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Feast of Death

James Ellroy's Feast of Death (2001)
IMDB Details

Some of the things that really interest me, other than movies, tend to run along the darker sides of life. My mother says I have a gutter interest in things to which I usually reply, "it takes one to know one". I have always been hugely fascinated with true crime, criminals, murder, mayhem and mystery because they run so contrary to something else that I also love which is the idyllic pastiche of middle America.

Feast of Death deals with a very broad subject, homicide, and whittles it down to its effect on one specific person, James Ellroy. Many of you probably already know who Ellroy is, particularly if you're a fan of L.A. Confidential or Black Dahlia, which are based on Ellroy's novels of the same names.

What you may not know is that L.A. Confidential is one of four novels set in L.A. in the late 1950's and is born of the same fascination with darkness that I spoke previously of. The difference is that Ellroy is actually a surviving victim of homicide as his mother was murdered in Los Angeles when he was ten years old. The experience of this, coupled with a story in Jack Webb's book The Badge (Dragnet) about the Black Dahlia murder sent him on a life long quest to make peace with his past, at first using the Dahlia as a stand in for his mother's case and then eventually dealing with his mother's death directly.

Feast of Death is a fascinating look into the mind of James Ellroy. In the film, Ellroy travels into the places that shaped him as a person. Along with some LAPD friends of his, they go into a detailed investigation of his mother's death as well as a detailed investigation of the events surrounding the Black Dahlia case. Ellroy melds the two together and explains how they relate in his mind and how this was the impetus that caused him to start writing. As a bonus, Larry Harnisch, an expert on the Dahlia case makes an appearance and outlines his theory (which is really very sound) on who he thinks perpetrated the Dahlia murder and why. Also included is a vignette trip to Dealy Plaza in Dallas and some commentary about that.

Because of his experiences and how he was able to deal with them, I find James Ellroy to be an incredibly interesting individual. He is crude at times, fair warning to anyone offended by profanity, don't watch this, but he is also down to earth, flawed and knows it. I've probably watched this documentary at least five times and could gas on for pages about it but i don't want to spoil it for those who might be interested.

My rating is
due to interest in the subject matter.

The general viewing public would probably rate it something like