Last newsletter we gave you our staff pics for favorite film noirs. Continuing with the “Noirvember” theme, here are suggestions for some noirtastic neo-noirs.
Carla: Devil in a Blue Dress
Denzel Washington stars as a World War II veteran who relocates to L.A and becomes a private investigator in the 1995 film Devil in a Blue Dress. This film is director Carl Franklin’s take on a classic noir story as Denzel’s character finds himself caught up in a complex murder investigation. This detective story set in 1940s America is a must-watch and yet another addition to Denzel’s legendary filmography.
Chinatown is unfortunately the baby of Roman Polanski, but if you can separate art from the artist you’re in for a treat. This is the quintessential neo noir movie and probably the most iconic. The script itself is said to be the greatest of all time and if you asked any working screenwriter to name their favorite it’d be Chinatown, Amazing performances all around from Jack Nicholson to Faye Dunaway and even famous director John Huston is great. The movie also got a less famous, but still critically liked sequel called The Two Jakes. Chinatown is available on HBO Max so do yourself a favor and watch this movie and others that were inspired by it and the noir genre in general: Drive, Nice Guys, Under the Silver Lake, Nightmare Alley (2021), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Gone Baby Gone, Bladerunner, L.A. Confidential, Inherent Vice, The Conversation.
Dr. Strycharski: Oldboy
Kidnapped on his daughter’s birthday and jailed in a private hotel-like prison room for fifteen years, Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) upon his release seeks the identity of his captor in order to exact revenge. The second film in his Vengeance Trilogy, this is the picture that put South Korean director Park Chan-wook on the map. A gloriously sleazy, plot-twisty tale, its stunning visuals mark the first collaboration between director Park and his long-time cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon.
Kayla: Leon: The Professional
If you’re in the mood for something gritty, action-packed, and kinda sweet, Luc Besson’s Leon: The Professional is perfect for you. Starring Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, and a young Natalie Portman, the film follows Leon (Reno) as he teams up with Matilda to find out who killed her family which forms an innocent and unlikely bond between two lost souls.
Tatiana: LA Confidential
L.A Confidential is essential neo-noir viewing. Not shying away from its influences, it has everything you might associate with classic noirs – corrupt cops, hookers with a heart of gold, and a compelling central murder mystery tightly plotted by an evocative and smart script. Following three detectives – all with their own set of morals and desires – L.A Confidential explores the innate seediness of 1940s L.A and the intersections between the media, the government, and the police. Hollywood is an inherently evil place – that manages to still make a case for its existence.