Rampart – 7/10

RAMPART (2011, Oren Moverman): 7/10

Better than Werner Herzog’s BAD LIEUTENANT; not nearly as good as Abel Ferrara’s BAD LIEUTENANT. This is a skillful film — richly photographed and delicately directed. While there are explosive moments of drama, none of them are overplayed or phony. As a character study, it’s terrific — thanks of course to Woody Harrelson, who’s in every scene and just bores a hole right through the camera lens. He’s a marvel. The script, however, is a different beast. Not that this is meant to be a clean narrative, but I’m questioning if Ellroy’s novelistic skills can ever really translate to the cinema (I’m in the camp that L.A. CONFIDENTIAL is overrated; and while that could be Helgeland’s fault, it’s starting to become a trend that films based on Ellroy works are consistently underwhelming, and now that he has a screenwriting credit, things haven’t improved). I wish it had gone through another draft (my kingdom for Shawn Ryan giving it a polish), but it’s not without some really good stuff.

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