Magazine article Newsweek

L.A. Confidential

Magazine article Newsweek

L.A. Confidential

Article excerpt

'L.A. Confidential' is a smoky cocktail of crime, corruption and double-crossing characters

FOR A SUNNY TOWN, LOS ANGELES has sure inspired a lot of dark movies. From "Double Indemnity" to "Kiss Me Deadly" to "Chinatown," L.A. has been the capital city of film noir. Time will tell if L.A. Confidential has the staying power to warrant inclusion on this august list. It has the right ingredients: a dense and satisfying plot that gives off the pungent odor of corruption, a rich cast of deeply flawed characters whose actions resist snap judgments and a nostalgia-free re-creation of the city in 1953 that lets us see the line that connects the LAPD of the era of Mickey Cohen and Johnny Stompanato to the LAPD of Daryl Gates and Rodney King.

Director Curtis Hanson and his co-writer, Brian Helgeland, have taken a massively complex novel by James Ellroy and boiled it down to a no-flab screenplay that still eludes easy synopsis. A mass murder in a downtown cafe sets off an investigation that will spiral off in many directions, ultimately encompassing a prostitution ring that features girls surgically altered to resemble movie stars, drug-running mobsters, celebrity gutter journalism, police corruption, political blackmail, the racial biases of the LAPD and even a good, sexy love story.

At the heart of the tale are three cops with radically conflicting agendas who find themselves pursuing the same dangerous truth. Bud White (Russell Crowe) is the most volatile. Used by the chief of police (James Cromwell) for his muscle, he has no compunction about planting evidence if he thinks his guy is guilty. …

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