Monday, March 25, 2013
Jake Gyllenhaal is one of the actors in the frame to replace Jude Law in Jane Got A Gun. The LA Times reports that a replacement for Jude is now being sought, with the End Of Watch star, Tobey Maguire and Jeff Bridges among the names being considered for the role.
Natalie Portman has already been cast as a woman who runs away from her villainous outlaw husband (previously played by Jude) and is forced to team up with an ex-boyfriend - played by Joel Edgerton - to protect her family. Source: www.independent.ie
Jake Gyllenhaal in 'End of Watch' Portraits - Toronto Film Festival, on September 10, 2012
Jake Gyllenhaal, Empire magazine photoshoot, November 2012
Jake Gyllenhaal in Entertainment Weekly photoshoot
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña discuss who has the sharpest shot is in this interview for the home entertainment release of David Ayer's End of Watch.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
"The Black Dahlia" (2006) directed by Brian De Palma, based on one of James Ellroy's most famed novels, employs Elizabeth Short's story mainly as backdrop of an intoxicating noir atmosphere (Vilmos Zsigmond's cinematography was nominated to an Oscar) which manages to encapsule the pulse of the decadent Los Angeles evoked in the classic 40s pulp film and novels. After a rigged boxing fight in benefit for the LAPD, Dwight 'Bucky' Bleichert (Mr. Ice) -played by Josh Hartnett-, teams up with Lee Blanchard (Mr. Fire) -played by Aaron Eckhart. Josh Friedman's screenplay follows like a monitor these two retired boxers, now detectives who are assigned to investigate Elizabeth Short's gruesome murder.
In this analysis of "The Black Dahlia" I want to bring up some clues that could have been overlooked due to the complexity of the characters and yuxtaposition of the subplots. Although quite a few critics and disappointed Ellroy's readers didn't regard De Palma's version as doing justice to Elizabeth Short's life and misfortune, I think we should examine closely the original script to appreciate those details which couldn't be translated into the film due to time restriction (the director cut extends to 3 hours).
Scarlett Johansson plays a Lana Turner lookalike, the mysterious yet wordly blonde Kay Lake, Blanchard's girlfriend.
Madeleine Linscott (played by Hilary Swank) is a wealthy femme-fatale who was acquainted with Elizabeth Short and other aspiring actresses around La Verne’s lesbian club. She becomes Bucky's confident and lover in order to shift the police's attention from her unstable family clan.
Madeleine Linscott: "[My father] bought rotten lumber and abandoned movie facades from Mack Sennett and built houses out of them. He's got firetraps all over LA registered to phony corporations... His 'good friend' George? Disfigured in a car crash while running Daddy some errands."
Emmett Linscott [Madeleine's father]: "1920. Hollywood was a cow pasture, but the silent flickers was booming. Georgie got work as a lighting man, and me building houses. Georgie got me introduced to Mack Sennett and I helped him build that housing project he was putting up -Hollywoodland- underneath that godawful sign."
There is a motif throughout "The Black Dahlia" that lays out Hollywood as a murky scene, a source of excruciating travails and obscenity. Also there is an element that disturbingly connects this film to "The Big Knife" (a sharp indictment of Hollywood directed by Robert Aldrich in 1955, inspired by John Garfield's real tribulations) which is symbolized by a wall painting featuring a freakish sad clown in both films, being in "The Big Knife" an anonymous portrait and in "The Black Dahlia" the portrait of Gwynplaine -a disfigured character from Victor Hugo's novel "The Man Who Laughs".
There is a scene where Lee, Kay and Bucky are watching a big screen projecting "The Man Who Laughs" (1928), a horror silent film directed by Paul Leni, based on Hugo's novel. Gwynplaine falls in love with Dea, a blind girl who reciprocates him despite of his hideous grin, caused by Dr. Hardquannone's surgical slash of his mouth. In the novel Gwynplaine and Dea drown in the sea and die.
George Tilden (Bill Finley) and Ramona Linscott (Fiona Shaw) are the equivalent of Gwynplaine and Dea, a pair of unhinged creeps ill-suited for living around normal people who find the same fate than Hugo's characters. The difference is the couple of freaks in "The Black Dahlia" are murderers.
