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Three Phenomenal Actors Give The Performances Of A Life Time
flipgirl381 September 2003
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
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10/10
Everything in this film is fantastic.
Giuseppe Giuseppe11 January 2000
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.
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A "Chinatown" for the 1990s
tfrizzell25 June 2000
"L.A. Confidential" is brilliant. The screenplay and direction are second-to-none. The performances by the ensemble cast are also superb. Kim Basinger stands out the most with her Oscar-winning role. Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, David Strathairn, and Danny DeVito all have their moments as well. The film deals with the seamy side of Los Angeles in the post-World War II 1950s. Los Angeles is a place of shady dealings and police corruption. To add to those problems is the creation of the smutty tabloid. Multi-layered and smart, "L.A. Confidential" will be the greatest survivor of the films released in 1997. 5 out of 5 stars.
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8/10
A fascinating look at life in the big city
hall89519 August 2005
Give a collection of great actors a great story to work with and you are likely to end up with something rather special. Such is the case with L.A. Confidential. The boldface names jump off the page...Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito, James Cromwell and, in his first big-time role, Guy Pearce. And none of these big names are just mailing it in, here to collect a paycheck. They're all on top of their games, undoubtedly helped to no small extent by the wonderfully nuanced and utterly intriguing story.

This story takes place in 1950s Los Angeles but this is a side of L.A. most people don't get to see. Behind all the Hollywood glamour L.A. has a seamy side which will be the focus of this tale. At the heart of the movie are three cops who ostensibly are supposed to be working together but who go about the business of dispensing justice in very different ways. Crowe plays aggressive hothead Bud White. Spacey is Jack Vincennes, who takes more pride in his work as an adviser on a popular television cop drama than he does in his actual police work. And Pearce plays Edmund Exley, a young up-and-comer in the department who plays things by the book. As we will soon see Exley is rather unique in an LAPD which believes in doing whatever is necessary to bring the guilty to justice. Even if it means becoming a little guilty themselves.

The movie really begins to move forward with a massacre at a coffee shop. It seems a pretty cut and dried case but initial appearances can be deceiving. Soon White, Vincennes and Exley will find themselves caught up in a maze of lies, deception and mystery. It will be a great test for these very different men as it appears they may well need each other's unique talents to solve this puzzle. And quite the elaborate puzzle it is. One important piece is Lynn Bracken, a high class call girl played by Basinger. Tying together many of this complex story's strands is gossip writer Sid Hudgens who is played with appropriate sleaziness by DeVito. And in the background the whole time is the somewhat mysterious Captain Dudley Smith, played by Cromwell. Here is a man who believes in bringing the guilty to justice by any means necessary. That's all well and good if you know who the guilty are but in L.A. Confidential you're never quite sure who to believe. The viewer is guessing right along with the investigators on the screen. And in the end it all comes together and pays off brilliantly.

L.A. Confidential is first and foremost a great story, with many fascinating twists and turns along the way. The film also serves as a showcase for some of this generation's finest acting talents. Each of the main characters is wonderfully unique and each of the actors involved does a terrific job in bringing those characters to life. These are complex characters in a complex tale. It's so involved that the acting had to be stellar if this film was going to work and none of the stars disappoint. Terrific storytelling brought to life by a collection of inspired performances makes L.A. Confidential an absolute winner.
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10/10
hard-hitting, smart movie
trvpup15 March 2005
Although this movie 'flopped' at the box office at $53 million, this just may be one the smartest movies you haven't seen. With great performances from an ensemble all-star cast and a clever script, the dramatic tension of this modern film-noir classic is an absolute must-see! Told through a variation on the theme of "good cop, bad cop" with an overarching corruption angle, this film cleverly deals with issues of racism, social justice and ethics in a non-discriminatory manner. Character development is well-done and the dramatic tension is superb. If you are a fan of crime-drama and detective stories, you won't be disappointed!
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Great Detective Movie
Rob15 April 2004
L.A. Confidential is the most classy, intriguing, thought provoking and sexiest detective movie ever to be made in the history of detective films.

