Tag Archives: pulp fiction

Is Neo-Noir The Worst Genre?

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In his review of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Armond White opens by declaring that “Neo-noir must be the worst movie genre. It’s an excuse for juvenile filmmakers to pretend cynicism while their imbecile audiences pretend sophistication.”

I can certainly see where he’s coming from. I haven’t seen A Dame to Kill For yet, but I have seen more than enough attempts at neo-noirs that think all there is to the genre is a femme fatale and an anti-hero in a trenchcoat. I’m talking about mediocre, flailing films like Max Payne—or worse, the attempts to bring noir to hip, younger settings like Assassination of a High School President and Lucky Number Slevin. They’re movies that look at the classics of the genre, fall in love with the aesthetic, but have no idea why or how that aesthetic works as it does. As Armond so aptly points out, Sin City and its ilk are all “pretending that it still means something to call a sexy woman ‘dame.’”

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Smug Film Podcast Episode #3 – Movies That Got Us Into Movies (4/21/14)

movietheaters 1:15:47 | View on iTunes | Download Mp3

On this episode, I am joined by fellow Smug Film contributors John D’Amico and Jenna Ipcar. We discuss the movies that got us into movies, and were our gateway into obsession. As always, we go on tangents along the way, take a quick break for a movie joke by comedian Anthony Kapfer, and then close the show with questions from our mailbag.

If you have a question for the show, leave it in the comments or email us at Podcast@SmugFilm.com.

If you enjoy the podcast, be sure to subscribe on iTunes, and leave a rating and a comment on there as well. Doing this helps us immensely as far as our ranking on there, which is what allows people to be able to discover us. Word of mouth is always best of all though, so spread the word!

Movie Stuff Referenced in this Episode:
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Movies Can Make Any Song Good

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I don’t care who you are or what music you typically like, if Step Brothers doesn’t make you fall in love with the song Por Ti Volaré by Andrea Bocelli, there’s something wrong with you.

Aside from being a huge film buff, I’m a huge music buff. Hell, I’m just plain buff. (25/m/nyc/d&d free ;-* ). Basically though, there ain’t a genre of movies or music where there ain’t at least some stuff I dig. And that’s the way things should be. Who are these people who, for instance, ‘don’t like rap’ or ‘don’t like horror’ or whatever? How can anyone be so lazy? There’s tons of different types of horror movies, tons of different types of rap. To write off an entire genre is just lame. It’s 2013, people—if you don’t have eclectic taste, get the fuck outta here.

However, I can understand people not liking something if they don’t have any context for it. If you’ve never heard, for instance, reggae, hearing it for the first time will be a love it or hate it experience—it either speaks to you or it doesn’t. Its context is either hardwired inside you, a sleeping giant in your brain waiting to be woken by the right tones, or the context must be instilled. And to instill said context takes volition—it may necessitate listening to lots of different reggae artists, and various styles of reggae, and reading up on the history of the genre, until something clicks in your brain. Or, you could just fucking watch The Harder They Come.
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Forrest Gump: A Gritty Indie Film Masquerading as a Hollywood Epic

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Forrest Gump (1994)
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Screenplay by Eric Roth
From a novel by Winston Groom
142 min.

I know it’s weird, but there are actual people who don’t like Forrest Gump.  (Dr. Seuss described this phenomena as having a heart three sizes too small.)  Sentimentality is a powerful thing—it makes people cry and tricks intellectuals into thinking art isn’t good.  It also tricks moms into thinking that a movie with LSD use, a guy blowing his load early, sexual bartering, and child molestation is appropriate for an 8 year old—or, maybe I just have a really cool mom.

I was flipping through the channels the other day (I don’t use ‘the guide’) and I landed on Forrest Gump, which is the epitome of a ‘whenever it’s on TV I have to finish it’ movie.  I landed on one of Jenny’s hippie scenes, the one where a dude pulls up in a Volkswagen Beetle and asks if anyone wants to go to San Francisco, and Jenny says “I’ll go,” and he says “Far out!”, like a very happy hippie.

At that moment, I had a realization: Forrest Gump is a pretty weird movie to be on ABC Family (which is the channel it was on).  When I was a little kid, Forrest Gump was just a big, fun movie that made me laugh and then cry at the end.  When I was eight, I didn’t understand that when Forrest is sitting on Jenny’s bed in her dorm and she takes off her shirt, he ejaculates early.  Forrest Gump is a gritty, indie film masquerading as a Hollywood epic.
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An Interview with James Merendino, Writer/Director of SLC Punk (But First, A Review Of The Film)

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SLC Punk (1998)
Written & Directed by James Merendino
97 min.

I could never identify the groups in my high school.  We certainly had some jocks, potheads, and even a few hanger-on goths.  But punks, I don’t know.  We had a kid with a mohawk; he was a fucking asshole.  And we had a bunch of kids who loved punk music—a lot of them had safety pins in their clothes and dyed hair, but they seemed to really like some band called AFI, which I always thought was the American Film Institute.  By the time I was in high school, punk music had completely soaked into the mainstream and everybody had heard of Pennywise and Bad Religion.  It was in vogue to go see Henry Rollins do his spoken word shows in Ann Arbor, and if you were really cool, you already liked Bad Brains and Minor Threat.

I didn’t care about any of that stuff and I was tired of every local band sounding like Green Day.  I was like the James Duval character in SLC Punk—the social diplomat.  I could be friends with anybody.  I was too busy getting into movies and figuring out my own depression to bother committing to some specific clique.  Plus, the fashion of punk seemed so childish to me.  It’s music; I don’t wear it, I listen to it.  But that being said, we didn’t have nazis or rednecks either.  Well, everywhere has rednecks, but our punks didn’t beat them with bats.  Our punks were nice kids (except for that mohawked loser) and they got good grades and loved their parents.  They went to Michigan State University and were proud to do so.
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