movie review by Christopher Null
L. A. Confidential, despite what you've heard, is not the best film in 20 years. It's not even the best film of 1997 (current titleholder: In the Company of Men). But if you consider all films ever made that have the nasal Danny Devito providing voice-over work, L. A. Confidential is certainly at the top of that list.
Comparisons to Chinatown are obvious and appropriate. Both films take place in the Los Angeles of yesteryear, feature multi-layered crime riddles, and have stars with questionable morals as ersatz heroes. And both are very good. While Brian Helgeland and Curtis Hanson's script isn't the tight masterpiece that Chinatown is (the writers meander for a good 45 minutes before his story starts to shape up), and Faye Dunaway wasn't half the cheeseball that Kim Basinger is as the femme fatale, Confidential makes the audience do what few films of the 90's have achieved: think.
And you'll have to. Director Hanson's convoluted plot -- tracing the rise, fall, and redemption of L.A. cops played by Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, and James Cromwell -- is all over the map until its handy, bloody ending (body count > 25). Even then, you probably won't have all the details figured out. But at least it's fun to try.
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