Review of L.A. Confidential
During my review of "Chinatown", I mentioned that they "don`t make them like that any more". And that`s largely true, until you get to 1997`s "L.A. Confidential". It won two Oscars, but deserved many more, most of which were stolen by the truly awful "Titanic", a film for which James Cameron should never be forgiven.
The story was adapted by Brian Helgeland and director Curtis Hanson, from the novel by James Ellroy. It strays quite a lot from the book, but also stays true to the central themes established by the author. How does the DVD itself fare?
A very good 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer, which showcases the director`s vision of 1950`s Los Angeles. There is some film grain noticable now and again and a few bits of dirt on the print, but on the whole it looks very good indeed.
Director of photography Dante Spinotti serves up some beautiful shots, wonderful lighting, some great locations, and gives Los Angeles a very convincing 1950s look and feel.
An excellent DD5.1 soundtrack is on offer here. Yet another excellent Jerry Goldsmith score runs through the movie, interspersed with period songs hand picked by the director. The score is also available on an isolated audio track.
All channels are used to good effect during the film, particularly during any scenes with gunfire. And there`s one particular scene in the film in which you are encased in a torrent of firepower. Watch out for the rain falling too.
Plenty of extras here, dressed up in the style of the film. There are quite a lot of text based extras, including cast & crew bios, background to the story, prices of items in 1953 (honestly!) and lists of awards that the film won.
There`s a making of featurette, which contains clips of original screen tests, and some interesting background information about the film. This is one of the better examples of this type of extra. There`s also another similar feature, which features the director talking about how he pitched the film with the aid of 18 photographs/postcards.
You also get TV spots, the original trailer, and a screen called "The L.A. of L.A. Confidential". This presents a form of map of the town, showcasing the locations in the film. Clicking on one jumps to a clip of that location with a voiceover from the director.
The one thing that`s missing is a commentary track from the director, which would have rounded out the whole package.
"L.A. Confidential" is an excellent attempt at "making them like they used to". An intelligent story, very well told, and with some nice little twists and turns along the way. It`s not quite in the same league as "Chinatown", but it`s still a very good film.
Some excellent performances by the cast, including a career boosting one from Guy Pearce (yes, he played Mike in Neighbours all those years ago), and a similar one from Russell Crowe, who of course went on to star in Gladiator. Kim Basinger was actually the only star to win on Oscar, and whilst she turns in a good performance, others are better.
The DVD itself is a very good package, with good video, great sound and an interesting collection of extras. Highly recommended for fans of the film and definitely worth a rental for anyone who likes an intelligent film.
And if you enjoyed this, please check out Chinatown, which is a true classic.