35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark Noir in Bright Daylight
This was the best film made in '97 but like Polanski's "Chinatown" it is destined to become one of the finest movies NOT to take the Oscar home. Curtis Hanson took James Ellroy's novel, a book many doubted could be translated to the film medium, and co-wrote one of the finest adapted screenplays ever done. He then brought on board a couple of Aussie unknowns, a gorgeous...
Published on 11 Jan. 2003
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Throws the kitchen sink at you
I've watched it a couple of times now, I made myself give it another go after I was a little overwhelmed by it all the first time. My only problem with this film is that it really really wants you to love it, and puts absolutely everything into that quest, and the budget was evidently unlimited. The result, for me at least, is a colourful noir that has all the classic...
Published on 25 Jun. 2008 by Lou Knee
Most Helpful First | Newest First
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark Noir in Bright Daylight,
By A Customer
This was the best film made in '97 but like Polanski's "Chinatown" it is destined to become one of the finest movies NOT to take the Oscar home. Curtis Hanson took James Ellroy's novel, a book many doubted could be translated to the film medium, and co-wrote one of the finest adapted screenplays ever done. He then brought on board a couple of Aussie unknowns, a gorgeous star who had never lived up to her potential, maybe the finest actor working today, and began filming one of the darkest noir films of all time, in sun drenched daylight!
The end result is a dark and twisted tale of personal redemption told against the backdrop of the bright lights and sunshine of Hollywood in the early '50's. Hanson contrasts the brightly lit exteriors with the dark storyline of police corruption and Hollywood decadence. This is a movie about facade, not just Hollywood's but our own personal facade as well.
Russell Crowe became a star as LA Detective Bud White, a tough cop willing to do whatever is necessary, something the political up and comer Guy Pearce finds archaic about the force and wants to change. What may stop him from doing so is his investigation of the murder of several people at "The Night Owl" cafe, one of which is Crowe's partner, recently "retired" after a well publicized jail brawl christened "Bloody Christmas" by the papers.
Crowe and Pearce come at this from different angles but the road for both leads right to beautiful Kim Basinger and a millionaire in the lush Hollywood hills played by David Strathairn. There is a reason Basinger looks a little like Veronica Lake the first time we see her in this film, she's suppose to. Hollywood legend has it that a string of expensive call girls were cut to look like stars during the forties and fifties and Hanson has made this darker side of Hollywood part of the story. Basinger is one of the lucky ones, close enough to the actual look of Veronica Lake not to have been cut on.
Crowe falls for the real girl inside Basinger, but in spite of her opulent lifestyle, her low self esteem comes to the forefront when she sleeps with Pearce in an attempt to "help" Crowe. We realize as she nearly destroys Crowe by doing so that she perceives herself as a whore on the inside, beneath the facade. Her logic is as twisted and tainted as the corruption Crowe and Pierce are about to uncover as they follow the trail linking Basinger's "boss" Strathairn to the Night Owl killings and the vice surrounding them on every side.
Basinger deserved the Oscar she garnered for this role and Crowe's performance as the tough cop with some soft spots after all is something you'll always remember. But the coolest job done here is by Kevin Spacey. Hanson told him before filming began to think Dean Martin and he'd have it down pat. Yes indeed! Spacey plays the ultra cool cop, the one in the tabloids for his Hollywood connections. He is a consultant on the TV show "Badge of Honor" (think Dragnet) and is hooked up with slimy but likeable Danny DeVito, a "writer" for a Hollywood tabloid. Spacey grabs the spotlight and DeVito gets the headlines as Spacy collars Hollywood stars in compromising situations, DeVito's camera flashing.
Spacey seemingly has it all, but like the rest of this film, it is just a facade. While sitting in a bar listening to Dean Martin in the background he looks up into the mirror behind the counter and doesn't like what he see's. He has all the tools to be a great cop but he knows he has sold his soul for the fifty in front of him. He becomes involved in the case because of a murder in a hotel room he feels responsible for that leads right back to the Night Owl, and hooks up with Pearce to redeem his soul. You will never forget the name "Rollo Tomasi" or what it means for Pearce, and ultimately Spacey in this film.