Georgie was disfigured by Emmett Linscott as an act of vengeance when he discovers Madeleine is fathered by Tilden (an aspiring actor too) and later proceeds to carry a secret relationship with Madeleine when she grows up into adult age. This perverse affair provokes bouts of madness in Ramona, a pill addict "hophead", whose hatred for her daughter and failed romance with Georgie lead her to become Elizabeth's unexpected murderer.
"Georgie liked to touch dead things. I mean, his father was a surgeon", Emmett Linscott reveals to Bucky in the final part of the film. This is one of the most hidden clues in De Palma's exposition. In Georgie's mind, Elizabeth Short was already dead when she met him in the bungalow near Beachwood Canyon. Why this character would think so of an apparently lively, feisty girl like Elizabeth? Georgie Tilden had been a "handsome bastard" before his dreams of going to Hollywood were cruelly cut off by Mr. Linscott. His heart figuratively stopped at that moment of his disfigurement because his shallow and naïve ambitions perished at Emmett's jealous hands.
So Georgie figures Elizabeth is soulless after having seen her starring in a stag film. We could interpret the film's subjacent idea that Hollywood exerts on their regular players a deeply traumatic effect at best or even a moral extinction: Tinseltown as a hell of lost identities and mimetic souls.
There is an allusion in the play 'The Value of Names' to Clifford Odets [author of 'The Big Knife'], John Garfield's onetime friend. "He was dead and gone even before he was dead," says the play's lead actor Jack Klugman of Odets, who named names in 1952 following a revival of Golden Boy and hours before John Garfield died. "They used to tear his posters off the theaters," Klugman said of John Garfield's female admirers.
Josh Hartnett caused a similar furor between the female demographics half a century after John Garfield's peak of fame and death, especially through the war epic Pearl Harbor (2001), about the attack in 1941 propelling the USA into World War II. In his early 20s, Josh Hartnett shared some of Garfield's appealing traits, and his screen image represented an undeniable magnet for girls worldwide. Described by director Bruce Beresford as "tall and impossibly handsome", Josh Hartnett had a supple body and one of the most boyishly masculine faces in Hollywood: shy hazel eyes, and an unmistakably sexy smile due to the unique form that his zygomaticus sparked an illusion of dimples. "Hollywood doesn't need my love" was one of Hartnett's teasing quotes.
As the noir detective, Hartnett plays maybe his most masculine character so far in his career, despite Bucky enduring several moments of self-doubt and low self-esteem while struggling to find a solution to the Dahlia's puzzle murder.
"Many film noirs, however, do not just reproduce that 'melodrama of beset manhood' but also identify its source in the hero [...] by emphasizing the unreal appearance of the femme fatale which foregrounds her imaginary dimension. The power (and hold) of the femme fatale over the main character derives from the fact that she is an imaginary construct, so that an important part of the suspense derives from the question whether and how the main character will be able to liberate himself from the hold of his own imaginary". -“Crime, Guilt and Subjectivity in Film Noir” (2001) by Winfried Fluck.
Bucky experiences a meltdown when Madeleine confesses to him a one-night stand with the Black Dahlia: "I felt like I was sinking; like the bed was dropping out from under me. Madeleine looked like she was at the end of a long tunnel, captured by some kind of weird camera trick." 'Betty and I made love once that one time last summer.' Scared by her confession, he leaves Madeleine, although she begs him: “Bucky, stay, sugar, stay.”
"To a fighter, sex tastes like blood and resin and suture scrub. I wondered if some day that would ever be different," had been Bucky's ruminations before Kay held him mesmerized and later he added clandestine sexual trysts with Madeleine. In one of the early scenes, Bucky even jokes he's ben saving himyself for Rita Hayworth when Kay asks him if he has a girlfriend. That's another reference to the glitz and mythology of Hollywood in a film that is oddly more obsessed with the dark side of Tinseltown than Elizabeth Short's unsolved case. Some screen tests where Mia Kirshner plays a distressed Elizabeth (with a woeful face and sad smile) work as a romantic aubade amidst a confusing plot that meanders into vague descriptions of a throwaway film industry and police officers' corruption.
