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L.A. Confidential
Year:
1997
Country:
USA
Genre:
Crime, Drama, Thriller, Mystery
IMDB rating:
8.3
Director:
Curtis Hanson
Kevin Spacey as Jack Vincennes
Russell Crowe as Bud White
Guy Pearce as Ed Exley
James Cromwell as Dudley Smith
Kim Basinger as Lynn Bracken
Danny DeVito as Sid Hudgens
David Strathairn as Pierce Patchett
Ron Rifkin as Deputy DA Ellis Loew
Matt McCoy as 'Badge of Honor' Star Brett Chase
Paul Guilfoyle as Mickey Cohen
Paolo Seganti as Johnny Stompanato
Elisabeth Granli as Mickey Cohen's Mambo Partner
Sandra Taylor as Mickey Cohen's Mambo Partner
Steve Rankin as Officer Arresting Mickey Cohen
Storyline: 1950's Los Angeles is the seedy backdrop for this intricate noir-ish tale of police corruption and Hollywood sleaze. Three very different cops are all after the truth, each in their own style: Ed Exley, the golden boy of the police force, willing to do almost anything to get ahead, except sell out; Bud White, ready to break the rules to seek justice, but barely able to keep his raging violence under control; and Jack Vincennes, always looking for celebrity and a quick buck until his conscience drives him to join Exley and White down the one-way path to find the truth behind the dark world of L.A. crime.
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Reviews
The Best Film of 1997
Truly, one of the greatest mistake the Academy has made is not awarding this film the Best Picture award. For months, I argued that while "Titanic" was a nice spectacle with great special effects, the script, the directing and the acting was all rather mediocre. However, here we have "L.A. Confidential." Perfection in script. Perfection in directing. Perfection in cast. Obviously, because Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce and Kevin Spacey all gave Oscar worthy performances, the voting was split, and therefore, none got enough votes for a nomination.

Crowe gave an invigorating performance and Bud White, a man who knows that he is not very smart and has instead relied on pure brawn all his life. But as the film progresses, you watch him yearn to put his strength aside and become self-reliant, instead of being purely muscle for the cause of justice, which has become obscured as he has had to resort to violent and debatably immoral method to preserve peace in Los Angeles. And yet, while he does make us question whether he is going to end up on the side of good or evil by the end of the film uncertain, we do empathize enough with him to hope that he does redeem himself by the end.

Pearce delivers Ed Exley as a man who is wholly set on the purest means of justice. While he follows his father into the same profession, his goals are unique; to uphold the law without having to bend or break it. And yet, his good aspiration are certainly out of place in the corrupt organization of the police of that time. He slowly becomes drawn into the graft. He becomes glory-hungry, pulling whatever strings he has to in order to be promoted or be seen in a good light by the press. And yet, he does begin to find himself giving into exactly the cause he fought against. And so, throughout the film, he struggles to overcome the instinctive nature of man to achieve power and glory. He has to be a better man than that. And so, the audience can quickly see the nobility in that. He is not perfect. But at least he tries to be.

And probably the best performance in the film comes from Spacey. Here we see what Exley might have become in a few years if he wasn't careful. Jack Vincennes has succumb to the call of money and celebrity status. He does not care in the least about duty or about justice. It's all become simply a matter of vanity. And yet, he begins to see through his own fault. Spacey's performance is undoubtable the best, because he is one of those actors who doesn't have to try to communicate his emotions in order to communicate them (or, at least, he is good enough not to show the strings). I had to watch this film several times to really take in the impact of his role, and fully absorb his character. His key moments within the middle of the film are absolutely unforgettable. When he stares into the mirror of the bar after receiving the hundred dollar bill, that scene is a turning point for the character. And he was able to convey the message of that scene without saying a thing. And also, when asked why he became a cop, the delivery of that next line, just that, was Oscar worthy on its own.

