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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
A Modern Classic
LA Confidential has all of the qualities that, over time, earn a film the honorific, "classic." The story is involved and involving, and quickly pulls the viewer into trying to solve the mystery along with the main characters. The script is brisk and clever, the editing moves along at a solid pace that builds toward the end, the images of old LA are realistic and convincing, and the character portrayals are more than wonderful, they're truly memorable. It's safe to say that in many respects this film provided break-out roles for Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, and Guy Pearce.

Crowe's Bud White steals the show -- brutal, tender, complex, and in his own way, rigidly principled, White is a powerful character whose presence dominates scenes. Crowe's earlier role in Virtuosity showed a tiny, violent piece of Bud White, but lacked his complexity and depth. Bud White showed the world what Russell Crowe can really do on screen.

LA Confidential similarly makes the best use of Kevin Spacey's abilities, in his role as the world-weary, cynical, smart and smarmy Jack Vincennes. Spacey's earlier work (e.g., The Usual Suspects) is terrific and memorable, but Jack Vincennes paved the way for the Spacey characterizations viewers love in his later films (e.g., Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, American Beauty, Pay it Forward, and the less acclaimed Beyond the Sea).

The role of Edmund Exley provided Guy Pearce with an opportunity to demonstrate some of his enormous range as an actor, alternately appearing naive, self-righteous, scared, street-wise, and menacing. These qualities appear in the widely varied but dynamic characters he has created in subsequent films (Memento, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Time Machine).

More than reliable, the supporting cast also creates characters that are believable, complex, and a pleasure to watch. Kim Basinger's wise and weary Lynn Bracken may represent her best work on screen. James Cromwell, often cast as a failed administrator, is wonderfully hate-able as the cool and corrupt Captain Dudley Smith. Danny DeVito romps as slimy Sid Hudgens, and David Strathairn's Pierce Morehouse Patchett is subtle and believable. Patchett almost certainly brought Straithairn the role of Edward R. Murrow in 2005's Good Night, and Good Luck. Ron Rifkin, Matt McCoy, and the rest of the cast also bring realism and energy to their roles, making the film solid and believable.

The story itself is compelling and enjoyable, a cops-and-robbers whodunit with several twists. The dialog ranges from moving to hilarious to terrifying to inspiring, without losing the story's consistency. The story's conclusion is dramatic, action-packed, and contains a few sweet surprises.

Anyone interested in seeing the early work of Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, or Guy Pearce should see LA Confidential. Anyone interested in seeing a great film should see LA Confidential. It's one of those films worth owning and watching a few times a year. Which is to say, it's a classic.
2006-11-09
Everything in this film is fantastic.
L.A. Confidential is, without a doubt, the best film of the 1990s, and quite possibly one of the best films ever made.

As with any great film, it all starts with the writing. The story is riveting, the dialogue is smart and quite funny, and the characters are written in three dimensions.

The acting is phenomenal. Perhaps a bigger tragedy than L.A. Confidential's loss to Titanic in the Best Picture race is that none of the three lead actors even garnered nominations. Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, and Kevin Spacey are absolutely phenomenal; it is their characters that drive this fascinating story about police corruption in 1950s Los Angeles. We get to know these people, to understand who they are and why they do what they do, and to root for them to overcome their imperfections.

The directing is fantastic. Curtis Hanson doesn't shove anything in the audience's face; instead, he allows the audience to discover the film's nuances on their own. (That makes this an excellent film for repeat viewings, you truly catch something new every time). 1950s Los Angeles is reproduced beautifully. The editing is quick and seamless, the music is perfect for the film (Hanson should teach other directors how to do a montage effectively), and the cinematography is great.