Madeleine, always acting with malice aforethought, is intent on driving Bucky insane, playing with his morbidly romantic fixation on Elizabeth. Although in the film Bucky's obsession is more understated than in the novel, in the original script we see that side explicitly: "That night I pictured myself the way I wanted Elizabeth to picture me -her knight in shining armor, a reborn two-bit harness bull who cracked the biggest unsolved homicide in California history. A war hero, a heavyweight champion."
One of the most important themes in noir is the confusion of identity. In that sense, "The Black Dahlia" is one of the purest examples in the whole genre. The femme-fatale in the story, Madeleine, identifies with Elizabeth's looks. Lee identifies Elizabeth with his little sister, Bucky sees himself reflected in Elizabeth's personality. Even Kay sees herself dragged in this twisted litany of obsession: "[Lee] loved us. And I love you. And if you hadn't seen so much of yourself in her you'd realize how much you loved me". Bucky has fallen in love with Elizabeth's image: "Bye-bye Betty, Beth, Betsy, Liz, we were a couple of tramps, too bad we didn't meet before 39th and Norton, it just might have worked, maybe us would've been the one thing we wouldn't have fucked up past redemption".
"Then there's the decomposing face of Lee 'smiling like the Dahlia, with worms creeping out of his mouth and the holes where his eyes used to be.' Ellroy built 'The Black Dahlia' (1987) around the great physical idea that clinches the first impression he gives of Beth's corpse: 'the mouth cut ear to ear into a smile that leered up at you, somehow mocking the rest of the brutality inflicted'. This 'death leer', the book's dominating image, joins the comic to the macabre and joy to anguish because of the critical distance it puts between victim and tormentor. [...] great art requires distancing. It's perspective and slant that makes us wonder if Beth, despite the brutal pain inflicted on her by them, didn't get the last laugh on Ramona and Tilden, that sorry pair whose sole claim on our memory comes from their connection with her." -"Like Hot Knives to the Brain: James Ellroy's Search for Himself" (2006) by Peter Wolfe
"They found him [Georgie Tilden] croaked in a parking lot downtown, just twelve blocks from where he'd dumped Betty Short. Just croaked. I hoped the evil ate him from the inside out, filling him with blackness..." (Bucky's Voice Over).
One of the most interesting scenes is the final confrontation between Madeleine and Bucky in the film, absent from the script and the novel.
Madeleine: "I think you’d rather fuck me than kill me. But you don’t have the guts to do either. You’re a boxer, not a fighter. You chose me over her. You’ll choose me over him. You’ll never shoot me. Don’t forget who I look like. Because that girl, that sad, dead, bitch. She’s all you have."
Bucky comes off as an irreducible Chandlerian detective in his duel against the ruthless femme-fatale, shooting her on the spot.
"I felt this reptile had to go down. And it’s not like he cleverly covered up the murder," Brian De Palma explains Bucky killing Madeleine, a sudden change from Ellroy's original ending.
"She’s from a very wealthy family, so it’s probably not going to end well for Bucky." De Palma: "No."
So again, we reconnect another couple of misfits (Madeleine as a trashy nympho declassed from the high society, Bucky a flawed detective who supressed evidence in the case) with Dea and Gwynplaine from "The Man Who Laughs" and their bleak destination.
Article first published as Script v Book v Film: The Black Dahlia on Blogcritics.
Friday, March 08, 2013
Happy Anniversary, Claire Trevor!
Portrait of Claire Trevor (born Claire Wemlinger) in 1944.
Pat O'Brien and Claire Trevor in a scene from "Crack-Up" (1946) directed by Irving Reis
Claire Trevor and her son Charles having rest on the set of the film "Borderline" (1950) directed by William A. Seiter.