Adding to the atmosphere more than just a little is the score by Jerry Goldsmith, his finest work since "Chinatown" and just as haunting. It does more than help enhance the atmosphere, it IS the atmosphere of this one of a kind masterpiece. This film has the kind of ending dreams are made of and someone (I won't give it away) holding up their badge to the oncoming rush of cop cars in the Hollywood hills at night is a scene you'll never forget. There is not a bad performance in this film. It is complex and riveting. If you haven't seen this before, don't rent it, buy it. You'll watch it over and over. But don't tell anyone-this is Off the Record, On the QT, and Very Hush Hush.......!
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific!,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This was easily the best Hollywood movie of 1997, but got sunk by Titanic at the box office and the Oscars. Which was a bit ironic. But not one to hold a 13-year-old grudge, this Blu-Ray disc is the third - and by far the best - format I have this film in (Laserdisc and DVD being the others). It's generally agreed that the DVD version looked a bit dark and dowdy, but in Blu-Ray all that period detail and the sublime photography is allowed to bloom - you're there, with an A-Grade cast firing on all cylinders in a story that's blindingly well told. A great one for your new Blu-Ray collection.
39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "And The Dapper Little Gent Does It In Style...",
There's a moment in Curtis Hanson's 1997 peach of a film when Guy Pearce playing good-guy cop Ed Exley enters The Night Owl café to check up on possible multiple homicides in the early hours of the morning... As he does, the camera pans across the Formica counter and the nearby tabletops, the saltcellars, the napkin dispensers, the circular seats, the candy vendors... There's tons of stuff in a few seconds - all of 1950s - the attention to detail is mind-blowing... Hanson had made a $15 million dollar movie look like it cost ten times that and I'm thrilled to say that this BLU RAY version of "L.A. Confidential" does exactly the same.
While it's not "Zulu" or "2001: A Space Odyssey" perfect in terms of print - other people's reckoning of 4.5 out of 5 is accurate. I'd estimate that 80-90% of the time the picture is glorious and even when it's a little soft in places, the rest is `so' good, you hardly notice. Also, as you re-watch it, you realise just how good LAC was and what a superlative job Hanson did in bringing the seedy underbelly of Hollywood and the LAPD of the time to the screen. Everything fits on "L.A. Confidential" - the incredible ensemble cast you couldn't buy for love or money now - the chemistry between them all - the ruthlessly realistic story and spunky adaptation of it, the beautiful night locations, the dapper clothes, the colours - even Jerry Goldsmith's music - mellow brass followed by staccato piano fills - was absolute genius! It all worked - and now it looks the business too.
Watching Crowe and Basinger in the main feature in all their beautifully filmed sizzling glory is a treat for sure - but the list of extras is equally impressive too. Check these out...
1. Commentary by Andrew Sarris [Film Critic], James Ellroy [Novelist], actors Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, Guy Pearce, David Strathairn, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito and James Cromwell accompanied by Ruth Myers [Casting], Brian Helgeand [co-writer of the screen with Curtis Hanson the Director], Jeannine Opwell [Production Design], Dante Spinotti [Cinematographer]
(with or without SUBTITLES)
2. "Whatever You Desire: The Making Of L.A. Confidential"
All-new interviews with Director/Screen Writer/Producer Curtis Hanson and his cast & crew
3. "Sunlight & Shadow: The Visual Style Of L.A. Confidential". Hanson gives a behind-the-scenes commentary to reveal how they captured 1950's and brought LA Confidential to life.