When you look back at it and see that Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey and Guy Pearce actually appeared in the same film back in 97 then you wouldn't have believed it since they have all gone on to better things but before that we had L.A. Confidential which was Crowe's and Pearce's ticket into Hollywood. Spacey had already made it with his Best Supporting Actor nod for The Usual Suspects but what puzzles me is how everybody apart from Kim Basinger didn't get any acting nominations at the Oscars. James Cromwell is the most chilled out villain you'll ever going to see in a film like this and has been criminally ignored by the Academy. Curtis Hanson was also someone who had made some good films but no masterpieces till this came along.

They all must have sold their souls to make this because when you get big cast get together to make a Hollywood film then you become a bit intrigued by it because if the cast is big then is the story any good? In L.A. Confidential's case it had both and a lot more to say the least.

I still think that this is Spacey's, Crowe's and Pearce's best film of there career. Russell Crowe as tough guy but sentimental towards women Bud White is flawless and is quite like the real Russell Crowe which is scary. Guy Pearce as the quick witted but dumb looking Ed Exley is someone one you either love or you hate as the annoying rookie. Kevin Spacey is just as cool as anything that Bogart and Mitchium could have pulled off as Jack Vincennes and there is the movie along with a great script by Brain Heagland of Mystic River fame and Curtis Hanson himself who put together a great script from James Elroy's novel.

Kim Basinger is as sexy as she is going to get and her acting is very good and well deserving of her Oscar if the boys were robbed. I liked how we had three different stories and one case that all had something to do with another but were all separate anyway till the end. It was like watching a movie with three stories based on a trio of detectives. L.A. Confidential was a treat as far as storytelling goes because it enthrals you into the film straight away as well as it being more exciting than a night out in Vegas.

We don't see Detective films like this so we should be grateful that this came along when it did.
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On of the best movies of the past 20 years.
medicineman26 November 2001
L.A. Confidential most likely falls into the category of one of the best movies of the past twenty years. The complex story line seemed to burst at the seams with intelligence. I found the complexity of several different sub-plots working together challenged the intellectual part of my brain while the intense action through out the entire movie satisfied the craving of the not-so-intellectual part of my brain that enjoys seeing a good brawl followed by a good shoot-out. Brian Helgeland and Curtis Hanson did and excellent job of combining many elements of several different kinds of films into one. They seem to have made this movie with several different audiences in mind. I for one, as I have mentioned, enjoyed the intellectual aspect as well as the action, while my wife enjoyed the combination of a love story with drama. It really has something for everyone. Bringing together all of these elements into one film sets it apart from many others. Of course the best aspect of L.A. Confidential is the way that not everything is as it seems, and then, in an instant, all of the plots are sprung like a trap and come together for a grand finale. Overall L.A. Confidential is an exceptional film that contains something for everyone.
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10/10
Will stand the test of time.........
Buzz-173 August 1998
When a film evokes an era as well as L.A. Confidential does, people take notice. It could be argued that it is easier to replicate the recent past than the distant on film, and in a sense this is true. Costumes, language, and the necessary absence of the modern in "period pieces" make them expensive and difficult to film. But couldn't it be argued that it is just as difficult to make a film about more recent periods? I have no knowledge of how a Victorian era table was set, or what a knight really spoke like; we are subject to the directors view of reality. But what if a good deal of your audience lived through the time you are portraying, as in the case of the 1950's? I can even envision my grandfather coming back from WW2 to a booming economy, and living in the world Curtis Hanson created.

The real genus of this film is that it creates not only a physical world, but one with all the politics, corruption, racism and inequity of the time. As a result we feel the characters motivations and understand their faults all the better; Bud White, Ed Exley, Lynn Bracken and Lana Turner all live here.

