Hard-boiled private eyes; alluring Femme Fatales; dangerous gangsters, spies, and Nazis; stolen artifacts and inheritances; cigarette smoke and the city at night; captured on celluloid in high-contrast black and white. But where film noir is easily recognisable in tone, visuals, and usage of props, neo-noir is perhaps most categorised in how it diverges from film noir.
Instead of the dark cities and offices, neo-noirs can be set in the futuristic, neon-lit dystopian LA from Blade Runner, rather than gangsters and spies the antihero can be pursued by Wall Street brokers and Rabbis such as in Pi, and in place of the cynical detective and the seductive dame, a neo-noir can star a clueless loser and a feminist performance artist, as seen in The Big Lebowski.
Where did this slippery genre originate from and how can it be defined when its iconography is so unsteady?
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