Even aside from those three performances, it would have been totally respectable if James Cromwell or Danny DeVito had received a nomination. Truly, this film had one of the greatest ensemble casts ever captured on screen.
1998-08-14
The best major studio release of the 90s.
Just to claim a title. Usually (not in all cases) the ´big´ Hollywood films are technically superior, but suffer from flat characters, an uninteresting story and overall dumbness (to say it in a simplistic and maybe overly harsh way). L.A. Confidential is different AND technically flawless. The screenwriters, among them director Hanson, did a very good job to translate Ellroys masterpiece to the screen. The book is better, the characters deeper, their stories darker and the whole thing is more convincing, but this would`nt fit into a 10 hour movie at all. L.A. Confidential proves that there is hope for Hollywood. 9/10
2000-07-11
Three Phenomenal Actors Give The Performances Of A Life Time
Six years ago, a director by the name of Curtis Hansen came out with a small time film named L.A. Confidential. Though the movie garnered several big nominations at the 1997 Academy Awards, the nation had been swept up by the gigantic and romantic blockbuster, Titanic, thus shrinking the chances of this brilliant movie from garnering any real awards. 1997 completely screwed this phenomenal film, in which three brilliant actors gave the performances of their careers.

Russell Crowe plays Detective Bud White, a tough L.A. cop who bends the rules in order to bring justice to the city. He is ruthless, and unforgiving of anyone, which brings him into direct conflict with Detective Lieutenant Ed Exley, played by Guy Pearce. Russell Crowe became with this role a full pledged character actor,: the cop with a steel physique, and a vulnerable heart. He becomes so believable and real to the audience, you can not help but sympathize for his character under the circumstances. From this role, Crowe went on to garner three best actor nominations, winning for his role in Gladiator.

Guy Pearce, the little known Australian body builder, became the character known as Ed Exley, a straight, uptight detective trying to live up to the legend his father created before him. Exley has so much to prove to the LAPD, trying to show them that he is just as good, maybe even better, than his father. He plays the politics in a corrupted police department very well, and is able to use these skills in solving the corrupt and mysterious case of the Night Owl murders. This film officially put Guy Pearce in the big leagues of film, making his next appearances in Memento and The Count of Monte Cristo. He is a severely underrated actor who deserves better than what he has been getting.

Finally, the ever wonderful Kevin Spacey. Spacey plays Lieutenant Jack Vincenes, a cop who gives a popular LA police show, Badge of Honor, real solved cases in return for money. Jack sees his life as an ever going soap opera, until he comes across a case that somehow has a connection to the Night Owl murders. Kevin Spacey has proved time and again his abilities as an actor, and he continues with this performance.

Curtis Hansen does a wonderful job bringing this story to the big screen. His talents, although recognized, have not been awarded as of yet. I can only hope that someday, someone will give this amazing director something worthy of his talents.

Highly Recommended.

MJR
2003-09-01
This generation's "Chinatown"...
"Come to Los Angelos...it's Paradise on Earth. Hahaha...that's what they tell ya anyway." Danny Devito's opening voiceover sets the mood for the one of the moodiest and best film noirs ever released from the dream factory that is Hollywood. I first heard about "L.A. Confidential", appropiately enough, from looking at the ad for it on the back of a tabloid. While I'd not heard of Ellroy prior to this film's release, I was shocked to find out that one of his first novels, "Blood on the Moon", served as the basis for one of the most foul-mouthed, brutal, and, to my mind, underrated films on the market, "Cop". No matter; my subsequent reading of Ellroy's work proves to me that the man is at his best by using the known facts of history as a prybar for showing the rot underneath the veneer.

Curtis Hanson remarked, in a documentary about the film, that as he read the book and was introduced to the three main guys (Bud White, Jack Vincenes, and Edmond Exley), he found that he didn't like them. That would seem to parallel my own reactions to them. Bud White scared the hell out of me. Jack Vincenes, for all his smooth charm, disgusted me. Ed Exley, with his wimpy exterior, reminded me a little too much of the kid I used to be. Every one of these cops are corrupt to various extents. But all that changes with the Nightowl Massacre.

At roughly the halfway point of the film, when the whole business of the Nightowl killings have been "resolved", all three of these guys come to the exact same conclusion: this isn't what it's supposed to be all about. It winds up putting them on a collision course for the real culprits behind the crime and for two of these guys, the price of defiance turns out to be astronomical.