This film, like others that make us believe we are there for two hours (and $7.50), will endure. I was thinking a perfect double feature would be with Chinatown, another film that will stand the test of time.
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10/10
The Best Film of 1997
Sickfrog14 August 1998
Warning: Spoilers
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.
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10/10
Tour de Force
kyra169 February 1999
This is the ultimate movie on the corruptness of the police force during the 1950's. No one is going to make a better movie than LA Confidential, the cast is perfect, the direction is superb, the screenplay is amazing, the choice of music, the graphic brutality, the not so fine line between good and evil.

When I saw this in the theatres, I came out of the theatre and couldn't say anything because I was awed. And I was amazed by how wonderful Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce were, I had never heard of them before, so I didn't know what to expect, but now I have two new favorite actors. And I couldn't believe that Russell was a New Zealander and Guy was an Aussie. They had great American accents. And of course Kevin Spacey was superb as always.

Any way, this is an awesome movie, go rent it if you have not seen it.
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10/10
***** Best Film of the 90s
Bil-317 February 2000
Hands-down my favourite American film of the nineties. Curtis Hanson shocked the world by proving to be not only a great director but an auteur with this unbeatable adaptation of James Ellroy's terrifying novel about corruption and crime among members of the LAPD in the 1950s. The hard-boiled detective story angle is brought to life so beautifully, mostly because Jeannine Claudia Oppewall's production design recreates the dark underside of the 50s to such perfection that not even a Coke bottle label is missed. Add to that Dante Spinotti's stunning lighting that rides the fine line between artistic and believable comfortably (as all period camerawork should), Ruth Myers' costume designing and a script by Hanson and The Postman scribe Brian Helgeland (I know, I don't get it either) that pares down Ellroy's mammoth plot about a multiple murder in a local diner involving a policeman with suspicious ties without sacrificing the density of the story or the spiderweb of events involved with it, and you have the best movie of 1997, not to mention the most fascinating detective film ever made since Orson Welles' Touch of Evil. The cast is all brilliant, most notably Kim Basinger as a wordly prostitute who has not only a heart of gold but a mind of steel--Basinger is so strong in her character's every nuance you'll find yourself forgetting she's even acting--and Kevin Spacey as a Dean Martin-esque detective who not only solves an important part of the puzzle, he even discovers he possesses a soul beneath his flashy suits. I just can't get enough of this film.
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10/10
This is how a proper crime story should be told!
Mr_PCM3 February 2006
LA Confidential is a sprawling epic tale of crime, corruption and justice in Hollywood and the LAPD, with a cast to match. A truly gripping crime saga exposing the seedy underbelly of the City of Angels, where cops never let the truth get in the way of justice, and everyone knows everyone else's dirty secrets.

Criminally overlooked at both the box office and the Academy thanks to the all-conquering and over-achieving Titanic, LA Confidential will far more likely stand the test of time to be thought of as one of the best films of the 90s, and possibly the best cop film ever.

After cops give a number of inmates a beating in retaliation for two of their own being put in hospital, the career-minded Ed Exley (Guy Pearce) agrees to testify to what he saw, turning in his fellow officers. When one of the cops forced out turns up dead as a result of a shooting, Exley, hothead detective Bud White (Russell Crowe) and fame-obsessed Sergeant Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) all work to find the answers. However, as they uncover the truth, it leads to more questions, of corruption, blackmail, bribery and conspiracy.

The film superbly portrays the dual nature of Hollywood; glamorous parties and beautiful people, and the seemingly ever-present crime and corruption, even in the police. Danny Devito's opening monologue perfectly sums it up - 'There's trouble in paradise'. This is not the city at the end of the rainbow, the city where dreams come true.

A series of stellar performances from an all-star cast makes it impossible to pick the star, although Kim Basinger richly deserved her Best Supporting Actress. Kevin Spacey is terrific as ever, while Russell Crowe shows that Gladiator wasn't his first muscles-with-a-heart role. But the real standout is probably Guy Pearce in a career-making performance as the one officer determined to what is right and just, regardless of the potentially disastrous consequences for him. However, LA Confidential is a true ensemble piece, and everybody holds their own among the starry cast. Few will have made many better films, before or since.