4. "A True Ensemble: The Cast Of L.A. Confidential". RC, GP, DD, KB and JC all join Hanson to discuss the chemistry they hoped would happen and did
5. "L.A. Confidential: From Book To Screen". Hanson and co-writer Brian Helgeland discuss the difficulty of bringing the film to screen
6. "Off The Record". Behind the scenes featurette with the cast & crew
7. Photo Pitch: Curtis Hanson recreates his original pitch for L.A. Confidential
8. 2000 TV Pilot
9. "The L.A. of L.A. Confidential": and interactive tour of many of the locations used in the movie
10. Music Only Track
11. Trailers [5 Versions]
12. Online interactivity
If like me, you saw this at the flicks, then bought it on DVD, and loved it on both occasions - you will need to upgrade to this version. Like the beautiful looking and endlessly uplifting BR version of "The Shawshank Redemption" - "L.A. Confidential" is a triumph on BLU RAY. There's no "hush, hush" on this one folks - highly recommended.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The classiest cop film ever!,
By A Customer
This review is from: L.A. Confidential [VHS]  (VHS Tape)
Like other reviewers here, I was equally dumbfounded to see the vastly overrated 'Titanic' beat LA at the Oscars. LA is like an updated version of those 50's film noir detective thrillers such as the 'Maltese Falcon' and Raymond Chandler adaptations but far better.There's enough violence here to make the point but its never overdone for the sake of it. I wasn't surprised to see Guy Pearce pull it off as he'd already put his 'Neighbours' nightmare to rest with 'Priscilla Queen of the Desert'. His character is no wimpy 'good guy' but a by-the-book type yet with an underlying menace. For me, this is Russell Crowe's best performance rather than 'Gladiator' balancing hot-headed violence with conscience. Kevin Spacey equals his 'Verbal Klint'performance (Usual Suspects) as the dodgy-but-not-wholly-corrupt cop. I'm not quite sure why Kim Basinger got an Oscar though. Her performance is fine but her actual screen time isnt that much. Like the best thrillers, this film has plenty of twists which keep you guessing till the cracker finale. For me this is the classiest cop film ever in terms of direction, acting, set, wardrobe, the lot. Outstanding!
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They don't make them like this anymore...,
Where do I start? This is one of those 'they don't make them like that anymore' movies - but, thankfully, sometimes they do. LA Confidential boasts a cast to die for - Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger, Danny Devito and the surprise hit of the movie, Guy Pearce - better known in the UK for his term in the execrable TV soap Neighbours. Set in film noir-era Los Angeles, it tells the dark and winding tale of corruption in the LAPD. Pearce is the high-flying young idealogical cop who insists on taking on the powers-that-be to expose the corruption at the heart of the LAPD - and isn't afraid of incurring the wrath of his colleagues. As the film goes on, some unlikely alliances are formed. This is a wonderful engaging drama that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. All the performances are absolutely outstanding - from the flamboyant Spacey and officious Pearce to the volcanic Crowe and the Oscar-winning Basinger. The DVD has the usual good picture and sound quality. The extras are nothing to write home about but worth a look - trailers, an interactive map of LA, a 'making of' feature and various bios. Good DVD - absolutely outstanding movie.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As near to perfection as a movie can get.,
Quite simply one of the bravest, visually stunning, entertaining pieces of cinema in modern memory. After every viewing this film mesmerises, confuses and leaves you gasping.
The irony of Hollywood was once again present at the Oscars, L A Confidential being nominated for 7 Oscars only to see the woeful Titanic walk away with 11.
Never has a cast been so universally brilliant, Basinger in possibly the weakest performance, yet she was the one to walk away with the coverted statuette, Spacey adding another personal best to the CV.
Yet it is the two Australians who walk away with all the plaudits, Russell Crowe (pre Gladiator) has never been so physical menacing as Bud White, the discraced LA cop. Yet Guy Pearce (putting to bed the nightmares of Mike in Neighbours) in only his second major role steals the show as Lt Edmund Exley, the fact that he was not nominated for the Best Actor Oscar is baffling as it is amusing.
Pearce proving that he surley is "the" actor to watch, with the daring, brilliant Memento out this month, a rare actor who holds such screen prescence.
Not forgetting the brilliance of director Curtis Hanson (remember the risible The River Wild), beautifully capturing the poetice yet extreme violence of the novel. It is a tribute to Hanson that he managed to adapt to screen one of the most complex and brutal novels ever written with such efficiency. It is also very rare to see a director stay very faithful to the writers original material; very little has been altered from the James Ellroy novel. With talk of The Black Dahlia being transferred to the silver screen, lets just hope that Hanson takes some interest.
A must buy for any movie fan, LA Confidential outshines it's nearest opponent Chinatown, and there cnnot be higher praise than that.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Sumptuous but Violent Crime/Police 'noir' Drama - A Great Cast and Excellent on Blu-ray,
L.A. Confidential is a terrific American crime/police drama of the 'noir' genre dating from 1997.
For me, aside from it being hugely enjoyable, beautiful to look at with excellent period dress/sets/vehicles and some excellent acting performances, it is notable for being the first time I had seen Russell Crowe in a movie. He impressed and disgusted me in equal measure, due to his marvellous performance being so well-executed and convincing that I initially couldn't separate the personality of his character from the real man. Of course some might say I was right (!), but leaving that argument aside once you've watched the movie you'll know that his character is ultimately a 'good guy' - which really proves the quality of his performance.
