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The Philosophy of Neo-Noir

edited by Mark T. Conard

Availablepaperback$28.00 978-0-8131-9217-8
Availablecloth$75.00x 978-0-8131-2422-3
The Philosophy of Popular Culture
222 pages  Pubdate: 02/20/2009  6 x 9 x .5  photos

Film noir--a cycle of American films from the 1940s and '50s--is characterized not only by a constant opposition of light and shadow and a disruptive compositional balance of frames and scenes, but also by dark, foreboding characters and plots and an overriding sense of alienation and moral ambiguity. Noir films reflect the sense of loss, fragmentation, and nihilism at the heart of the human condition in the twentieth century. Although the classic film noir period ended in the late 1950s, its impact on more films has been profound. While typically not black and white, these new films incorporate the noir sensibility of alienation, pessimism, moral ambivalence, and disorientation. This sensibility is obvious in films such as Blade Runner, Reservoir Dogs, Chinatown, and Memento. Until now, little scholarly attention has been paid to the unique philosophical conventions of the widely popular neo-noir genre. In The Philosophy of Neo-Noir, editor Mark T. Conard and other contributors explore the philosophical foundations of neo-noir, using the films to discuss and explain traditional philosophical ideas as well. The themes and topics covered include justice and moral corruption; problems of memory and identity; human nature, space, time, and subjectivity; crime and punishment; pain and redemption; and spiritual transcendence. Conard argues that neo-noir films have benefited as censorship has relaxed, giving current filmmakers a rich noir tradition from which to draw.

Mark T. Conard, assistant professor of philosophy at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, is the editor or coeditor of many books, including The Philosophy of Film Noir and The Simpsons and Philosophy.

"Conard can fell confident that these terrific essays will be of interest to film enthusiasts, particularly fans of Neo-Noir. Additionally, for those who come to this volume with some background in philosophy, not only will they be pleased to find fellow philosophers offering accessible introductions to philosophical thinkers and ideas but they are sure to increase their understanding of noir, Neo-Noir, and many familiar film titles, as well as more deeply appreciate the ways in which popular film and television offer wide and varied avenues to doing good philosophy. " --Kimberly A. Blessing, co-editor of Movies and the Meaning of Life

"Much has been written about neo-noir's distinction from classic noir . . . but the 13 new essays in this anthology rejuvenate the discussion. Strongly recommended." --Library Journal

Is Neo-Noir anything more than film noir in technicolor? Taking up such latter-day classics as Chinatown , Blade Runner , and Memento , this volume explores how contemporary filmmakers have taken up the challenge of classic film noir and broadened the genre. In this analysis, even the pastel shades of South Beach take on a dark coloring in Miami Vice . These probing essays locate what is neo in Neo-Noir and thus define it as a postmodern genre. -- Paul Cantor, author of Gilligan Unbound: Pop Culture in the Age of Globalization

This collection will serve as a terrific interdisciplinary guide through the chaotic, intriguing world of postmodernist thought as it relates to film and philosophy. -- Choice

"Much has been written about neo-noir’s distinction from classic noir . . . but the 13 new essays in this anthology rejuvenate the discussion. Conard and his contributors see to it that these essays are accessible to nonacademic readers." --Library Journal

"Conrad’s collection provides room for abstract thought through a sustained philosophical engagement with the sub-genre. . . . written in ‘nontechnical language and require no knowledge of philosophy to appreciate or understand.’ --Film-Philosophy