I can't find a negative thing to say about this film. It's truly a masterpiece.
2000-01-11
Brilliantly complicated
LA Confidential is now up there as one of my favorite crime movies. The plot is fantastically complicated, and yet absorbs the watcher right into the movie. It's full of thrills and dead ends, but you won't be disappointed with the result. Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce give fantastic performances, and Kevin Spacey plays his part well. Generally a good movie.
2000-12-23
Essential Film Noir
L.A. Confidential, one of the best pictures of the '90s (in fact, it could have won the 1997 Best Picture Oscar: it's so much better than Titanic), is the definitive proof that there is no such thing as an "unfilmable" book: Curtis Hanson (with the help of co-writer Brian Helgeland) has turned James Ellroy's noir masterpiece (which is 800 pages long) into a 135-minute long modern classic. It's THE noir of the '90s!

The story takes place in L.A., early '50s. It's a city where everything looks perfect, where everybody goes to become a movie star. But, as Danny De Vito's opening voice-over informs us, it's not as good as it looks: the "City of Angels" is actually run by Al Capone-clones such as Mickey Cohen (Paul Guilfoyle, aka CSI's Brass), and the police... Well, it just so happens a lot of the LAPD is among the mob's unofficial employees. And it's in this kind of environment that we first meet the three key players: Ed Exley (Guy Pearce) is an ambitious young man who wants to be as good as his dad and do his job properly, even if that includes turning in his colleagues; Bud White (Russell Crowe) is a disillusioned cop who not only accepts violence as part of the job, but even uses it as often and much as possible in his personal crusade against wife-beating men (as his partner puts it:"You're like Santa Claus with that list, Bud, Except everyone on it's been naughty"); and Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) is the classic "Hollywood Cop", who gets paid by tabloids to bust coke-snorting celebrities. These three men, so different, will have to join forces when they discover their respective cases, which involve corruption, drugs, prostitution and various murders, are all linked to the Nite Owl massacre...

The award-winning script's focus is on the differences and similarities that connect the three protagonists and their views on the law. Hanson has completely removed the subplots concerning Vincennes and Exley's love lives (which occupied quite a bit of the book), preferring to show us only the bond between Bud White and Lynn Bracken, a whore but also the one person who truly understands the conflict and hatred that are at the center of the brutal cop's mind and soul. She's an extraordinary person, and she's played by a great actress: Kim Basinger, who was justly given an Oscar for her performance. As for the other actors, L.A. Confidential kick-started Pearce's career, confirmed Spacey's status as Best Actor of the Decade and reminded us that James Cromwell and David Strathairn are two of the best character actors around. But it's Crowe, in his Hollywood debut, who really steals the show. Forget A Beautiful Mind, The Insider, hell, even Gladiator: this is the role that should have obtained the Academy's attention.

New to the genre? This movie is a good start, alongside The Untouchables. Already a fan, and excited about Brian De Palma's upcoming adap of Ellroy's The Black Dahlia? Just keep watching L.A. Confidential in the meantime.
2006-01-15
It's in the writing
Reading the comments, I find few viewers seemed to have read James Ellroy's LA Trilogy, on which LA Confidential is based. The Big Nowhere, LA Confidential and White Jazz comprise the Dudley Smith story; Smith is the only constant in all three. None of the heroes are in Nowhere, Buzz Meeks being gunned down by Dudley while trying to escape, having hidden the heroin. Buzz White survives Confidential along with Exley, and White does go off to Arizona, but Smith still lives and rides high. In Jazz, Ed Exley~~Guy Pearce~~and Smith do battle for the soul of David Klein, who in the end brings down Smith. Of the three, Confidential is surely the most complicated since with the heroin out there somewhere, many more players are involved.

Hanson's genius is to shorten the story, eliminating Nowhere entirely, and bringing Dudley his retribution without Dave Klein being involved. He eliminates so many back stories: Exley's father is alive in the book, and a powerful politico to boot and this is just one difference, but in clarifying and making the story shorter, he almost makes it better. The murder of Vincennes is a brilliant touch, along with the code name Rollo Tomassi.

