Thursday, September 14, 2006


Won’t it be fun to watch this sequence within the hallowed walls of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art?

Brian De Palma’s The Black Dahlia opens in theaters tomorrow and has been drawing everything from Keith Uhlich's intelligent rave, to Armond White’s unusually tempered enthusiasm, to Manohla Dargis' semi-respectful pass, to an outright pan from David Edelstein, who has not been shy about his appreciation of the director’s past work, especially Casualties of War, a movie Dargis describes as "lugubrious."


(UPDATE 9/15 8:45 a.m. Matt Zoller Seitz has checked in with his review over at The House Next Door. I haven't read it yet, as Matt indicates in the first paragraph that it is dense with spoilers. But judging from the comments already posted in its wake, and the length of the review, as well as the tone I was able to glean from briefly glancing through it, it seems Matt is a whole lot more impressed with the film than have been reviewers like Edelstein, Manohla Dargis and, yes, even Mr. White. If Matt's previous writing is any indication, and it damn well should be, this, alongside the Keith Uhlich review linked above, looks like it might be the most complex and intelligent positive assessment the film is likely to get. I look forward to sitting down with this review after I've seen The Black Dahlia.

In the comments section of his post, Matt also links to a piece on that he characterizes as "the latest bulletin from the Department of You-Gotta-Be-Fucking-Kidding-Me." Indeed. The piece, by Michael Ventre, is entitled "Brian De Palma is Simply a Gun for Hire," and it adds a bunch of new canards to an already tiresome litany of complaints about the director. For example, I really like Carlito's Way, but this is a bit much:

"Carlito's Way... probably brought De Palma more respect among cinephiles."

Or how about this to give some context as to just how much the author understands the real world, let alone the processes of a film artist:

"The two primary tasks of a director are to get the script in shape, and then cast the movie well. After that a trained chimpanzee could at least deliver a workmanlike rough cut."

There are many more nuggets of wisdom to be gleaned about De Palma from this astonishing bit of reportage, but these were two of my favorites. What are some of yours?


And if you’re in the Los Angeles area, there’s something else to be excited about as De Palma’s latest begins unreeling everywhere this weekend: The Los Angeles County Museum of Art begins screenings tomorrow, lasting through September 30, of many of De Palma’s previous films under the banner “The Stylish Thrillers of Brian De Palma.” Scott Foundas, in the L.A.Weekly, takes that umbrella title to task while recognizing the exceptional opportunity this series is for film fans and De Palma acolytes alike to see the director’s work on the big (usually Panavision) screen where it belongs.

Here’s what LACMA has on tap through the end of the month:

Friday, September 15: Sisters 7:30 p.m.
Phantom of the Paradise 9:45 p.m.

Saturday, September 16: Scarface 7:30 p.m.

Friday, September 23: Carrie 7:30 p.m.
Dressed to Kill 9:20 p.m.

Saturday, September 24: Blow Out 7:30 p.m.
The Untouchables 9:30


Anonymous said...

Woo-hoo! What fun...that's my favorite sequence in the whole movie, and I never even realized it was at LACMA, a place I have good memories of (though not THAT kind of memories). Wish I could come see some of the programs there. But it was great to see that sequence again here...thanks.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Blaaagh! I was hoping this one might tease you out for a moment or two! Actually, I think the sequence was shot inside the Philadelphia Musueum of Art, but I could be wrong-- it's a bit of information I seem to remember reading somewhere but hadn't the time to research last night to be sure. At any rate, I'm pretty sure it wasn't shot inside LACMA, but I thought that a place like LACMA might be a keen place within which to see such a funny, swoony, eerie sequence. I only wish that I could actually make it to one of these screenings. Apparently, Jessica Harper and a couple other notable presences are going to do a Q & A between Sisters and Phantom of the Paradise tonight!

Anonymous said...

Ah, I might have known that it wasn't LACMA: I'm sure I'd have recognized it if it were. Anyway, what I wouldn't give to be there for that "Sisters" and "Phantom of the Paradise" night, with the lovely Ms. Harper, and who knows who else? Maybe Garret Graham, to give an encore reading of his immortal line, "What was that?"

Anonymous said...

I saw Black Dahlia on Friday night with a friend. We went to the 5:30 show at the AMC 16 in Burbank, and to my surprise, the theatre was about 60-70% full. Unfortunately, the movie was not good. I dozed off about half an hour (I think) into it and the rest of the film was just a confusing and boring mess. And despite the title, it's only peripherally about the Black Dahlia case. It's really about Josh Harnett's detective character. By the way, I've come to the conclusion that no matter how pretty he is, Josh Hartnett cannot carry a film. And poor Fiona Shaw as completely wasted, playing her character so over the top I was embarrassed for her.

Plus, Brian De Plama seemed to be trying to rip off L.A. Confidential, right down to the sound-alike score. Come on, Brian. Make your own movie!

Anonymous said...

Er, I meant Gerrit Graham, of course. Damn, I hate when I misspell things.

I'm going to see THE BLACK DAHLIA, despite some disappointing reports (like the one above)! I'm tired of unpacking, and I haven't seen a DePalma movie in a theater for a long time. Sharon, I think you're right about Josh Hartnett, though I liked him in HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE.