15 February 2000 | Richard_Harland_Smith
This Austrian documentary leaves too much "confidential"
Reinhard Jud's portrait of James Ellroy was already five years old when it played the American art house circuit in 1998 - and looks in on Ellroy before his international recognition as the author of L.A. CONFIDENTIAL. Although Ellroy is a fascinating, beguiling character, Jud's documentary is too fannish and impressed with itself to really hit the mark. Ellroy is allowed to do his City of Angels spiel and poke fun at himself, but none of his more interesting allegations - such as that Los Angeles has become "uglier, darker and more violent in every conceivable way" are challenged (and nothing we are shown supports this view - despite the fact that Jud's crew turns its camera on Los Angeles nightlife for as long as six interrupted minutes - although this is likely a bid to beef up the film's running time to feature length.) JAMES ELLROY: DEMON DOG OF AMERICAN CRIME FICTION isn't a bad movie (Ellroy is part coroner, part carnival barker), but it's a crummy documentary.