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L.A. Confidential
Order the DVD L. A. Confidential from Amazon.com, Amazon.de, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr.
 
Article added in January 1999
Based on the novel by James Ellroy (written 1988/89), L. A. Confidential  (1997) is one of our favourite movies of recent years and an exception since most of the other excellent films of the 90s are (sometimes dark) comedies like Groundhog Day, Fargo or Jackie Brown. According to Ellroy, Brian Helgeland and Curtis Hanson brilliantly condensed the story. The 1997 Oscar for the Best Adapted Sreenplay is more than deserved.
 
There is trouble in paradise - because of Cohen and his mob. Sid Mudgen's (Danny DeVito) Hush Hush tabloid magazine knows these stories. Some very different LAPD officers are there to end this. Among them: officer Bud White (Russel Crowe). He interrupts a family dispute. He is a guy with a good heart - especially for women - but he uses violent methods. Another officer is Sgt. Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey), also known as 'Big Vince' or 'Big V'. He is clever and cynical. A slightly corrupt man with no illusions who sells information to Hush Hush and knows how to put himself in the best light. The intellectually most brilliant officer of his generation is Sgt. Ed Exley (Guy Pearce), the son of a legendary famous officer. He is in a certain sense clean, but also ambitious. As the other police officers try to beat up arrested gangsters, he unsuccessfully tries to stop them. Hush Hush gets the pictures of the beating. Ed Exley knows how to take profit from this incident. He is ready to testify against his colleagues despite the fact that he will be despised by the department: 'Silence and integrity are not the same', he says. But he also tells his superiors to shift the guilt to men whose pensions are secure and force them to retire. Secure jail time to the officers Richard 'Dick' Stensland (Graham Beckel) and Bud White, the message will be clear for the media and the public. Exley's superiors agree on Stensland, but not on valuable Bud White (who by the way is young - an illogical detail). Ed Exley gets promoted lieutenant - he even dares to ask for detective lieutenant - and he gets it since the department and the public need role-models. The superiors need 'Big Vince' to testify against against Stensland. They put pressure on him but he is a tough guy. Again, Ed Exley knows how to get 'Big V': with the promise of the Badge of Honour.
 
Captain Dudley Smith (James Cromwell) is a ruthless superior. He likes and uses Bud White's tendency to resolve problems with violent methods. After drug-mob-boss Cohen gets killed, a wave of gang assassinations follows. According to Hush Hush, the rumour has it that the LAPD is involved. In fact, Captain Dudley and Bud White are among the men behind the cleaning up. Stensland is out of the job as police officer. He tells Bud White: 'I got a date. It's confidential. Like that magazine Hush Hush.'
 
A brilliant story unfolds - interpreted by excellent actors. Kim Basinger as Lynn Bracken even got an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress in 1997. She is not bad in her role as a glamourous movie-star lookalike prostitute - she is the character who knows the truth about the others and about herself. Does she deserve an Oscar? No. But some of the other actors are simply fantastic. Director Curtis Hanson wanted new, unknown actors. He chose two Australians for a period movie taking place in L.A.! Hanson had seen Russell Crowe (Bud White) in Romper Stomper where he played a neo-nazi. And Guy Pearce's performance as Ed Exley is simply stunning. Among the already well-known actors Kevin Spacey is convincing as 'the man who little by little has lost his soul'. Dean Martin is singing Smile, Smile, Smile when 'Big V' (Spacey) looks in the bar mirror with his $50 bribe in his hand thinking about what he has become.
 
Hanson shot L. A. Confidential in 45 ordinary locations that are casual in their period look. He uses the decor as background. The only - intended - glamourous exception is Kim Basinger. Hanson wanted the characters and their emotions in the center. Unlike film noir, there are no highly stylized characters, decor or lighting with long dark shadows. Hanson gave L. A. Confidential a naturalistic look. He also wanted the audience to understand where the light was coming from. Great films are based on great stories, excellent actors and a director who knows how to put it together. If there is a perfect movie, this is it.

Order the DVD L. A. Confidential from Amazon.com, Amazon.de, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr.




Get L.A. Confidential on DVD from Amazon.com, Amazon.de, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr.

Get the brillant book L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy from Amazon.com, Amazon Canada, Amazon.co.uk.