james-ellroy-demon-dog-of-american-crime-fiction-1993-jud-recensione

JAMES ELLROY: DEMON DOG OF AMERICAN CRIME FICTION

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian) Deutsch (German)

by Reinhard Jud

grade: 7.5

Despite the straightforwardness of the mise-en-scene, when watching James Ellroy: Demon Dog of American Crime Fiction one almost has the impression of being on a rollercoaster. Los Angeles is thousands of miles away, but, after watching this fascinating documentary by Reinhard Jud, we all almost feel as if we have known it forever. At the Viennale 2022, section Österreich real.

The guy from Los Angeles

Los Angeles: a city where authors and filmmakers from all over the world have often set their works. A city where the crime rate is still very high, where it is never safe to walk alone in the streets at night. It is by no means easy to live in Los Angeles. The famous writer James Ellroy, who lived in this city for many, many years, knows this well. For him, therefore, Los Angeles proved to be the ideal location for his detective stories, which, in turn, were inspired by real events, as well as by the author’s own experiences. In the documentary James Ellroy: Demon Dog of American Crime Fiction – made in 1993 and re-presented to the audience on the occasion of the Viennale 2022as part of the retrospective Österreich real of the Filmarchiv Austria – director Reinhard Jud perfectly rendered the idea of what it was like to live there, focusing exclusively on his magnetic protagonist and the various processes that brought his most famous works to life.

James Ellroy confides in front of the camera and takes us on a long journey through the streets of Los Angeles, during which he shows us the places that have been of particular importance to him during his life. His memories of Los Angeles are mostly negative, yet he cannot help but recognise the city’s special charm when it comes to setting a story with a noir character. One only has to think, for instance, of Black Dahlia (1987), which was inspired by a dramatic news event that occurred only a year before Ellroy himself was born.

In James Ellroy: Demon Dog of American Crime Fiction, therefore, Reinhard Jud has opted for the simplest directorial approach possible. Ellroy acts as the absolute protagonist before the camera and everything is enriched by archive footage, old photographs, simple shots of the city in which the music has the task of conveying its essence, but also by scenes in which we see Ellroy himself meeting his fans and signing them some copies of his newest book. This directorial choice therefore proved to be the right solution to convey to the audience the true essence of Ellroy’s works. There is no need for anything else to understand the author’s approach.

Despite the straightforwardness of the mise-en-scene, however, when watching James Ellroy: Demon Dog of American Crime Fiction one almost has the impression of being on a rollercoaster. There is not a single moment in which this precious little documentary by Reinhard Jud bores us or loses personality. The director has fully understood what the audience is interested in and has brought it to the screen in an honest and comprehensive way. Los Angeles is thousands of miles away, but, after watching James Ellroy: Demon Dog of American Crime Fiction, we all feel as if we have known it forever.

Original title: James Ellroy: Demon Dog of American Crime Fiction
Directed by: Reinhard Jud
Country/year: Austria / 1993
Running time: 93’
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Reinhard Jud, Wolfgang Lehner
Cinematography: Wolfgang Lehner
Produced by: Fischer Film Produktion

Info: the page of James Ellroy: Demon Dog of American Crime Fiction on the website of the Viennale; the page of James Ellroy: Demon Dog of American Crime Fiction on iMDb; the page of James Ellroy: Demon Dog of American Crime Fiction on the website of the Austrian Film Commission