumblr blog, and I already have included tumblr, I thought this was beautifully clean and simple in its presentation. Looks like a series of prompt cards with a single sentence or word.

http://poetryprompts.tumblr.com/

15. Bookfox

Non-fiction writers don’t get much inspiration handed to them, so here’s a site for those of you who love writing creatively, but not fiction. He also has extra links at the bottom of the page – to push yourself!

https://thejohnfox.com/2016/06/creative-nonfiction-prompts/

 

Happy writing!

This Week I have Been Mostly Listening To…

I have been listening to…Imagine Dragons.

I wrote a little about having new Filthy Friends on 9th September, and decided to carry on with the idea of me, middle aged woman, being introduced to ‘new stuff’ in regards to music.

Even more than drugs, I believe that shifts in perspective, challenging tastes and opinions are mind expanding. As humans age, we have a tremendous capacity to think our childhood was best, our music was not so ‘hard on the ears’, our opinions, politics, fashion etc, etc are/were better than ‘the young people of today’. We get stuck in our ways – well I don’t intend to age gracefully!

So, I have invited some ‘young people’ to challenge me, to suggest music; bands, solo artists, for me to listen to (shock, challenge, and make my music neurons wake up!) and I am starting off with Scott’s suggestion –

Imagine Dragons.

N.B: this is NOT a review – it’s simply an experiment in expanding my listening tastes.

What I listened to

1.Radioactive – now I had actually heard this song before. A slow burn verse towards a burst of a chorus. Some industrial effects; dripping water, what sounds like wind in a tunnel and then a squeaky toy!

What does it sound like to me? Pop/Rock

Did I like it? Yes

2. Thunder – kind of synth n drums thing going on. Lots of repetition of ‘Thunder’ and finger clicking.

What does it sound like to me? Pop. Like the 1980’s band Men At Work, if they updated their style.

Did I like it? Not really.

3.Believer starts with a slow march beat, leading to some rap style lyrics before bursting into the chorus -You make me a believer .

What does it sound like to me? What I would call modern Rock.

Did I like it? Yes.

6rxcx5edobenot8b7huikduya.1000x1000x1
Imagine Dragons

4. Whatever It Takes – kind of rap influenced verse? Synth drums? Chorus slows down the pace with a kind of choral background.

What does it sound like to me? Pop

Did I like it? No.

5.Demons – a slow stadium rock feel with no alteration in pace, tone or anything.

What does it sound like to me? Stadium Rock/Pop

Did I like it? Not really.

6.On Top of The World – opens with a cheery little clapping, whistling, keyboard overlaid by what sounds like something rolling. Solo voice in verse joined in chorus by multiple. Near the end is a set of recordings of President Nixon? And some industrial effects – then back to bouncy, Carribean tinged chorus.

What does it sound like to me? Like it can’t decide what it is.

Did I like it? Not much.

7. I Bet My Life – I could imagine a barn full of people doing line dancing to this one! Someone/something shrieking in the background is annoying! The chorus – I, I bet my life, I bet my life on you,I, I bet my life, I bet my life, I bet my life on you is reminiscent of Ray Davis and the Kinks Days – Thank you for the days, Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me, I’m thinking of the days, I won’t forget a single day, believe mehas that same rhythm.(But not as good)
What does it sound like to me? Pop, gets it’s Stetson and boots on.

Did I like it? Not sure. Pretty much anything ‘country’ flavoured makes me baulk.

8.It’s Time – clapping, synth drums, tapping, something opening, banjo?! Slides into a short, smooth full-bodied chorus.

What does it sound like to me? A heavier early 90’s dance/pop tune.

Did I like it? Was okay.

imagine dragons gold
Imagine Dragons, Gold

9. Gold – slices of drums, whistling, speech before the singing begins. This is has a rougher, grimier feel than any of the others songs so far. Each bridge between verse and chorus slows to a slow stomp/march feel. Some ‘rock guitar’ solo at the end.

What does it sound like to me? Rock/Pop

Did I like it? I did actually.

10. Monster – a willowy guitar and synth intro suddenly turns to solid drum base. This sounded like another one – – just my imagination or did they run out of melodies? A nice strong chorus.

What does it sound like to me? By this point, it sounds like Imagine Dragons! Pop with a rock influence.

Did I like it? I did.

monster_by_imagine_dragons_by_theprimelegacy-d8a2fwi
Imagine Dragons, Monster

To round-up – I think I quite liked listening to Imagine Dragons, though I wouldn’t go out of my way to do it; I wouldn’t for instance, buy an album, although I might listen online amongst other stuff.

