I came across this picture that was meant as a compliment to the femme fatales of film noir. The caption read: 'Who says film noir ladies are phonies.' It is not an accurate portrayal of course. The weapon of choice for the ladies of noir is femine wiles which is as old as time itself, just ask Adam, or the Lady from Bath in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. What differentiates itself in noir is not the means to an end, but instead the end itself.
The femme fatale will make the man, usually out of his league with the woman, hopelessly smitten or lustily in love, and and have him do something that otherwise be against his nature. He will do this, thinking it's what he wants, but in actuality it's for the woman's benefit. Whereas her wiles were often used to achieve marriage and at times a better career, although that too often resulted in a domestic home sweet home, with noir the benefits are monetary. It is this trait that we find in films we see as classic film-noir as in. Out of The Past, Double Indemnity, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Criss-Cross. and The Killers. Although this aspect of film-noir is found in the above movies and others it is not necessarily a 'must have' element. Some critic/fan drew up a list of seventeen potential elements that go into film noir. It is however along with the shadows and lighting of these films, the trait that most people associate with a film classified as film-noir. What are wiles?
This is from California Physics: "The power of feminine wiles might be the best ace up a woman’s sleeve, just as a man’s may be his strength and ability and how he flaunts it before women. A confident woman is aware of her feminine powers and uses them in a charming manner to get what she wants, all the while making the man feel appreciated and desirable. Knowing how important the male ego plays in the typical male’s sense of self-worth...",
This element does not have to be specific to the main antagonists. It is the interaction between Marie Windsor and Elisha Cook, Jr, in The Killing, Googie Williams and Francis Sullivan in Night And The City that makes those movies true film-noir.
The graphic that spurred this post is not noir. The ladies of noir would never use an axe as its blade might lose its edge. The same can not be said of those ladies who get what they want by using their feminine wiles.
There have been some might outstanding years by some very outstanding players, but the best performance was by Ty Cobb in 1911. I used as my source the phenomenally thorough Baseball Reference. The site is a baseball nerd/number cruncher/SABR metric devotees Paradise and has over 30 offensive categories. These include hit by pitch, sacrifice hits, etc. My much used 1984 Baseball Encyclopedia lists 13 categories.
I used 21 categories. Cobb led the American League in 19 and both leagues 18 of them. He came in second twice and only in Home Runs did he lag by winding up in 7th place, but second in the American League.
BOLD CAPS =LED MAJORS
Bold Letters= led American
No bold =did not lead.
Triples-24(The Major League Leader was with 25.
Homers-8(Came second to Frank Home Run Baker who hit 11.
On Base Pct.-.467(Came second to Shoeless Joe Jackson with .468
ON BASE+SLUGGING PCT- 1.088
EXTRA BASE HITS-79
Due to the interest of SABR metrics and other mathemtatical formulas designed to evaluate players from one era to another and to dig beyond the fundamental surface of the above mentioned categories, I added eight more. I will not get into too much detail but they are such as:WAR(Wins above replacement(player), RUNS CREATED, OFFENSIVE WINS and five others. Cobb led the Majors in all eight of them.
Cobb is one of the most maligned players due in large part to a bogus 'biography' by Al Stump, and refuted in Charles Leerhesen's book, A Terrible Beauty.
He is also arguably the best to ever the play the game. I don't think there's any argument that Cobb's 1911 was the best year of any player.
Blame it on the Bossa Nova,” Edye Gorme sang in 1963. For me I say blame it on youtube. I was surfing youtube and clicked on a Sopranos clip and then another, then another. I began thinking what a shame that James Gandolfini is no longer with us. His portrayal of Tony Soprano is one of the finest acting performances in the annals of television. I’d watch that show and wonder if somehow David Chase had bugged our home, or snuck into one of our family Sunday dinners. There was more to Gandolfini however. There is The Mexican, Get Shorty, and 8mm where he plays a low-life that makes Ralph Cifaretto look like a choir boy. 8mm stars Nicholas Cage investigating the disappearance of girl who may have been murdered in a snuff film, but no more about Nick Cage for as I'm typing this I am now thinking of the soundtrack of Valley Girl. But, as I watched a few clips it dawned on me that I had not seen The Drop
I quickly corrected that oversight and have seen it twice. Did he save the best performance for his last? Possibly. It’s a very good movie. He plays Cousin Marv who was once respected; people sat up when he entered a room. Now, his bar is a front for Chechen mobsters. It’s a wonderful performance and his interaction with his sister is very touching. Also in The Drop is one of today’s best actors; Tom Hardy. Hardy plays Bob, Marv’s cousin, who helps run the bar. His performace is understated and shows once again, that an actor does not have to yell, shout obscenities to present an intimidating presence. I had been told about Tom Hardy by my son who urged me to see The Warrior with Nick Nolte. It was about two brothers battling for an MMA championship. It could have been a formulaic Rocky type of film, but Hardy is riveting, and Nolte as his Dad is great. Hardy has the ability, as the best athletes do, to bring out the best of their team mates, and Hardy does that with his co-stars. There is no diminishing the talent of Gandolfini and Nolte and they had to be on top of their game with Tom Hardy.
That made me think of him starring in Legend a film about the infamous Kray Brothers who ran London’s underworld during the 1960’s. I was familiar with The Krays made in 1990 with twins Martin and Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet, as twin Krays Reggie and Ron. But the star of that film was Billie Whitelaw who played their mother Violet. It’s not a bad film, it is worth seeing. But if gangster movies is not your cuppa then check it out for Billie Whitelaw. In Legend Hardy plays bothbrothers, and judging from the trailers does a great job. What little I’ve read of the reviews it appears the film is worthy only because of Hardy’s performance.
