Sunday, August 23, 2015

L.A. Confidential

Movie Name: L.A. Confidential
Year of Release: 1997
Director: Curtis Hanson
Stars: Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey, Kim Basinger, James Cromwell, Danny DeVito, David Strathairn, Ron Rifkin, Matt McCoy, Paul Guilfoyle, Graham Beckel, Simon Baker, Bob Clendenin, Tomas Arana, Michael Chieffo, Jim Metzler, Brenda Bakke, Jack Conley, Symba
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7

"L.A. Confidential" is one of the most celebrated films from 1997, hailing many of its accolades from the remarkable origin of the story, specifically the book by renowned writer James Elroy. Curtis Hanson was mostly known at the time as the director of suspenseful and middle of the road films such as "The Hand that rocks the Cradle" and "The River Wild". "L.A. Confidential" changed his visibility and went on to win awards for both him and screenwriter Brian Helgeland alongside actress Kim Basinger. The film focuses on the police department of LA in the 1950s, specifically three very different police officers: Jack Vincennes, a man who has made a career under the glamour of consulting for TV shows in Hollywood (and who craves the limelight), Bud White, a tough, belligerent and deeply honest man and finally Ed Exley, a detective who is ambitious above all, yet with a good heart. The lives of these three men get mixed with a deep and dirty scandal that runs through all the police department, the mayor's office and also involves Hollywood wannabes (and the gossip publications who live from it).
"L.A. Confidential" is a successful film in the way it transposes the engrossing and detailed novel from James Elroy to the screen, and brings to life the dynamics of the relationships between the three central characters. The main focus of the narrative is both Bud White and Ed Exley, two different sides of the police world, and yet, the way Curtis Hanson presents and develops the story, it allows for these two characters to be more than just simple cliches. There is depth, insight, and genuine investment from the director in flushing different threads to the story, allowing for different sides of this intricate scenario to be represented, and also managing to bring it all together for a climax that is both intelligent and rewarding. This is an example of how a truly great team can make a solid film come together, from the actors (with Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce leading the way), through the cinematography from Dante Spinotti and the score from the late Jerry Goldsmith. It's not a film that has a particular point of view (or style for that matter), but it's one that transposes its story in an engaging way (very much like a solid mini-series). Entertaining and well done.