L.A. Confidential (1997)

L.A. Confidential
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Released:  Friday, September 19, 1997  
Length:  138 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros.
Genre: Drama
Rating: L.A. Confidential is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of AmericaUnder 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.


Los Angeles, 1953. Just beneath the glamorous veneer of Hollywood gossip and movie stars lies a crime-ridden city corrupt to its core. Now, while investigating a brutal murder, three very different police detectives will rediscover a common bond of integrity in the blockbuster film noir thriller L.A. Confidential.

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L.A. Confidential DVD Review

In 1990, James Ellroy (The Black Dahlia) wrote the third book in what became known as his L.A. Quartet, L.A. Confidential.  Seven years later, a movie adaptation with the same name opened in theaters nationwide and garnered both critical acclaim and box office success.  Nominated for nine academy award nominations, it ultimately lost out to the blockbuster that year, Titanic, in all but two categories…Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published for Brian Helgeland (A Knight's Tale) and Curtis Hansen (Lucky You) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Kim Basinger (Batman).   Since this year is the 20th anniversary of the film, it has been re-released on Blu-ray and DVD.

The story is set in 1953 and revolves around the Los Angeles Police Department, especially detectives Ed Exley (Guy Pearce; Iron Man 3), Bud White (Russell Crow; Gladiator) and Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey; House of Cards).  Exley is young and gung-ho, not to mention a "goodie two-shoes", which rubs his colleagues the wrong way.  White is all violence and muscle, preferring to beat up his suspects to get answers rather than a slow and steady interrogation.  Vincennes is the pretty boy who is a consultant on a police procedural television show and definitely the "Hollywood" of the group.  

When Exley and White investigate a late night shooting at a diner that kills four people, they discover one of the deceased is White's former partner Dick Stensland (Graham Beckel; Brokeback Mountain), who was removed from duty after Exley's testimony against him (making things very tense between Exley and White).  As they dig deeper, they find out one of the victims was a high paid escort who was "remodeled" to look like a famous actress and who worked for Pierce Patchett (David Strathairn; Good Night, and Good Luck).  Adding to the mess, Vincennes's television show star winds up dead as well bringing him into the investigation that ultimately leads to an unusual suspect and a deep secret of deceit that plagues the Police department.

Even twenty years later, I can't find anything wrong with this film.  The casting is exceptional and is part of what makes the film so successful.  Each character is unique and memorable in their own right and while it may be unfair to single out any one person, I have to say that I am always drawn to Pearce's Exley as he is a commanding presence onscreen.  Basinger deservedly won the Oscar for her portrayal of Lynn Bracken, a Veronica Lake look alike.  She beautifully navigates the layers of her character, offering the audience a glimpse into her sad world.  However, I can't fault anyone – Crowe, Spacey, Strathairn, Danny DeVito (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), James Cromwell (The Green Mile), etc.   

The script is a perfect example of masterful screenwriting.  There are so many intricacies to the story but nothing feels bogged down or skimmed over and the story is fairly easy to follow and not confusing at all.  Each plotline is wrapped up by the end so there is no sense of loose ends either.

The DVD offers 6 extras, though none of them are new.  They include: Off The Record (cast/Crew Interviews) Director Curtis Hanson's Photo Pitch, The L.A. of L.A. Confidential (Interactive Map), Music –Only Track  ( Jerry Goldsmith's Score), Production Notes and Theatrical Trailer and TV spots.

With a Film Noir style and an extremely talented cast (some of whom were virtual unknowns at the time), this is one everyone should own.  If you have never seen it, you should right away and it should be assigned coursework in any college film class worth its weight.

Own it...enough said.

Grade: A+++


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