RARA-AVIS: THE BLACK DAHLIA, more heresy--Surreal

From: Bludis Jack ( buildsnburns@yahoo.com)
Date: 17 Sep 2006

Here he goes again:

I not only liked THE BLACK DAHLIA movie, and don't care much how much Elroy was involved in it, but as a "movie," it is visually, one of the best I've seen in years.

Seeing the movie sent me back to the book. I have reread 150 pages, and some scenes are lifted almost verbatim from the book. Some details are askew, but, I think, necessarily so.

For example in the book, the evidence that Scarlett Johansson's Kay Lake was tortured required quick, visual evidence that Lee Blanchard didn't do it.

The movie is noir, Lee is screwed as are Kay and Bucky in the long run. Bucky, in a sense was screwed from the beginning when he was in the boxing match with Lee.

What jumps out at me is that the movie is surreal, as is the case of the Black Dahlia itself. All of the cops act it straight, except perhaps for the guy doing the autopsy--and that might have been a subtle slap at TV like CSI.

The other characters: Kay, who comes off as a 50s, not 40s, housewife with a tortured past; Elizabeth Short, her father, and her movie friends; Madeline, the other Linscotts, and most of the minor characters are so over the top that it is clearly intentional to create the atmosphere. (One of the things that directing is all about is creating juxtapositions.)

This juxtaposition of realistic and almost Grand-Guignol acting styles, creates a true surreal atmosphere, that emphasizes the surreality of the crime.

Although he is not the quintessential tough guy, and perhaps even a 2006 Alpha/Beta male, I thought that Josh Harnett's chartacter and voice-overs, not only helped with the atmosphere, but helped greatly with the explanation of the story.

I know how some people feel: the story is everything, the images secondary. Paraphrasing the last or nearly last line of CHINATOWN, "It's a movie, guys."

All that being said, the one thing that did bother me was Madeleine's (Hillary Swank's) insistence that she looked like Elizabeth Short. Mia Kirchner as the Dahlia turned in a superb performance.

OK, now throw bricks.

Jack Bludis

PS: And by the way, it was infinitely better than HOLLYWOODLAND.

*Shadow of the Dahlia* available at MysteryLovesCompany.com

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 17 Sep 2006 EDT