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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

L.A. confidence: Ellroy returns west

On the eve of what may or may not be closure on the eve of The Black Dahlia‘s release, James Ellroy ruminates at length in LA Times’ Sunday supp, West, about his return in a piece filled with his crackling staccato prose, entitled “The Great Right Place.” [In a recent interview, he told me this essay is his last venture in self-revelation; it’s novels from here on in, and interviews only about the novels.] LATIMES_ellroy_784.jpg In spring 2002, “I was midway through a three-year crack-up. It was the upshot of long transits of overwork and emotional seepage held in check by near-insane ambition. Brutal sleeplessness and panic attacks. Sobbing jags and weightless plummets… My marriage was burning down. My nerves were shot. My mind ran in obsessive circuits. I was strung out on sedatives, sleeping pills and herbal uppers. I flew and drove around L.A., staring at women. I crashed and tried to slake my king-size sleep deficit. I was afraid that I’d lose my mind…” He had returned to a city “[f]or picaresque grifters, dollar-driven D.A.s, well-hung gigolos, hollow-eyed strumpets, hophead jazz musicians, pervert cops, alcoholic private eyes, sadistic studio heads, laudanum-lapping layabouts, homosexual informants, religious quacks and an uncategorizable array of stupes with indefinable psychopathic mandates and plain inconsolable despair.” Ellroy moved on. “Suburban New York. Five more novels in five years. A flowering knowledge of craft. Transference writ large. Long-term dissipation channeled into the work-ethic supreme… I moved from New York to Connecticut to Kansas City. My work habits were megalomaniacal. I guzzled large carafes of coffee and wrote 300-page outlines for my novels. My books were monumental models of construction. My book tours were epic journeys. My friends warned me to slow down. I ignored them.” Later, he wrote “My Dark Places.” “It was my mother’s life, my life, Bill Stoner’s. It was all real. It was my best shot at L.A. thusly. It was another media glut. I told my L.A. story 2,000 more times. Every retelling was a notch on forthcoming burnout. The film version of “L.A. Confidential” was released. I told my L.A. story 2,000 more brain-broiling times.” … I was writing the sequel to “American Tabloid.” I was burning a warehouse of candles at both ends. I was fully determined to make “The Cold Six Thousand” the single greatest novel ever written and fully convinced that I could accomplish the task… This essay is a travel document and a homecoming brief. It will stand as my final autobiographical statement. The gist is simple: My birthplace made me, I ran away, I ran back… I moved back to L.A. three weeks ago. It’s the only place I feel safe. I’ve got a slick pad near my old prowling turf and an arriviste sports car. I want to live here, I want to work here, I want to end my days here. I want the all-new and wholly familiar stimulation that only L.A. provides. I want to reclaim L.A. with a revitalized and mature imagination.” [Photo from the link; Credit: Damon Winter, LAT.]

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“I think [technology has[ its made my life faster, it’s made the ability to succeed easier. But has that made my life better? Is it better now than it was in the eighties or seventies? I don’t think we are happier. Maybe because I’m 55, I really am asking these questions… I really want to do meaningful things! This is also the time that I really want to focus on directing. I think that I will act less and less. I’ve been doing it for 52 years. It’s a long time to do one thing and I feel like there are a lot of stories that I got out of my system that I don’t need to tell anymore. I don’t need to ever do The Accused again! That is never going to happen again! You hit these milestones as an actor, and then you say, ‘Now what? Now what do I have to say?'”
~ Jodie Foster

“If there’s one rule Hollywood has metaphysically proven in its century of experimentation, it’s that there’s no amount of money you can’t squander in the quest for hits.

“Netflix has spent the past couple years attempting to brute-force jailbreak this law. Its counter-theory has seemed to be, sure, a billion dollars doesn’t guarantee quality but how about three billion dollars? How about five billion dollars? Seven?

“This week’s latest cinematic opus to run across no-man’s-land into the machine-gun emplacements has been the Jared Leto yakuza movie ‘The Outsider.’ Once again, debuting on Netflix, another thing called a movie that at one glance doesn’t look like any kind of movie anyone has ever seen before, outside of off-prime time screenings at the AFM.

“If you’re working at a normal studio, you have one or two of these total misfires in a year and people start calling for your head. How many is Netflix going on? Fifteen? Twenty? This quarter? Any normal company would be getting murdered over results like that.”
~ Richard Rushfield