Brian DePalma’s new picture has gotten alot of good reviews, but it’s the really harsh ones that stick with you. The Ain’t It Cool’s own MiraJeff was so mad he literally said he wanted to recreate the mutilations of the real crime on Brian DePalma. (Maybe he’s moody getting psyched up for his bout with the House of the Dead guy.) “Like high-school kids playing dress-up, or bad Kabuki,” is how David Edelstein described it in his capacity as film and apparently kabuki critic for New York Magazine. And a crazy person at the screening I went to announced during the credits that the movie had “nothing to offer to society,” had too much violence and smoking, and would flop at the box office.
Well, I wish I could give a more passionate defense, because I really have no idea where some of these people are coming from. But I also thought that as a DePalma fan (for here on referred to as “a DePalmaniac”) the movie was pretty underwhelming. It kept me interested, it has some great scenes, I even thought Michael Meyers’s nephew Josh Hartnett was surprisingly good playing the boxer/cop protagonist. But since DePalma’s last movie FEMME FATALE was pretty much The Ultimate 100% Unadulterated Brian DePalma Film, it’s a little disappointing to see him doing what seems like just his little spin on material that alot of other directors could’ve done almost as well. I’m guessing fans of the book, though, will be more interested.
Two things I have in common with alot of the people who hated the movie:
- I never read a James Ellroy book in my life
- For some reason this was not the kind of movie I was expecting
You always hear about the grittiness of Ellroy’s stories and about how personal they are because his mom was murdered when he was a kid. You read about him and he doesn’t exactly strike you as healthy, the way he obsessed over the Black Dahlia growing up and rode his bike to visit the place where her body was dumped. The cynical “you have to be a violent, lawbreaking bastard to survive in this cold, dark world” machismo of L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (movie version) seems to support that conclusion too. You hear about “The Demon Dog of American Crime Fiction” and you think this is some fucked up maniac who tells stories to rub our noses in the darkest corners of humanity (in other words, the doorway to true evil).
And of course, David Fincher tried to make this movie for years (with the same screenwriter and star). That’s the guy who unleashed the entire SEVEN-ripoff subgenre, the guy who killed half the cast of ALIENS during the opening credits of ALIEN 3 and didn’t even let you see it, the guy who made attempted suicide into a profoundly happy ending in THE GAME. So I was picturing something so dark you don’t even want to look at it. Something horribly depressing and disturbing. When they said it was very film noir I didn’t know they really meant that. I thought maybe in the cinematography and tone it would remind you of film noir but it would be a more modern feel, a more realistic feel.
Well that’s not what the movie is at all, and it’s also not a movie about the real Black Dahlia case, which is the main complaint I’ve seen in reviews, message board postings, and the ravings of crazy people who can’t keep their fucking mouths shut during preview screenings. I feel that is kind of a weird complaint because who ever said it was gonna be about the real Black Dahlia? I’m pretty sure they always said it was based on the book. When they said “David Fincher wants to make a movie out of James Ellroy’s ‘The Black Dahlia'” it would seem to imply “it will be based on the book by James Ellroy” and not “it will be a detailed analysis of the real life unsolved murder that inspired the book and will reveal who the real killer is and the actual elderly gentleman responsible will be executed in documentary footage during the end credits.” I mean, criticize the book if you think historical fiction is tasteless, but maybe you should’ve brought that up 20 years ago instead of waiting for the movie version. I didn’t hear anybody complaining that L.A. CONFIDENTIAL was based on the book instead of on the actual history of Los Angeles police corruption. Although, to be fair, I didn’t see the movie with this same audience of freakos. They may have made that complaint.
What the movie actually is is a throwback, complete with hard-boiled voiceover narration, witty back and forth banter, lots of closeups of characters staring off in the distance thoughtfully, and old fashioned dissolving from scene to scene. I think it even said “THE END” at the end, if I remember right. It has the mystery, the love triangle, the two-time Academy Award winning former Karate Kid turned femme fatale. There’s even one of those extravagant night club number scenes you always get in these movies, although in this one it’s a lesbian night club and the singer is kd Lang. (Which, I’m guessing, was not intended as a historically accurate representation of the 1947 gay and lesbian community, but DePalma will still get lots of shit for it.)
Other than one scene featuring a scary dildo and another with a lady-pleasing view of Josh Hartnett’s ass, they mostly use the old school route of starting the sex scene and then fading out before they get anywhere. There’s one funny shot of Scarlett Johansson in sexy night clothes, but because it’s the ’40s she’s got what they call granny panties.
There are also some graphic shots of the dead body that don’t fit the otherwise old timey feel of the whole thing, but I would definitely not describe this movie as gritty or even all that dark. It’s a far-fetched mystery story with colorful characters, melodramatic twists and hammy performances by Swank and Fiona Shaw as her mother (think Piper Laurie in CARRIE) so it’s hard to take all that seriously. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing, that’s obviously the movie they meant to make, not the morbid murder fetishism some of us thought it was gonna be.
On a side note, the movie has Mike “I need time to change” Starr. But I guess you could say that about alot of movies. (141 including notable TV appearances according to IMDB.)
Some people are saying the leads are miscast. I think they do fine, if not great. I’m sure Scarlett Johansson is still a good actress so hopefully she will some day find a role where she gets to do something other than be smokin hot and then whine and yell at her man. I would also like to take this time to acknowledge the pioneering spirit of Billy Bob Thornton who I believe in THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE was the first to have an on-screen boner for Scarlett Johansson. Although I haven’t seen HOME ALONE 3 so I could be wrong on that one.
I got a pretty good guess that the book is way too complicated to completely translate into the language of movie. This doesn’t feel hacked up like the end of SNAKE EYES, but it’s obvious they gotta fly through alot of the material. They don’t really explore the cops obsession with the victim so much as point it out occasionally. For me there were lots of points where they referred to characters or events, including the person who turns out to be the murderer, and I had already forgotten who exactly that was or what happened in the earlier scenes. But that wasn’t a big problem for me. I enjoyed watching the story unfold. My bigger complaint is that it just doesn’t grab you by the hair and yank you along like the best DePalma movies. It is content to let you hold onto your own hair and follow along. It doesn’t scream “LISTEN UP YOU FUCKS, YOU ARE IN THE HANDS OF A MASTER BY THE NAME OF BRIAN GOD DAMN DEPALMA AND THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT,” instead it politely whispers “DePalma had a hand in this, if you’re interested.”