Curtis Hanson directs in a career-defining role, the sweeping direction echoing the sprawling nature of both the story and the city. The story is a slow-burner, gradually unraveling all the twists, but instead of clearing up the mystery, the waters become muddier as the trio of officers are forced to work together. Hanson masterfully commands the James Ellroy's source material, weaving it into a gripping multi-layered tale. The characters are extremely well developed, all three-dimensional, with no clear-cut heroes and villains. White (Crowe) in particular is the classic film noir anti-hero, the violent cop with a heart-breaking story, thinking with his muscles rather than his brain. LA Confidential is a classic 50s noir film told for the 90s, and keeps you guessing right up to the final scene as to how high the corruption goes. The two-hour running time is never felt.

A superb thriller and the perfect antidote to the rash of mindless action-comedies that frequently come out of Hollywood today, LA Confidential harks back to how film-making used to be – all about telling a story. And what a story it is. One of, if not the best film of the 90s.
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Simply a wonderful film that respects it's audience
bob the moo23 November 2003
In the gritty LA of the 1950's, stardom is the boom industry and all is about appearance and visual image. However under the surface drug use is rife, prostitution is rampant and the police officers are violent thugs. In the middle of this are three officers with different aims. Ed Exley is an ambitious young officer who will do anything to climb the ranks, Bud White is a muscle man and gets the job done while Jack Vincennes is only concerned with celebrity busts and getting his face in the paper. When the three come together on a coffee shop killing that brings in elements of cases they are following they solve it together. However each has suspicions that something is not right.

I'm sorry to say that I didn't pick up on this at the cinema and it wasn't until the Oscars brought it to my attention that I first saw it. Since then I have seen it several times and have enjoyed it every time. The plot is slightly complex (although maybe not by the genre's standards) and it isn't simplified for the audiences sake – it respects the audience enough to trust us to keep up with it's pace. The film is split into three strands dictated by the characters, they are not quite distinct but are mostly intertwined the whole way through – coming together in the final hour to great effect.

The pace of the telling is great; it has moments of drama, of tension and great action. Hanson has done a great job with the direction, he has a great sense of place and time to his 50's Hollywood – whether it be the stars' lives or the black suburbs – but he directs each scene with a sense of tension and urgency that the material deserves. The final twist is OK if not great but it is more the telling of the story that is enjoyable, not just the denouncement.

The casting did a great job of getting growth names and established qualities but no one huge star who could dominate the film. It is the Australian stars that stand out here. Pearce is excellent with a subtly changing character but it is Crowe that sticks in the memory with a very strong character and a performance to match. Spacey is as quality as he ever is (or at least, was for a few years either side of this film) and the support cast is as good with De Vito, Basinger, Cromwell, Rifkin, Strathairn and Guilfoyle.

There is nothing I really dislike about this film. The longer than average running time is not a problem as it easily fills it without dragging at any point. The film oozes class and has a great tough plot from Ellroy where nothing is as simple as right/wrong and everything comes together at the end. A real classy film with brains and brawn which continues to be one of my favourites of recent years.
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10/10
Rollo Tomasi, do you still remember?
CHENG-HUNG JEN2 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
"Rollo Tomasi" is a name that anyone had seen this movie should remember for the rest of his life or at least be aware of the existence of the name, because this is the key to the spirit of this whole story. Due to the setting of this clue, there is no doubt one great movie had become a classic!

As a Taiwanese, I saw a lot of Hong Kong movies about police and gangsters while I was a child, and they were all very impressive. Therefore, the particularly genre has been promoted to such high levels in my mind that I can hardly be pleased. Fortunately, "L.A. Confidential" satisfies me not only with its thoughtful scenario, but also with several great actors' performances. More specifically, the story is not just about justice versus evil, there are also many elements such as passion, wisdom, greed, friendship and of course love which all made this movie more than fun to watch. In other words, you might feel angry at this moment, shocked latter, and finally moved by their insistence on doing the right things which made us believe there are still several police worth our trust.

