Lust, Murder and Mayhem

I want you to take a moment and make a quick list of five flicks set in Los Angeles. I'm not talking about Quinceanera-sized films right now -- even though you should go see that if you have the chance because it's just fantastic.

I'm talking about that blockbuster, big-budget movie that gets shown at the multiplex in Indiana. Write down the first five films that come to mind.

Do you have your list? Let's compare. I put down: "Collateral", "Training Day", "Boyz n the Hood", "LA Confidential", and "Crash". What did you put?

If your list is anything like mine, there aren't many positive images of Los Angeles floating through your silver-screen visions. Psychopaths, racists, killers, gangs, crooked cops and sleazy actresses. With so much lust, murder and mayhem on display, it's a wonder anyone moves to Los Angeles. Why the heck is my rent is so high if LA is such a cinematic cesspool of unhappiness?

Maybe you included "Beverly Hills Cop" in your list, so your impressions might also include Eddie Murphy's effervescent grin. Then again, visions of Eddie's grin might lead you to subsequently see images of transvestite hookers strolling Santa Monica Blvd in search of a good samaritan at four in the morning... But that's a whole other subject for another day and time.

You see, I've been thinking about what kinds of movies are set in LA because of this weekend's release, "Hollywoodland", and next weekend's "The Black Dahlia". They are two murder-mystery blockbusters that take advantage of the sea of sin that lies on the soft underbelly of this city of unangelic angels. I can't help but wonder, should we Angelenos really be so excited about these films?

Of the two, I've noticed more local Black Dahlia hype. "The Greatest Unsolved Crime in California History!" Yep, we are definitely a nation of people fascinated by the murders of white women. I'll admit, for a minute there, I was thinking about plunking down $47 to take
The Real Black Dahlia Crime Bus Tour. Then I found out it lasts five hours.

If you're like me, you don't have five hours to tour around recreating Los Angeles' post WWII angst. You're too busy dealing with 21st century angst. Somebody should start a tour of the city highlighting local spots where "The Black Dahlia" was filmed. Oh, wait -- we'd have to pack up and go to Bulgaria if we want to see filming locations.

Instead, how about we go grab a scoop of Black Dahlia gelato from
Scoops over on Heliotrope.

Yes, I'm sure gelato is what James Ellroy envisioned when he wrote his book about Beth Short's murder. How in the world does someone enjoy eating something named after a woman who was cut in half and brutally disfigured by her killer? What do you say as you're putting the spoon in your mouth?

"Wow! This licorice flavoring is just magnificent!"

Even if he'll probably skip the gelato, Ellroy is a smart author. He's hawking his book left and right across the city. In my neck of the woods, he's at
Skylight Books tomorrow night at seven and at the Barnes and Noble at The Grove later in the week.

I'm going to try to check Ellroy out at Skylight if only so I can hold up a sign that says, "Make that money, player!"


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