Author Topic: The Black Dahlia  (Read 6200 times)

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modage

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Re: The Black Dahlia
« Reply #15 on: September 17, 2006, 02:23:06 PM »
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i had pretty much assumed this was going to be awful, and with those expectations i found myself very pleasantly surprised.  its not a great film, and in no way can compare to LA Confidential, but it wasnt a disaster either.  i'm not a huge fan of Josh Hartnett, especially in a leading role like this and had thought that the idea of he and Scarlett Johannson in this film would seem to much like kids playing dress-up.  i kept waiting for the parts that would surely make me wince, but they never really came.  the film kept me interested, maybe only because i was waiting for it to fly off the rails.  it was a very classic noir, not a neo-noir, not a hip modern twist, just a detective story he could've made 30 years ago right after Chinatown.  to me, contrary to godardian, i felt this was a more restrained Untouchables DePalma as opposed to the unhinged version who made Femme Fatale.  but due to its critical lashing i feel like in a few years when people watch this they'll wonder why it was received so harshly. 
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Redlum

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Re: The Black Dahlia
« Reply #16 on: September 17, 2006, 03:29:11 PM »
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I agree. The two main criticisms of this film have been along the lines of "it's a mess" and "its an empty mess".

[small-spoilers]

I expect a good detective story with any complexity to be a mess the first time I see it. I was thinking about how deftly the third act revelations were handled by the first of this years noirs - Brick - particularly by a first time director. There I just managed to keep my head above water but The Black Dahlia's final explanations and twists came down on me like tidle wave of bricks (edit: that is totaly unintended). I knew I'd fallen too far behind when I felt like hitting myself for not recognising the matching film sets, or rather; just not putting the two together.

I really want to see how it all feels wth a bit of a head start.
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SiliasRuby

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Re: The Black Dahlia
« Reply #17 on: September 18, 2006, 12:02:57 PM »
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I'm a huge Hartnet Fan, Depalma's a hit and miss with me and I also came into this film thinking it was going to be a piece of shit but it really was alright. The camera work was perfectly constructed and stood out in a good way.
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bonanzataz

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Re: The Black Dahlia
« Reply #18 on: September 18, 2006, 07:05:40 PM »
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my friend works at the movie theater. she's gonna get me in for free. that's good, b/c i kind of need to see this again as i have no fucking clue what it was about and i'm not entirely sure if i liked it. i don't think i did. there were girls talking behind me throughout the whole thing, i had to turn around and tell them to shut up three times. i mean, non-stop talking. they didn't even take breaks to breathe. just would not shut up. that may have been a factor in me not knowing what the fuck was going on. i was too busy stewing in my own anger to pay attention.

but all in all, i felt that when it was resolved, it was resolved too quickly and too easily and it was really hokey. i don't know if it was because the movie didn't really care about the resolution of the plot and the film was an excuse to tie all these people together and have their worlds scrambled up, or if the movie was really self-aware and wanted to tie everything up quickly and efficiently like classic noir movies (of which i'm not too familiar). i never knew if the movie was trying to make a noir, a noir homage, or a noir parody. was that the point? i just didn't get "why?" casting josh hartnett and scarlett johannson was stupid. i don't like them. they just look pretty. scarlett just can't act and that's all, i'm sticking to it, i don't give a fuck what you say. she looked so young, which i feel detracted from the fairly mature character she was playing. he looked too skinny and not tough enough to be a boxer, but whatever, i just tried to stretch my imagination and went along with it. i did kind of like the relationships between all the characters. everything seemed very meticulous, but ultimately cold. FOR EXAMPLE: josh hartnett and aaron exckhart are both supposed to be obsessed with the black dahlia, but there's really never any effort taken to show this. a couple of shots of eckhart freaking out and SLIGHTLY overacting and narration saying shit like, "he was obsessed with her." i just didn't buy it. it was well plotted, but poorly displayed. this is why i want to see it again. maybe there's a heart in there that i'm missing because of the dense plot. obviously, the set design and cinematography were beautiful, but that was expected.


SPOILERS
i nearly died laughing when kd lang showed up out of nowhere at the lesbian bar. it was like the scene in body double where he's walking through the nightclub and "relax" is playing. you all remember, i'm sure.
that one scene where aaron eckhart gets murdered was pure depalma, but i didn't think it belonged in this movie. the rest of the movie is so restrained, that part felt so out of place. i wanted the rest of the movie to be like that, but it wasn't. all these little stylistic touches served to do was make the whole thing seem kind of uneven. plus, it was pretty easy to figure out who the shadowy figure in the dark was.
END SPOILERS


i never really connected with anything that was going on in the movie. i don't ever remember being bored, but i definitely got lost many times and when i found my way back, it wasn't nearly as rewarding as i'd hoped it would be. whatever, we'll see what i think if i ever get that second viewing.


oh, and i loved that the chick that played the black dahlia was that terrorist chick who was involved in two plots to kill president david palmer and who helped out marwan in his little plot to destroy america. fuckin' bitch.