There are some definite DePalma moments here and there. There’s a little obsession, a dash of voyeurism, a small role for Gregg Henry. One of the most exciting scenes is a confrontation on a stairway that’s clearly the Awesome DePalma Set-Piece of the movie, but it doesn’t seem like he spent as much time on that part as he usually would. It was tense enough to make a guy in the theater say, “Come on, hurry up!” but definitely pales in comparison to, say, the bucket of blood in CARRIE, the CIA break-in in MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE, the awesome scene with the sundial in RAISING CAIN, etc.
The ads are correct to be saying this is “from the director of SCARFACE and THE UNTOUCHABLES.” I mean I love SCARFACE as much as the next guy or famous rapper but that’s more like the mainstream DePalma that’s making this movie. I prefer my DePalma uncut and crazy. I like the masterful audience manipulation and the insane out of the blue twists. The things best exemplified in RAISING CAIN and FEMME FATALE. THE BLACK DAHLIA goes light on those qualities and heavy on the other, less crucial things DePalma is good at. It’s beautifully shot and staged. The atmosphere is great. There are lots of cool, complicated scenes like the great sailor riot that opens the thing. You got the virtuoso camera moves, the lush period detail, the detailed stylistic homages to film noir. But I want more from this guy, I hold him to a higher standard.
So it’s kind of a mixed bag. Not a mess or a misfire or a fuckup, just a slightly warmed over DePalma. The bag has some good stuff in it but you’re accustomed to DePalma’s bag having a much higher quality of items contained within. The bag itself is very well made it’s just the contents of the bag that are mediocre. I really don’t think I can stretch this bag metaphor much further, I don’t know very much about bags. sorry.
p.s. Is that DePalma’s voice behind the camera for the screen test footage? Who does he think he is, Ed Powers?
Originally posted at Ain’t-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/30077
View the archived Ain’t-It-Cool-News Talkback
Sept. 15, 2006, 5:42 a.m. CST
not even first!
i’m seeing this tonight so i’ve no idea whether vern is right or not.
Sept. 15, 2006, 5:58 a.m. CST
Should’ve mate The Big Nowhere
by Steve Rogers
Is a MUCH better book than the Black Dahlia. Ellroy was really kicking it then.
Sept. 15, 2006, 6:19 a.m. CST
Dahlia is not Ellroy’s best book. He himself has said so many times. Still, because I love the time period and the hopeful Noir style, I will see it today at 11:30
Sept. 15, 2006, 6:38 a.m. CST
This movie at least sounds better than F4-2…
Sept. 15, 2006, 7:16 a.m. CST
I Prefer “DePalmanatic”, Thank You
Nice Peeping Tom reference!
Sept. 15, 2006, 7:17 a.m. CST
That’s all I gotta say.
Sept. 15, 2006, 7:24 a.m. CST
Dear Vern: Great reviews! but…
As long as you’ve been submitting them, I’ve really enjoyed reading them, but please: “alot” is not a word.
That said, it’s a shame [I]Dahlia[/I] isn’t great, because I sure loved [I]Femme[/I]!
Sept. 15, 2006, 7:29 a.m. CST
oh. My first post,
and i guess html tags won’t take. [/I] is even less a word than “alot”!
Sept. 15, 2006, 7:44 a.m. CST
Vern, Fucking Great Review
by The Ender
Now go watch Rambo III so you can appreciate Stallones “Fuck ’em” line. Another reference to the doorway of true evil, fucking great man. LA Confidential is a great movie, I love it. And I had no idea how fucked up Depalma is. I’ll probably rent this when it hits DVD. The only movies getting my money at the counter this year are going to be Pan’s Labyrinth and The Fountain. I’ll be busy price gouging PS3s and playing with my Wii..
Sept. 15, 2006, 7:54 a.m. CST
kd lang sucks
im only mildly interested in this. Femme Fatale was pretty weak.
Sept. 15, 2006, 8 a.m. CST
“Michael Meyers’s nephew Josh Hartnett”
That is how I will refer to him from now on. Kudos, sir. And jamesh123 the TB is a basic place without html tags, instead of fancy html I suggest you just declare “FIRST!!!” which is the TB equivalent.
Sept. 15, 2006, 8:30 a.m. CST
Another great name for a band. (Yes, I’m searching ^_^ )
Sept. 15, 2006, 8:33 a.m. CST
We are not talking about a Grisham book here
For the record. As a big Elroy fan I am required to note that the source material he produces is masterful both in terms of the structure of each sentence and the structure of the entire narrative. Down to every word. There are a few movies that really try to turn their characters inside out, but none of them ever come close to the way Elroy completely deconstructs his characters and turns them into someone they would have originally hated. If you have read American Tabloid, chime in and back me up. Dalia is a little different, but it is still classic Elroy. I wonder if creating this story on film is even possible. LA Confidential was great, but it was a severely truncated interpretation of the book. My hope for this movie is that it will pay homage to a great book. (There is an outside chance they can actually capture the book.)
If illiterate people who can’t sit still long enough to spend some time with great literature get irked because this movie wasn’t the romp they were expecting, then I would remind them that Dora the Explorer and Go Diego Go regularly air on Nickelodeon.
Read the book and tell me what you think of the movie. I can’t wait to see it.
Sept. 15, 2006, 8:52 a.m. CST
First off, Vern….
If it is not about the Black Dahlia, why call it THE BLACK DAHLIA? Why not title the film after the two cop leads? Also, the portrayal of Elizabeth Short in this film is not the least bit accurate. If you want to know who she REALLY was, go to www.blackdahlia.info. and read up.