What fascinated me the most about this film was it's use of actual history, be it Mickey Cohen, Johnny Stompanato, Lana Turner, the opening night of "Worlds Collide", or the beginning of the construction of the Santa Monica Boulevard. These bits of historical grounding act as a wall that the story bounces off of like a racquet ball. Like "Chinatown", Hanson and Helgelund (and, of course, Ellroy before them) make no bones about the fact that the official histories of 1950's L.A. are just sanitized versions of the real thing. Unlike "Chinatown", however, the movie doesn't end on a note of hopelessness, though not in the traditional "justice has been served" wrap-up, either.

It struck me, especially considering Hanson's comments on the naturalistic lighting scheme employed by Dante Spinotti, that this piece could almost be considered anti-noir. By that, I mean, it uses the noir conventions that date back to Hollywood's "Golden Age", but in a way that sets a somewhat different tone. It's not hopelessness, as I've pointed out, but it's not the uplifting feel-good kind of mood, either. It is its own thing. It will be interesting to see if a movie that follows that sort of pattern is made within the next few years.
2000-09-13
Plastic Bags in the 50's?
Enjoyed the film. But they showed drugs in several scenes being held in clear plastic bags. I'm pretty sure they didn't have those in the 50s. Does anyone know different? Also the overstated shoot-out at the end, while well done, took away from the realism established by the rest of the film.
2000-11-20
Fantastic film-noir
Although most of the greatest film-noir movies were made in the 1930's, 40's, and 50's, "L.A. Confidential" breaks that tradition. Kevin Spacey is his usual fabulous self as Jack Vincennes, a cynical cop, and Russell Crowe ("The Insider", "Gladiator") is also riveting as Bud White. And Kim Basinger is great in her Academy Award winning role of Lynn Bracken. I think it's her greatest achievement.

Winner of two Oscars, "L.A. Confidential" is a cinematic masterpiece, and should be seen by any movie buff. I give it a 10 out of 10.
2000-05-17
Off the record, on the QT and unbelievably great
"L.A. Confidential" is what comes to mind when I think of police corruption movies, especially on the basis of pulling back the curtain of Los Angeles' star-studded image to expose its seamy underbelly. It's a world where the bad guys are vicious and the cops aren't much nicer. I do hear "overrated" a lot (these days) when discussing this movie, and obviously, I don't agree; but I think we can all agree that this is one hell of an ensemble cast. Even when I want to single one player out above the rest, another steps up to refute that notion. Every single person is ideal for his/her character. It's a huge part of why this movie is so damn good. That, and its flawless pacing.

There are plenty of reasons to love this movie, but maybe (maybe) above all else, is the setting. This period (let's say from '45 to '55) has long been my favorite in Hollywood cinema. It's partially why I take to movies like "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", "Chinatown" and "Devil in a Blue Dress". Between this movie's sets, locations, warm color palette, wardrobe and Goldsmith's score, it's a stunning depiction of the time and place. I mean, this is a nice-looking film. "L.A. Confidential" makes an airtight case for wanting to delve into such a disreputable world. The craft here is unparalleled.

Top ten, baby.

10/10
2016-02-02
one of the best DVDs ever
Everyone who has seen this knows what a great film it is, but if you can watch the dvd which has fantastic extras including a guide to the locations used, not to mention the two mini documentaries! One point made in one of the documentaries is how the director asked Kevin Spacey to play his character as Dean Martin....and with retrospect, he did!
2000-01-25
If you like good movies this is for you
I'm not worthy to review this film. However, I need to write some sort of glowing praise of this masterpiece though just to satisfy myself. Wow! What a movie. Fast paced, very tight, well written story, superb acting by all. Russel Crowe seemed to play a typical role, but very well. Kevin Spacey is always excellent. I'm sure Kim Basinger's acting was marvelous as well but I was so distracted by how gorgeous she was I could hardly pay attention. The plot ranks up there, probably above The Usual Suspects. I think the twist at the end of Usual Suspects was better, but everything in LA Confidential is brilliant. The characters are all so well developed. My only complaint is that Guy Pearce's character seemed too easily accepted after his ratting out other officers. Not downplay Guy Pearce's performance which was also quite good. I can't believe I hadn't heard more about this movie before. This movie is to film and the 1950's LA scene what The Great Gatsby was to literature and the 1920's Jazz Age, but much more entertaining than the Great Gatsby.
2000-09-07
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