EDIT: here's an interview with james ellroy. this guy's insane. i guess i was wrong about josh hartnett's casting. 'tever.



The Sex Appeal of Big-Ass Dogs
A Conversation with James Ellroy
BY BRADLEY STEINBACHER


The following is a fairly unfocused, and occasionally strange, conversation with James Ellroy, author of The Black Dahlia, L.A. Confidential, and American Tabloid, among other novels. As an interviewee, Ellroy is intimidating and likes to control the conversation. He also likes to throw his interviewers curve balls.

The Black Dahlia took almost 10 years to get to the screen—

Twenty.

Twenty?

Optioned, 1986. Released movie, 2006. Twenty years.

How involved were you in the process during that time?

Not at all. I was given option money in 1986. Money is the gift that no one ever returns. The movie optioned to the finished release of the motion picture is what the first kiss is. To the 50th monogamous anniversary, I never expected it to be made. I was pleasantly surprised when it was.

Do you worry about the process of turning your books into films?

No. They give you money for nothing. They probably won’t make it into a movie, you know? Twenty years later they make it and the book’s walking out of bookstores. You know I’m happy.

So you weren’t at all protective of The Black Dahlia because of what it meant to your career?

No. I don’t hold the patent on the Black Dahlia murder case, and I don’t hold the patent on murdered women, or murdered mothers.

After you wrote My Dark Places, did you feel like you put the Black Dahlia to rest, or was it something that was still with you?

There are some stories that won’t let you go. That stated, I should say that this motion-picture tour, the book tour, and personal appearances mark the end of my public discourse on both my mother’s murder case and the Black Dahlia. After this November I will never answer a personal question, or questions pertaining to the Black Dahlia, Betty Short, the various theories pertaining to who killed the Black Dahlia, or my mother’s murder ever again. 86,000 questions, 8,200 interviews… life goes on.

Is it strange for you to be revisiting all this?

No, it won’t let me go. I’ve decided this is my last gasp. I recently watched a boxing match on TV where one guy ran out of steam and his opponent, the man who won the fight, kept saying, “He shot his load! He shot his load! Motherfucker shot his load!” You know? As far as the Black Dahlia goes, I shot my load—or will have in November.

In many ways Brian De Palma seems like an ideal choice as director of The Black Dahlia.

Yeah, he’s a sexual-obsession guy. He’s fucked-up about women like me. I’m really fucked-up about women. But you know what? I dig it. Are you fucked-up about women?

Pretty much, yeah.

It’s a blast. Scared, tormented. You want mom, you want a hooker. One of the things I’ve come to realize is you’ve got to get a woman with a dog. I got divorced recently, and I had a deep, dark, obsessive thing with a woman in San Francisco. But I want the new woman, whoever she is, to have a dog.

Any type of dog in particular?

A big-ass, good-looking dog. Like an Akita or a pit bull, so when the woman’s out of the bed you can curl up with the dog, talk to the dog about the woman.

Not one of those tiny dogs people carry around?

No. I want a pit. A pit that uses some nigger voice. Says, “Hey Ellroy, let’s get some bitches.” A big dog.

The casting in the movie was inspired. At first I thought Josh Hartnett wouldn’t be right for it.

Did he surprise you?

He totally surprised me.

Here’s the thing about Hartnett that’s interesting: It’s the only time that the character they cast physically resembled the character that I wrote. The Bucky Bleichert character is modeled physically on me: tall, pale, lanky, dark-haired guy with fucked up teeth from boxing. And that’s Hartnett, that’s just a coincidence. But what Hartnett nails is that Bucky is always thinking. It’s a still performance, and I like that.

Aaron Eckhart seemed perfect as well.

He’s this shorter—rather than taller—stockier, blond-haired, kind of exaggeratedly masculine, lantern-jawed motherfucker. There was some good-looking period shit going on.

[At this point, Ellroy asks a question of his own.] So here’s the deal, man. You’ve got one month at a Four Seasons resort in Fiji. One month. Comped. Waiting for you at the pad is Scarlett [Johansson], Hilary [Swank], or Mia Kirshner…


That’s a tough one. I’d have to go with Hilary. There’s something about her… going back to being fucked-up about women, there’s something terrifying about her.

Yeah, she’s a Scientologist, too.

Really? It’s like a virus.

Yeah, it is. You know what my ex-wife said? She said, “You’ve got to go to the Venice Film Festival and fuck Mia Kirshner, because it’s as close as you’re going to get to fucking the Black Dahlia, and by extension your mom.” [Laughs] Spoken like an ex-wife.