Sept. 15, 2006, 8:57 a.m. CST
well there’s always “children of men”
hopefully that won’t disapoint
Sept. 15, 2006, 8:57 a.m. CST
Black Dahlia reviews in Ireland/uk are
Mixed. Seemingly the first half of the movie is very good but then it all falls apart well into the second half. As someone who thinks this Ellroys 2nd best book, la Confidential i think is his masterpiece and the movie was robbed by the bloated titanic. I really enjoyed the black dahlia, it hooked me from page one. Johanson is a snob. She is such an odd actress. PLaying roles is too old for and then i think hse made the remake of the an Irish film called Perfect score, in ireland it was How to cheat in the Leaving Cert. She was acting her age but it seemed like she was looking down her nose at the other actors. I bet on set she is a real bitch. From the little I know of her she seems that way, bullied her mother into dragging her to auditions. She is just odd.
Sept. 15, 2006, 9:10 a.m. CST
Fucking horrendous. Laughably bad. This movie was so bad the audience was LAUGHING throughout the movie. The scene where bucky meets the lookalike’s family was played for cheap laughs, completely fucking up the tone of the film. And what about the hammy over the top portrayal of the hophead mom?? The pacing was a disaster. The film pays almost no attention to the actual crime, focusing on the relationship between the three main leads. Then in the last 20 minutes, the murder is neatly wrapped up. WTF?? A crime that such a great book got such a lously movie. I am embarrased for all the people involved in this trainwreck. And by Depalma of all people. Well, there is always white jazz, the big nowhere, American tabloid, etc….
Sept. 15, 2006, 9:14 a.m. CST
And where was the grittiness??
The dirt? The sleaze? When you finish an Ellroy book you should want to take a shower. Depalma didn’t get close to recreating ellroys LA.
ANd holy fuck! KD FUCKING LANG???? In the lez joint?? Way to take me completely out of the movie you stupid fucking jackass! The crowd howled during that scene.
Sept. 15, 2006, 9:28 a.m. CST
My Lincoln-Sense is tingling!
Reviews seem to be all over the map on this one. Some dig it, some loathe it with a passion, but it has Scarlett so I’m helpless to resist.
Sept. 15, 2006, 9:30 a.m. CST
“a lot” NOT “alot” gawdammit
You just mark yourself as uneducated when you write this way…
Sept. 15, 2006, 9:52 a.m. CST
vern, a really honestly excellent review. this film is a tricky one for me and i’m not sure i want to see it, even though i watch ‘la confidential’ like once a week, ‘big nowhere’ is one of my favorite books and i deliberately drive by the dahila house, rubbernecking, every day on my way to work. i just don’t know. but hearing that ‘the ending falls apart’ just seems fucking lazy to me. come on, de palma! you aren’t a film student.
Sept. 15, 2006, 10:09 a.m. CST
i hate it when i mis-spell things. fucking ‘dahlia’, not ‘dahila.’ feh!
Sept. 15, 2006, 10:10 a.m. CST
As an Ellroy fan
I dont know how anybody can watch this movie and not be a bit dissapointed. It throws out half of the book. Its pretty unclear and the acting is underwhelming. Oh and the “acting” of Miss Sprague is over the top embarressing. I love how it just devolves into camp at the end. These reviews are too nice.
Sept. 15, 2006, 10:41 a.m. CST
It’s good to see I’m not the only one noticing these things, but if you’d care to read the posts above yours, you’d see the “alot” situation has been addressed. For the record, it was a mistake I used to make often, and I have the mountain of debt to prove I’ve been to college.
Sept. 15, 2006, 11:16 a.m. CST
Endangered sea cow.
Sept. 15, 2006, 11:21 a.m. CST
what about Jemima Rooper???
Seems to me from the clips on television that the infamous scene with Mia Kirshner also involves Jemima Rooper. How come there’s been no mention of this in any of the mini-reviews on AICN? Are the staffers unaware of her work? I mentioned this yesterday in the other DAHLIA thread that has apparently disappeared from the site. Geez, peeps, watch/download/import the DVDs of *Hex*. I’m surely not buying a ticket to this film because of Hillary Swank!
Sept. 15, 2006, 11:38 a.m. CST
Anchorite = Wise . DePalma = Copycat
Everything DePalma has done is a god damn horrible piece of copycat shit. This guy should have a hard time getting work directing tv shows.
Anyone that has sat through all of femme fatale, and even remotely considers seeing another DePalma film, is a lesser human.
Sept. 15, 2006, noon CST
Hey Mia Kirshner fans…
run don’t walk to the dvd store and rent “Exotica”. A bummer of a movie but Mia plays a stripper at a strip joint. Get the picture?
As for Scarlett J., she was bad on Saturday Night Live but good in just about everything else. See “Lost in Translation” in the beginning when she’s wearing the pink panties. Drool!
Sept. 15, 2006, 12:35 p.m. CST
Time anyone has called anchorite ‘wise’. I smell multi-username conspiracy… Talking of which where is the Doc? Dead? Banned?
Sept. 15, 2006, 12:35 p.m. CST
FORGET THIS!!! BRING US MORE “LAST KISS” REVIEWS!!!
Wait, my bad. We’ve already got 30 of them.
Sept. 15, 2006, 12:41 p.m. CST
Maybe I didn’t explain this thoroughly enough in the review, but the movie THE BLACK DAHLIA is based on a famous book called THE BLACK DAHLIA. Here is how I imagine the naming went down. Despite the script being titled THE BLACK DAHLIA as a sly homage to the book the movie is based on, the studio considered calling it FIRE AND ICE after the leads. Unfortunately, the legal department found that the title FIRE AND ICE had already been used for an old cartoon and a movie about skiing and probaly some TV movies. So some lackey somewhere got clever and said wait a minute, the whole story revolves around this “Black Dahlia” crime. What if THAT was the title? BANG! So the legal department looked into that and unfortunately there was a famous book by James Ellroy already using that title, and they didn’t want to get in trouble for that or confuse anybody. So for months it was advertised as SOME COPS TRYING TO SOLVE THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER BASED ON THE BOOK THE BLACK DAHLIA BY JAMES ELLROY but at the last minute the producers were able to prove that they actually bought the rights to the book THE BLACK DAHLIA and, in fact, had just made a movie based on it. So the title was shortened. That is what probaly happened, hope this clears everything up. thanks bud. p.s. Don’t even get me started on the title for CARRIE.
