not mince words here. L.A. Confidential was unquestionably the best picture of
1997, hands down. At least the screenplay adaptation by director Curtis Hanson and Brian
Helgeland received the Academy Award. From the dense James Ellroy novel, the script is an
extraordinary accomplishment. The novel is very complex with story lines moving in a
million directions. It's a really great read, but the movie is something else again. It's
an amazing job of paring down the elements of the book without losing the grand scale of
Curtis Hanson rises to the very top of his profession with the
fantastic directing of L..A.Confidential. The director digs deep to find the
proper rhythms to move between the converging stories. The timing is perfect, the threads
woven together with brilliant precision. From the grand photography of Dante Spinotti and
elegant production design of Jeannine Oppewall to Jerry Goldsmith's stirring score, Hanson
puts all the pieces together. Along with the tightly scripted plot, action fans won't want
to miss one of the best screen shoot-outs of recent memory at the Victory Motel.
Spacey cruising gritty
L.A. Confidential is Los Angeles in the beginning of the
1950s when Hollywood and television were about to collide and movie magazines spread star
stories across the nation. Not just another story of corruption in paradise, Ellroy's
novel is about changing values. It's characters are not black and white. It's heroes are
tarnished by the corruption around them and even the acts of heroism are questionable.
The cast is so good uniformly good I believe it hurt their
chances come award time. Russell Crowe is positively frightening as Detective Bud White.
Though he's not a big man, he fills the screen with his presence, bulking up from the
inside out. This guy is positively scary. Part white knight, part crude thug, White means
business. Kevin Spacey finds a perfect match for his talents as slick and sleazy cop Jack
Vincennes and Guy Pearce presents a chilling portrait as the ambitious up-and-comer Sgt.
Ed Exley. All supporting players are powerful presences including Kim Basinger as a
Veronica Lake hook-alike, James Cromwell as corrupt Dudley Smith and Danny DeVito as
tabloid editor Sid Hutcheons.
What a gorgeous DVD! This is just the way I envisioned
Confidential when I first saw it, but I was disappointed with the choice of look. The
print I saw in the theater was washed out and grainy. This presentation blows away what I
saw in the theaters. The glossy nights filled with neon signs blazes beautifully on the
DVD. It's everything I could have hoped for and more. Sharp as can be with no NTSC or MPEG
artifacts in evidence, the colors pop off the screen with energy and force. The Dolby
Digital 5:1 sound is outstanding. Check out the the hail of bullets at the Victory Motel
shoot-out. It's amazing. And Jerry Goldsmith's score surrounds the action with beautiful
horns. Call it a reference DVD if you like. You won't find many better. And Warner's has
presented L.A. Confidential as a special edition to boot. I regret there is no
running commentary by Curtis Hanson, but the "making of" documentary is quite
good with insightful moments with director and cast. I recommend, however, watching the
"Photo Pitch," before the "Off the Record" documentary. This is the
way Hanson claims he sold the idea of L.A. Confidential to producer Arnon Milchan
and the tool he used to invest the cast with the feeling of period and themes. It's also
touched on in the documentary, but it's much better viewed first in this small gem of a
Selections from the Feature Archive include articles on
Akira Kurosawa, Blonde Bimbos,
Darabont, Steven Culp,
Herzfeld or Vietnam: The
Hollywood Pariah, and many more....
Director Walks the Wire
Balanced by an armor of movie lore and filmmaking daring, director John Herzfeld is comfortable
walking the high wire. Check out this interview by Stu Kobak.
The major studio vaults are filled with incredible film treasures which
few have seen the light of DVD.
Open the Vaults
Looking for information about widescreen movies and hardware. The Widescreen Movie Center
is the place to go.
The National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF) is the nonprofit organization created by the U.S. Congress to save
America's film heritage.
European film portal and hard to find video store.
Science Forum provides great feedback on the latest home theater equipment with a wide range of
opinions. Outstanding home theater resource.
An on-line Home Theater magazine with excellent hardware reviews,
including thorough and responsible research. Check it out.
Excellent resource for movie review links, with many early looks.