Noir Film Festival judges have a tough task
Tue 11 Dec 2007 08.30 GMT
It's crime time again in the Italian Alps as film-makers, writers and critics pour into the small ski resort of Courmayeur for the 17th edition of the Noir Film Festival.
The most interesting film so far has been an animated feature, Film Noir, from Serbia, co-directed by Srdja Penezic as D. Jud Jones and Risto Topaloski, a sleek, hardboiled Los Angeles tale of existential bad guys and stylised violence with echoes of Mickey Spillane. But can an animated film win the top award?
Review of the deliciously adult animated flick FILM NOIR
Review by: agentorange
Its nice to know that not everyone is content to live in a world where the only American animation worth getting excited about involves rats that cook or jive talkin' hippos (and I don't care how cute those penguins are, Surf's Up is little else than a noisy, irritating mess). Indeed, with its violent tendencies, cast of bawdy sexual deviants, and roots in the hard-boiled detective genre, D. Jud Jones' Film Noir is a deliciously adult affair - and comes across all the better for it. This is noir American style. Dark after hours streets with gun totting thugs around every corner, sexy dames and, more importantly, that great American tradition, the story about a guy with amnesia.
Right away the story of Film Noir sucks you in. A man wakes up in the Hollywood hills next to an abandoned car and a dead cop. He's got no memory of how he got there, no wallet, and no name. From there, we follow him as he retraces his steps only to make discoveries about his identity and his past that should probably have stayed forgotten. Debts are owed, bounties are on his head, and a trail of scorned women are waiting in the wings to sell his soul for a toke on the crack pipe. But, with amnesia comes a new lease on life. What if you could start again, and right all your past wrongs? This is the story of Film Noir.
Some viewers may detect similarities between Film Noir and Christian Volckman's black and white cyberpunk stunner, Renaissance. However, where Volckman's film used high technology and motion capture to replicate the flow of human movement, Film Noir is animated in a way more old school way - as in, hand drawn with the odd bit or "real" film footage and thrown in texture. For audiences more accustomed to the pixel perfect animation of studios like Pixar, embracing Film Noir's cruder visual style may be challenging. For me though, the edgier animation was more of a revelation, proving once again that if you've got a good story and an engaging cast of characters, your budgetary constrains will disappear in the mind of the viewer very quickly.
And, if you're worried that Film Noir might be some slow moving mood piece, whose bleating saxophone soundtrack and snails pace will have you passed out on the couch faster than downing a bottle of Rohypnol, don't. There's LOADS of action in the film. In fact, between car chases with helicopters thrown in, shoot outs galore, and a mirad of close calls, Film Noir barrels along at breakneck speed. In fact I would say that one of the best things about Film Noir is its ability to juggle being an intriguing mystery as well as a sweet B action flick.
D. Jud Jones has gone on record say that Film Noir was conceived as a B-movie so, if you let the noir purist in you win out, there's a chance you may not appreciate the film's more exploitative tendencies. However, if you're willing to get entangled in a hard-boiled adult mystery full of larger than life characters then Film Noir is certainly the picture for you.
Animation for grown-ups. Not that much of a new concept I suppose as the Japanese have been creating animation for big people for a very long time now, but for the most part in the United States animation has largely been the domain of Saturday Morning Cartoons. You have the occasional ‘Heavy Metal’ or Ralph Bakshi joint that comes along every once in awhile but for reasons that I have nowhere near the knowledge of to discuss intelligently, American animation is mostly sterile. Now comes this movie ‘Film Noir’ which is from… Serbia. At least in large portion but the director, D. Jud Jones as he is calling himself in this film, as far as I know is from somewhere around these parts and he has delivered to us, along with his co-director and Risto Topalaski, an animated film that is 100% Americanized true-crime noir with ‘Film Noir’.
Our black-and-white feature opens with a man coming around to consciousness under the legendary ‘HOLLLYWOOD’ sign. He sees an L.A. cop dead from a gunshot wound to his head and this man assumes that he’s the one that done did it. He doesn’t know for sure because he has no recollection of the events that have just happened. As a matter of fact this guy has no recollection of who in the hell he is as amnesia has taken over in full effect. His cell phone rings and somebody addresses him as Sam Rueben so he assumes this is who he is. Turns out this Sam Rueben character is a private eye so he heads on over to his office, but Sam Rueben’s secretary doesn’t recognize him as Sam Rueben so this must not be his identity. One thing this dude does know is that he has Sam Reuben’s phone because this secretary calls the phone to let him know that David Hudson was just in the office. So now my man knows that he is actually David Hudson, though he obviously has no idea why he has Sam Rueben’s cell phone.
