Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Post Dahlia Report

If only I could tell you The Black Dahlia was worth it after waiting four years for the follow-up to Femme Fatale, but alas, it appears De Palma's heart wasn't in it...for me it never really got off the ground and here's why...

1. Josh Hartnett is a void at the centre of the screen. Why do people keep hiring him as the lead? And why has an actor with the flattest, blandest vocal delivery this side of Harrison Ford been entrusted throughout his career with the job of the narrator (Black Hawk Down, Sin City and now here)? The only time I quite liked Hotnett in a movie was towards the beginning of his career in his role as Trip Fontaine in Sofia Coppola's The Virgin Suicides; the listless film literally kicked into second gear the instant his character showed up.

2. Not enough Aaron Eckhart. Things were looking good at the beginning with Eckhart shambling around with his dim good looks, introduced early as a tough cop with a sideline image within the force as a boxer - De Palma seizes upon an amazing touch that nods to Eckhart's near-caricature handsomeness, outfitting him with a protective mouthplate that renders his goofy smile even more cartoonish - he is the modern equivalent to Russ Meyer's favourite beefcake go-to guy, Charles Napier. But for reasons made unclear in the narrative, he goes bonkers in the face of the Elizabeth Short investigation and gets done in about halfway through by the Phantom of the Paradise guy, both of them falling hard from atop a spiral staircase into a fountain that fills quickly with their blood, just like Tony Montana in Scarface...

3. Fiona Shaw. The acclaimed British stage actress plays Hilary Swank's demented mother in a performance so off-the-scale in its excessive scenery-chomping that I started wondering if De Palma had originally planned to have John Lithgow play the part (Raising Cain, anyone?).

No comments: