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L. A. Confidential

Updated: Apr 12, 2023


For me, one of the best films of the 90's, LA CONFIDENTIAL is a thrilling crime noir drama dripping blood and authenticity.

It's 1950's in Los Angeles and Hollywood is still the shining city of dreams, at least on its surface. As organized crime begins to explode, bad guys of every sort look to put down roots.

Russell Crowe gives one of his best performances as Bud White, a brutal detective willing to do anything to put away the bad guys.

Guy Pearce (Prometheus) is excellent as straight laced cop Ed Exley, who plays by the rules, but has a brilliant mind for the politics of crime fighting.

Kevin Spacey is celebrity cop Jack Vincennes, who serves as an advisor for the most popular cop show on TV and loves the spotlight.

James Cromwell (Babe) is Police Captain Dudley Smith, Danny DeVito runs the sleazy news rag that loves capturing the famous in compromising positions and David Straithairn is a very wealthy businessman with his hands in construction, prostitution and some very senior cops pockets.

Kim Basinger has the role of her career in her Oscar winning performance as Lynn Braken, a stunning call girl who touches many of our main characters.

Incredibly well written by Brian Helgeland (Mystic River, Man on Fire) its a complicated, smart tale full of twists and turns and real character growth. Morals are challenged, borders are crossed and it all feels palpably real and dripping in authentic 1950's LA cool. The script won the Academy Award as well.

These are flawed people. Spacey and Crowe offer up two of the most self loathing anti-heroes in the history of cops on film, they've never been better.

The last thirty minutes are probably the most tightly wound, perfectly executed blast of violence and resolution in the past 30 years.

It's flawless.

Nominated for 9 Academy Awards, it feels like it should have won more than 2. Jerry Goldsmith's music score is terrific, Dante Spinotti (XMEN:The Last Stand, Red Dragon) frames every shot like a postcard to California and the production design is perfect.

If you like great crime thrillers or period mysteries revisit LA CONFIDENTIAL. It's a truly great film, hurtling its way through the Hollywood Hills to an A+ and a spot just outside my all time Top 100 films.

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