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Saturday, September 1, 2007

L.A Confidential: A very slick movie

This movie was made in 1997, and was a very slick movie. The movie was based on a 1990 book of the same name by James Ellroy, and was at one time considered very difficult to base a book on. But, finally the book was converted into a screenplay by Curtis Hanson and Brian Helgeland, and turned into this movie that won 2 Oscars (Best Supporting Acress for Kim Basinger and Best Adapted Screenplay (a vindication of the efforts by Curtis and Brian)). The movie is considered a good effect of a new-generation noir movie, with a great direction by Curtis.
The movie was acclaimed by most critics, although it earned only around $30 million profit in the US (costing 35 mil and making 65 mil), but it must have also been earning a lot more from the DVD market and from the international market. The movie primarily stars 5 characters (Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pierce as 3 cops in the LAPD; Kim Basigner in an award winning role; and James Cromwell in the pivotal role of Capt Dudley Smith as the Police Captain who wants to build the crime system lorded over by himself.


The movie is set in the 1950's Los Angeles, and for the people who did not know what the city was like at that time, it presented not a very clean picture. There was a lot of cop violence, corruption in the police force, sleaze in Hollywood, a lot of buzz about call girls who were styled to look like top movie actresses, drug addiction, tabloid journalism out to expose corruption and crime so as to sell more (although that does not seem to have changed). The movie focuses on the intersection of all these, and tries to end at a positive end with some of the forces of corruption reduced and the police administration wanting to make a clean sweep of the police force so that it can be a respected force.
The roles of these 3 cops is the most pivotal, since it is they who drive the various scenes and acts of the movie. The youngest and freshest to the Police Force is Detective Lieutenant Edmund Exley (Guy Pearce), the son of a legend from whom much is expected. He is a change from the brutality and corruption in the police force and is basically honest, although he is shown to be manipulative in the end. However, these attributes set him aside from the other policemen, especially when he testifies in a jailhouse brutality trial in which a long-serving member of the police force is implicated and has to retire.
The next is Officer Wendell "Bud" White (Russell Crowe), who is a man who uses force a lot, and is much feared. He has no love lost for Exley, especially when his partner is removed from the police force based on Exley's testimony. However, when his former police partner is killed in the 'Nite Owl' massacre, he becomes much more involved in the case. He does not take kindly to women beaters, and is tender to the victims. He is also being used by the Captain to take down rival mafia leaders.
The third cop is Sergeant Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey), a very slick cop, who is in the limelight. He serves as the technical advisor to a crime television show, and also funnels a lot of information to Danny DeVito (who is connected with Hush-Hush magazine), including making arrests almost in front of the camera of the magazine.
The main event of the movie is the massacre of the patrons of an all-night diner, called the Nite Owl massacre. The investigation of this leads to a call-girl racket in which Kim Basinger is involved, and Russell Crowe starts having an affair with her. The others also get involved during investigation, and eventually the trail leads to a small cabin in the middle of nowhere where the actual person behind everything is revealed, and then Guy Pearce kills him, and then manipulates the police command by playing on their need to have a hero emerge from all this, this hero being Guy Pearce.
The movie had some casting difficulties, after all, there are 2 Australian stars in key points of the movie, but after seeing the movie, one can appreciate all the performances. If you want to admire the film art, and also appreciate a fast movie, then buy this movie.

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