CROWE,GUY PEARCE,KEVIN SPACEY,KIM BASINGER, JAMES CROMWELL,DANNY
DE VITO,DAVID STRATHAIRN,GRAHAM BECKEL, RON RIFKIN,PAUL GUILFOYLE
ON THE NOVEL BY JAMES ELLROY
BY CURTIS HANSON & BRIAN HELGELAND
BY CURTIS HANSON,ARNON MILCHAN & MICHAEL NATHANSON
BY CURTIS HANSON
against the glamorous backdrop of 1950's Hollywood, L.A. Confidential
is an excellent adaptation of James Ellroy's multi character crime
novel which focuses on the investigations of three police men; Officer
Bud White (Russell Crowe), an extremely aggressive cop who uses brute
violence to deliver justice amongst the criminal element; Sgt. Ed
Exley (Guy Pearce), the son of a legendary LAPD officer who is a strong
political player, non corruptible and is despised amongst his colleagues
for his weasel like attitude; and Sgt. Jack Vincennes (Kevin Bacon),
a glory hound who busts celebrities for trash tabloid magazine reporter
Sid Hudgens (Danny DeVito).
The movie begins with the arrest and incarceration of Mickey Coen
(Paul Guilfoyle), the head of organized crime in Los Angeles. With
Coen in jail, Los Angeles becomes a vacuum drawing various criminal
elements from around the country who all want to set up shop in L.A.,
with someone in particular making their mark killing off Coen's crew
and stealing a large amount of his heroin. During this time a massacre
is called in at the Nite Owl coffee shop, where among the victims
is a high class prostitute which White tracks back to multi millionaire
developer and high class pimp Pierce Pratchett (David Strathairn).
During his investigation, White meets and falls in love with prostitute
Lynn Bracken (Kim Basinger).The Nite Owl massacre is treated as a
robbery/homicide and quickly blamed on three black youths. Yet Exley,
Vincennes and White don't believe the black youths were responsible
and together they delve deeper into the case, finding rampant corruption
within their ranks.
A period piece that does not play slave to its lavish back drop, L.A.
Confidential is a great movie full of a number of intriguing sub
plots creating a captivating whole. Drugs, murder, sex, racism, tabloid
exposure and the glitz and glamour of 1950's Hollywood is all on show,
the sleaze of L.A. corrupting its police, its city officials and the
men who have lost sight of their goals while pursuing justice.
A director who helmed hit thrillers The Hand That Rocks the
Cradle and The River Wild, Curtis Hanson became
one of America's biggest and best directors thanks to the astonishing
filmmaking on display here. Dante Spinotti provides great cinematography,
the editing is slick and the soundtrack (chosen by Hanson) elevates
Within the first 30 minutes the viewer is well acquainted with the
main characters personalities and motives, and in that time it is
assured that they are perfectly cast. As Bud White, Russel Crowe displays
the power, intensity and masculinity of Brando, De Niro and Hackman.
This is counterbalanced with Guy Pearce's squeaky clean portrayal
of Ed Exley. Both characters are contradictions of each other, but
share a common purpose since the deaths in their families (Exley's
father, White's mother) is what drives them as police officers. The
actors who portray them - Crowe and Pearce - both hail from Australia,
which (from what I can gather) is the first time two Aussie's have
played the lead characters in a big Hollywood production. They give
great performances and opened the doors for a new Australian renaissance
which included Hugh Jackman, Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana.
Kevin Spacey is excellent as the slick Vincennes, taking to heart
Hanson's suggestion to evoke Dean Martin with his ring-a-ding performance.
Kim Basinger is good (but one has to wonder whether it was a performance
worthy of an Academy Award), and James Cromwell almost steals the
show as the tough, Irish American police Captain Dudley.
The comparisons between L.A. Confidential and Chinatown
are valid, but I found this film to be the better of the two. I have
watched it numerous times and always found it to be as fresh and invigorating
as the first time I layed eyes on it. This is the best picture of