Sept. 15, 2006, 12:59 p.m. CST
I love how you manage to plug On Deadly Ground
by Mr Glass
Can’t wait for the SEAGALOGY book!
Sept. 15, 2006, 1:11 p.m. CST
Good one Vern, really nice and thorough explanation, you really took some time, nice…
Sept. 15, 2006, 1:18 p.m. CST
The new official Vern.
by Mr. Nice Gaius
Congratulations on the “Black Box Post”. You have the tools, you have the talent. You now have the recognition. Well done, sir.
Sept. 15, 2006, 1:22 p.m. CST
The doorway to true evil.
Ah, yes. That doorway. I wonder what Demon Dave thinks about DePalma. Or maybe that crazy-ass L.A. medical examiner. Personally, I think “Mission to Mars” is the doorway to true evil. And then there’s the last hour of “Snake Eyes”. And all of Femme Fatale (except the awesome Lesbionics). Done.
Sept. 15, 2006, 1:27 p.m. CST
No, this isn’t Ernest either. Since you are replying to us users, how was Jemima in the film? She’s the blonde with Mia. And the one that “Eyebrow(s)-like-Bert” Hartnett chases after. And yes, that was a Bert & Ernie reference.
Sept. 15, 2006, 1:28 p.m. CST
Mr. Nice Gaius
Are you trying to envoke that classic 80s buttrock soundtrack theme “You Got the Touch You Got the Power” from the Transformers animated film there?
Sept. 15, 2006, 1:34 p.m. CST
As a dedicated fan of James Ellroy, this movie is a waste. Waste of time, money and everything else. See something else.
Sept. 15, 2006, 1:39 p.m. CST
by Mr. Nice Gaius
No, I was not trying to do so. However, one cannot deny the power of that trash-rock anthem.
Sept. 15, 2006, 1:42 p.m. CST
Just movie-hop then and make it a double feature with *Hollywoodland*. And bring your Regalator Cup too! But buy a big tub of popcorn so the theatre makes some money since they’ll need more since the minimum wage in California is going up to $8/hr very soon.
Sept. 15, 2006, 1:43 p.m. CST
I’m hearing only bad reviews for this which is SO dissapointing as I was really looking forward to it, and I’ll still be seeing it tonight. The trailer was so fantastic though, and it just gave me this chill, and I was really hoping something beneficial would result from it. Can anyone at least tell me if the son “Death in Vegas” is used in the movie?
Sept. 15, 2006, 1:45 p.m. CST
spelling and the Vernster…
You missed an “H” in that movie title, bro bro.
Sept. 15, 2006, 2:16 p.m. CST
Well done Vern
by earl of sandwich
Your review pretty much sums up what I saw, your just way more diplomatic in your critique. I still don’t “get” the Scarlett phenomenon. I mean I understand that she’s one of the best built woman in Hollywood, but I kinda think her face is messed up. Like she got stung by a bee or something and it swelled up in weird spots. She’s never impressed me with her acting, just her rack. And the guys are right, Mia Kirshner is totally hot.
Sept. 15, 2006, 2:42 p.m. CST
Vern in league with The Man now?
Please say it ain’t so. First, there is no intro to Vern’s review from one of the known AICN “editors.” Next, I see Vern has his own official black box. Oh God, does this mean that Vern has joined the dark side and become an “official” AICN staffer? This is John McCain all over again. I hope this doesn’t mean Vern’s time is now divided between his writings and being one of Harry’s mindless lackies. I hope this won’t cause a quality decline in Vern’s output….. P.S. I really enjoy the new convenient talkback system. Way to go on the upgrade, fellas. Instead of having to type in my screen name and password every time I want to post a message–I now have to type in my screen name and password, in addition to pressing “submit,” waiting a minute for the page to reload, and THEN typing my message. Who says AICN is going downhill?
Sept. 15, 2006, 3:05 p.m. CST
Word to the Mia Kirshner Hotness. And Exotica is one of
The best movies ever. Sure, it is set in and around a strip club but it’s not that kind of movie. I can’t recoomend that movie enough.
Sept. 15, 2006, 3:09 p.m. CST
Can’t you just click on the ‘remember my password’ box?
And then you are logged in all the time and don’t have to put your user name or password in. AICN isn’t exactly internet banking… unless you are a tramp and are accessing from a library or something. Credit where credit is due, the login is much smoother now. The delay is stupid though. (FIRST!)
Sept. 15, 2006, 3:13 p.m. CST
It’s “Dahlia”, dammit, NOT “Dalia”…
For fuck’s sake! I know everyone who writes here is fucking illiterate, but can’t you even spell a fucking movie title right?
Sept. 15, 2006, 3:26 p.m. CST
Kirshner doesn’t even get naked in Exotica
Sept. 15, 2006, 3:55 p.m. CST
Vern IS the Man
Or, at least, a man. And, for the record Zardoz, I’m not fucking illiterate – we just had dinner.
Sept. 15, 2006, 3:57 p.m. CST
Not that anyone cares but…
I own Fire and Ice the cartoon on VHS. Saw it as a kid and remembered liking it. Tried to watch it again and fell asleep. Getting old sucks.
Sept. 15, 2006, 4:28 p.m. CST
Re: Vern in league with The Man now?
by Neo Zeed
LOL funny stuff. I don’t believe it unless…. he becomes the 10000th reviewer of “The Last Kiss” complete with typical AICN gooey headline. Something like “Vern goes kissy-kissy with the The Last Kiss!!!”
