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  1. #1

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    'The Black Dahlia' - our MC reviews

    Saw the film earlier this evening. If you're a fan of Director Brian De Palma you'll likely love it. It's got many of his trademark elements:
    shadows
    staircases (kind of like 'The Untouchables' lite)
    a Hitchcock blonde
    someone in drag
    and a final jolt
    If you're drawn to it because of the sensational murder mystery it's named for....who knows. Without giving anything away, this film has many laughs (who knew?!), great production design and alot going for it. Josh Hartnett and Aaron Eckhart both look great as boxers turned LAPD cops. Scarlett Johansson is like the love child of Lana Turner and Madonna here. And
    2-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank is really something, she plays Madeleine Linscott a fantastic hybrid of Lauren Bacall's Vivian and her sister Carmen from 'The Big Sleep' blended with 'Chinatown's Evelyn Cross Mulwray. Trouble from every angle but with a great wardrobe.
    The scene stealer here is Fiona Shaw as her mother Ramona. Everyone was talking about her as we exited the theatre.

    There always seems to be a certain level De Palma hits when there's unintentional laughter heard, it happens here, but nowhere near as much as with his last film, the ridiculous 'Femme Fatale'.
    This film comes from author James Ellroy's take on the famous case, very dark stuff and it's definitely not for kids.

    THE BLACK DAHLIA from Universal Pictures
    opens nationwide Friday September 15
    MPAA rating: R
    Running time -- 121 minutes
    "If you don't know how to draw, you don't belong in this building" - John Lasseter 2006

  2. #2

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    Re: 'The Black Dahlia' - our MC reviews

    Bucky descends into a netherworld of his own when he meets a mysterious Black Dahlia look-alike named Madeleine Linscott (Hilary Swank). Madeleine couldn't be more fatale if she fired death rays from her eyes. The part is ludicrously vampy, and Swank, chomping on an incongruous Scottish burr, takes full advantage. A bisexual heiress with a taste for the lowlife, she lives at home with her corrupt autocrat of a father, Emmett (John Kavanagh), an immigrant turned self-made real estate millionaire; her unhinged pill addict of a mother, Ramona (Fiona Shaw); and her perverse younger sister, Martha (Rachel Miner). But she prefers to spend her time hanging out in Hollywood lesbian bars and picking up sailors for change, just like the dead girl she's been told she resembles. And Madeleine isn't the only one with a personality problem sanity is in extremely short supply. Her prominent family, for one, is decadently, extravagantly starkers; just how so is revealed in an over-the-top dinner scene in which the scene-stealing Shaw airs the family's dirty laundry with the help of a stiff martini.
    excerpt from
    September 15, 2006
    MOVIE REVIEW
    'The Black Dahlia'

    De Palma's adaptation overflows with too much noir.


    (Universal Pictures)
    By Carina Chocano
    Los AngelesTimes Staff Writer
    September 15, 2006
    http://www.calendarlive.com/movies/c...,3727279.story
    "If you don't know how to draw, you don't belong in this building" - John Lasseter 2006

  3. #3

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    Re: 'The Black Dahlia' - our MC reviews

    How can you have too much noir??? Looks like a killer (pun-intended) movie.


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    Re: 'The Black Dahlia' - our MC reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by sir clinksalot View Post
    How can you have too much noir??? Looks like a killer (pun-intended) movie.
    You slay me...
    "If you don't know how to draw, you don't belong in this building" - John Lasseter 2006

  5. #5

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    Re: 'The Black Dahlia' - our MC reviews

    Saw the movie tonight and it was great. probably gonna see it with a different friend next week too.
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  6. #6

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    Re: 'The Black Dahlia' - our MC reviews

    I was extremely disappointed in this movie. The book is fantastic, and they certainly tried to capture the tone of it, but as they said over on AICN, some books just aren't mean to be movies.

    That being said, I though Hollywoodland was extremely superior and was actually very impressed with Ben Affleck's role as Reeves. That's worth your admission, save Dahlia for DVD (imo).

  7. #7

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    Re: 'The Black Dahlia' - our MC reviews

    i thought it was good but it dragged alittle in the middle, but the ending was great

  8. #8

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    Re: 'The Black Dahlia' - our MC reviews

    As I walked out of the movie, it occurred to me: The Black Dahlia isn't a bad movie, per se. It's just that I can't point to anything in particular that's good about it. (I'm getting particularly nitpicky here, and I'm writing this as both a film student and someone who's working on a very difficult novel-to-movie adaptation, so YMMV.)

    First off, it's not noir. Seriously. It thinks it's noir, and wants very badly to be noir, but in reality, it's a rather clunky character drama set in 1940s Hollywood that happens to be based around a murder mystery, when they remember. See, noir tends to be very focused: everything ties very appreciably into the central mystery, and every action leads, almost inevitably, into the next. Dahlia drifted in and out of plotlines aimlessly, leaving me wondering just what movie I was actually watching. Not only that, but as the movie galloped toward its climax (with a distinct feeling of "Oh crap, we'd better hurry and wrap things up, we're halfway through Act III"), I had trouble following Bucky's discoveries, which seemed like major logical stretches that happened to be correct.

    The other major beef I have with this movie, and the main reason I would say it's not noir, is the resolution. One of the hallmarks of noir, and what distinguishes the genre from the more generic murder mystery, is the identification of the antagonist as someone who the protagonist knew and trusted. The tone and suspense of the genre comes from the theme of betrayal. If one of your killers only appeared for two (highly bizarre and difficult to follow) scenes, and the other didn't appear at all (I think; I certainly didn't know who the hell he was when he showed up), that's not noir. That's... well, not really much of anything, come to think of it. (The resolution of the other plotline, the one that occupied much more screentime than the Dahlia case, never mind the name of the film, made much more sense both logically and along the rules of the genre, even if it was completely obvious from the first setup.)

    I got the feeling that I would have gotten more out of the film had I read the book. There were several moments (the random earthquake springs immediately to mind) that felt like they would have had other members of the audience who were familiar with the source material nodding appreciatively, but they just left me confused and underwhelmed.

    There were other things, too. The names of Eckhart's and Hartnett's characters sounded so similar that, honest to Shed, I couldn't tell them apart for the first twenty minutes of the movie. (I'm sure the similarity was probably used to great effect in the book, but none of that came across in the movie, and all I got out of it was the inability to identify either of the protagonists for most of the first act.) I didn't buy the screen tests and such of Elizabeth Short for a second; not only did I have a hard time believing that screen tests would actually be conducted like that, but there wasn't the slightest attempt to make them look like they'd been shot in 1947 instead of 2006. The acting was mediocre at best, the cinematography was unimpressive, and the score was forgettable. It was also unnecessarily graphic; noir is about psychological reactions, not visceral ones, so imagining the gruesome scene is far more disturbing than actually seeing it. Yes, you sort of had to show the particular mutilations that made the Black Dahlia case so sensational, but all the other stuff could easily have been left out.

    I don't think I would have seen this movie unless I had been specifically instructed to by my mentor. I certainly learned a lot from this movie, both about filmmaking in general and adapting novels in particular. And even though those lessons may prove extremely valuable, I still feel like that was two hours of my life I'll never get back.

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