Blank Noir

There's another problem with the way this movie plays up the L.A. dankness: It uses the city's multiethnicity as the showpiece of that dankness. The melting pot produces a sour broth. The Chinese and the blacks in this film are dimensionless thugs, but they serve their purpose. They bring an exotic twist to the mayhem. I don't think Irvin and Solarz are being deliberately offensive here, but they've fallen into a trap other contemporary L.A. crime filmmakers would do well to avoid. They've brought the L.A. crime movie up to date by widening its racial and ethnic composition, but they're still locked into the same old structure of villains and heroes. And in L.A. nowadays it's easy -- too easy -- to cast the villains as "exotics." In trying to be hip and "modern" the filmmakers are, in fact, being reactionary.

City of Industry.
Written by Ken Solarz; directed by John Irvin; with Harvey Keitel, Stephen Dorff, Famke Janssen, Timothy Hutton, and Michael Jaii White.

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