The New American Crime Film


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About the Book

The American crime film has recently enjoyed a surge in popularity and proliferation, making it the most pervasive genre in contemporary cinema. Though it now tackles current issues, it continues to reference the classic narratives and archetypes established in the great crime pictures of past decades. The titles explored in this critical survey feature a variety of themes and show that the crime film genre has fused with other genres to create fascinating hybrids. Focusing on character and plot construction, the author highlights the gangster and film noir traditions that still run strongly through recent American cinema. Among the many filmmakers analyzed within these pages are David Lynch, Gus Van Sant, David Mamet, Werner Herzog, Sam Raimi, David Cronenberg and the Coen Brothers. Stuart Gordon, director of the cult classic Re-Animator, provides the lively and incisive foreword.

About the Author(s)

Matthew Sorrento teaches film at Rutgers University-Camden in New Jersey. He has served as editor for Identity Theory and Film Threat and is a regular contributor to many other publications.

Bibliographic Details

Matthew Sorrento

Foreword by Stuart Gordon

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 222
Bibliographic Info: 42 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-5920-9
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9057-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix
Foreword by Stuart Gordon      1
Preface      3
Introduction: Why Genre, and Why the New Crime Film Has Arrived      5

1. Say Hello to the New Heist: Spike Lee’s Inside Man      15
2. Paranoia Reemerging: Tony Gilroy’s Michael Clayton      24
3. Scandalous Notes: The “Feminized” Crime of I>Notes on a Scandal      31
4. Searching the Wasteland: Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone      40
5. Teen Crime and Redemption: Gus Van Sant’s Elephant and Paranoid Park      49

6. Night of the Hunters: David Fincher’s Zodiac and the New Serial Killer Film      59
7. Crime and Suffering: Stuart Gordon’s Edmond and Stuck      70
8. In a World of “Shit”: Crime Motifs in Richard Linklater’s Fast Food Nation      79
9. Noir and True Crime: Andrew Jarecki’s All Good Things      90
10. “Now It’s Dark”: David Lynch’s Crime Nightmares      97

11. The Bloody Frontier: Tommy Lee Jones’s Weary Avenger      109
12. New Paths to Justice: Clint Eastwood’s Late-Career Crime Films      118
13. Woody Allen’s Match(ed) Point: The Crime of Class      130
14. David Mamet: Crime, Power, and Perspective      144
15. New Ganglands: The Journey to Public Enemies and American Gangster      151

16. The Coen Uncanny: From Blood Simple to No Country for Old Men      161
17. From the Body Outward: The New Crimes of David Cronenberg      170
18. Reclaiming the Renegade Cop: Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans      178
19. Sam Raimi’s A Simple Plan: A Triumph of Classicism      186

Chapter Notes      193
Bibliography      200
Index      203

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “recommended”—Bookgasm
  • “with his sharp analysis of some of the most important American films of the past couple of decades, Matthew Sorrento not only forges a new canon but also anchors it in the rich tradition of the gangsters who shot their way through the noir of the 1930s, 40s and 50s, the New Hollywood of the 70s and the neo-noir of the 80s.”—David Hudson,