#98: L.A. Confidential (1997)

When and how did I watch this?

September 28th, 2016 on Amazon Instant Video.

Had I seen this film already?


What did I know about the movie before watching it?

I knew of the movie while in high school and had zero interest in seeing it, regardless of the ensemble cast.

What do I know about it now?

I had to review the plot to recall all of the names and goings-on, which indicates to me that this is a repeat-viewing type of film.  It was certainly a complicated plot, and yet another crime drama that didn’t turn me on initially, but in the end felt like what Chinatown was striving to be all along: a period drama with colorful scenery, colorful characters, and a climactic finish. Most movies strive for that ending, but few achieve it like L.A. Confidential did. In a time where police seem inhuman and above the law, the film captures the corrupt leanings of men in uniforms countered by others in the same department who insist on doing the right thing. Of course, you still have your necessary drug lord that eventually gets taken out, and super-hot hooker lady that complicates things — imperative elements in the 50s noir-wannabe film.  I enjoyed Pearce, who I always see as the Memento guy, and Crowe, who I always see as the Gladiator guy, playing more dynamic roles.  Spacey is fun and colorful, but (pardon the pun) feels like wasted space.  Overall, this was a nice film with a tight plot, plenty of tension and even a shootout, and fun, three-dimensional characters, some of whom were in there just to fill a void.

What are some themes in the film?

Integrity, fame, authority corruption

Did this affect me personally?

Not really.  Nothing really struck me — despite having its peaks and valleys, it felt long at times.

Why is this ranked #98?

The crime-drama genre is a favorite.  DeVito, Spacey, and Basinger appeal to a former generation, while Crowe and Pearce appeal to the latter. Again, it’s a tight plot with sharp colors. It’s easy on the eyes.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She watched most of it, and liked it more than myself.

Would I watch it again?

Probably for further clarity; otherwise, no.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

This movie has a high rep, and for good reason.  Anyone who enjoys the genre will love it; it might not appeal to the superhero fanatics who insist on non-stop action, but it might surprise you.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

Yes.  I have to look at this objectively. I have few qualms about the film apart from personal taste issues.  There were no speed bumps in the story, plenty of tasty images, cleverly constructed dialogue, and the build into the conclusion was seamless. It duplicates the film-noir feel without seeming cheesy. What can I say?  It works, and it’s one of the best films on the list.

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