Sept. 15, 2006, 4:33 p.m. CST
David FIncher (off topic)
Why do so many hate Fincher films and why so much hate for Alien3? Besides my wife and myself I have yet to find another individual who likes Alien3. I truly, to this day, consider Alien3 a very fitting end to the series. I ignore Alien Resurrection. Great look, great cast, great director but bad story and poor execution. So I guess what was great about was also crap. Obviously I like downtrodden subject matters with defeatist messages. I am obviously a Fincher fanboy since I adore all his films and think his A Perfect Circle video was awesome. I am loved to hear opinions other than his movies are too dark or too depressing. Please. Better than most of the Hollywood tripe that spews forth. I am a film lover, obviously, and probably viewed as an elitist since I prefer foreign film over domestic. Regardless, I guess I just want to hear more reasons why people dislike Fincher and his films. You know, besides “I’m a pussy and want all movies I see leave me feeling warm and happy inside.” Thanks. This is my very first post on this site.
Sept. 15, 2006, 4:34 p.m. CST
This looks like nakedness to me, rev.
Sept. 15, 2006, 4:36 p.m. CST
You people will not believe the boner I got when my schoolboy crush from Nickleodeon’s Dracula played a stripper in a school unifrom in Exotica, got me into indie movies too. Much love for that movie. And she may not get toally naked, but theres nipple, oh yes, there’s nipple.
Sept. 15, 2006, 4:38 p.m. CST
This looks like nakedness to me, rev.
Sept. 15, 2006, 4:54 p.m. CST
My first post….
…with all the glorious grammar mistakes/omissions to boot. Nice.
Sept. 15, 2006, 5:10 p.m. CST
by Lou C.
I love Fincher, but Alien 3 doesn’t work, in part, because he kills off significant characters from the previous film with only a passing reference. Not to mention almost every new compelling character he creates (like Charles Dance) in the film itself. Newt and Michael Biehn’s character were so integral to the Aliens story that to simply dismiss them out of hand immediately sucks the life out of people. It’s like Fincher is peeing on Aliens and demanding that you let go of any emotional involvement from that film. That said, Seven and Fight Club are two of my favorite flicks of all-time, so i’m rooting for something great out of him at all times.
Sept. 15, 2006, 5:13 p.m. CST
as if Mia ever played a hot & saucy lesbian ghost…
Unlike another one of the cast members of this film…care to guess which one it is? Hint, Whedon didn’t write this particular show so Herc probably hates/ignores it. But what about Vern? Or does he just watch *Blade – The Series* on SpikeTV and iTunes? But in other ponderings, is Mia the daughter of Irv Kirshner? If so, her mother must be a total hottie and possess strong enough genes to overcome Irv’s appearance genes.
Sept. 15, 2006, 5:14 p.m. CST
Mr. Nice Gaius
Guitar Hero should include that song. Actually, I can’t remember if there’s even guitar (or synth guitar) in that powerful cheesy butt rock ditty.
Sept. 15, 2006, 5:36 p.m. CST
Why Alien 3 sucks
He turned a creature that is mysterious and doesn’t eat people or kill without reason like Jason/Freddy/Myers, but rather uses them in the much creepier and original way of being incubators (Alien and Aliens) into a creature that just runs around slaughtering potential hosts in interesting ways like every other monster/slasher film. It’s not hungry or threatened, it just wants to apparently live alone with the lice on a dead planet. Oh yeah, if you can get past the stupid idea that a planet could be covered with lice and everybody needs to shave their heads because of it, then what about the dog? Let’s see, little electrical fire destroys an entire warship. No halon in the future? Escape pod with no landing ability fired at the nearest planet to kill most of the survivors from the last film? Wouldn’t want to repeat Ripley floating in space for 60 years like the last one. Monk inmates want to keep it going? Sure, that won’t cost anything to bring them supplies. Knock yourselves out. Pretty cool in a realistic universe when space travels use hypersleep to get around that the Company can fly right in in a day for “plot” purposes. I could go on and on. That movie completely pisses on the previous two making their point apparently feline survial since only Jones lives.
Sept. 15, 2006, 5:47 p.m. CST
Thanks. A far better opinion than “it’s too dark” or “too depressing.” Loose. I see your view and cannot debate it – I appreciate it. I am a super Alien universe geek so I had already read the Dark Horse comics i.e. an interpretation of what happened to Hicks and Newt. Cool stuff in my opinion. I guess the immediate shock that the filmakers snuff Hicks and Newt within the first few moments of the film was cool to me as a kid. I thought it was right that Ripley died, however I cannot deny how that would put many a film goer off. I saw it with my family (mom, dad, sis) and I was the only one geeking after the credits rolled. Oh well. Thanks again for sharing. Take care.
Sept. 15, 2006, 5:53 p.m. CST
You have me laughing. Too true. On every point. No arguement to be had. Apparently I am a simpleton who loves creature-slasher flicks. I have never looked at it in that comparitive light before. I am actually still chuckling from your observations (especially, no halon in the future?). Nice one. Thanks.
Sept. 15, 2006, 5:54 p.m. CST
Don’t worry, I’m still not affiliated with The Man. The black box you see here just magically showed up on the Blade: The Series talkback, no explanation offered. I feel kind of weird about it, like when you’re at that special age where hair starts growing in places you never had it before. But I think it is a sign of respect. I don’t have posting powers but Quint put this up with no intro which I guess is a further sign of respect. But he spelled “Dahlia” wrong in the title to keep me in my place. Anyway don’t worry, if they try anything fishy like the pervy emperor in Star Wars part 3 I will tell them to go fuck themselves. But I don’t think that will happen. Thanks jollysleeves.
Sept. 15, 2006, 5:55 p.m. CST
For once Anchorite I agree wholeheartedly
Not only is the guy a shameless copycat, he’s absolutely terrible at it. His movies are so consistently awful I cannot believe people still get excited about a De Palma film. It’s infuriating because every once in a GREAT while he will deliver a truly good movie (his good ones are always the ones in which he breaks the tradition of his “style”) and then immediately goes back to releasing some of the worst films ever made. How he could direct Body Double, Mission to Mars, and Femme Fatale and not have his career ruined is beyond me. What adds insult to injury is how in your face his style tends to be, as if he revels in making a particular scene (usually sex or violence) outrageously grandiose while simultaneously making it the most hollow non visceral experience one can have in a theatre. The man absolutely cannot direct eroticism, whenever he tries the scenes are neither seductive or a turn on. Just watch Body Double for proof of that. And violence is handled much more spectacularly and thrillingly in the hands of a Tarentino or Stone or hundreds of others. Hell Michael Bay does better violence.
