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Yesterday someone mentioned to me she thought there was shortly going to be a Film Noir resurgence in popular culture. I disagree, but only because I believe it’s already here.
The Dresden Files
While looking for air-flight material over Christmas, I saw a series of books in the Scifi/Fantasy section that I’d never seen before. A series of eight books, in fact. This was something of a surprise, as it would take quite an event for six years of a fantasy series to pass me by.
An event like, for example, them not being published in the UK for ages. Also, they were filed under “Horror”, or “Crime” (or have been in most bookshops I’ve seen them in since).
The concept is pretty simple, traditional Noir setup – Lone PI, strapped for cash, works for police as a sideline, friends, enemies, local bar – except he’s also (and, really, mainly) a wizard of the White Council. The series avoids slipping too far into the present with the conceit that magic disrupts technology, so it falls back to the traditional guns, dames and deals, only with faries and demons and talking skulls.
The series is incredibly easy to read, and liquid crack to the extent that I’ve bought five in the last week (Very bad, considering I’m out of work a week on Monday), well written, well paced and fun. Highly recommended.
Of course, three days after I discover they exist, I discover the TV Series starts next Sunday, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.
The Singing Detective
The second Noirish film this week (Other one was Brick), and the one I didn’t like. I suspect it works better if you’ve already read the book/seen the TV series/Whatever, but the film felt disjointed, choppy and confusing. It is perfectly possible to have a film the viewer can follow even if the protagonist can’t, and this didn’t.
Sam & Max: Situation: Comedy
More a parody of Noir than the genre itself, but they’re my straws and I shall clutch them as I feel like it.
In case it’s passed you by, new Sam & Max point & click adventures are being produced by Telltale Games in an episodic format. Telltale is the other half of what happens if you make the decent half of LucasArts redundant.
And they are wonderful.
The set-up is that you pay $9 for an episode, or $35 for the full season of six. Each episode by itself is not massively long – I downloaded Situation: Comedy at about half nine and finished the game at 00:30, but what do you want for four quid? A pound an hour seems fairly reasonable in a world where it costs the same or more to go to the movies.
Both episodes so far have been well written, varied and “giggle” if not “laugh out loud” funny. (Of particular note is a sign in a TV studio that says “In the event of a fire all doors will be locked and all cameras turned on for an impromptu reality TV show). The puzzles are mostly logical if not exactly brain-bending, and they retain the “liquid crack” of the old LucasArts games. One of the reasons they seem shorter than they are is because you won’t stop playing until you finish it.
Which makes the fact they’re not thirty hours long almost a feature…