Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Night at the Movies Week 33 - James Ellroy's Feast of Death

James Ellroy is an interesting man.  I've read a few of his books, and was always fascinated by his use of language, but still wasn't prepared the first time I heard him speak.  On the original DVD release of L.A.Confidential, there is a little bit on him, and during one particular moment, he says that this movie is the perfect family movie, if your family happens to be the Manson Family.

That is his sense of humor.

Cut to the opening scene of James Ellroy's Feast of Death.  He is recounting an anecdote of when little old ladies used to approach him in a video store.  They would always go on and on and ask about certain actors, or tell him what a wonderful movie it was.  He would always reply the same way.  Have you bought and read the book?  Any one of them that would reply "no" would always get the following reply.

"Well then, what the fuck good to me are you?"

You gotta love that.

James Ellroy's Feast of Death is an exploration of not just crime, but the man himself.  We join him as he travels around the streets of LA with detectives looking into unsolved murders, including his own mothers, who was brutally murdered when he was ten.  All the while he talks with his own special cadence to anyone who will listen.  A particularly interesting scene is him at a book reading.

"These books are written in semen, blood and napalm."

Besides the travels around the city, we are also invited to a dinner, hence the title I assume, with him and numerous detectives.  It's obvious these guys love him, and the feelings are returned.  So enamored are they with him, and especially his treatment of victims in his work, that they make him an honorary LAPD Detective, even going so far as to get him a replica badge #714, Jack Webb's badge.*

*For those not in the know, Ellroy is obsessed with The Black Dahlia Murder, and it was Jack Webb's book, The Badge, that began that shaped Ellroy's life and still drives him today.

LA crimes not enough.  Well then how about a tour of the plaza in Dallas where Kennedy was shot?  Listen to him say Kennedy was hung like a cashew and a two minute man.

Whether you enjoy Ellroy's books or not, this is one entertaining film.  You might end up being repulsed by his behavior, but I found it impossible to stop watching.  Even his wife is interesting.

"Closure is bullshit!"

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