Was I challenged? No. Were my middle-aged-lady sensibilities offended? Not at all.

For my money, Imagine Dragons could be a whole lot better, if they quit trying to make songs that sell, i.e. Pop songs. They have potential to be great; if they used more of the experimental sounds, they have a variety of textures in their music which is overlaid by mainstream pop sounds.

I prefer the rougher, rockier, grimier pieces (later listened to I’m So Sorry, live recording – really liked it), to me, those pieces feel real. I’m not keen on their use of synthetic instrumentals; which is what some of it sounds like to me, I may be wrong, but I’d like to hear the rawness of actual drums, bass etc.

ImagineDragons_MakeTheCutMUG5Edit
Imagine Dragons – didn’t knock me out.

 

“If I knew you were coming I’d have set fire to the place.”

Film Noir

I love Film Noir. As a child, I spent many a summer’s day ensconced in a darkened room watching old movies in the middle of the day – a time when very few watched TV in those days – and the ‘unpopular’ stuff was shown; old black and white films, public information films, or in some instances, a potters wheel! (Yes kids, British TV had a black and white film of a lump of clay, and we watched it!)

noir blog MurderMySweetScreenshot1944
Murder My Sweet

Film Noir is an extension of the Gangster film; Gangster films had been seen less on the screen and returned as this genre; re-categorised by critics. However, most of their appeal came after they were made, not the time they were made. The main influence came from France around pre- WWII. French critics coined the phrase ‘Film Noir’, Black Film; seen as crime, mystery’s, melodramas. Beginning with a small group of films such as : “The Killers”, 1946 and “Double Indemnity”, 1944.
As time progressed more films fell under the heading Film Noir; it is a flexible category.

From the late 1970s onwards saw a Neo Noir revival, with Noirish elements: “Body Heat”, 1981 and “Basic Instinct”, 1992 and the animated “Sin City”, 2005.

But for this essay, I’m focusing only on the older style.
In 1940s America everything was in short supply; film, batteries, even writers, so the film makers looked to pulp fiction for new ideas.
Many of the films were made by European émigrés; escaping from Nazi German oppression. In a time of darkness created by Hitler, film makers, technicians and writers on the run from Europe, brought their style with them. There wouldn’t have been Film Noir without WWII. There was an influx of immigrants to America and they brought ‘German Expressionism’ a style with skewed angles and dark style. The Nazi figures were transformed into gangsters in the films. In the 60s and 70s – people started to see them as Art films, not just popular money makers. “Big Heat”, 1953, by Fritz Lange is now regarded as an Artistic Film Noir.

What makes a Gangster film a Noir film?
There are strong psychological themes present, women of character, complicated plot lines. It is a world mostly devoid of children. Unhappy worlds, dark, urban more so than gangster films, the characters are trapped by their environment. Described by one critic as a “Dark American place with a fancy name”. Noir films were not the property of one studio, it had it’s own rules. Though the films are black and white, the characters are often groping around in a fog, things are not black and white in decision making, European music add to the tension; threat, danger. For an American audience in this period, this was all pretty dark stuff.

Who populates these films?
Everyone is bent, men women, and coppers: the heroine is a predator even when the victim, often a blonde, a femme fatale, desirable, sexy, untrustworthy, and slutty. The hero is her lunch and usually knows it. Women get their power through sexuality. Robert Mitchum in “Out of The Past”, 1947, is a typical Noir hero. The hero often has been to war, has some psychosis, they are hapless. Bogart’s characters often cannot connect, even when they are in love. Men and women in Noir never reach the daylight in their lives. Real men get to show their softer side with these women, without appearing weak. Men were manipulated, women were dodgy and manipulative. Many well known actors and actresses emerged in this period, Robert Mitchum, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, to name a few. Women emerge in their own right post war, reflecting the social changes. Men were damaged by wartime experiences; Post traumatic Stress Disorder; in the film “Blue Dahlia”, 1946, the ‘hero’ is a harmless guy, returned from war, everyone likes him, but he’s a serial killer. There is often a simmering tension between the hero and female, we watch a verbal tennis match going on between them, sometimes they might never even get that first kiss. The best example of this witty, sultry banter can be most often seen between Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart (who became a couple off screen too); full of euphemism and innuendo.

