Saturday, February 21, 2009

Day Nineteen: L.A. Confidential (1997) - Rank 5/5


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rarely adds new categories to their awards ceremony (the last one added seven years ago was Best Animated Feature). For some time, I've argued that casting directors should be eligible for a nomination (though I realize that "Best Ensemble Cast is a category for the SAG awards). "L.A. Confidential" is a prime example of my rationale. Everyone in the film is perfectly cast, from Kevin Spacey as the detective vying for the spotlight as much as he is for a lead in a case, Guy Pearce as the by-the-books rookie tot eh detective world, Kim Basinger as the femme fatale, Danny Devito as the weaseling tabloid editor...I could go on forever.

The film is centered around a slew of killings that take place at a filthy diner. The path of three detectives, each with a distinctive style (Pearce, Spacey and Russell Crowe as your average, roughhousing "bad cop" who gets the job done) become intertwined as they attempt to uncover what led to the slaying of several innocents and one former detective. Along the way, they have to wade through the sleaze of Hollywood and local government.

The film is definitely one of the smartest, modern film noirs to come out of Hollywood in recent decades with a fantastic script. There were times where it teetered on the edge of becoming too complex for it's own good (by dealing with a multitude of issues ranging from racism to internal corruption), but it manages to avoid such disaster. Everything from the costumes to the sets are spot on for the era. This film was the finish to our "Film Noir-a-thon" and quite the finish it was too, since it would certainly be difficult to top.

Watch the Trailer

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