L.A. Confidential

Director:Curtis Hanson
Writers:Brian Helgeland and Curtis Hanson
Director of Photography:Dante Spinotti
Editor:Peter Honess
Music:Jerry Goldsmith
Production Designer:Jeannine Claudia Oppewall
Producer:Curtis Hanson, Arnon Milchan and Michael G. Nathanson
Warner Bros.; R; 136 minutes
Cast:Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito
Based on a novel by James Ellroy

L.A. Confidential
Warner Bros.
A gritty, gorgeous throwback to the golden age of noir. Hanson et al. triumph in paring down Ellroy's tangled, overwritten novel to a refreshingly un-cliched hardboiler. It's 1950s Hollywood and sleaze rules the city (what's new?). Three very different cops are all sniffing out the truth behind a series of murders at the Nite Owl coffee shop: Ed Exley (Pearce), the brown-nosing rookie who'll do anything to get ahead but sell out; Bud White (Crowe), a renegade unable to keep a lid on his raging temper; and Jack Vincennes (Spacey), a smoothie with a weakness for media exposure and a quick buck. Meanwhile, DeVito steals many a scene as a smarmy tabloid journalist, and Basinger purrs in slippery satin nightgowns as one of several hookers “cut” to look like starlets (she's supposedly Veronica Lake). Simultaneously tough-talking and lush-looking, the film immediately engrosses, with finger-snapping dialogue, superb acting, neon-soaked cinematography and quirky minor characters. While some cineastes argue that neo-noir just ain't the real deal, L.A. Confidential proves that the genre has yet to go down for the big sleep.