Every film that has ever been nominated for an Academy Award in any category. Enjoy!
The Black Dahlia
Inspired by the most notorious unsolved murder in California history.
Lee Blanchard (Aaron Eckhart) and Bucky Bleichert (Josh Hartnett) are former boxers-turned-cops in 1940's Los Angeles. When aspiring young actress Elizabeth Short (Mia Kirshner) turns up dead, Blanchard and Bleichert must grapple with corruption, narcissism, stag films, and family madness as they pursue the killer.
Golden hues turn flat-out angelic when they light up Johansson, though they also project a shadow behind her that looks like the outline of those too close to ground zero of a nuclear strike. The son of a Kraut immigrant knows before his superior officers come to him to fix an exhibition match that he has to use to his all-American partner and friend. That same man feels an empathy for the people of color terrorized by a local killer, but the partner quickly transfers the pair of them to follow up on this mysteriously and gruesomely mangled white girl. The partner has an obsessive need to rescue or avenge women, but he views them as damaged goods afterward; his…
Not even the great Brian De Palma could save this film with such an inexperienced screenwriter as Josh Friedman who's known for Chain Reaction and the War of the Worlds remake. I actually liked the atmosphere, but the narrative was far from fluid. A lack of focus on the murders while focusing on silly attempts at drama just doesn't interest me. The casting was okay and yet lacked any standout performances.
They had quite the budget for this film and didn't quite make it back. Makes me wonder what they spent it on. At least it had the look of a noir type film with leads who did a decent job with their roles. My problems are with the story and its contrived twists that attempt to be clever. Josh Friedman could learn a lot from the movie, Zodiac.
Fantastic style and atmosphere, but the script is a mess.
It is something of an achievement that De Palma managed to make such a dull film out of such sensationalist material, but that is the sad truth about the film. It looks gorgeous and rightly deserved its Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography. Even the performances aren’t bad, with Hartnett, Eckhart and Johansson all looking right at home in the 40s film noir environment. However, a combination of the slow pacing, subdued tone and lack of much real action or drama make for an incredibly dull viewing experience.
We can trust Brian De Palma to take a mind-boggling, shocking and a true crime so evil in its execution and presentation that it not only shook Hollywood in 1947 but still remains a horrifying mystery to this day, and turn it in to something more complex than the ill-fated 'Heaven's Gate, 1980', a 315 minute film loosely based on the Jackson County War.
'Darlene always had a lot of boys around, even though she was married. This one guy was weird though. He used to bring her presents from Tijuana. I don't know why she was friends with him. She once told me he'd killed somebody.' - Clea DuVall as Linda del Buono in Zodiac, 2007
Two cops who…
no idea, but I get the impression that this is a movie I'll be happily trying to understand for a very, very long time
The Black Dahlia is a very interesting murder case in American history, too bad Brian DePalma's film-adaptation is not.
- Beautiful cinematography (lots of crane shots).
- Beautiful art direction (I really like 50's America as setting).
- Beautiful Scarlett Johanson.
- An even more beautiful Hilary Swank (didn't expect that) who plays a very interesting femme fatale like character.
- Nice jazz/blues music.
- terrible cliche dialogue.
- confusing storytelling.
- Way too much time invested on the (not so interesting) love triangle instead of the actual murder cases.
- bad pacing (sometimes very slow, sometimes very fast).
- terrible protagonist.
- one dimensional characters.
- rushed ending.
- Brian DePalma's cameo.
Some interesting trivia:
Originally David Fincher was attached to this project as director, and wanted to make a more Noir-ish, 3-hour during film in black and white.
But producers/investors didn't like this idea, so Fincher left and they hired DePalma instead.
an utter mismatch of elements with no noticeable flow or links to other parts of the narrative, all acting across the board was subpar, even while beset with a middling adaptation, de palma continues to lose his way without being aware
Makes the case for retroactively stripping Swank of her Oscars. Much better than I remembered but still a gigantic mess. Hartnett and Johannson are so beautiful. The movie is so incredibly lovely to look at and Hartnett was born for noir (and nothing else).
#Brian De Palma-thon
I still don't get why this has such a bad reputation. Yes, it has one significant flaw and that is casting of Hilary Swank. Not that she is bad, it is just that she doesn't look anything like Mia Kirshner (and we are constantly reminded that she is). Otherwise, it is a pretty good film noir that happens to be very old fashioned instead of being neo-noir.
Wonderful to look at, even if a lot of the characters are dull and the plot's a contrived mess. The film gets a charge whenever it interacts with its loony upperclass. The long POV take that brings Josh Hartnett and us into their world is a stunner. I thought Hillary Swank was woefully miscast when I saw this as a teenager, but her performance, someone whose sexuality changes with her motivation, worked for me now. Her archness fits with the poor little rich girl used to getting her way. I don't know how period appropriate the high class lesbian club featuring kd lang meets Busby Berkeley style dance numbers in 1940s Los Angeles are, but who cares it's great. Seeing William Finley's ghoulish visage pop up was like greeting an old friend. And Mia Kirschner is wonderful in her test reel scenes as the alive Dahlia, displaying heartbreaking emotion across from an unseen director (De Palma himself).
Highlight of the film is William Finley as the necktie strangler. That got a big belly laugh from me.
In my review of De Palma's 1998 Snake Eyes I remarked that I wished that there was something to love about the film other that it's absolute command of style. With 2006's Black Dahlia I wish I had at least that much to love.
Watching the first 20 minutes it would seem safe to believe that De Palma was giving us his own take on a hard-boiled noir thriller, but both the direction and the script abandon this about a fourth of the way into the movie. The rest of the film just seems like filler for onscreen violence (to which there's not nearly enough) or female objectification (which there was an abundance of). Something happened with De Palma, from…
It was a beautifully shot film, but the many plot twist got tiring towards the end.
Really all over the place and confusing. Perhaps because I saw it in a theatre with my friends, but I got completely lost at parts of it, and especially at the end. I'll have to watch it again, by myself on DVD, to see if I like it anymore. Suffice to say, I didn't like it much the first time around. Some of the time I had no idea what the characters were saying, and I really didn't understand their motivations a lot of the time. And that ending came and went, and I still didn't know what happened. There was some interesting scenes - the POV scene was kinda cool, though I wish it had lasted throughout the whole…
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