I’ve mentioned the term “neo-noir” quite a bit lately in my “Next Game” series of posts, but I’ve never given a concrete definition of what elements or characteristics constitute the genre. Also, what differentiates between “film noir” and “neo-noir” in the first place? Film noir, as a genre, is most commonly said to begin with John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon (1941) and end with Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil (1958), though there are precursors to film noir throughout the 1930′s. Neo-noir must then begin some time after 1958, but there is much debate about which is the first American film that should be classified as such. Internationally, the first neo-noir film would have to be Jean-Luc Godard’s A bout de souffle (1960), which was remade by Jim McBride in 1983 as Breathless (which is a translation of the French title), starring Richard Gere. The reason the first neo-noir film is a French film is at the heart of one of the main reasons the two genres are divided in the first place. In 1930, the Motion Pictures Producers and Distributors of America, later known as the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), adopted a strict code of moral censorship known as the Hays Code, which it began enforcing in 1934. With the beginning of World War II and changes to the social fabric of American life that the war brought with it, the time was ripe for the rise in popularity of film noir. Other things that facilitated the rise of film noir were the introduction of high-speed film stock and new cinematographic techniques that made shooting outside of film studios more practical, and the large number of French and German film directors who fled the war and ended up in Hollywood. This type of film remained popular throughout the post-war period and was marked by a number of characteristic elements:
You’re waiting for the doors to open. It’s some kind of miracle the place even has a working elevator. Most of the windows in the lobby were replaced by thin sheets of plywood. The ones that weren’t still carry the scars of the bullets that passed through. On the way in, you pass an old guy in faded blue coveralls pushing a dirty mop across the lobby floor. It isn’t clear if he’s making things better, or just spreading fresh filth.
This is the third in an ongoing series of posts about the next weekly game I’m planning to run. The first two posts can be found here and here. This post will look at the additional archetypes for Streets of Bedlam that aren’t found in the core setting book.
I’m a bit in the drink, but I think I can come up with a few more SOB’s for this game. Take this one, for example. Betty Elms is an aspiring actress.
You mean waitress, right?
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the next game I am planning to run after my current weekly game is over. If you haven’t read that post yet, go ahead. Click the link. I’ll wait.
Back so soon? That didn’t take long. I was just pouring a drink. Since you’re here, I’ll share. Never mind the glass. It’s hard as hell to clean ‘em in that sorry excuse for a bathroom sink. Have a seat. Yeah, just move that stack of papers off that chair. Those cases aren’t going anywhere fast. Right on the floor there. Don’t let the stack fall over, you think I wanna work in a pigsty? Here ya go. Cheap scotch. On the plus side, it burns like hell coming’ back up too.
As most of my players know, I usually like to start prepping for my next weekly game about 6 months before we start actually sitting down to play it. This may seem like a long time, but I like to establish the tone and mood of the setting before I ever start deciding on the actual stories that will take place. To this end, I spend a lot of time with the setting, coming up with, in the case of a modern game, the types of business establishments and locations that will be included, even coming up with names and finding or creating photos of the businesses, or at least their logos. I also start building a playlist to be the soundtrack for the game, whether the players will ever hear that soundtrack or not. This all helps me get inside the world in which the game will be happening, which is important for making a lot of decisions about the game and the stories we will build there. Since my current weekly (okay, mostly weekly – there have been a lot of issues lately, as evidenced by my lack of writing here, that have pulled me away from leisurely pursuits) game will be ending in a few months, I am now in that 6 month window to begin preparing for the next game.
I like books. I mean who doesn’t? More importantly I like reading books. I like how a well-crafted story can transport the reader to a fantastic location, it can weave the reader into a complex mystery, scare the piss out of them, or morally and ethically challenge them. Of course we’re talking about fiction here, there’s a completely different place for non-fiction.
I was spending too much time browsing social media, and not enough time doing things like coming up with something to write here, when I came saw this article on The Atlantic called “My Daughter’s Homework Is Killing Me” by Karl Taro Greenfield. It was sitting there in my news feed/timeline/whatever they call it now. Chuck Wendig shared it. It figures. His shares usually inspire me to get off my ass and at least reshare, usually with a short commentary of my own.
I went to see the World War Z movie today. While there were some great moments in the film, the overall product was not well put together. I honestly don’t care that it has very little in common with the book. I knew that going in. What bothered me were some fundamental flaws in the movie.