Monday, March 04, 2013
Betty Short died at twenty-two. She was a flaky kid living out flaky kid fantasies. A reporter learned that she dressed solely in black and named her "The Black Dahlia." The tag nullified her and vilified her and turned her into a sainted lost daughter and a slut. The case was a huge news event. Jack Webb steeped his twelve-page summary in the ethos of the time: Femme fatales die hard and are complicitous in attracting death by vivisection. He didn't understand the killer's intentions or know that his gynecological tampering defined the crime. He didn't know that the killer was horribly afraid of women. He didn't know that he cut the Dahlia open to see what made women different from men.
Webb described the Dahlia's last days. She was running to and from men and stretching her mental resources schizophrenically thin. She was looking for a safe place to hide. Two photographs accompanied the story. The first one showed Betty Short at 39th and Norton. Her legs were half visible. Men with guns and pocket notebooks were standing over her body. The second one showed her in life. Her hair was swept up and back -like a 1940s portrait shot of my mother. My Black Dahlia obsession assumed new fantasy forms. I rescued Betty Short and became her lover. I saved her from a life of promiscuity. I tracked down her killer and executed him. They were strong, narrative-based fantasies. They took the queasy edge off my Dahlia fixation.
I took bus trips downtown to the Main Public Library. I read the 1947 Herald-Express on microfilm rolls. I learned all about the life and death of the Black Dahlia. Betty Short came from Medford, Massachusetts. She had three sisters. Her parents were divorced. She visited her dad in California in 1943. She got hooked on Hollywood and men in uniform. She wanted to be a movie star. She was concurrently engaged to several army flyboys. She frequented cocktail bars and cadged drinks and dinners off strange men. She told whopping lies routinely. Her life was indecipherable. I instinctively understood that life. It was a chaotic collision with male desire. Betty Short wanted powerful things from men -but could not identify her needs. She reinvented herself with youthful panache and convinced herself that she was something original. She miscalculated. She recast herself in a cookie-cutter mold that pandered to long-prescribed male fantasies. The new Betty was the old Betty bushwhacked by Hollywood. She turned herself into a cliché that most men wanted to fuck and a few men wanted to kill. She wanted to get deep dark down and cozy with men. She sent out magnetic signals. She met a man with notions of deep-dark-down-and-cozy cloaked in rage. -"My Dark Places" by James Ellroy (1996)
Scarlett Johansson and Josh Hartnett in "The Black Dahlia" (2006) directed by Brian De Palma
As the story progresses, Bleichert gets more and more erotically obsessed with the Dahlia and Madeleine; it also becomes clearer that Blanchard is nothing like his heroic exterior, but is a deeply corrupt cop. The book develops into an examination of two illusions and the people who become these illusions, and surpass them.
Bleichert ends up a better cop than Blanchard ever was. The Dahlia, who was a lousy actress who had sex as a recourse from loneliness is surpassed by Madeleine, a woman who is a gifted mimic who revels in sex and her image, the image of the dead girl. The attraction of the Dahlia is also an intersection with the now ubiquitous culture of fame, fame exclusively through an image, rather than any achievement. Though Betty Short was entirely unknown as performer or individual, the image of the Dahlia becomes known throughout Los Angeles, and it is the ubiquity of this image, that so many other men lust for this image, that makes Bleichert want it even more. This is something that plagues every well-known beautiful actress: a woman who is not just beautiful, but a beauty ever present in the dreams of men, Liz Taylor or Scarlett Johansson. A line from Ellroy’s Dahlia sequel, The Big Nowhere, is apt: “Downtown came and went; the woman stayed.” Source: italkyoubored.wordpress.com
Friday, March 01, 2013
Jennifer Lawrence, the new darling of the film industry after she won the Best Actress gong at the Oscars, said she was on a campaign to change the public perception of mental illness after accepting her award.