Sept. 15, 2006, 6:02 p.m. CST
I’m not sure who you’re hanging out with, but I thought everybody loved David Fincher. If you thought I was saying I didn’t like him you read wrong. I actually like all of his movies and love FIGHT CLUB and THE GAME. I do think ALIEN 3 is his worst movie and the worst ALIEN movie (not counting that Predator thing). Not because of the killing off (I kind of like that) but because the aliens kill characters you don’t give a shit about, the effects are less convincing than in the other three, the chase at the end is not very well executed and I can’t tell half the characters apart because they’re all bald british dudes. That said, I really like the whole atmosphere and grimness, alot of the story and the ballsiness of it. And that version in the box set where they tried to re-do it the way Fincher wanted to do it is a little better than the old version.
Sept. 15, 2006, 6:12 p.m. CST
Not at all. I did not read wrong. Your musings just got me thinking of all the morons that populated my various jobs. Anytime a Fincher flick came out, said morons would complain about something – even Fight Club if you can believe it. I live in Oklahoma now, so I hang out with no one save my wife and two-year-old daughter. No complaints here. Anyway, I definitely agree with you regarding the “re-cut” in the quadrilogy box. I also see your points as well. I still think it’s cool but definitely flawed. Thanks for responding even though this is off topic.
Sept. 15, 2006, 6:12 p.m. CST
Vern, you had me at Gregg Henry.
As a huge DePalma fan I was excited about this film but I hate Hartnett and I agree that it seems more “paycheck” DePalma than “I’m so fucking obsessed that I would rather jump off a bridge than not make this movie” DePalma. So I was seriously debating seeing this film in the theatre and I’m more than a bit ashamed to say that. But to hear than Henry is in the film means that I will be there tomorrow AM soon as I sleep off this hangover. Nothing like a little BODY DOUBLE reminiscince (is that a word?) on Saturday morning. Ahhhhh… with a nice big bowl of nachos.
Sept. 15, 2006, 6:15 p.m. CST
To everyone calling De Palma a hack
by Maniac Cop
Let me put this as simply as possible: You do not understand movies. You might like a lot of movies, but on a very basic level you don’t grasp visual filmmaking. As pop filmmakers go, De Palma is second only to Spielberg. But hey, there’s always X-Men 3.
Sept. 15, 2006, 6:19 p.m. CST
Now it’s personal, Industry Killer.
MICHAEL BAY does better violence? MICHAEL FUCKING BAY? How are we supposed to take your Killing of the Industry seriously when you pull a whopper like that out of your ass? Look, DePalma has a very strong and identifiable style as a filmatist, so obviously if you’re gonna hate some of them you’re gonna pretty much hate all of them. But it is actually a rare case of some people enjoying a style that you don’t like, rather than another case of your tastes being the only sane answer in a world gone mad. I certainly understand why some people are afraid of FEMME FATALE and RAISING CAIN (probaly my two favorites from him) but how can you deny CARRIE, BLOWUP, DRESSED TO KILL, etc.? Or the crowdpleasers like SCARFACE and MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE? How many directors have made more classic, knock-you-on-your-ass perfectly executed set pieces and would you also pretend that those movies are “the most hollow non visceral experience one can have in a theatre”? And by the way, you’ve seen FEMME FATALE but you think he “absolutely cannot direct eroticism”? Is that supposed to be some kind of joke? Where is Ashton Kutcher? Anyway, please tell me which act of violence Michael Bay handled better than, say, the guy hanging off the helicopter in SCARFACE. I mean come on man. You crossed a line with that one.
Sept. 15, 2006, 6:27 p.m. CST
Thanks for the response, Vern.
Melodramatics aside, I would’ve been genuinely bummed if it turned out you were indeed an official AICN staffer. (If for no other reason than because I’ve grown increasingly doubtful about this site’s integrity; that fucking Brisco story contest was like the final nail.) Good to hear that my favorite contributor to AICN is still just that, a contributor. Keep tellin’ it like it is, Vern, and I’ll keep reading.
Sept. 15, 2006, 6:29 p.m. CST
Btw, “hack” doesn’t mean “director you don’t like”
by Charles Grady
For the umpteenth time, “hack” refers to a journeyman, jack-of-all trades type. John Badham is a hack. Steve Miner is a hack. Love him or hate him, DePalma, with this countless visual signifiers and thematic obsessions that recur through 40 years of movies, is hardly a “hack”; Even his paycheck-ier gigs retain his look and psychosexual interests.
Sept. 15, 2006, 6:47 p.m. CST
What exactly is this style you speak of? Stealing iconic scenes/shots from other directors. Wow. Way to go.
Still, I do really dig Untouchables, Eisenstein rip off and all…
Sept. 15, 2006, 6:59 p.m. CST
I’m an Ellroy addict and thought this movie was…
by marcus torrance
… crappy. I mean this flick doesn’t have anything to do with the book. But, well, it was impossible to adapt it anyhow. So i kinda hope that De Palma could capture the essence of Ellroy style, of The black dahlia mood. But, hell, even if there was everything for De Palma to do a personnal work, this seems just as any regular hollywood studio crap. There’s no mood, the inquiry has no sense and all the actors (except for Hartnett surprisingly) over-act. No personality in the directing. Bad writing (even though they kept some of Ellroy’s lines for the voice over). This movie just sucks hard. And no matter if you have read Ellroy or not. IT. JUST. SUCKS. Bad cinema. In fact, if you loved the book, you’ll probably be pissed off by the movie. And if you haven’t read the book, you’ll just be bored as hell.
Sept. 15, 2006, 7:03 p.m. CST
oh and by the way
by marcus torrance
why does the ending of this movie look like the ending of a Scooby-Doo episode ? Why ? Why ? Ridiculous.
