I've loved Brian De Palma's maudit The Black Dahlia since I first watched it over a year ago, and each viewing proves more rewarding. It's the ideal blend of the director's uncompromising independent streak and the visual sumptuousness of his glossiest studio work, a fake-out work of genre prestige that is slowly consumed by the inconsistencies and hypocrisies it allows to creep out from around the edges. With racial tensions filtered through that sun-bleached bone of an actor Josh Hartnett and its critique of misogyny played out in gazes, The Black Dahlia is often guilty of what it attacks, but that also permits De Palma to trace his themes to their fullest extent. Roundly dismissed as a sloppy mess, The Black Dahlia may be one of the great American films of the previous decade, and certainly one of its maker's finest moments.
My full article is up at Spectrum Culture.