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The Black Dahlia: An Observation on the Movie Industry

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After years of seeing virtually everything on its release date, or close to it, we've stayed away from movies for a variety of reasons, not the least of which are the quality of the offerings produced and the venue experience.

Yesterday, however, as I'm a James Ellroy fan, we ventured out to see The Black Dahlia, notwithstanding the remarkably mediocre reviews, which I read but to which I pay little attention, and which are fast becoming superfluous.

That said, the first pass at this review was ill-taken, as according to a Blogcritics editor, "I understand that you might want to be dismissive, but the reader looking for an article about the film will be looking for a bit more. For example, you say you're a James Ellroy fan: what did you think of his performance? Was it the director who got it wrong, or the writer or the actors?"

In my neverending effort to please editors, I should point out that James Ellroy was not in this film. With regard to the director, I'm not certain whether he "got it wrong." I'm fairly certain that he picked up an additional paycheck for inserting himself into the film as a director, which mitigates toward the primary challenge facing Hollywood these days: financial control.

Whether or not the writer "got it wrong" is another issue. Certainly Ellroy did not in his original work, The Black Dahlia. On the other hand, whether or not the movie's writer, Josh Friedman "got it wrong" in my view depends on whether or not one's read the novel. From my experience, screenwriters rarely are true to novels. After all, compressing 350 or so pages from a book into about 125 pages of script, precious little of which is narrative, leaves much to be desired, especially if the viewer was also a reader. About the only film I recall that was wholly true to that from which it was derived was The Confessions of Felix Krull.

Whether or not "the actors got it wrong" is more a question of whether or not the so-called casting director got it wrong, as in great measure, they appeared to be a group of children playing dress-up and cops and robbers: "Let's find a barn and put on a show." This is, of course, Hollywood's current, almost fruitless quest to find actors who can "open a movie." The answer to this question, of course, is purely subjective and in this case (as in most movies today), sure they did, and they rely mostly on either mumbling or emotional extremes as a substitute for their so-called craft.

The last film I saw was Jules and Jim. I'm not at all certain what prompts the entertainment industry to try to "make art" rather than entertainment, considering its constant failure in those endeavors. I am reasonably certain that this was one of those "art" attempts that failed miserably.

At least with Snakes on a Plane, you knew what your were getting.

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About Refugee

  • sigh

    Readers don’t need to know about your disputes with any editors. No one cares. Are you writing about a movie or about yourself?

  • http://www.earsucker.com Roberta

    I can’t gather from the article whether or not you liked the movie. The trailers look better than Hollywoodland, but I hear that’s a much better movie.

  • Refugee from Reason

    #1: Please note the headline, “…An Observation on the Movie Industry,” and mea culpa for the subtlety.
    #2: Considering the cost of trailer production, there’s little question why they are compelling. As to whether or not I liked the movie, I thought the line, “I am reasonably certain that this was one of those “art” attempts that failed miserably. At least with Snakes on a Plane, you knew what your were getting.” were rather definitive.