2 items from 2001
5 October 2001 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
Crime novelist James Ellroy likes to say Curtis Hanson's film of his book, "L.A. Confidential", is the best thing that ever happened to his writing despite his complete lack of control over the movie. To this he should now add Vikram Jayanti's documentary "James Ellroy's Feast of Death". This new film perfectly captures the feverish intensity of his prose. It expresses the hypnotic manner in which a reader gets sucked into a nightmare of murder and corruption, leaving him with the uneasy feeling he's been exposed to sheer evil.
Hanging out with the restless author as he prowls Los Angeles' nighttime streets, chows down with homicide detectives at the Pacific Dining Car, reads to fans in a bookstore and visits scenes of two brutal murders that continue to obsess him, Jayanti portrays a man caught in the grip of humanity's darkest side.
The film, first broadcast for BBC Arena in May, makes a great festival film. Like Terry Zwigoff's "Crumb", it concerns a personality with a significant public profile to deserve a theatrical shot. While Ellroy's raw language and the graphic nature of crime-scene photos will keep the film off public airwaves, this is a surefire cable offering.
Ellroy has written a series of novels that mix fictional and real-life characters from L.A.'s seedy past to explore its criminal underbelly. He has since moved on to his "Underworld America" trilogy, which delves into national crime during the JFK era -- a second novel, "The Cold Six Thousand", has recently been published.
In the film, he once again links the murder of his mother when he was 10 to his childhood fascination with crime fiction. Later, L.A.'s most infamous unsolved murder, the "Black Dahlia" case, gripped his imagination.
As Ellroy rehashes old cases and the mystique of murder investigations with police detectives, Jayanti establishes that what might seem like a morbid fascination with death is actually a search for truth.
Ellroy wants to confront: He wants to confront the war against women; the PC police, who decry his uncompromising language and portraits; and the "hagiography (that) sanctifies shuck-and-jive politicians and reinvents their expedient gestures as moments of great moral weight."
What are we to make of a mind so filled with brutality and corruption? A sicko, you say? No, Jayanti fires back. Ellroy's writings rage with anger and a genuine concern for victims of violence. This is what violence really looks like, he says in book after book.
He loves his writing and his manic obsessions. "I'm having a blast", Ellroy says. The man is seen here as one of America's most original moralists.
JAMES ELLROY'S FEAST OF DEATH
Producer-director: Vikram Jayanti
Director of photography: Maryse Alberti
Music: Rob Lane
Editor: Emma Matthews
Running time -- 90 minutes
No MPAA rating
Best-selling crime writer James Ellroy is sick of being asked if Kevin Spacey is gay. The American novelist wrote L.A. Confidential, which was later adapted into the Oscar-winning movie starring Spacey and Russell Crowe. Ellroy says he'd proud of the film, but dreads fans trying to get gossip. Kansas-resident Ellroy explains he is most often hassled by obsessives in his local video rental store. He says, "These old grannies come up to me and say `Oh, you wrote L.A. Confidential, what a wonderful movie that was'. Kim Basinger' was so beautiful in that film, is she nice in real life?' I say, 'Yeah, she's all right', and then granny says, `Is Kevin Spacey really gay?'" »
2 items from 2001
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