Guy Pearce was one big surprise in the movie not because he played the leading role of the movie, but for his courage and wisdom, and most important of all, his slightly pride that caused admiration accompanied by hostility at the same time. Because the complexity he showed, we couldn't help but be deeply attracted, and that's when we built connections with the character inside the frame. Secondly, Kevin Spacey was not the one who would gain our trust at first, but no one ought to disagree with his contribution after the shocked "Rollo Tomasi" scene. Likewise, Russell Crowe twisted his role impressions only after his cooperation with Guy Pearce, but he really needed to adjust his tempers for his own sake. Such a crew made this great movie never out-of-date, not even after similar stories keep brainwashing our minds.

How lucky I am to see such a classical film. As a matter of fact, I haven't found one movie that reaches the same level as it did, at least not in the genre. Thus, I just have to repeat watching the film again and again, and I believe many people are doing the same thing I do.
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10/10
It's in the writing
Pamsanalyst5 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
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.
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10/10
A Modern Classic
doctorx29 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
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.
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10/10
Essential Film Noir
Max_cinefilo8915 January 2006
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.
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9/10
Acivement in world class
DeathFish14 May 2007
L.A. Confidential is perhaps, one of the best and most intriguing pieces of moving picture in the past few decades. The brilliancy of the script itself, deserves a standing ovation, because it is in my opinion, one of the most thought-out and nerve wrecking of its time. The direction by Curtis Hanson gives this intense and complex movie softness and makes a gentle approach to the audience, because none of the material is forced through, but instead it rests quietly in the subconsciousness of the audience the whole time. The plot is just awesome and stands out from any of the former (and later) police/criminal movies, because we get to experience the action behind the curtain, from a passive point of view. The plot has a great balance between tossing us into the action, and gently luring us through one mystery after another, trying to find the answers. The actors give the ideas of the script and the characters faces, and gives us a chance to relate and identify with the characters involved. Each of them delivers great performances: Spacey as always smart, sly and above all believable, though he does not exceed his brilliant performance in "The Usual Suspects". Crowe with his, so far, best performance in my opinion, with temper and depth. Pearce with an OK performance without really reaching the top, but fills out his character nicely. Devito is amusing and cool and does everything he can to contribute to this movie. Basinger with her Oscar-winning role, plays the beautiful blond convincingly and spices up the last aspect of the movie, with splendor and depth as well. Alltogehter this makes one hell of a good movie. Fast, smart, complicated, exciting, raw and above all believable and entertaining. Well done by the creators of L.A. Confidential.
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8/10
Incredible Look; Incredible Plot
DaveDiggler11 August 2008
"L.A. Confidential" is the kind of film that will make you laugh; make you gaze in amazement at its appeal, and become immersed in a murder mystery with so many twists and tangles that it could make your head spin. With one of the strongest plots I've ever seen, which is executed masterfully by Curtis Hanson, also has eye candy and sex appeal. The direction really is wonderful. The art direction is fantastic and brings you right back into the 50s. The acting is very good even if it comes off as 50s styled acting proving that todays actors are far superior than the actors of the 50s. "L. A. Confidential" even goes as far as poking fun at the sensationalized way films were made in that time period with a hilarious sequence where a cop on a show called, "Badge of Honor," interrupts a women giving him details about some crime, and he says, "Just the facts, ma'am. Just the facts."