Was she already your ex-wife at the time?

Yeah, we got divorced a couple months ago.

You wrote the forward to [former LAPD Detective] Steve Hodel’s Black Dahlia Avenger.

Steve Hodel’s book is the best theory ever, but it’s all unprovable. It’s all unprovable. And Hodel’s fantastical extrapolations, like his dad’s henchmen killing my mother, it’s all horseshit. He’s a very decent, highly sensitive, and imaginative guy, and if your dad had porked your little sister in a big swank-o pad in Hollywood you’d be fucked-up as well. But [his] old man really was a suspect, which is why his book has some credibility.

It seems fitting that his theory of who killed the Black Dahlia is so flawed yet still believable.

Absolutely right. Good for you. Here’s the thing about this: Hodel proceeds from the incorrect assumption that the photographs [he uses as evidence in the book] are of Elizabeth Short. They have been photographically analyzed and they’re not Elizabeth Short—you can tell by looking at them that it ain’t her. He writes a book, posits a preposterous, hypothetical case against his old man. Then, a year after hardcover pub, in that lag period between hardcover and softcover pub, Steve Lopez, an independent guy from the L.A. Times, turns up a DA’s bureau file and the old man was the main suspect in late ’49, early 1950. He actually admitted to the crime on a bugging transcript. Was it a sincere admission? Who knows? It’s all unprovable.
The corpses all hang headless and limp bodies with no surprises and the blood drains down like devil’s rain we’ll bathe tonight I want your skulls I need your skulls I want your skulls I need your skulls Demon I am and face I peel to see your skin turned inside out, ’cause gotta have you on my wall gotta have you on my wall, ’cause I want your skulls I need your skulls I want your skulls I need your skulls collect the heads of little girls and put ’em on my wall hack the heads off little girls and put ’em on my wall I want your skulls I need your skulls I want your skulls I need your skulls

Pubrick

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Re: The Black Dahlia
« Reply #19 on: September 19, 2006, 03:29:55 AM »
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EDIT: here's an interview with james ellroy. this guy's insane. i guess i was wrong about josh hartnett's casting. 'tever.

The Sex Appeal of Big-Ass Dogs
A Conversation with James Ellroy
BY BRADLEY STEINBACHER

ellroy may be insane (and hilarious), but bradley steinbacher proves to be the bigger nutcase in the following passage:

[At this point, Ellroy asks a question of his own.] So here’s the deal, man. You’ve got one month at a Four Seasons resort in Fiji. One month. Comped. Waiting for you at the pad is Scarlett [Johansson], Hilary [Swank], or Mia Kirshner…


That’s a tough one. I’d have to go with Hilary. There’s something about her… going back to being fucked-up about women, there’s something terrifying about her.


that's just plain disturbing.
endless 'nothing is what it seems'-isms

pete

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Re: The Black Dahlia
« Reply #20 on: September 19, 2006, 03:48:44 AM »
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yeah he also said "nigger voice."
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Pubrick

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Re: The Black Dahlia
« Reply #21 on: September 19, 2006, 09:00:14 AM »
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yeah he also said "nigger voice."
that was the best part. tho he stole it from Little Nicky.
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polkablues

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Re: The Black Dahlia
« Reply #22 on: September 19, 2006, 05:02:46 PM »
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I feel like I have to fight them for Mia Kirshner's honor now.
Now you're in the *spoiler* place.

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Re: The Black Dahlia
« Reply #23 on: September 23, 2006, 01:18:54 AM »
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I'm on exactly the same page as Modage on this one. I thought it was going to be an all-over-the-map mess, based on the reviews, but it held together pretty well and even the rather pat solution to the mystery worked pretty well. The only thing that bothered me about it was that it wasn't really about The Black Dahlia (which is a really fascinating true story) - but as long as I didn't think about it in the context of the real murder, I thought it was a fine old fashioned noir. The script barely scraped by at times, but DePalma's handling of it was pretty awesome.

OrHowILearnedTo

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Re: The Black Dahlia
« Reply #24 on: September 23, 2006, 01:43:03 PM »
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I thought it was so-so at best. It had it's moments, like an awesome crane shot which goes over a building, discovers elizabeth shorts body and the leads to a shootout, Josh Hartnett has a pretty cool voice for a voiceover and I thought Scarlett Johannsen did pretty well. She didn't have much to say but she sure as hell looked good doing it, And Aaron Eckhart is reliably good.