After a few more little clues it is becoming clearer that he is indeed David Hudson and he heads to David Hudson’s apartment where he is greeted by some naked woman at his door. Well whoever the hell he may be he ain’t passing up no naked woman as the two engage in a spirited tryst in the shower. However the more my man learns, the more he realizes that David Hudson isn’t a very nice person. This becomes amazing clear after a helicopter flies by his apartment window and a opens fire Gatling gun style on his glass apartment and then unloads a battalion of commandos to finish the job. Again, despite this cats loss of memory, he obviously knows his way around a gun, he knows how to slip out trouble, he definitely knows his way around the ladies and he also has some investigative skills as he turns up numerous characters, including a heroin addicted dominatrix, the hard assed cop that is on his trail every step of the way, the scurrilous plastic surgeon, the big time Hollywood producer who seems to want him dead, the stripper with the secret key and most importantly the elusive Sam Rueben who seems to have all the secrets about why everybody on the planet hates David Hudson so damn much. Somebody cue that muted trumpet.
If nothing else ‘Film Noir’ has style to burn. Mark Keller who provided the voice of our hero David Hudson – or whoever the hell he happens to be – also did the score and though he did a decent job of voice acting, he did a much better job of music directing because you can’t have one of those Sam Spade / Mike Hammer type joints if you don’t have the right kind of music and the music captured the mood of this film just about perfectly. The animation in the film is okay, though it certainly isn’t of the level of a Pixar or Dreamworks collaboration but I’m pretty sure that directors D. Jud Jones and Risto Topalaski are working on a budget equal to what those studios use for lunch per diem. Nonetheless this film uses 3D animation with a cel shader or a toon shader to give it that animated look, this combined with some gritty live action backgrounds certainly give ‘Film Noir’ a unique look to it that works wonderfully in some spots and is extremely rough in other areas.
The story that drives this animation is a good one and it hooks you in immediately, though it tends to jump around wildly from point to point. Because of all the twists and turns we are introduced to, it seems to leave open more questions than it answers… either that or I have to watch it one more time and pay closer attention. But I can’t spoil anything for you because what good is a twisty noir thriller if you know from the get go that ‘The Butler did it’? It ain’t no good at all.
‘Film Noir’ is almost worth seeing simply because of the scope of the project and the ambition and effort that had to be put into this thing to make it a reality. It really is nothing short of remarkable to see what this small studio was able to do with a small budget and some dedication. The narrative is a little shaky at times and the animation isn’t exactly Madhouse, but there is enough here to easily entertain and like I said before, it has style to burn.
"Film Noir," a stylish, sexually explicit adult animation that plays like "The Big Sleep" meets "Fritz the Cat."
Using 3-D animation techniques, the toon cleverly captures the conventions of the eponymous genre and transfers them to graphic form with panache. Witty Los Angeles-set tale of a beleaguered gumshoe, seductive femme fatales, a ruthless millionaire and shady plastic surgeon should put debuting writer-helmer D. Jud Jones and co-director-chief animator Risto Topaloski on everyone's wanted list. Potential cult item could play arthouses and college campuses worldwide, with a killer afterlife on the tube and DVD.
From its opening frames, the pic updates the archetypal aspects of B&W film noir to the present day, with color highlights for things like ruby red lips and fingernails, yellow crime tape and orange prison jumpsuits. Extreme high and low angles abound, amid all the moody chiaroscuro. A melancholy sax ruminates on the soundtrack while the convoluted plot unfolds via v.o. narration by an antihero with nothing left to lose.
Film Noir goes animated
Hot diggity.. does this look awesome! In this animated feature we get the whole film noir treatment with shady dames, a private eye with amnesia, and gun toting thugs! It'll be playing at the upcoming 2008 Philadelphia Film Festival running from April 3rd through the 15th. I wish I could go.. but alas we'll just have to settle for trying to obtain a screener. The very stunning trailer is after the break as well as the full synopsis.
"Private Detective Sam Rubens clever plan falls apart with the onset of amnesia. Everyone is trying to kill him, and he doesn't know why. Ruben still speaks softly and carries a big stick, the ladies still melt at his feet, but he can get no satisfaction. Not until the mystery is solved.
Everyone talks in cliches. No one speaks truthfully. Only the pain is real. As the Hollywood Sign glistens in the background the corpses are decaying in the foreground. The good guys have their faults, the bad guys are bad to the bone, and the girls their pretty heads think treason and lust. They do what they do mostly for money -- never for love. And then there is the 'Magnum Crimen' -- the horrible, unspeakable, inconceivable crime that someone has committed."
Adult animation at its best. At 3 1/2 minutes it's kind of a long trailer, but I like how it really kicks in half way through. This looks pretty rad.
Looks amazing. Here's another thing: almost everything in the last paragraph could be applied to my LA neigborhood. Damn, I'm living in a noir animation, I knew it.
Good God! I can't wait to see this one. Awesome!
AMAZING!!!! Simply said and now simply printed. AMAZING and a little mezmerizing!!!!!
I saw this over the summer here in SF. Does anyone know where I can get this on DVD? My son is an aspiring animator and he absolutely loved this film. I did, too. It was really amazing. If I could find a copy for my son, that would be great.
ANIMATRIX gave us a taste. I'm a big fan of noir and the fact that American Animation's getting the same amount of attention as Japanese Anime (at least in terms of creative effort) is a blessing. I hope the good people at DCAU (Bruce Timm) use a similar style in their future projects.
©2007-2022 EasyE Films