Thursday, 19 April 2012

07/04/212: L.A. Confidential [1997]

I finally got around to watch L.A. Confidential, which ranks at #75 in IMDB's Top 250 movies list, and I've seen it on countless others as well. After watching it I have no problem saying it has earned that spot, and while it's not my absolute favourite, it definitely set a bar in filmmaking back in 1997.

I was never really sure why L.A. Confidential was rated so highly based solely on it's basic description. However like most of the movies considered to be amongst the best you never will understand until you watch it. L.A. Confidential is the story of three policemen in the 1950's as they investigate a number of murders. All three are played by great actors, and all of their characters are well developed and interestingly unique. However it is all the elements of the movie that L.A. Confidential has to ace in order to be considered amongst the best.

My personal favourite aspect of L.A. Confidential was the setting. The time period was set perfectly, and all of the 1950's captured perfectly. The old police cruisers, the suits, the hats, the story, the news tabloids all of it feels real and sets a very good tone for the movie. If you have ever played the game L.A. Noire, this movie has the very same feel.

Oh, the magic of Hollywood.
Of course L.A. Confidential is an homage to the film noir style of early Hollywood crime drama's and that is where it excels. Unlike other neo-noire films, which modernize the old noir style, L.A. Confidential feels like it was made in the 1950's when it was set, that is how well it captures the era and film style. It is also from this era that L.A. Confidential's story is taken from.

Based on a novel written by James Ellroy, L.A. Confidential is a traditional Hollywood crime drama. It focuses both on gang crime and prostitution that were the biggest problems during the period but also mainly on the level of corruption in the L.A.P.D. at the time as well. Many of the elements of the story are based on real events. The police force corruption is by no means fabricated, and there really was an L.A.P.D. Goon Squad who when, Mickey Cohen L.A.'s organized crime boss was arrested, would kidnap and beat-up out of town gangsters, to keep new criminals from coming into L.A. and set-up operations. An event similar to Bloody Christmas also actually occurred, and Confidential (a tabloid which Hush, Hush is based on) would have been all over it. There have also been many rumours and legends about brothels and businesses which specialized in prostitutes who looked like movie stars operating in L.A. during the time period.

One of them is wearing heels, which one do you think?
The movies story plays out just shy of two and a half hours, which is the way I enjoy my movies, the longer is usually the better. L.A. Confidential has more than enough story to fill the entire time. It follows three different policemen, the straight-laced, the brutal and the sleazy giving us three unique and interesting character. The straight-laced, play by the rules cop, Exley, is played by Guy Pearce who later star in Memento. It is clear that in an L.A.P.D. filled with corruption, Exley doesn't belong. Men like the brutal one, Bud White, fit right in and Russel Crowe gives a great performance as my favourite of the three. The thrid man is the sleazy one, a role perfectly suited to Kevin Spacey, who pulls off Jack Vincennes just perfectly.

Do I write this down, just take a picture, or tattoo it on my body?
The rest of the cast compliments them well, with Danny Devito, Kim Basinger, in great roles and even Simon Baker (that guy from The Mentalist) showing up. Interestingly, Russel Crowe, who's character was supposed to be a large and intimidating man, moved into a small apartment where he had to duck through doorways, so that he got the feeling of being as big as White. Also in White and Exley's fight scene, Guy Pearce is actually wearing "a very expensive wig" as the scene was shot months after initials shooting and he had shaved his head.

Overall I will say that L.A. Confidential easily earns its place as #75 on IMDB Top 250 as well as the numerous other lists. The film so perfectly captures the style of movies it mimics as well as the time period in which it is set. Factor in the strong performance by the whole cast and the amazing story and you have the best, 1950's Hollywood crime mystery movie since the 1950's. I would easily recommend this to anyone, it has the action, the dialogue and the story to satisfy anyone.

L.A. Confidential IMDB

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