The tangled and twisted plot is engrossing and filled with seduction, cons, lies, betrayal, killings, and corruption. The acting is terrific from a slew of great actors including Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, and Walter Cromwell plays one of the great villains I've ever seen. All of these guys have a lot of fun with their roles, and do an excellent job. Kim Basinger plays a prostitute who tries to look like a movie a star so that her pimp, Pierce Patchett (David Stratharin), can reap the benefits since everyone wants to be with a celebrity. "L. A. Confidential" is as much a look at the culture of the 50s, both commercially through television and the dirty business of police officers exposed, as it is being a stylized homage piece. This is a film that's done exceptionally well with some great lines, great performances, and a plot that will force you to watch it again and again. It hardly misses a beat. This is one of the few films that can recreate the 50s with its acting and style and still hold up with todays society. It works well as a film and exceptionally well as an homage piece.
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10/10
Eisenhower Era LA
bkoganbing28 May 2008
I think that all LA Confidential needed was possibly the writing touch of someone like Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett. But since those two worthy gentleman are beyond reach, this is as good as it will get for the modern cinema.

Anticipating the film Crash by several years, LA Confidential is a period piece set in the Eisenhower era Los Angeles and its police department which has a history of corruption more than most. A whole lot of separate incident are tied together quite intricately as the cast's three police heroes, together and separately piece it all together.

Three very different kinds of cops are portrayed here. First is the laid back Kevin Spacey who has a casual attitude towards the corruption he sees. He's also the police adviser to a Dragnet style show and enjoys a whole lot of perks that come with it.

Secondly is Guy Peace who's a real boy scout, but is the son of a hero cop and also knows how to work department politics. He doesn't look the other way on corruption, he rises in rank because he turned in fellow officers and he's hated up and down the line.

Finally there's Russell Crowe whose character reminds me of the big dumb son in House of Strangers played by Paul Valentine who Edward G. Robinson made a guard in his bank. Even in the days before the Miranda decision, Crowe made a specialty of getting confessions the old fashioned way. Certain higher ups, particularly Captain James Cromwell recognize his unique talents and call him in when needed. Like Valentine though he proves in the end to be quite a bit smarter than everyone gives him credit for.

The beating of some Mexican prisoners, the massacre of six people at a Hollywood Diner, a call girl service where the girls are made up to look like movie stars, a bisexual actor killed at a sleazy motel, and a whole lot more are all part of an complex story that won one of two Oscars LA Confidential received, for best screenplay adapted from another source.

The second Oscar went to Kim Basinger as one of the call girls who is made up like Veronica Lake. She gets all the men in this cast into maxim hormonal overdrive, especially Pearce and Crowe. Basinger won for Best Supporting Actress that year.

Woven into the story are such real characters as mob boss Mickey Cohen whose arrest for tax evasion sets up a lot of the situations here, his number one enforcer Johnny Stompanato and Lana Turner who would shortly be some of the biggest tabloid fodder ever.

Look also for some nice performances from Ron Rifkin as the blackmailed District Attorney and Danny DeVito as a sleazy columnist.

Had LA Confidential not come along in the same year as Titanic it might have won a few more Oscars including Best Picture which it lost to Titanic. Still the success of Crash, a film with similar structure and themes may redeem LA Confidential.