Both the books and the film are pulse pounders, intense to the core. My late wife, who could never sit through any film without getting up for a cigarette, was immobilized, and by the end was screaming "Kill him" as Exley watched Smith depart. If I had one slight criticism, it would be the cleaning up of some of the language about the original suspects in the Nite Owl killings, but make no mistake about it, this is the film for the 90's, and the only 1997 Oscar nominee worth watching. Hurrah for Curtis Hanson.
2005-08-05
Outstanding!
An astounding film, not to be missed. It gets better with each viewing. It's difficult to believe that Guy Pearce is an Aussie--his accent is flawless.

And Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe are simply amazing. And yes, even Kim B. plays the part well (for once in her career).

Try your best not to miss this one. It might also get you interested in some of James Ellroy's works. Fantastic stuff.
2000-09-09
A gripping, modern film noir
Idealistic and clever, but vain, police officer Edmund Exley (Guy Pearce) clashes with tough, unorthodox detective Bud White (Russell Crowe) over police conduct and a celebrity lookalike prostitute (Kim Basinger). After a shooting incident at the Night Owl Cafe, both begin to realise that something isn't quite right and start to unravel a seedy underworld of sex, murder and organised crime.

All the performances are almost faultless and the pace rockets along dragging you deeper and deeper. There are some marvellous twists in the plot and no character can be easily outlined as good or bad. Add to the cast James Cromwell as Captain Dudley Smith and Kevin Spacey as Jack Vincenz and you're definitely on to a winner.

I consider this film to be the best I've ever seen, it's that good. Go watch now! 10/10
2000-04-02
Best movie in 20 years.
This was not only the best movie of 1997, but probably the last twenty years. It's disgraceful that Titanic won the award for best picture. This film has terrific acting, cinematography, a great screenplay and great character development. The book was phenomenal as well and the film got the stamp of approval from write James Ellroy. Curtis Hanson and Brian Helgeland wrote a great screenplay from the book. This film could have been a disaster, but their terrific screen writing was a testament to a great book.

With such a star studded cast which includes Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey and Kim Basinger, we see some fine performers practicing their craft at the highest level. If you like a great crime fiction with many plot twists, see this film. I cant say enough about this film, only that it is my favorite film of all time. 10/10
2007-01-22
I'm glad i don't live in the 60's
Whooh boy.. how much killing and corrupting in a movie can one take !!

This film is amazing, I just wrote a piece for Jerry Maguire this morning, and i mentioned in the comment, that it is one of those films which has all kinds of great elements, love, success and misery, great character development. But oh my god, this film pushes jerry maguire into the ground in a blink of an eye, if it comes to those elements.

If you just look at the character of Russel Crowe, which starts off as someone who is only good in beating people up, but later when he falls in love with Basinger's character, he totally comes around, being much more passionate, and much smarter. As goes for Pierce's character, which is actually exactly the opposite turnaround, than that of Crowe's. He actually learnes to beat, and punish people.

The acting in this movie is phenomonal. What i read in another comment is true. If Titanic didn't sank 90 years ago, L.A. Confidential would have scattered all the oscars.

I'd recommend this movie to all of you who like Pulp Fiction. Just leave out the 'Tarantino-effect' and put it back 40 years.

i give it a 8.
2000-02-12
Robbed by Titanic
I was appalled watching the oscar ceremony in 1998. Not because Cameron asked for a minute of silence (something even Spielberg didn't request for the holocaust after winning for Schindlers List) and not because I knew LA Confidential wasn't going to sweep the acting awards like it deserved because neither Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe or James Cromwell were nominated. I was shocked and stunned that LA Confidential was beaten to the top oscars by Titanic. It was a truly undeserving victory. LA Confidential has some seriously heavyweight acting performances. Right through Danny DeVito and Kim Basinger who did win for her performance as Lynn Bracken. Russell Crowe is simply brilliant there are no other words to describe him. Kevin Spacey is every bit as good in this as anything he's done before or since it. I can't recommend this movie enough.
2000-02-27
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