~ WELCOME ~
PLEASE MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME
AND SCROLL THROUGH MY ECLECTIC MIX OF
PULPS, FILM NOIR, SIXTIES SPY SHOWS,
AND OTHER TOPICS – PLUS THE
REQUIRED BOOK NEWS, ARTICLES, AND
PROMOTION

Friday, December 2, 2011

NOIR NOW: LONDON BOULEVARD – MODERN NOIR!

NOIR NOW: LONDON BOULEVARD – MODERN NOIR!

Modern noir is a bit more difficult to define than classic noir. Modern noir has all the trappings of its predecessor, but the focus appears to be more on the violence than simple tension . . . modern noir shows with blood and pain the consequences of travelling the dark highway, not just the mental anguish associated with noir from the past.

While the origins of modern noir can be traced to Derek Raymond’s Factory novels, author Ken Bruen has seamlessly continue the tradition becoming one of the dark stars of the genre more on him later.

Modern noir has also travelled away from its tradition American settings, with the grimier parts of Ireland and England established as the mean streets of choice.

I recently saw a small independent feature film, The Guard, and was blown away by the dirty, twisted little story of a man corrupt by the standards of others, yet ultimately heroic by his own measure . . . and this is the key to modern noir, even more than the precedents set by violence – a moral code based on that of the individual, not that of a weak mainstream society.

Another film, London Boulevard, is due to break on American shores. Based on Ken Bruen’s book of the same name, London Boulevard, looks to be another hard-hitting crime film in the tradition of Get Carter, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, and Layer Cake – bad men pushed by worse men to the depths of their capacity for violence.

However, it’s the source material for London Boulevard, Bruen’s novel, that truly displays the trappings of modern noir. Bruen’s use of language, dialect, and literary stylings deliver a different experience, at first uncomfortable, but eventually all consuming.

The plot, as in most modern noir offerings, is deceptively simple: A hard man released from prison choses to turn his back on his past, but there are those who will not leave well enough alone, eventually pushing the anti-hero to lash back with the force of an unleashed maniac.

LONDON BOULEVARD

KEN BRUEN

Mitchell is finally free after a stint in prison for assault. A crony offers him a job as a loan-shark enforcer, and though Mitchell isn't crazy about the idea, he doesn't have any better offers. He's perfect for the job - mean and merciless. But he's also got another, softer side: he's an avid reader of crime novels, he's a loyal friend, and he'd even like to get married one day if he can find the right woman.

He figures his luck might have changed when he lands a legitimate job as a handyman for a rich actress who's eager to reward him with cash, cars, and sex. Then he meets Aisling – smart, beautiful, and, best of all, as crazy about Mitchell as he is about her.

But Mitchell can never truly escape his violent past or the dangerous world of loan sharks, druggies, and other bottomfeeders. When an arrogant error in judgment threatens everything that's dear to Mitchell, he plots his own ghastly form of revenge on those who've stolen his life.

London Boulevard takes its cue from 1950’s Sunset Boulevard, transporting the shared plot angles to the dark underbelly of London, where Bruen populates his tale with characters who are recognizably human, yet are defined as bad or worse by either a partial or total lack of empathy.

Bruen’s prose beats across the page with staccato stylings, which like be-bop jazz takes a while to find the heart and flow, but is ultimately rewarding as the reader moves through Bruen’s world of modern noir. There is the dense and oppressive atmosphere of old cigarettes, cheap alcohol, and seedy lives of traditional noir, yet there is also the lurking violence and ambivalent moral compass of modern noir trappings – all building to a read that pushes the reader to challenge his own standards.

Bruen may not be a household name yet, but as his dark, modern noir vision of the world continues to be discovered (more of his work has been optioned for film), he will no doubt find himself among the pantheon of great crime writers.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comment will be reviewed by the administrator before being posted...