What does it look like?
Dark! Mostly urban. Cigarettes, rainy streets, shadows, lipstick, guns. There is little or no sunlight in these films; lighting carves up the scene and the faces with chiaroscuro. Shadows are tall and menacing to enhance the atmosphere. Many cinematographers had been filming in the war effort and brought back with them elements of that, in the mid 1950s they began to make the films more realistic.

noir blog the_blue_dahlia
The Blue Dahlia

Why do we like them?
The audience appeal lies in that the films mostly take place in an ordinary environment; previous films such as Westerns took themselves off to deserts and canyons; not places the audience regularly inhabited so had less to relate to. But in Noir, the people have adventures; we see their unhappiness so we feel better; one could reflect that, at least my life isn’t that bad. Male viewers see quiet men, strong men who can take care of themselves, when required, who yet fall for the charms of the femme fatale. Female viewers were suddenly exposed to female characters who could often stand up for themselves; not the helpless little wifey this one. There was a kind of glamour portrayed in the dialogue, the male/female relationships and clothing.

noir-little-caesar
Little Caesar 1931

What should I watch if I have never seen Film Noir?
Out of the Past 1947/ Sweet Smell of Success 1957/ Double Indemnity 1944/ The Big Sleep 1946/The Maltese Falcon 1941/ Sunset Boulevard 1950/ Murder my Sweet 1944/Gun Crazy 1950/ T-Men 1948/ Touch of Evil 1958/ Stranger on the Third Floor 1940/ Sweet Smell of Success 1957/ Gilda 1946/ Kiss Me deadly 1955.

Famous Lines.
Noir is also famous for its dialogue and snappy lines. Much dialogue, especially in Philip Marlowe films (Raymond Chandler author) is really funny – but ain’t nobody laughing. Here’s a few you might like to use!

noir blog Bogie-Bacall-bogie-and-bacall
Bogart and Bacall perfect power play.

 

Keep on riding me and they’re going to be picking iron out of your liver.” Wilmer Cook in The Maltese Falcon.

“Okay Marlowe,” I said to myself, ‘You’re a tough guy. You’ve been sapped twice, choked, beaten silly with a gun, shot in the arm until you’re crazy as a couple of waltzing mice. Now let’s see you do something really tough—like putting your pants on.” Philip Marlowe in Murder My Sweet.

You know what he’ll do when he comes back? Beat my teeth out, then kick me in the stomach for mumbling.” Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep.

Johnny: “Doesn’t it bother you at all that you’re married?”
Gilda: “What I want to know is, does it bother you?” Johnny and Gilda in Gilda.

“With my brains and your looks, we could go places.” Frank Chambers in The Postman Always Rings Twice.

“I wouldn’t give you the skin off a grape.” Tommy Udo in Kiss of Death.

Well, you’re about as romantic as a pair of handcuffs.” Debby Marsh in The Big Heat.

All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.” Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard.

She tried to sit in my lap while I was standing up.” Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep

 

And now…. We have Nordic Noir – the name given to the new literature, TV and film we see more and more now with programmes like “The Killing”, from Denmark and Sweden.
You might also like “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid”, the Film Noir parody starring Steve Martin, which you could class as Comedy Noir, I suppose, if such a thing exists!

noir blog dmdwp
Steve Martin is Rigby Reardon in Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid

“To say goodbye is to die a little.” ― Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye
So I will say, adieu until next time.

*Title from The Killers.

*Books: “Public Enemy: Public Heroes” by Jonathan Mumby

Writing Out Of Comfort Zone

So today I am at my local library having to write this blog – and work on my current story. So when I say ‘Comfort Zone’, I literally mean geographic location rather than mental state (well that too; but that was always in doubt!)

I have been without my own laptop for nigh on 3 weeks; many issues with not loading, running slowly, closing down of it’s own volition, not being able to install updates – I think I may have had a previous rant about my technology – especially on Twitter. (Have been using hubby’s little mini-laptop, but he needs it today).

Well I have just managed to check my e-mail and I apparently only have 15 minutes left!! What is this?

I have only been here 15 minutes and there have been three mobile phones ringing and four phone conversations and a whinging toddler – at what point do I say something before I explode and cause immense offense?!

I hate being out of my own environment to work. I have had to pack a bag with my notebooks, pens, hi-lighters and so forth. A new environment seriously alters the way we feel as we write, sure, I have my earbuds in and I am listening to my Novel Soundtrack on YouTube, but the chair is weird, the screen not at the right height; THERE ARE OTHER PEOPLE AROUND ME!

I hate it.

Forgive me if I don’t sound like I am having a good time – I’m not.

OMG! There is a woman diagonally opposite me chatting on her mobile – I thought libraries were meant to be places of quiet! Aaarrggh!

I will bid you adieu for today, have some ranting to do….