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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
Brilliant
I agree with many other comments here, this is without a doubt one of the best movies of the 90s. I will never forget the joy of watching it for the first time (on tape) and being completely blown away, I was actually jumping out of my chair. The acting, the plot twists, Goldsmiths music. Everything was completely dead on target. Who would have expected this stroke of genius from Curtis Hanson? An absolute masterpiece, sometimes movies this good actually gets made in Hollywood.
2000-03-15
Not As Cool As It Wants To Be
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.
2009-12-25
A classic in its own time!
A classic in its own time! L.A. Confidential is one of the most remarkable films ever created. We follow the lives of three policemen in 1950's Los Angeles-Wendal "Bud" White, Edmund Exley, and Jack Vincennes. The police department is trying to clean up its image while staying in a corrupt town in a corrupt time. Their reputation is however trashed once more in an internal drunken riot termed "Bloody Christmas." That's just the beginning, the spawn of the immense story, plot twists, and character development. Each character in the film is drastically changed by his or her experiences. The editing is always smooth and fast paced, and the cinematography always affixes the right mood. The set pieces are distinct eye candy. The soundtrack to this movie is a fine complement to the visuals. It mixes authentic fifties music with a beautifully orchestrated score that keeps audiences on the edges of their seats. The acting performances for this movie are collectively some of the best ever produced for the silver screen. The last time I've been this convinced of Characters was in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Russell Crowe, Guy Pierce, Kevin Spacey, and Kim Basinger (Best Supporting Actress - 1997) give especially standout performances. Overall, L.A. Confidential is the total package. It's superb at every angle. It has been voted the third best film of the nineties by one critic's association, and it is my personal favorite. Every time I watch it I discover new depth to the plot. I would recommend L.A. Confidential to anyone.
2000-03-29
Fantastic film-noir
Although most of the greatest film-noir movies were made in the 1930's, 40's, and 50's, "L.A. Confidential" breaks that tradition. Kevin Spacey is his usual fabulous self as Jack Vincennes, a cynical cop, and Russell Crowe ("The Insider", "Gladiator") is also riveting as Bud White. And Kim Basinger is great in her Academy Award winning role of Lynn Bracken. I think it's her greatest achievement.

Winner of two Oscars, "L.A. Confidential" is a cinematic masterpiece, and should be seen by any movie buff. I give it a 10 out of 10.
2000-05-17
Classy film noire thriller with atmosphere
"L.A. Confidential" is a "guy thing," a well-directed, fast-paced thriller with an atmospheric feel comparable to say "Chinatown" and "Sunset Boulevard." Director Curtis Hanson brings the fifties L.A. milieu to life with music, authentic appearing sets and a story that focuses on crime and corruption, false glamour and moral disillusionment as only the City of Angels could play it. Things get a little bit comic book toward the end, but the characters and story and the rapid-fire one-liners will keep you glued to the screen. There's a lot of Raymond Chandler's L.A. here.

"Confidential" was the name of an "exposé" magazine published in the fifties in the L.A. area. I recall seeing it as a kid in liquor stores at some distance from the comic books. It used green lettering on its first page (the only page I ever saw), and amazing as it may be, I recall a headline once seen: "Youth Attacks/Rapes Own Mother." In this film the magazine is called "Hush- Hush," and Danny DeVito is appropriately cast as its sleazy editor and publisher.

Kim Basinger appears as a Veronica Lake look-a-like prostitute and plays it like Lauren Becall from a Bogey film, but without any wit or grace. James Cromwell is the personification of evil as the morally sick Capt Dudley Smith. Russell Crowe as Bud White, the justice-dispensing cop with a brutal temper and a soft heart for battered dames, gives an excellent performance. Guy Pearce as Ed Exley, the cop with glasses who doesn't care what the other cops think is also very good. Kevin Spacey as Jack Vincennes, the cop whose thrill is to be part of the TV production "Badge of Honor" (that's the old "Dragnet" series with Jack Web from the fifties) is also good.

In short, the cast is excellent and is probably the main reason this classy "shoot 'em up" is so over-rated. It was number 27 on IMDb's top 250 last time I looked. Recent movies and especially male-ID films tend to be overrated on this site. As the Internet and IMDb acquire a greater feminine voice, the ratings of thriller/action/adventure flicks will tumble.

A question to ask while watching this is, was the LAPD really this corrupt? Quick answer: yes. Next question, why? Answer, because all police departments, like all governments eventually become infested with corruption and must to cleaned out or overthrown. Why? Quick, but non- illuminating answer: human nature. Even you and I, if we had to deal with criminals on the one hand and the bureaucracy of the justice system on the other, day after frustrating and cynical day, might very well take on the values and persona of our surroundings.