The overall plot is quite complicated but the opening gambit for the story (based on a novel by James Ellroy) is not: in 1950s Los Angeles a highly ambitious police sergeant (largely driven by the legacy of the police career of his late father) takes second-in-command charge of investigating a horrific murder case which quickly drags in the murkier side of life - including corruption, organized crime/drug dealing and prostitution. As things progress, that list of sordid matters increases as we see how bigoted the police and legal establishment is, along with revelations about the truth behind the murders - which is initially made out to be a 'simple' case of robbery/murder....
Aside from the superb production values this film can also boast a stellar cast, which not only includes Crowe but also such names as Guy Pearce (who plays that ambitious policeman), Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito, Kim Basinger, James Cromwell and David Strathairn. For me it is Pearce that has the lead role, despite Spacey getting top-billing (and clearly a less prominent part !) and my adulations about Crowe. Other things to note are that Pearce is British, but was brought up in Australia, Crowe is a New Zealander (despite most people thinking he's an Australian by birth) and that as well as 'Best Adapted Screenplay', the film also gained an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress awarded to Basinger. Now the former Oscar is understandable, but whilst I have no problem at all with the performance of Basinger, there must have been 'slim pickings' that year as her on-screen time is distinctly short and her presence not that striking - Anthony Hopkins got the same Academy recognition for a similarly small part ('The Silence of the Lambs'), but for me his contribution was FAR more significant than hers is in this film.....rant over !
Related to my comments above, many film 'blooper' listings note how many times Pearce and Crowe migrate from American accents to their own native tongue, but for me the only notable howler in the film is when Crowe drives away from a motel in the pouring rain, only for his car to kick up clouds of dust from the arid surroundings as he speeds away into the distance !
Although this is probably more recognition for Ellroy than for the film itself, I particularly like the way all the small plot points and social/crime 'connections' fit together - I don't think you'll find any plot holes in this movie...However, whilst the narrative, dialogue and film action are all top-notch and make for classy viewing I am less impressed with the occasional need for small 'flashback windows' to appear in scenes providing guidance to how the present 'revelation' being played out relates to a past scene or character; I don't think we needed to be 'spoon-fed' that assistance and it really cheapens the overall sense of mystery, which we are just as clueless about as those onscreen as we see things develop exactly as they do.
That really is my only gripe for what is otherwise an engrossing action/drama/mystery. Having said that, as all the story and plot is so carefully put onto the screen there is little 'hidden' from us - meaning repeated viewings don't reveal anything more, unlike other favourite films of mine such as 'Blade Runner', 'Manhunter' or 'Inception' where I'm still spotting things after multiple 'watchings' ! Similarly, whilst the musical soundtrack contributes much to the experience, it is a bit too reminiscent of that for the marvellous (and IMHO far superior) Polanski movie 'Chinatown', which predates this film by some 25 years....
Just as laudable is the video presentation on Bu-ray - I already had this on DVD so compared directly in real-time. The first few minutes of viewing filled me with disappointment as the picture was definitely no better than an upscaled DVD, but things soon improved to reveal gorgeous sharpness, contrast and detail - way, way better than the DVD (especially in well-lit or outside scenes). The best example is when we see the Kim Basinger character in her 'boudoir' and the scene initially shows the entire room and background; on Blu-ray the picture shines and every single piece of sumptuous furniture is in focus and rich in detail - on DVD almost all the background is bright, but completely blurred.
The audio is a less impressive performance. Partly expected because it is not that lively anyway (the film is mostly dialogue-driven), but also because it took me sometime to realise (I must have been a bit dozy !) that the TrueHD soundtrack was massively weighted towards the centre speakers (which for most of us are satellite units not producing the main sound output) and hence made everything sound a bit dead and 'tinny'. Once I had adjusted the relative balances on my amplifier, to give more priority to the main units and less to the central, things sounded MUCH better; I'll have to put the settings back to how they were to enjoy every single other disc I have as they all the same soundtrack balance as opposed to the 'unique/strange' balance-mix on this 'L.A. Confidential' Blu-ray....
