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Movie Review: LA Confidential (1997)

LA Confidential is one of the best Noir movies with one of the tightest plots in recent memory. What makes the story work is that it pits three Cops with completely different personas against one another but at one point forces them to form alliances to solve a puzzling conspiracy. The screenplay is based on a book of the same name, written by James Ellroy.

The plot is set in the 1950s. The movie opens with a narration from the one and only Danny De Vito, who plays Sid Hudgens, the publisher of a gossip tabloid Hush-Hush who takes us across LA across beaches and orange groves and Hollywood to its ugly underbelly. Mickey ‘C’ Cohen, the gangster is the unofficial king of LA, running dope, the flesh trade and rackets. Like Capone,Mickey C is taken away to the slammer on a tax evasion charge. Who will take over his place now?

We are then introduced to the first of the three cops, Bud White(Russell Crowe). White is a loose cannon, unafraid to use his fists and willing to stretch or even break the law, to bring criminals to justice. White, who grew up as the son of a battered mother cannot bear to see any abuse to women.

Next, we see Ed Exley, a young cop who has just joined the force. Ed has a tough act to follow. His late father, was a decorated police officer, known for his honest, by-the-book approach, while on the job. The senior Exley was killed by an unknown attacker, whom he, the senior Exley, had nicknamed Rollo Tomasi. This little fact will play an important part,t later in this story.

The third cop we meet is Jack Vincennes, a narc officer working with Sid Hidgens, the publisher on a TV show, Badge of Honor. Jack is a showman and loves the publicity he gets. Sid and Jack have a mutual agreement, where Jack receives tips from Sid. Sid then films Jack, apprehending suspects, and thus, enhancing the show’s reputation.

One day, Bud White sees a beautiful woman concealing herself under the robes of a nun and making a purchase at a liquor store. As she walks out, he sees her get into a car. In the car, on the rear seat are a woman with a bandage on her nose and a man net to her. White and his partner recognize the driver on the car as a former cop. White roughs up the cop but the woman explains that things are not what they seem and that her injury was not a result of violence.

At this point fate would bring these three cops, White, Ed and Vincennes into an explosive Situation. One day, a few Mexican goons are brought into prison. The event would trigger anger among some cops, causing a massive brawl in prison. Soon White would become involved in the brawl, because of his partner who instigated the violence. Jack too would get involved in this situation. The camerawork for the jail scene is one of the many noteworthy parts of this movie.

Ed, who tries to stop the situation would be held back by other officers and soon become a key witness in an investigation about this unfortunate situation. Bud White, a loyal friend to his partner and others on the force would refuse to testify and point the finger at any of his peers.

Jack, whose cunning would put any politician to shame, points the finger at three cops who were planning to retire the same year, causing no damage to them. Ed, on the other hand would testify against all the perpetrators of the act. This decision would land him in the bad books of his peers, especially Bud, who now thinks of him as a snitch.

At this stage of the plot, many henchmen of the jailed Mickey D would be gunned down by mysterious gunmen. Is there someone in the shadows, orchestrating these killings to take over as the enforcer in lA?

Soon another situation, far more sinister would land the three men on a collision course. A gang-style shooting at a late night coffeehouse, the night owl would claim many victims. Stensland, White’s partner would be among the victims. Three young black men with criminal records would be implicated in the crime.

They would try to make their getaway, but would all be shot down by Ed. Ed would receive his medal of honor but he and Jack would continue the investigation on their own. Bud would take on the challenge too, though unofficially. His partner was murdered and there is no way he will take that lying down. Ed would begin a relationship with a call girl Lynn Bracken, who would play a crucial role in things to come.

As events unfold, it is Vincennes who uncovers the truth behind the Night owl shooting but would not survive to expose the mastermind who set it up. It is up to Exley and White to solve the crime. Can the two set aside their differences and solve the crime? The mastermind has other plans and sets them up on a collision course using Lunn that could prove deadly for both of them. All of this leads to an explosive shootout making LA Confidential one of the greatest Neo Noir movies of all time.

All members ensemble cast of Russell Crowe, Guy Pierce, Kevin Spacey Kim Basigner and Devito have put in steller performances. The scenes that include street views, restaurants and vintage automobiles along with the suits worn by the men and the dresses worn by the women recreate LA with all its 50s splendor. Further, a taut screenplay, faced paced narration, well defined characters makes this movie a classic.

Kim Basinger’s performance as Lynn Bracken would earn her an Academy Award. The movie would win one more Oscar for Screenplay and 7 nominations. This is a movie that should not be missed.

Movie: LA Confidential

Director: Curtis Hanson

Cast: Russell Crowe, Guy Pierce, Kevin Spacey,Kim Basinger, Danny Devito

This post first appeared on Bay Area Bloke, please read the originial post: here

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Movie Review: LA Confidential (1997)


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