Tuesday Review-James Ellroy’s Feast Of Death

Tuesday Review:

James Ellroy’s Feast of Death
2001 NR 90 minutes

I bet James Ellroy is only half as bad ass as he comes across.

I could be wrong.

The American crime fiction writer (The Black Dahlia (1987), The Big Nowhere (1988), L.A. Confidential (1990), White Jazz (1992), American Tabloid (1995), The Cold Six Thousand (2001), and Blood’s a Rover (2009) is a personal favorite so when NETFLIX popped it up into my suggested viewing I gave it a try.

The very beginning sets the hook for me.


L.A. Confidential, the movie, is the best thing that happened to me in my career that I had absolutely nothing to do with. It was a fluke—and a wonderful one—and it is never going to happen again—a movie of that quality. Here’s my final comment on L.A. Confidential, the movie: I go to a video store in Prairie Village, Kansas. The youngsters who work there know me as the guy who wrote L.A. Confidential. They tell all the little old ladies who come in there to get their G-rated family flick. They come up to me, they say, “OOOO… you wrote L.A. Confidential…. Oh, what a wonderful, wonderful movie. I saw it four times. You don’t see storytelling like that on the screen anymore.” I smile, I say, “Yes, it’s a wonderful movie, and a salutary adaptation of my wonderful novel. But listen, granny: You love the movie. Did you go out and buy the book?” And granny invariably says, “Well, no, I didn’t.” And I say to granny, “Then what the fuck good are you to me?”

This is a very different movie. It moves back and forth from the story of Ellroy’s life, his mothers tragic death, the “Black Dahlia” case and Ellroy’s role as “famous author” as he holds forth in bookstores and at dinners.

For me one of the most fascinating parts is the dinner with the LA Sheriffs and Detectives. They discuss, among other things, The “Black Dahlia” case which is fascinating in and of itself, but just to see actual, seasoned, professional and successful investigators tear into a case (and dinner, and wine) is pure gold for a lover the genre such as myself.

In many ways this is a very shocking film. Aside from Ellroy’s frequent prolonged bursts of profanity, the gruesome crime photographs of both the “Dahliah” case and Ellroy’s mother are graphic and horrifying. But probably most scary are Ellroy’s eyes. He is in full “thousand yard” stare in some of the scenes. It is a little unnerving.


Interwoven in all of the story-lines Ellroy is also on a quest for his Mother. In a very well played scene at the end, he finds her. Sort of.

Maybe Ellroy is only playing Ellroy in this film. If so they picked the right guy for the lead role.


The Rant D’Jour is about a sequence of events. Not a good one.

I have taken a part-time job. It’s almost not a job at all except for the fact that I have to show…more


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About James Rising

A recovering radio addict wrestles with the written word.
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