When I was a kid; watching the same movie over and over again seemed like a worthwhile pastime. As you get older though, and the magic fades, learning every nuance and appreciating the genius of your favourite scenes and characters ebb away. But then you'll get a film every once in a while that restores your faith and brings the old magic back. THIS is one of those films. I've watched it twice recently and it only makes me want to watch it even more! As with 'The Shawshank Redemption', also based on a book, the characters are beautifully written which has allowed the filmmakers to cherry pick their best (and worst!) traits and movements. And kudos to the actors for bringing them to life so brilliantly. Guy Pearce, Russ Crowe & Kevin Spacey are all astonishingly good and I must also mention Danny DeVito who, to be fair, I never respected as a truly great actor with the chops to keep up with those three. Here, however, he has proved me totally wrong as both him and Kim Basinger do excellent supports (which led to a well deserved Oscar for Basinger). We start off with no sympathy for any of our characters, each one of them marred in some way with corruption but slowly the indifference turns into fascination and ultimately, rooting tension for them to win.
Condensing a great book down to a 2 hour movie is always a challenge (especially since everyone who reads it will have their own imagination of how things look) but here a great job has been done. The story twists and weaves like all the best noir thrillers and I was kept guessing until the end. The film is set against a background of 40's Hollywood and not only does it look good but getting the feel right is important too, again, great job.
I don't usually have a 'favourite' film - I find different films fulfil different emotions but this one seemingly has it all. The filmmakers had good source to work from in the first place which has obviously helped them out immensely and the guy who wrote the book, James Ellroy said he was thrilled with the result. This is quite rare when it comes to Hollywood adaptations but here the filmmakes have pulled off the almost impossible - bringing the original writers vision to fruition well.
I suggest you watch this movie, it has intrigue, suspense, action, humour and great characters and is a minor modern epic. Top marks all round!