I am a strong proponent of California Noir, especially the subset LA Noir. My memory of my family’s brief time in the City of Angels is piss-yellow and grainy, like the intro to James Gardner’s The Rockford Files or Emergency! Not the Kodachrome Los Angeles of mid-century musicals. Not the jewel-toned love letter to “trying to make it” of La La Land.
Noir pictures, and novels, fit this memory. So I seek them out, have my favorites. Chinatown… L.A. Confidential… both the movie and the novel, but for different reasons. He’s a right-wing wackadoodle, but James Ellroy can set a scene with a few words and write wicked dialogue. Widely panned by the Twitterati, I thought the second season of True Detective hit all of the beats of an L.A. Noir… I liked the story and characters, even though Vince Vaughn played a gangland version of his stock character… I still don’t understand the hate.
Violence against women at the hands of powerful men is the recurring theme in noir stories. The old “dame in distress” trope: murdered hooker, socialite in crisis for getting some of the same action any of the male characters take for themselves. As my hair goes gray, I find it harder to excuse this trope. I try to find stories where it’s subverted/turned on it’s head.
Too Late, starring John Hawkes, isn’t that story. It dives head-on into the trope, like a hophead into the shallow end of an empty pool.[Read more…] about Too Late (2015)