Sept. 15, 2006, 7:09 p.m. CST
Haha ok ok I concede slightly Vern….but only slightly
By the end of my rant I may have whipped myself into a frenzy so large that that Michael Bay thing just came out in a blind rage. Michael Bay is about to destroy Transformers after all, i don’t think De Palma has commited any offense that great thus far. But the rest I stand by. I should be asking you where Kutcher is if you thought Femme Fatale was sexy, Rebecca Romijn is so god damn bad nothing she does could possibly be hot, I could see how you would be fooled but nowadays it takes more than just an attractive woman in a slinky costume, after all the 80’s are over and hte cocaine has run out. Watching her is like getting excited when you finally work your way into a convo with the hot girl at a party only to find out she is so annoying and stupid that the opportunity cost wouldn’t even be worth it. As for Scarface, too long has the hip hop industry glamorized that overproduced, melodramatic sinfully overacted, piece of garbage. Stone should have directed it himself as De Palma when given that kind of material just can’t seem to help himself and indulges in everything so much that by the time it ends you’ve been numbed to the point where everything you’ve just witnessed has gone so far past cool that it’s pathetic. As for Carrie, that’s the best he has ever done with making something visceral but the De Palma of today is about as close to the De Palma then as Lucas 06′ is to Lucas 77′. Mission Impossible? Not bad but very by the numbers and laughably convoluted. I could see how you would be fooled, he does throw everything but the kitchen sink into his scenes, but they resonate like a lifetime film, and when he is truly off you would be hard pressed to find anyone making worse films. Very often, even when he is “on” there is a detached quality to his work, its incredibly hard to be immersed in his films as they are always out of touch that the feeling of being a viewer just never goes away. And when I say viewer I don’t mean in a good voyeur sort of way (as De Palma often seems to intend) but in such a way that it’s never not obvious that this whole production is a package made by Hollywood on a lot somewhere. there is also a large dose of self absorbtion to the way he shoots, I can almost see him behind the camera pleased as a pig in shit with the slick look his film will have. it doesn’t serve the story so much as the directors own id. But I do very much enjoy Carlitos Way, Casualties of War, and the untouchables, it’s just that the awful films he continues to make aren’t worth the trouble of the off chance he makes something good. What drives me even more insane is that people talk as if he is still a contender. And shame on you for being so stentorian in your defense of Femme Fatale, although I commend you on not trying to defend Body Double because that argument doesn’t exist.
Sept. 15, 2006, 7:29 p.m. CST
Second only to Spielberg???
Now that’s just silly talk. I don’t even have to argue that to prove it wrong, it stands on its own. Couldn’t agree with you more about X3 though, I think so far this year that movie is the idiot benchmark.
Sept. 15, 2006, 7:37 p.m. CST
Well, I didn’t like…
by Red Ned Lynch
…LA Confidential, either. And maybe it’s impossible to do justice to Elroy on film because of the dense and internalized nature of so much of his work, and the fact that, especially in the LA Quartet, the books build on each other so brilliantly. That said, and vowing that I love to the bottom of my heart Scarface and the three minutes Rebecca Romijn writhes in her underwear in Femme Fatale, DePalma was a horrible choice for this movie. At the end of an Elroy book, especially the LA books, you don’t just want to take a shower, you want to kill someone bad and powerful to strike a useless blow against all the safe and evil men of the world, then shower until you’re bloody and burned because you know if the time ever came to prove that you were better than they are you wouldn’t be. And there are guys out there who might be able to make that movie, but it wouldn’t be DePalma, who is always mainstream, even when he’s fun. This was such a joke of a journeyman Hitchcock does The Black Dahlia as Notorious of a movie that I couldn’t even get offended. Now LA Confidential? The denoument of the horrifically evil Dudley Smith was a worse defilement of Elroy than every minute of the running time of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was Moore. And that’s not overstatement. If you read Elroy you know that.
Sept. 15, 2006, 8:13 p.m. CST
Okay well thank you for backing down on Michael Bay. At least we agree on that fucker. But you know what man, I don’t want to sound like a snob or something but in my opinion you don’t “get” DePalma. Many of the things you’re pointing out as reasons why you hate DePalma are the exact reasons why other people love him. SCARFACE is not the most representative of DePalma but I think it’s a great movie and it is exactly the excessiveness you complain about that is what makes it so entertaining. Pacino’s cartoonish performance, the absolutely classic chain saw scene, the giant pile of cocaine, “Say hello to my little friend”… to this day there is no movie that really can match the feel of that one, not even CARLITO’S WAY. And don’t tell me that movie’s not visceral! Let me take another thing you said, you said that MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE is “by the numbers.” This is another one of what people are calling his “for the paycheck” movies but he still made a movie that blows away most summer popcorn movies in both execution and in intelligence. The only reason you can say it’s “by the numbers” is because it’s been copied by so many movies in the ten years since. But at the time it was not what people expected, in fact there are still to this day people pissed off that it opens with a traditional Mission:Impossible team but then they all get killed off. And the character from the tv show turns out to be a traitor. I’ve always thought it was funny that people were angry that a Mission: Impossible movie surprised them. Another example of how the movie isn’t “by the numbers” is the scene where Tom Cruise figures out what’s going on. With his dialogue he explains what he’s supposed to think happened, but the images explain what he is just now realizing actually happened. That was a classic DePalma device that I can’t remember seeing in another movie and that confused many people at the time. Because they wanted to follow the numbers but the numbers weren’t all there. Anyway thanks I.K. and good luck with your killing.
