oscar run xxix: animated short films
life goes on

oscar run xxx: the black dahlia

Don't worry, Neal, this is the last one.

Fifty days ago I posted oscar run i: an inconvenient truth. Now I'm up to xxx, the last one for another year.

Holy shit, did this movie suck.

The only real question is whether or not it was worse than Pirates of the Caribbean 2. It's a close call, but Pirates was half-an-hour longer, so I think it retains its "worst movie of Oscar Run 2007" title. What was wrong with The Black Dahlia? It was completely incoherent, for one thing. Oftentimes when Robin and I are watching a movie, I'll look at her and say "I don't have the slightest idea what is going on here." Her response is usually a rolling of the eyes as she explains the plot verrrry slooooowly. This time, her reply was "I don't think I know what's going on, either."

Then there's the acting. Josh Hartnett spends the entire movie with a look on his face that says "uh oh, that burrito I ate for lunch is about to make my ass explode, I better try to hold it in until this scene is over." Scarlett Johansson … I really want to love her, she could be the next Kate Winslet, except Kate Winslet is never bad and usually good and sometimes great, while Scarlett Johansson is sometimes good. And, here, she's bad. Hilary Swank … well, if someone told you after watching her performance that she'd won two acting Oscars, you'd wonder what the Academy voters were smoking. Only Mia Kirshner escapes … she's very good as the titular character, although to be honest, she's played this kind of wounded nutcase enough times now that she ought to be able to do it in her sleep (that she does in fact elicit our sympathy nonetheless is a sign of how good she is here). The film's nomination is for cinematography, and that's fair, the film's look is effective.

This is Brian De Palma's first movie since Femme Fatale, a much-maligned film that I actually liked. I wouldn't be a good Paulette if I didn't like at least some of De Palma's work, of course. But if they showed this movie in heaven, even Pauline Kael's corpse would give it a bad review. Perhaps more importantly, given the subject matter, The Black Dahlia wouldn't even get good reviews in hell.

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