She was recognised for her role in the David O. Russell drama, Silver Linings Playbook, about two troubled people who find connection and stability with one another. "I don't think we're going to stop until we get rid of the stigma for mental illness," she said. "I know [director] David O. Russell won't, and I hope that this helps. "It's just so bizarre how in this world if you have asthma, you take asthma medication. If you have diabetes, you take diabetes medication. "But as soon as you have to take medicine for your mind, it's such a stigma behind it." Source: www.news.com.au
"The American media has promoted images of mental illness that are patently untrue. People know that what they see on television isn’t necessarily accurate, but the image of the violent criminal suffering from mental illness has sunk in through sheer repetition. A longitudinal study by the Mental Health Module Team found that between 1950 and 1996, the proportion of Americans who describe mental illness in terms consistent with violent or dangerous behavior nearly doubled. Since then, the media’s grossly fictional depictions of mental illness have only increased. Yet most studies have found little correlation between mental illness and violent crimes. One study in the American Journal of Psychology found that only five percent of violent crimes are committed by those suffering from mental illness." Source: www.studlife.com
Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in "Silver Linings Playbook" (2012) directed by David O. Russell
Clothing worn by Jennifer Lawrence in her Oscar-winning role as an outspoken young widow in comedy "Silver Linings Playbook" went up for auction on Tuesday, just two days after the Academy Awards ceremony. Memorabilia dealer Nate D. Sanders put the skin-tight white dance pants, winter coat and sports bra Lawrence wore in the film up for sale in the online auction that will end on Thursday. The items are expected to fetch between $500 and $1,500 following the 22-year-old's Best Actress win on Sunday.
"She's now on the record for having an Academy Award, which definitely gives it (the items) status now," said Laura Yntema, spokeswoman for auction house Nate D. Sanders. Five items, either worn by Lawrence or from her wardrobe on the film, are up for auction with starting bids at $100. Source: www.reuters.com
Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale and Josh Hartnett in "Pearl Harbor" (2001) directed by Michael Bay
This WWII era U.S. Army Air Corps pilot’s flightsuit was worn by the character “Danny Walker” portrayed by actor Josh Hartnett in the 2001 Jerry Bruckheimer production “Pearl Harbor”. The tan colored flightsuit with zippered front has a brown leather nametag on the left breast with the character name “D. Walker” sewn on as seen in the film. The interior collar of the garment has the original Motion Picture Costume Company label sewn inside with the actor’s name “Josh” handwritten in black ink.
This item was acquired directly from the costume house that provided it to the production and is accompanied by a letter of authenticity. The garment is in good screen used condition with some minor evidence of wear from its use in action sequences.
“Pearl Harbor” won an Oscar for Best Sound Editing in 2002 and received numerous other nominations including Best Effect, Visual Effects, Best Music, Original Song, and Best Sound. The film featured an all-star cast including Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale, Cuba Gooding Jr., Alec Baldwin, and Jon Voight. - Source: www.thegoldencloset.com
Radha Mitchell and Josh Hartnett in "Mozart & the Whale" (2005) directed by Petter Næss
"Mozart and the Whale" is a 2006 romantic "dramedy" about a man and a woman with Asperger syndrome and, in many ways, it makes a very neat thematic companion to the other film. In "Adam" (2009), the protagonists' relationship ultimately fails because the title character's autism prevents him from fulfulling an appropriate "masculine" role. In Mozart and the Whale, the relationship succeeds because both characters are autistic; neither of them can successfully maintain a relationship with a "normal" person but, as the tagline says, "They don't fit in. Except together." The troubling implication is that if autistic people are going to pursue romantic relationships, it's best if we stick with "our own kind."
The relationship also works because Donald (Josh Hartnett) can take on a normatively masculine role in relation to Isabelle (Radha Mitchell). Even though he is arguably "more autistic" than she is (his behavior is much more rigid and ritualistic, and he is less socially aware), she is ultimately "more disabled." She exhibits mood swings, manic outbursts, and petulant, domineering behavior that prevent her from integrating into normative society. This renders her sufficiently dependent, and Donald can take on the role of emotional and financial caregiver. Source: bitchmagazine.org
Josh Hartnett as Donald Morton in Mozart and the Whale (2005)
"Patients with Asperger's syndrome, a rare pervasive developmental disorder, have characteristics such as eccentricities, emotional lability, anxiety, poor social functioning, repetitive behavior, and fixed habits that can mimic symptoms of other illnesses, including schizophrenia spectrum illness, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Their disorganizing anxiety in response to stress, which may be accompanied by increased oddness of speech, can easily be misinterpreted as psychosis."