In one of the comments someone mentioned Morrissey’s Last of The Famous International Playboys as a paen to the Krays. Morrissey has a beautiful, mesmerizing voice and before going solo his band The Smiths were one of the most influential bands to come out of Britain regardless of the era.
A fellow blogger made a top ten list of films he called, 'fools gold,' films that while un-like the Emperor who wore no clothes, these films were merely not that well dressed. They were bold choices. I was asked to respond to his critique of Blade Runner, which happens to be one of my favorite films of all time regardless of genre. Before I continue let me acknowledge his site:
http://thecinemacafe.com/the-cinema-treasure-hunter/2013/7/4/fools-gold-1?rq=blade%20runner . There are a lot of thought provoking posts in Arthur Grant's that, like his review of Blade Runner will make you think.
One of his objections is the ‘overly simplistic narrative,’ where Ford’s only job is to hunt down and kill replicants. He also feels that Deckard's incompetence is a big drawback as well. I answered the incompetence issue saying that the reason might be due to battling the the highly improved Nexus 6. Let’s not forget that Leon(Brion James)completely fools and kills blade runner Holden. An interesting point is that Deckard does not kill the two males replicants only the female ones. I hope this does not lead to a discussion of 'sexism' but it is a fact, and buttresses that Deckard is out of his league with the new breed of replicant. It is obvious that the Nexus 6 is an improvement over the other 'skin jobs' he has hunted. Deckard is old, he has, after all been drawn out of retirement. Deckard's incompetence is not enough to bring down this film.
Another point of contention is that according to the reviewer, "There is however a giant void at the centre of its universe. All the king's horses etc. cannot bring the main character to life," and he cites how Deckard goes about his job with no emotion, “he doesn’t seem to care for the job either, or for anything else.” Does his taciturn approach to his assignment sound familiar? Sure. Sam Spade, Phillip Marlowe, Mickey Spillane and so on and so forth. If Deckard is a replicant, might his creator, have used the detectives and private eyes of films and dime novels as a template for Deckard? The film effortlessly transcends genres. It is science fiction yet has elements of film-noir, and one of those elements is the woe-begotten, cynical, worn down detective. Another element of course is the femme fatale: Rachael.
Another point of contention is that, "None of the other characters are given enough time to register much interest including Sean Young's Rachael." She, along with Deckard and Batty and on a simpler level J.F. Sebastian do register much interest. We see Rachel first seen as a confident, self-assured woman. Her repartee with Deckerd is classic. To Deckerd question about what she would do if coming across a photo that showing two women kissing. She asks him, “Are you testing me to see if I’m a lesbian or a replicant?” She is devastate to learn that she is not human. She expresses betrayal and a sense of loneliness that everything she believed is a lie.
As for a lack of motivation. The film does not take place in Happy Valley, people do not sing kumbyyah. All of L.A. is a miasmic disapora of hopelessness, darkness, it a portent of hell. The ubiquitous advertisements urging people to commute to the off-world, for a new life, are a ruse. Those who can leave have already left. The adverts for the off-world remind me of the line from the song, "Will The Circle Be Un-Broken, "there’s a better home awaiting, in the sky Lord, in the sky.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bRJLkNqNXI. So, if we search for motivation perhaps we look no further than that of getting through one day so to live another day, and emotions are buried under the daily grind of life.
With no emotional depth coming from Deckard we are urged to look toward Roy Batty. Batty's first words when he visits the eye-maker are lines from, Paradise Lost. Milton’s Lucifer is evil, vile, he has gone against God, yet Milton portrays him in a way that makes it possible to empathize with his plight. The criticism however comes from that any understanding or empathy we might have for him is lost when he kills J.F.Sebastian(William Sanderson). It is a good question. Why, would he kill the only sympathetic character in the film? We can speculate.
J.F. is a sick man. He suffers from progenia syndrome, a fatal disease that usually takes the person’s life in the mid to late teens. J.F. is twenty-five and is living on borrowed time. Does he live in fear? Is Batty doing him a favor by not letting J.F. live in fear? Is J.F. killed because he works with Tyrell? Whatever the reason, Batty chose to kill him, and we cannot find a good reason as to why. Batty, was made to kill, usually at the behest and for the reasons of others, but beginning with the murder of the passengers and crew shuttle now kills for a reason. Batty will kill for his own reasons. Batty has freedom to choose his own decisions. But, Sebastian's death is not enough reason to detract from the film.
A question I have, is why does Batty choose to save Deckard? He could have watched Deckard fall to his death. If Deckard was a replicant, is it one replicant saving another? Or as he nears the end of his life does Batty choose to show another side of himself? We can empathize with Batty seeking penance from his maker, who rebuffs him by telling him instead to revel in his exploits. Batty wants his legacy to be remembered, and so Deckard is saved. He tells Deckard that he has, “...seen things you people wouldn’t believe…” Don’t we all want to pass on to our heirs what we have seen, or done, And he laments by acknowledging that all he has seen, everything he has done, ”All those moments will be lost in time like tears in the rain.” Is that not a fear we can understand? Sebastian's killing notwithstanding there is a lot for which we can empathize with Batty.
The one emotion that the stoic Deckard has no trouble in expressing is fear. Abject fear. We see this when Brion tells him, “Painful to live in fear isnt’ it?” And Roy reinforces that, “It’s quite an experience to live in fear. That’s what it is to be as a slave.” Maybe he saved him because Batty can empathize with living in fear, as do many of us.
I should point out that Arthur Grant listed a lot of positives. There are some films in his list that indeed are not well dressed. Blade Runner, in my opinon is dressed to the nines.