Not that it needs much redemption because you won't be bored for an LA minute.
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3/10
Two Words: Lackluster and Mediocrity
PartialMovieViewer17 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
How does a potentially good movie - jam-packed with excellent talent – manage to stumble into forgettable mediocrity? It seemed the cast was tight and firing on all cylinders, the director was doing his thing superbly, and production (whatever they do) was more than adequate (I guess) – so – what happened? Did it seem like there were some major character-disconnects? It felt that a bit - there were moments in the story when the plot was more like a disorganized smattering of unruly lice than some kind of a storyline. Was it too long? Again – time is relative and – for me – this show was relatively too long. Predictable? Oh please – this was your typical bad cop vs. badder cop vs. baddest cop. I might be too hard on this flick – I don't know. I am probably spoiled by some of the quality TV crime drama (you know – the ones that have good writers and last an hour). LA Confidential was just not a spectacular tale, it was almost boring. Don't get me wrong – this is not a bad movie – it is actually pretty good – it's just not great. To put it another way, L.A. Confidential, is like a Chevy Corvette outfitted with a Vespa engine all flash and no guts. I apologize to those who loved the movie, but I won't lose sleep over it. This story needs to be re-buried in that woman's smelly basement – at least for me.
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6/10
Pretty good crime drama...but any comparisons to "Chinatown" may be premature
moonspinner5516 October 2007
Sordid goods in a glossy package. Crime-drama from director Curtis Hanson concerning police corruption and murder in 1953 Los Angeles is, much like its scenario, seamy stuff underneath a classy veneer. Kevin Spacey is the narcotics officer, Russell Crowe the investigating officer, Guy Pierce the new lieutenant, Danny DeVito well-cast as the gossip columnist, and Kim Basinger the hooker whose bosses figure in the crime spree and drug-trafficking. Overstuffed, overwrought, with nasty sideline details detracting from the intense narrative of cops-gone-bad. The picture certainly looks good, and keeps its momentum up despite a byzantine plot that becomes harder and harder to follow. Basinger won the Supporting Actress Oscar; the screenplay also copped statues for Hanson and Brian Helgeland, who based their script on James Ellroy's novel. The movie has punch--but doles it out in spurts. The first hour is best, and most of the ensemble acting is spot-on, but interest wanes once the story becomes too muddied up. **1/2 from ****
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Three Cops Who Changed Their Minds
Robert J. Maxwell20 December 2003
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS...

The story of three cops who changed their minds. Guy Pearce begins as a coldly manipulative cop interested mainly in promotions. He winds up sanctioning the use of brute force in order to obtain what passes for justice in this movie. Kevin Spacey is sort of "affiliated" with the LAPD but his chief interest is in being technical adviser on a "Dragnet" show and getting his picture in the L.A. Times. He discovers that he has a sense of responsibility when a sympathetic young bisexual is murdered on his watch. Russell Crowe is an apparently mindless brutal thug who finds that love has made him vulnerable and that the instrumentality of anger has its limits.

Overall, it's an excellent film. The theme is similar to that of "Chinatown," in which Jack Nicholson, a brittle but basically decent representative of objectivity and order, discovers corruption in high places. "L. A. Confidential" isn't "Chinatown" (what is?) but it brims with the same irony and sense of dis-ease, although our identification with a single isolated human being is dispersed over a trio of flawed cops.

What a well-drawn flick. Curtis Hanson handles the direction competently, blessedly without the sort of dazzling special effects a viewer has come to expect from cop movies. There is plenty of action, but no car chases, exploding heads, or slow-motion deaths. In fact, all but two of the deaths take place offscreen. That's directorial bravery for you. Bring another Medal of Valor here.

The performances are about as good as they come. Danny DeVito is a tabloid reporter who speaks in headlines, liable at any moment to say something like, "What he needs is a snoot of coca-cola up the old schnozzola." (This is 1953, don't forget.) Kim Basinger is beautiful as a Veronica Lake lookalike but doesn't have too much of a chance to stretch her acting chops. Guy Pearce as the independent loner is the only character who gets my respect from beginning to end. He really BELIEVES in the cause, a hard charger, unfriendly though he may be. He also looks oddly like Arnold Schwarzenegger, especially odd since he was a body builder of sorts. I knew another body builder who was Schwarzenegger's body double in "Raw Deal" because he was a ringer. (Do all body builder have to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger? I mean, aside from their glutes?) Speaking of body builders, Russell Crowe gets a lot of screen time in a dark brown suit speckled with what looks like bird droppings, perhaps the ugliest suit ever committed to film, with shoulders as wide as the central span of the George Washington Bridge.

