#1- Cinematic concerns

The Black Dahlia hits the screen next Friday. It's based on the James Ellroy novel of the same name, which happens to be a novel I like. I've been following the development of the movie for the past five (or so) years, back when it was a screenplay being developed for David Fincher.

Officially, I'm simultaniously excited and worried. The book is VERY ROUGH; Ellroy doesn't pull any punches. And while I'd have a hard time recommending the book to many people, it has some redemptive values that endear it to me. Plus, Ellroy's writing style has severely influenced my own.

Now, Brian DePalma is directing the movie. He's a capable director, and this could serve as a come-back for his (debatably) sagging career. But, having seen the trailer a few times, I have some concerns. Namely, some of the brutality in the book--which is never glamorized, and is juxtaposed with moments of grace--might make it to the screen in a flashy, sexed-up translation. This could be very, very bad. It could be the worldview, though; most fans of Ellroy's novels don't catch what's at work anyway, seeing the rough spots as "cool."

Second concern: the Black Dahlia is based on a real murder. The movie, and the source novel, are works of fiction. The sad truth is that so many American moviegoers won't be able to make the distinction. Browsing the IMDb message board is a depressing venture.

Third concern: how will this affect Ellroy? He's had a bad track record in Hollywood. Some of his books in pre-production get canned before they even get the green light (White Jazz, the Big Nowhere), and some come out as poor, poor adaptations (Cop, Brown's Requiem). The only winner was L.A. Confidential. It was a great movie, but differed so much from the source material that the only similarities were the three main characters. His books are notoriously labyrinthian in plot; if the screenplay for the Black Dahlia is bad, it'll end up somehow reflecting back at him. Bad film adaptations do, in fact, hurt authors.

So here's hoping.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 9/06/2006 12:24:00 PM,


At 3:32 PM, Blogger Erica said...

daily blog posts... it's about time Panella.

At 9:39 PM, Blogger Buddy Chamberlain said...

I think it looks very good (albiet a bit on the "scary" side), but I can understand your concerns, particularly as an Elroy fan. I look forward to your review of it, good or bad, because I know you'll pull no more punches than Elroy does.


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