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Almost let Brian De Palma
's The Black Dahlia
slip out of the threatres, noting the so-so reviews, and then remembered, with a forehead slap, he always get bad reviews--until 5, 10, 20 years later, then everyone loves his work.
It's awesome. Yeah, yeah, Josh Hartnett and Scarlett Johansson are wooden, so what? You don't go to this man's films for the acting--it's adequate. With De Palma it's the architecture, the slithery camera unhinged from narrative (or so we think until it reveals something important), the overwhelming sense of place, the visual clues and puns, the high camp melodrama, the intricately worked out geometry of every scene. The shot of the creepy slum houses under the "Hollywoodland" sign alone brings James Ellroy to life, but the "discovery of the body" scene takes his tawdry view of tinseltown to a whole other macabre level. The movie is shot on digital video but it feels big screen ambitious.
Go, go tomorrow. Be sure to look for Mia Kirshner as the Dahlia--she played "the babysitter" in Atom Egoyan's Exotica
and seems forever on the verge of a major career. May she be another Jennifer Connelly blessed with a "late break." She's really good.