Two of the performances are irreproachable. John Cromwell is the corrupt police captain. He plays the role chewing gum and exuding unpretentious Irish charm ("Call me Dudley.") while tempering the charm with what sounds like good-natured and sincere common sense advice. Underneath that, he's thoroughly rotten in every respect. And Kevin Spacey is perfect as the vain detective who knows his way around the show-biz part of L.A. and enjoys schmoozing with councilmen, celebrities, and the press. He's involved in the two most amusing scenes in the movie. The first involves an almost miraculous control of facial expression. He's called in for interrogation by his superiors and is asked to testify against some other officers. "No," he says, "I won't snitch on anyone in the department." They offer him no punishment more severe than a slap on the wrist and before he knows it, he'll be back on "the show," which he loves. "The show?" he asks. There is a long long moment while his face sort of drifts from surprise, through disbelief, and into resignation. Then he figuratively shrugs his shoulders and says, without any deliberation, "All right, I'll do it." The very model of a complete sellout. The other amusing scene is when he and Pearce accost a beautiful blond in a nightclub and sneer at her because she's a whore plastic-surgerized to look like Lana Turner. And Spacey informs Pearce to lay off, "She IS Lana Turner." When they return to their car, both officers begin laughing.

The photography is fine, the early 50s decor is what you'd expect from a professional job like this. There isn't much in the way of original music in the score -- hardly any in fact -- but period music is used, not overused, to good effect. (It's quality varies from Kay Starr to Cole Porter.) Extra Casting and Wardrobe even went to the trouble of making the actors playing Jerry Mulligan and Chet Baker LOOK LIKE Mulligan and Baker, although they cut Baker's recorded solo short on "The Lady is a Tramp."

The movie doesn't have a traditionally happy ending really. All values are gray, as they are in real life, rather than black and white. Pearce, the political animal, remains ambitious but now has distance enough from his role to see it for what it is. The same seems to be true for Crowe's character, who has found the love of a good woman. Well, the love of a woman anyway. Crowe still has a long way to go before reaching redemption. He's killed in cold blood a rapist and drug dealer and planted a gun on him and gotten away with it, but we've seen him look disgusted at some violence he's forced to witness later in the film. Vincennes is dead.

This one is definitely worth seeing.

Catch this, if you can.
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7/10
better the second time 'round
Paul-10318 January 1999
I just saw this movie for the second time the other night, and enjoyed it MUCH more than the first time. There were plot and character subtleties that were much easier to appreciate, without having to concentrate as much on what was going on (following the film noir guideline of having a complicated story line). This movie successfully avoided stereotypical characters; each character had many motivations, some sympathetic, some not. Loved Kevin Spacey's performance (not unusual), and Guy Pearce was really good as Exley. The thing that most surprised me, however, was finding that James Cromwell who so wonderfully played the heavy, Dudley Smith, is the same James Cromwell that played the wonderful farmer Hoggett in "Babe". Talk about different characters.
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6/10
Not As Cool As It Wants To Be
Kyle Hodgdon25 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I initially watched this movie back in 2000. In 2009, I was going through movies on IMDb to rate them and when I came across this I could not remember it at all. It had such a great rating and marvelous reviews, so I decided to watch it again.

I now know why I did not recall the film initially: it really is not that good. It's okay, it's watchable, but I really do not know why so many people like it so much.

It felt like this movie was trying to be too cool. I mean, no one talks like the characters in this movie do. With the amount of "cool lingo" that they use I began to get lost with exactly what the characters were really saying. It's is okay to a point, but this movie did it far too much where it became distracting and very unrealistic.

I really didn't care too much for the plot itself either. Again, it was okay, but I can think of plenty other cop dramas that are far superior to this one.

Kevin Spacey is one of my favorite actors and Russell Crowe is usually very solid, but neither one did anything for me in their respective roles. I know many people disagree with me on this, but to me they both meandered along and never really shined.

And the gun fight at the end was poorly done. Why can the good guys get shot multiple times and be just fine to continue, but the bad guys are always dead with one shot?

I give this movie a six and say that it is "slightly above average". It is an okay watch, but there are many better movies of the same genre out there.
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