L.A. Confidential (1997)

This one left me a bit cold.  Director Curtis Hanson's acclaimed 
adaptation of James Ellroy's neo-noir novel is overripe with all 
sorts of wonderfully sordid stuff:  dirty cops, corrupt politic-
ians, drug smuggling, sex scandals, sleazy journalists, racism, 
murder, and, last but not least, high-priced hookers surgically 
altered to look like movie stars.  Fabulous art direction, a hand-
some cast, and a level of violence that actually shocks (for a 
change) are the stronger selling points.  The overly-complicated 
script, however, ultimately short changes the characters.  Nearly 
every incident relates, in some way, to the bigger mystery.  And, 
with precious few asides-- chances for the characters to simply 
*be*-- individual scenes become difficult to appreciate as anything 
other than pieces to the larger puzzle.  (As in THE GAME, your 
brain is busy working ahead.  And even *then* some things don't add 
up.  Such as a sudden outburst of sexual aggression from one of the 
main characters.)  Admittedly, part of the problem is in front of 
the camera.  Two of the three leads are non-stars:  Guy Pearce
QUICK AND THE DEAD).  They're very good, but neither commands the 
screen to the extent that you can't take your eyes off of them.  Same 
goes for Kevin Spacey, who we *know* can muster more dramatic weight 
than he does here.  With Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito, David Strathairn,
and James Cromwell.  (Rated "R"/138 min.)

Grade: B+
Copyright 1997 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

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