Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Black Dahlia (2006)

There was a list of films to see this weekend. Jackass Number 2, The Science of Sleep, a De Palma double feature of Blow Out and The Untouchables and The Black Dahlia, which I wanted to catch last weekend, but post-wedding exhaustion nixed. With Sunday wrapping up I made the effort to at least see one of the films, and it was Dahlia, which is the one most likely to disappear quickest. I also watched Edmond (which I liked), Body Double (yay) and Lucky Number Slevin (a guilty pleasure, but functional). But I just got back from BD.

One of the things I love about Hollywood is just that it's Hollywood. I go to the Arclight, and who's watching the movie with me but Peter Dinkage. There you go. As for the film, I have mixed feelings for the moment. As a narrative it is talky, and the mystery elements don't snap... the haunted obsession of Elizabeth Short (played well by Mia Kirshner) seems the backstory to the machinations of boxers/cops Bucky Bleichert (Josh Harnett) and Lee Blanchard (Aaron Eckhart). After a shooting, the two become attached to the Short case out of Lee's insistance, and it becomes something of an overwhelming obsession for Lee, something that is shown but not entirely felt. Bucky starts chasing after a woman named Madeline Linscott (Hilary Swank), who knew Short through a lesbian bar. Bucky and Lee have been friends for a while, and share a relationship with Kay Lake (Scarlet Johansson), but though Kay and Bucky suggest their emotions, Bucky's unwilling to do anything while Lee's in the picture. There's a tale of obsession, betrayal, guilt, all the things that make a great De Palma film, but taken as a whole, and a second viewing might settle some things for me, it's a little too leaden for its own good. I didn't sink into the character's emotional weight, and there's so much going on that I felt like some important emotional beats were left out. I got into the film's lulling rhythms, but waited for the moment of total engagement, which just didn't happen. De Palma can still stage a setpiece, and those sequences popped, but I kept waiting for momentum to kick in. It didn't, though I loved the hoary theatrics of the villian's reveal. But the pieces were there for it to be out of the park, and I just didn't feel it. Still, worth seeing, if only for De Palma's command.

Afterwards I drove down Sunset at sunset. I see why it got the name. Now, I'm back in Burbank. I've been freaking out lately about the kid stuff. I'll tell you, the thing that sort of settled me was making love with the wife in the baby's room. We fell asleep in the middle of the room, and I guess everything was okay. You can worry about the long term, and you should, but sometimes the smart money's on staying with the day to day concerns.