L.A. Confidential Review
By Christopher Null
L.A. Confidential, despite what you've heard, is not the best film in 20 years. It's not even the best film of 1997 (current titleholder: In the Company of Men). But if you consider all films ever made that have the nasal Danny Devito providing voice-over work, L.A. Confidential is certainly at the top of that list.
Comparisons to Chinatown are obvious and appropriate. Both films take place in the Los Angeles of yesteryear, feature multi-layered crime riddles, and have stars with questionable morals as ersatz heroes. And both are very good. While Brian Helgeland and Curtis Hanson's script isn't the tight masterpiece that Chinatown is (the writers meander for a good 45 minutes before his story starts to shape up), and Faye Dunaway wasn't half the cheeseball that Kim Basinger is as the femme fatale, L.A. Confidentialmakes the audience do what few films of the 90s have achieved: think.
And you'll have to. Director Hanson's convoluted plot -- tracing the rise, fall, and redemption of L.A. cops played by Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, and James Cromwell -- is all over the map until its handy, bloody ending (body count > 25). Even then, you probably won't have all the details figured out. But at least it's fun to try.
The DVD release features a lot of extras backed by a widescreen presentation of the film. No commentary track, but two short documentaries and an interactive guide to the locations used in the film help you figure out what was going on inside Hanson's head when he put this thing together.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Friday 19th September 1997
Box Office Worldwide: $126.2M
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Production compaines: Warner Bros. Pictures, Regency Enterprises, Wolper Organization
Rotten Tomatoes: 99%
Fresh: 107 Rotten: 1
Cast & Crew
Starring: Kevin Spacey as Det. Sgt. Jack Vincennes, Guy Pearce as Det. Lt. Edmund Jennings " Ed " Exley, Danny DeVito as Sid Hudgens, James Cromwell as Cap. Dudley Liam Smith, Kim Basinger as Lynn Bracken, Russell Crowe as Bud White, David Strathairn as Pierce Patchett, Ron Rifkin as D.A. 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, Graham Beckel as Dick Stensland, Simon Baker as Matt Reynolds