Some authentic period piece phrases heard in the movie: "Just the facts, Jack"; "taco bender"; "just another Hollywood homicide"; "maybe that's why he's under a house in Elysian Park and don't smell too good" and of course the sleazy tabloid tag: "off the record, on the QT and very hush-hush."

One last thought for Director Hanson: Here's a lyric from a fifties tune that should have made the sound track: "Confidential as a church at twilight/Secret and moving as a lover's prayer/My love for you will always be confidential to me." They used to moon over that one in the barrios, circa 1955.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
1999-11-18
better than the book
I recently read James Ellroy's novel, and could not see how they could make a movie of it. It's huge and has three major plots. When I read the synopsis here on imdb, I rented the film. My husband, who has not read the book, and I both gave it an 8. The major plot line involving a Disney-like person that was discarded was no loss. It was a bit over the top. The movie is better without it. The characters were very true to the book, and I thought Kim Basinger was very good, but too old for the part. She's supposed to be about 28. Russell Crowe looked like a kid next to her.

I liked the clear sound and the good light. It would have been very easy to make this dark and murky as has been the rage since the really fast films were invented.
2000-10-09
Eisenhower Era LA
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.
2008-05-28
Absolutely great
LA Confidential is the best detective movie I've ever seen in my life. The screenplay is so powerful and well written. It deserved to gain the Oscar. You can find everything needed for a good a screenplay in this movie. Players are great. Specially, Kevin Spacy who acts very good in most of his movies. A chance for R.Crow to prove his talent in acting.
2001-01-21
Only half GREAT!
Reviewers have been far too generous in praise of La Confidential. The script is a perfect example of Hollywood once again dropping the ball. The first half of the film is GREAT, as good or better than I wanted it to be: a juicy plot (plus various sub plots) of just the right complexity, a seductively delicious milieu, and fascinating characters.

WARNING: SOME OF WHAT FOLLOWS MIGHT BE CONSIDERED SPOILERS!

Suddenly without warning, the story switches to the favorite action movie plot used by every other Hollywood hack – THE BIG CHEESE VILLAIN. You know this one, the evil authority figure symbolizing the corrupt establishment (such as a CEO, superior military officer, high government official, football coach, etc.) that no one would ever suspect turns out to be the criminal mastermind behind all the movie's mischief and mayhem. That worked in This Gun For Hire with Alan Ladd, but has been beat to death since Viet Nam and Watergate.

From the moment that Kevin Spacey is killed, the movie runs on automatic scriptwriter. As always the case with THE BIG CHEESE VILLAIN FORMULA, the major plot conflict and all sub plots can be conveniently resolved with an action packed ending where the hero (or heroes in this case) confront the villain and an army of evil henchmen in a setting reminiscent of the OK Corral. In the end, countless bad guys are blown away, yet THE BIG CHEESE is left to kill. As we've seen many times before, the crafty arch villain almost kills our heroes. And just when you've given up all hope, those physically and emotionally wounded good guys manage some last minute gunplay neatly dispatching old Mr. Corruption. And the world is right again.

As a bonus, the filmmakers of LA Confidential tacked on a schmaltzy epilogue with some cornball lines and long pathetic stares. This is a painfully obvious attempt to dupe us into thinking we experienced something profound. Oh yes, our heroes are a little more cynical, but they are much wiser, caring men, and their tarnished honor is still intact. Reminds me of Nancy Olson's line in Sunset Boulevard, `...just a rehash of something that wasn't very good to begin with.'

If you award flawed films like LA Confidential a top rating, what about noir classics like The Big Sleep, Out Of The Past, and Chinatown -- twenty stars at least? Personally, I would have enjoyed seeing more of Kevin Spacey and the ‘50s TV angle – as that's something different. I guess the filmmakers were constrained by the book, which I haven't read. But that doesn't excuse throwing out creative license, taking the easy way out, and opting for THE BIG CHEESE VILLAIN FORMULA, even if it's in the book.

2002-10-07
Top Notch Thriller
This is one of those films that may pass you by if you chose to watch it when other distractions are around. Along with the Usual Suspects and Pulp Fiction, i made several attempts to begin watching this movie, only find myself switching it off after 1/2 an hour or so due to distraction or lack of attention. Don't miss interpret what am i saying, this not a sign of a poor movie, in fact quite the opposite; it is merely a warning that films such as these require our undivided attention, and without it they may seem to be less than they are.

L.A. Confidential is a terrific thriller set in the 50's, with very realistic characters and an accurate depiction of the corruption and issues of the period.

The cast includes Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kim Bassinger and Danny Devito, and every one of them delivers a top notch performance, and i have to say Guy Pearce was surprisingly the one that shone the most.

Not to be missed 9/10
2005-01-23
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