The Black Dahlia
Scott Hardie: “It was ok.”
L.A. Confidential this ain't. It's an admirable attempt to translate James Ellroy's first great novel to film, but there's just too much story to process in this short of a timeframe. Half of the scenes feel like too-detailed exposition that will never matter, and the others feel like aimless meandering away from the actual case being investigated, even if neither turns out to be true. Wikipedia says the movie was originally planned to be five hours, and was shot and edited at three hours in a cut that Ellroy himself praised, but the final release is a jumbled mess at two hours that never quite coheres, though it has plenty of great individual scenes.
The cast is another problem. If I ever wondered why Josh Hartnett isn't a movie star (I didn't), this movie is the proof. He, Scarlett Johansson, and Aaron Eckhart struggle with the rhythms of Ellroy's noir dialogue, and never make it sound anything other than stilted and hard to follow. Only Hilary Swank seems to pull it off.
At least the movie looks great. The Academy chose well in nominating it for a cinematography Oscar.