Saturday, March 03, 2007

Casting Is Everything

Over the past month, I've rented two recent films that were set in the golden age of Noir. So if I were to grade movies set in that era on a basis of one to ten, they would get four points automatically, simply for getting the clothes, hairstyles, and cars right.

Both were decent efforts that were based on true stories, so I knew that both would have endings that could never be truly satisfying. Certainly, because I knew the outcome and I knew that neither the screenwriters nor the directors could create endings that could be both good and plausible.

"Hollywoodland" got the feel of the era right, though Adrien Brody's Louis Simo never wears a hat. I realize that it's set in the City of Angels, but men wore hats back then. Check the films of that era, the history books, the pictures, and you will see hats.

It was a solid movie in terms of performances and casting. Allen Coulter being a veteran of several "The Sopranos" episodes, did a good job of creating tension and setting a mood. The script lacked a little and the ending lacked somewhat.

People wear hats in "The Black Dahlia" and DePalma gets a lot right, but he gets himself wrong. From a directoral standpoint, the first ninety minutes of the film (save for a boxing scene lacks DePalma's visual tricks and over the first ninety minutes), there isn't the flash that I'm used to. The film could've used it to pick up the transistions.

One of my favorite bloggers went up against one of the hardest things in the world, adapting a James Ellroy novel and he came out of it with a decent and comprehensible script. They could offer me a million dollars and I won't adapt Ellroy, though, Eszterhaus money might change my mind.

Every one of Ellroy's books have been optioned and look how few of them actually make it to the screen. I'll put it you another way, "The Black Dahlia" has taken over twenty years to make it to the screen and dozens of screenwriters have gone mad, trying.

The movie ultimately falls apart for me (your results may vary with viewing) because it depends on DePalma reaching into his bag of tricks for the doppleganger ("Dressed To Kill," "Body Double" and "Raising Cain") and when he does, there isn't the faintest of a resemblance between the characters.

He wanted Eva Green for the role and she turned him down...that's a damn shame. Instead, he got Hilary Swank who did a fairly good job, but looks nothing like the character that the movie hinges on.



Blogger BeckEye said...

Best DePalma movie? "Blow Out," of course.

Sun Mar 04, 08:42:00 PM PST  
Blogger Writeprocrastinator said...


Um, I'm more partial to "The Untouchables" or "Carlito's Way." "Blow Out" was one of Travolta's best performances and movie was excellent, until Lithgow killed Nancy. I spent days, possibly weeks angry about that...I don't know and I don't want to remember.

I don't want a happy Hollywood ending in every film, but we as the audience invested so much in Travolta getting there in time and...

Sun Mar 04, 08:54:00 PM PST  

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