Now the faults; This has got to be one of the worst screenplays of the year. The characters end up being charactures of themselves. The dialogue is so cliche to the point that it's laughable. The story gets so muddled, new stuff is getting introduced when it should be getting wrapped up. The pacing is tediuos, first it starts slow, then it goes fast, then it goes really s l o w. Then it ends REALLY fast. DePalma, as awesome as he is, adds alot of style, some good, mostly bad. It just seemed to be thrown here or there, and of course theres the mandatory Hitchcock reference. Josh Hartnett was not good... at all, except for his voice he didn't much of anything. The guy can't perform an emotional scene to save his life and his face never seems to move, he can smile and he can poubt(spl?)...that's about it. Hilary Swank, I thought, looked really old and for that matter she didn't really look like Mia Kirshner. There is one definate razzie performance, and that is whoever played Hilary swank's mother. What the hell was she doing? She acted like she just knocked back a bottle of gin, got really stoned, then had a whole box of pep pills and then tried to act crazy.

The difference between this and L.A. Confidential is that this film has lots and lots of energy and I felt that L.A.C. was pretty ordinary, even so to the point that I felt it was kinda boring, and was nothing too special. Don't get me wrong The Black Dahlia dosen't even compare in terms of being as good a film (mainly because L.A.C. a WAY better story), but for MY tastes, I would much rather enjoyed De Palma's Confidential and Hanson's Dahlia, then the other way around.

The film sure did look good, and I guess I'll credit that to De Palma, but the story is so...insanely dumb that now I want to read the book for the sole purpose to see if it that's how it was really written.

MacGuffin

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Re: The Black Dahlia
« Reply #25 on: February 05, 2007, 04:53:42 PM »
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The only thing that bothered me about it was that it wasn't really about The Black Dahlia (which is a really fascinating true story)

And the story I wanted to see. What a huge disappointment. The Black Dahlia case is one of the biggest never solved murders and this film was more interested in a love triangle. I never read Ellroy's book, so I guessing this is a faithful adaptaion, but I wanted more investigation of the case. There's a brilliant scene of Harnett's character watching Elizabeth Short's screen test, and in those brief moments we become mezmerized by her and want to know more about who this woman/victim is. That's where the mystery should have been focused.

And I'm with taz about Scarlett. As with Match Point, she is wrong for these parts that are more mature for her age and acting ability.
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Re: The Black Dahlia
« Reply #26 on: February 18, 2007, 02:20:27 AM »
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As a major Ellroy fan, the film is a dissapointment. De Palma gives yet another tour de force of style without anything else to offer. The novel is misread as a noir melodrama. It is actually quite funny with great sarcastic characterizations. Hartnett, very miscast, gives the protagonist Bucky a sad gloom I never felt was in the novel. If the film would have kept his portrait as comic the characterization would have been much deeper. As it stands in the film, it is just another noir job and had to be dusted off because it is so old.

The film also tidies up the novel with easy murders that lead to some unbelievable endings. Ellroy did write a romantic crime tale, but his ending wasn't this fucking stiff. Also the plot was confusing because De Palma was interested more in atmosphere and look and didn't have a story that kept close enough to the details. Having read the book recently, I felt bad I was even getting lost.

This should have been an easier adaptation. The Black Dahlia was Ellroy's first success and one of his last easy stories. The novel is pretty straightforward with little confusion. L.A. Confidential was a much denser and complex book but had a better adaptation. The main reason is that the filmmakers got the tone right and stuck closer to the facts of the novel. De Palma treats this adaptation as a way to make the Hitchcock thriller into a personal epic. It doesn't mesh at all.

With White Jazz in the pipeline for release, I'm nervous about future adaptations. That novel barely has a plot and is more stream of consciousness. Ellroy didn't take long to add depths on all levels to his novels to make them harder to fit into the confines of the big screen. I think Carnahan will do better with White Jazz than De Palma was able to with The Black Dahlia. While Smokin' Aces was mostly shit, it was decent filmmaking to keep a story crisp and always flowing. It's just that the original story was genre bullshit. White Jazz should give him the grounds to make a wholly good and energetic film that blisters at the intensity that Ellroy writes to.

And with those who wanted a better focus on The Black Dahlia murder case; fuck that. The murder is still unsolved so any film that fictionalizes the murder will come up with a theory that simplifies reality and is likely not to be much better than any other Hollywood scenario. This film does have a fictional idea of what happened, but thankfully does not base our interest in the lead up to that revelation. It's because no fictional revelation could outdue what a TV documentary could do in interest and accuracy for the murder. The Black Dahlia tries to create a convincing portrait of the way detectives find obsessions in victims and chase their killers to no end. It shows the love they have for victims they feel no one else can understand. It perfectly explains why many Homicide detectives romanticize the film, Laura, so much. The Black Dahlia is better to be criticized on the basis of how well it paints a portrait of the obsessions that detectives get when investigating murders. 
« Last Edit: February 18, 2007, 12:37:02 PM by The Gold Trumpet »

 

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