Friday, January 26, 2007

Movie Review: "The Black Dahlia"

I admit that the only reason I watched "The Black Dahlia" was because I didn't realize beforehand that it was directed by Brian De Palma. De Palma is one of my least favorite directors. He and Oliver Stone are the foremost examples of "over-directors", in my mind. Their movies generally drive me crazy because they seem to have this ego-driven need to spend the entire film showcasing their directing "talents", and thereby constantly inserting themselves into the movie... and taking the moviegoer out of the movie. Yeah, you're smart. You know all about camera angles and flashbacks and mood lighting. I get it. But I just want to watch the movie.

Interestingly, both Stone and De Palma have made movies that I've really enjoyed (like JFK and The Untouchables) , so I guess their style doesn't always prevent me from liking their movies... but those seem to be the exceptions to the rule.

Side note: The quintessential example of a director who doesn't "over-direct", in my opinion, is Steven Spielberg. He directed a string of unbelievably great movies and basically never got within sniffing distance of an Oscar... until he decided to film a movie in black & white (how daring!!) and bingo, he nabs Best Director for Schindler's List.

Anyway, back to The Black Dahlia. I give it 2 out of 5 stars. If I had to use one word to describe the movie, it would be "annoying". It lacked any sort of flow, and several times I thought the movie was about to end (thankfully), only to see yet another "twist" tacked on that I needed to watch. The only reason I gave it 2 stars (as opposed to fewer) was that the cast was very strong. I can stand to watch Scarlett Johansson and Hilary Swank even when they are in bad movies (and both have had their share). And I'm slowly coming around to Josh Hartnett, who I thought was wonderful in Lucky Number Slevin - though I admit it will take me awhile to forgive him for Hollywood Homicide.

So I suggest passing on The Black Dahlia. On the other hand, I hear the book is pretty good.

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