+ "The Black Dahlia": Sorry, Mr. De Palma, but your "dark side of vintage Hollywood film" is averaging out worse with the critics than "Hollywoodland," with added sighs of disappointment â€” this one, everyone really really wanted to like. On the plus side, the Village Voice‘s J. Hoberman writes that "Although the action set pieces are impressive, the exposition is sluggish. For all the posh dollies, high angles, and Venetian-blind crisscross patterns, The Black Dahlia rarely achieves the rhapsodic (let alone the delirious)." Wait, that’s the good side? At Entertainment Weekly, Owen Gleiberman, also fairly generous to the film, still thinks that "Somehow, it’s all dreadfully old hat…The Black Dahlia isn’t a cheat, it’s just a misfire, but the most surprising feeling it stirred in me was nostalgia for Brian De Palma’s old flamboyance." And there’s the dubious blessing of a rapturous Armond White at the New York Press, who insists that "L.A. Confidential and Hollywoodlandâ€”films that pretend to investigate our national fascination with moviesâ€”look like child’s play compared to Brian DePalma’s The Black Dahlia," and blames any problems on the "superficial sociology of author James Ellroy‘s source material."
It’s goes downhill from there: Scott Foundas at LA Weekly mourns that the film is "an ideal match of director, writer and subject, and The Black Dahlia has so many of the right moves, you wish the whole thing were better" â€” she’s one of several critics to pick out Hilary Swank‘s as the notable performance (the tomboy outvamps Scarlett Johansson!), though others aren’t so fond of it. At the New Yorker, David Denby calls the film "overrich and fundamentally unsatisfying"; David Edelstein at New York claims to be "stumped" by it: "I can’t tell you how it ended up such a stiff." Dana Stevens at Slate argues that the Ellroy novel that was "Dahlia"’s basis provides the film’s only worthwhile moments, and notes that "it almost doesn’t make sense to analyze the performances in The Black Dahlia since every actor seems cast in a movie of his or her own invention." For Manohla Dargis at the New York Times, most signs of life involve Swank and her character’s demented Hollywood-aristocrat family. And Stephanie Zacharek at Salon writes that "Mostly, the picture is curiously detached. It’s stylish in the De Palma mode, but not nearly as resonant as those of us who love him hoped it would be." Also:
In the past 10 years or so, I’ve had more casual conversations than I can count in which I’ve had to defend De Palma against charges of misogyny, or claims that he’s just a slick stylist who knows how to push buttons. De Palma does know how to push buttons, but I think what really enrages people is that he pushes buttons they didn’t know they had. He also trusts us, his audience, to do the work of thinking and feeling, and sometimes, through no fault of his own, we balk at the responsibility. In his greatest pictures — "Casualties of War" would be at the top, with "Blow Out" and "Carlito’s Way" hovering nearby — perhaps he’s asking us to relinquish some of our pride as moviegoers, as bright people hip to the trickery of the movie arts, in order to reinforce our dignity as human beings. No wonder so many people hate him.
Confetti comes not to emulate, but to rescue us from, the seemingly endless stream of cookie-cutter British comedies â€” the lazy-minded spawn of The Full Monty â€” about workers moving on up through soccer, song and dance, or flashing their tits for a good cause. And if nothing else, this affectionately off-the-wall confection offers exuberant confirmation of every suspicion you might have ever had that the English are charmingly eccentric. Theyâ€™re barking mad.
Lisa Schwarzbaum at Entertainment Weekly muses that "Yanks should be proud, I suppose, that American excess and vulgarity provide fodder for a charming Busby Berkeley finale. Equal opportunists, though, might wish [director Debbie] Isitt had set at least one of the three nuptials amid some truly wretched Brit pomp for a change." And Stephen Holden at the New York Times thinks that "’Confetti’ lacks [Christopher] Guest and his companyâ€™s shared understanding that each person is a miniature comic planet with its own quirky climate, whirling in its own eccentric orbit."
"The Last Kiss" movie mathematics: Tony Scott lede: "Is 30 the new 50, or is it the new 12?" Lisa Schwarzbaum lede: "If it’s true that, for women, 60 is the new 40, must it follow that, for men, 30 is the new 10?"