The Blu-ray has a commentary and stack load of other extras such as featurettes etc + a 'music only' soundtrack option.....
Even if you've seen this film before and perhaps own it on DVD you are in for a treat with this Blu-ray presentation. Things soon improve from the opening few minutes of rather ordinary footage to reveal a rich, sharp and vivid picture to maximise the enjoyment and appreciate what is a well-written, produced and acted period crime drama.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "It'll look like justice. That's what the man got.",
Curtis Hanson has managed to direct a film which captures the late 1940's in both style and spirit. Often films depicting the glamourous side of this era immerse themselves too much in the styles and fashions of the time, rendering the actual characters superfluous to the movie. Not here though - the characters drive the film, blending in perfectly with the directing style swaying effortlessly to capture the gritty and the classic-Hollywoodesque, the guy has done his homework.
Risks were taken by casting relatively unknown non-Americans in the two major roles, a rare thing by a Hollywood studio. It's hard to imagine anyone else but Russell Crowe as the fiery `Bud' and at times Guy Pierce seems a bit awkward as `Exley' - but this isn't a flaw in his acting, this is him bringing the character to life.
It goes without saying that Spacey steals the screen whenever he's on. Those eerie, soul-less, dead eyes can say more in a moment than a full acting troupe speed-reading a page of Shakespeare. I'm less convinced by Kim Bassinger - she's certainly not poor in the role, but she is possibly the only aspect of the film chosen for the aesthetic over everything else.
Instead of introducing characters with a definite persona, we are allowed to grow to like them as we see past their faults, through the ugliness. This is a film about facades and selling an image, the Hollywood backdrop is the perfect real life allegory for this. The characters have a past, they have depth, and each is important to the film.
In a nutshell: If the US Studios produced more films like this then they probably wouldn't be looked down upon by high-browed film lovers. Unfortunately we shouldn't expect them too often as they don't rake in the dollars like an idiotic teen-flick.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Film Noir,
James Ellroy's books were famously considered to be unfilmable: they're so epic in scope and byzantine in plot they make filming a Tolkien trilogy seem like a doddle.
But records and rules were made to be broken, and this film version of Ellroy's LA Confidential brings Ellroy's vision vivdly to the screen.
It's a top-notch cast into the bargain; headlines may go to Bassinger, Pierce and Crowe as femme fatale and young bucks (respectively) at the centre of the maelstrom, but keep an eye on the surrounding cast - to my mind this is really what gives the film its zip and zing - James Cromwell (yes, the kindly farmer from Babe!) avoids the danger of typecasting, to say the least, as a truly dastardly police commander; Kevin Spacey is all satin as the smooth-talking celebrity cop Jack Vincennes, but crowning the whole shooting match (a term I use advisedly), and more than anything infusing the moving with Ellroy's hipster '50s attitude and credibility is none other than Danny de Vito, having the time of his life as the editor of Hush Hush Magazine!
This is a really, really slick show, from beginning to end. Where I think Curtis Hanson has been canny is in paring down some of the excesses of Ellroy's plotting (it has always struck me as odd that a writer with such a deliberately sparse, stacatto, writing style gets so carried away with his plots) and created a tense, riveting, and witty thriller.
A must for any fan of modern cinema.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars masterpiece, the best film of 1997,
This film was robbed at the oscars by an ego and wave of public hype diverted to another film. It is simply one of the best films ever made. A flawless film. Characters and acting are as rich as you will ever get in a film. The photography is stunning. The dialogue capturing the James Ellroy mood and making this feel every bit the L.A. quartet "filler".
The bluray is obviously going to be better that the DVD but to be honest the DVD was pretty incredible in its picture quality so an improvement but not massively so with the picture, the sound on the other hand is another matter. The HD sound mix transforms this film. SO YOU NEED TO BUY THIS ON BLU-RAY !
Oh there is one very tiny and very small edit on the DVD/Bluray versions of this film for entirely understandable reasons if you think about it. The scene where Bud looks into the room where the victim is tied to the bed is clipped by about 1/2 second presumably so the actress did not have screen captures plastered all over the internet.
This is not mentioned on IMDB or BBFC so presumably the production company did this quietly off their own backs.
Irrelevant really but a wee bit of trivia I guess.
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L.A. Confidential [VHS]  by Curtis Hanson (VHS Tape - 1999)