Sept. 15, 2006, 9:44 p.m. CST
Just saw the movie…
And it is a great noir, and perfect territory for De Palma, however that last half hour really makes you forget how great the rest of the movie was. They just were tying too much up with too little time, and the person that made the Scooby Doo parallel is dead on. There IS a lot of great stuff in here: Eckhart’s performance, the fades and wipes, that whole aerial shot of the apartment where the shoot out happens, to the woman trying to get attention, back to the street, and the hue tracking shot when Hartnet’s character first entered Swank’s character’s house. However, that whole dinner scene with the caricature was really out of tone and not at all needed. I just wish they had another 30 minutes to let thins breathe. Also, when I saw “Raising Cain” I really wasn’t a fan, and what the twist was I thought was common knowledge just for how obvious it was, but now when I think back on it, I only have fond memories…strange. Also, does anyone know if De Palma voiced the off camera uy in Short’s screen tests? As that would be great.
Sept. 15, 2006, 10:21 p.m. CST
Yeah, that’s De Palma voicing the director
by Osmosis Jones
As for the movie, I mostly loved it, although Fiona Shaw’s performance in her two scenes was PHENOMINALLY awful. Still, the film’s soft critical reception is baffling. And De Palma is most certainly *not* a “hack”, a word that angry, uneducated young film fans like to toss out to slag the work of a filmmaker who’s style they personally dislike. De Palma is a brilliant visual stylist, and Black Dahlia is full of gorgeous sequences.
Sept. 15, 2006, 10:46 p.m. CST
Fantastic. And yeah, it was gorgeous, I’m just upset that I keep focusing on the end rather than the rest. Eckhart was great. That scene where they are watching Short’s film…
Sept. 15, 2006, 11:09 p.m. CST
Where is Mirajeff’s review?
I can’t find it anywhere on this site.
Sept. 15, 2006, 11:27 p.m. CST
“It is content to let you hold onto your own hair…”
by Bob Cryptonight
LOL! Priceless, Vern! Once again you strike with the red-hot poker of, err, humor.
Sept. 15, 2006, 11:43 p.m. CST
MrBadd you keep making that point…
by Bob Cryptonight
But the case facts reveal her to have been pretty whorish about getting what she wanted, and she gave many many blowjobs to men rather than sleep with them because her vagina was allegedly (from the autopsy) malformed. And her teeth were completely rotted out and plugged with wax (a cheap method of dentistry back in the day). I realize that she had a family who loved her an worried about her, but she had very dubious methods of seeking fame in Hollywood (the aforementioned blowjobs, skipping out on rent, living with guys out of need rather than getting a regular job). I guess my point is that, it doesn’t matter how the movie portrays her (it’s fiction, after all) but the criminal investigation revealed a lot of horrible stuff about her. The website you keep pushing is very thin on facts that reveal her MONTHS IN HOLLYWOOD…
Sept. 16, 2006, 12:10 a.m. CST
Sorry to repost this, but it’s gotta be said.
This movie is a complete and utter mess. There is no narrative whatsoever, Eckhart’s acting is laughable, and Hartnett should go to the mall this weekend and start filling out applications. Scarlett’s gorgeous, of course, but seriously – this thing is ridiculous. Plot points and twists that make no sense whatsoever, pointless drag show-like camp that has absolutely no place being there at all, needless sex scenes with no passion at all… I could go on and on. Damn shame, too – I was REALLY looking forward to seeing it, and I was let down in every way I could possibly think of.
Sept. 16, 2006, 12:52 a.m. CST
Sept. 16, 2006, 9:47 a.m. CST
I can’t believe De Palma’s hate on this place.
I mean WTF? The last fifteen minutes of Carlito’s Way alone should give the guy credit on the Geek Kingdom for life. What he did during the 70’s and 80’s should earn him a fucking statue, so everybody shut the fuck up. Congratulations on your promotion Vern, you’re still the best writer here.
Sept. 16, 2006, 10:24 a.m. CST
Why the hate?
OK, I admit the man has (had?) talent but there are no free passes for life. Certainly not from me. I’m not saying actors/dircetors/etc are only as good as their last film, that wouldn’t be fair. But to coast for years (and in some cases decades) on past success, still get paid millions and be lauded as a genious? I think not. I think it’s fair that people call it as they see it, and if perhaps someone can’t deliver anymore they should move over and give someone else a shot. Just saying.
Sept. 16, 2006, 11:41 a.m. CST
Yes, DePalma is over-rated
I think there are a lot of DePalma fans (not all) that just say he’s a genius because OTHER people say he’s a genius. But once you sober up, you’ll realize he ain’t all that. Like that Deadhead joke–what did the Deadhead say when he sobered up? “These guys suck!”
Sept. 16, 2006, 2:50 p.m. CST
Josh Hartnett is…
by mr. brownstone
the James Brolin for the new millineum.
Sept. 16, 2006, 2:54 p.m. CST
I’ve got nothing against him…
by mr. brownstone
really, but I think if the movie had a stronger lead actor to tie it all togther it would have helped the film. Hartnett isn’t a good enough actor or a charismatic enough lead to anchor it, and since DePalma is on auto pilot for half the picture it needed that.
Sept. 16, 2006, 3:13 p.m. CST
by mr. brownstone
Get the fuck over yourself.
Sept. 16, 2006, 6:19 p.m. CST
Steve Rogers – re: The Big Nowhere
You’re absolutely correct. It’s a GREAT, GREAT book. “L.A. Confidential” and “American Tabloid” are excellent too.
Sept. 16, 2006, 6:20 p.m. CST
Scarface was a classic before the first dumbass MC decided to show Cribs his home theatre setup. Maybe it’s a generational thing, but Scarface was the Bonnie and Clyde of its era. The blimp scene alone is one of the most iconic moments in modern cinema, and it doesn’t matter if it’s semi-ripped-off.
Sept. 20, 2006, 12:40 a.m. CST
All I got to say…
by Cadillac Jones
…is that Mission to Mars was amazing and Red Planet sucked…and gave us blue-balls with Carrie-Anne Moss’ shower-scene. I liked Volcano. Did anyone actually watch Dante’s Peak?
VERN has a new action-horror novel out called WORM ON A HOOK! He has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the film criticism books Seagalogy: A Study of the Ass-Kicking Films of Steven Seagal and Yippee Ki-Yay Moviegoer!: Writings on Bruce Willis, Badass Cinema and Other Important Topics as well as the crime novel Niketown.