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Veronica Mars

I Wake Up Streaming – August 2019

Small Screen Noir and Neo-Noir

The history of television is full of great crime shows, from Dragnet to Hill Street Blues to Homicide: Life on the Street to The Wire and beyond, but small screen noir is a rare treasure indeed. Let’s face it, TV rarely embraced the visual style or hard-bitten, world-weary, often cynical attitude that defined noir as much as subject matter, setting, and iconography.

There are a few classic shows that embraced the sensibility, at least as much as network standards and practices allowed, and, in the past couple of decades, crime TV has allowed itself to slip into the heart of darkness of modern noir. And thanks to the voracious need for streaming content, many of these shows, past and present, are now readily available on major streaming services. ane double life” married to both Joan Fontaine and Lupino.

Amazon Prime Video

Blake Edwards’ Peter Gunn (1958-1961), starring Craig Stevens as TV’s most debonair private-eye, presents a veritable digest of B-movie film noir conventions and a striking visual style on austere, often abstract sets filled with fog and smoke and lit with bold shadows cutting through a twilight haze, distilling the noir look into a stripped-down style for the low fidelity of late-1950s black-and-white broadcast TV.

Continue reading at The Film Noir Foundation

Videophiled: Back to Neptune with ‘Veronica Mars’

VeronicaMarsVeronica Mars (Warner, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD, On Demand) – We used to be friends, a long time ago, Veronica Mars and I.

Okay, that’s not exactly true, but I watched the show faithfully and was impressed by the display of support when creator Rob Thomas turned to Kickstarter to get starter funds to convince Warner there was an audience for a Veronica Mars movie. And yes, I enjoyed being back with the characters and the great California sunshine version of this corrupt suburb of big city noir.

Veronica (Kristen Bell) returns to Neptune after nearly a decade and a newly-minted law degree, to help out old friend and one-time lover Logan (Jason Dohring), who has been tried and convicted in the media for the murder of his pop star girlfriend. As a murder mystery it’s conventional all down the line. As a movie, it’s the best looking episode ever of the show, a reunion with big screen production values and small screen storytelling values, like a multi-episode arc down to the essential elements with a few subplots jammed in just to get favorite character into the story. And believe me, this is all about revisiting the past while updating to the present, where predictably enough the more things change the more they remain the same.

It’s all about the characters and the setting. Neptune is a fictional bedroom community of Los Angeles dominated by the rich and famous and defined by political and police corruption. It’s a pointed cultural portrait of the insurmountable gap between rich privilege and an impoverished population and it makes Veronica burn. She likes being back in the saddle as an investigator but she’s even more charged up by the injustice of the old town, a place her father (Enrico Colantoni) wanted her to escape more than anything. If Veronica Mars is about anything beyond an entertaining revival of a cult show, it’s about Veronica realizing that the only way she’ll ever get past Neptune is by taking it on directly.

Continue reading at Cinephiled