The Other McCain

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Ed Said Nix Flick: Odd ‘Squad’ Cop Flop, Mugs Thugs With Lame Gang Bang-Bang

Posted on | January 13, 2013 | 20 Comments

Ed Morrisey pans the new movie Gangster Squad as an all-star ripoff:

Contrast this with The Untouchables, which I think is overrated but at least addressed the moral issue of crossing the line between law enforcement and thuggery.  For that matter, skip The Untouchables and watch the infinitely superior L.A. Confidential , which dealt with the same issues in nearly the same time and place — but put the thugs in the right moral position, and managed to get the Cohen story more accurately than this movie did even as a subplot.

L.A. Confidential is one of the few movies of recent years to come close to capturing the film noir feel, and especially the moral tension that Morrissey finds woefully missing in Gangster Squad.

The classic film noir set-up requires a flawed protagonist who finds himself trapped in a situation where right and wrong are not clear, where sinister individuals are trying to deceive him, and he must rely on his wits to survive. Also, there is usually a dame involved in the problem.

The 1947 noir classic Out of the Past (Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas, Jane Greer) was successfully re-made in 1984 as Against All Odds (Jeff Bridges, James Woods, Rachel Ward), but it is otherwise difficult to find good recent examples of the genre.

Why was that particular sensibility so distinct to a certain period of time? It’s hard to explain, but notice this: The producers of Gangster Squad, while making a movie set in Hollywood during the same era of the late 1940s — and quite conscious of the visual elements of the noir style — neverthless can’t capture the moral element. Ed Morrissey observes:

This film does nothing but glorify violence, not just as stylish entertainment but also as the answer to crime and social problems.  It’s an almost-unending series of bullet eruptions that numbs much more than it excites. . . .
It’s not appropriate for children of any age, and I’d argue not really appropriate for anyone else, either.

Film noir is never just a shoot-’em-up. The danger of violence – a sense of menace — is very real in film noir, but the movie is not about violence.

 


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Comments

  • Pingback: Film review: Gangster Squad « Hot Air

  • jety

    I refuse to watch any movie with Sean Penn. Or Matt Damon. Or any other liberal that publicly spits on my values.

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    I really liked L.A. Confidential, which was film noir, explored similar questionable moral values, but did so in a way that worked in the end. This just sounds like a lesser version. Ed Morrissey just confirmed I will see this movie at Netflix, at the earliest.

  • Griz2000

    Just refuse to PAY for watching it.

    *cough*bittorrent*cough*LibraryDVD*cough*etc*cough*

  • Freddie Sykes

    I don’t know. I like this one Susan Sarandon flick in which she played a real despicable person. What acting!

  • Freddie Sykes

    You want values? Consider John Dewey and the Progressive Education Movement which has been adopted by the education establishment in this country and is having greater influence on each succeeding generation. If there is no truth, how can there be values?

    Summary of Dewey’s Philosophy of Instrumentalism

    Instrumentalism believes that truth is an instrument used by human beings to solve their problems.

    Since problems change, then so must truth.

    Since problems change, truth changes, and therefore there can be no eternal reality.

  • Patrick Carroll

    “Dark City,” while more of a sci-fi murder-mystery, had a nicely noir feel to it.

    Of course, it helped that all the action had to take place at night.

  • g Joubert

    Simple fare I know, but I kind of like Mel Gibson’s Payback as film noir.

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    I loved Dark City.

  • Patrick Carroll

    “Team America: World Police.”

    Now, *that* was acting!

  • Patrick Carroll

    So…….I can add you on MySpace?

    Yes, ;^)

  • http://twitter.com/bdogdesign John Bradley

    Blade Runner was a lovely bit of film noir. Of course, it came out 30+ years ago, so it’s hardly a recent film.

  • Esteve

    Why was that particular sensibility so distinct to a certain period of time? Writers, directors and actors of the film noir era were real men many of whom had just experienced war.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    All of James Ellroy’s books have a conflict between good and evil in them, often within a single person. This is one of the reasons I recommend them to everybody I know – that and the fact that they’re one helluva ride.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    Chinatown. Nicholson’s character, though flawed, like Bob Mitchum’s in Out Of The Past, tries to do the right thing.

  • http://wizbangblog.com/ Adjoran

    Spot on. And LA Confidential is far superior to either of the others.

    The modern treatment isn’t really about drama, suspense, or moral choices. The action is the point of most of these movies today, the “plot,” such as it is, serves mainly as the platter to bring the violence to the audience.

    In fairness, after half a century of federally controlled public education and leftist controlled culture, moral messages would be lost on today’s mass audience. Too much thinking, too much “judging,” not enough bells and whistles and shiny stuff.

    See for reference the election and reelection of Barack Obama.

  • Patrick Carroll

    OK, so completely out of left field, let me suggest “Hot Fuzz.” It takes a bunch of noir/cop movie references (it even has the original guy from “The Wicker Man”), puts them all together, mocks none of them, and creates a really fun, exciting movie.

    OK, not noir, but still, worth watching.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    I’ve enjoyed all their films.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    I think the modern filmmakers’s lack of a Moral Sense means that when they try to imitate a style, they only see the surface and have no clue as to what underlies it.

  • Chas C-Q

    Of course, this nicely illustrates the problem with Hollywood fuckwits lecturing us about guns.