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NOIR REDUX


If you arrive at this blog through a bookmarked page, you’ll occasionally miss our various online-only features. Up now, for example, is Jason Guerrasio’s “Hammett Goes to High School,” a great interview with Brick writer-director Rian Johnson. Focus had an amazing opening for this film last week, grossing over $40,000 per screen, and from audience response it could be the next cult youth movie after Donnie Darko.

From the piece:

Filmmaker: You’ve said high school was a perfect setting because it took away from the noir world of fedoras and trench coats.

Johnson: And saying that, I don’t mean to put down the noir; I think it has a lot more to do with just our cultural perception of noir at this point. Just the fact that those movies are so deeply ingrained in our collective imaginations and our consciousness — it’s just difficult to see the visual cues from them and not automatically turn a part of your brain off because you know what it is. That was initially the entire reason for setting it in high school. It was no deeper than setting it in the least likely place you would expect this detective story to happen and play it straight so that the audience can’t lean on their preconceptions of detective movies. Now, once we started working with it, the whole high school thing obviously took on a life of its own and ended up being something a little deeper.

Filmmaker: That high school is like a detective movie in some ways?

Johnson: Absolutely, that was the thing that kind of grew on all of us: the idea that the purpose of high school is to be a detective and figure out how you navigate through life in this little microcosm before you’re kicked out into the real world. So that was the big surprise when I started working, even from the writing stage. It was incredible how easily the two worlds — detective fiction and high school — slide on top of each other.

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