The more I watch Russell Crowe movies, the less I hate him. It’s irking. The man, as frustrating he is as a person, might be the greatest actor alive right now (save for Meryl Streep, who can do nothing wrong). He can transform himself into anyone, and as I’ve mentioned in previous posts (i.e., A Beautiful Mind, State of Play, etc), he’s actually believable upon that transformation. Don’t you hate talented people?
Okay, but seriously. L.A. Confidential is a terrific movie, and definitely one of those that screams “THEY DON’T MAKE ‘EM LIKE THIS ANYMORE!” That screaming probably has to do with the fact that the whole thing is filmed noir-style, with old-fashioned split-screen flashbacks and voice-over narration and awesome costumes and all that, but back in 1997, it could have been totally butchered and it wasn’t. It also helps that the cast was phenomenal; besides Russell Crowe, we also saw Kevin Spacey, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito, and Guy Pearce doing their best in Don Draper-meets-NYPD Blue getups. It was like the best kind of cop drama stretched into just over two hours.
In fact, that’s the impression I was left with. I kind of wanted this movie to continue, to become a serial story rather than a standalone tale. Maybe I’ve been watching too many cop shows, but I was left wanting to know more about those three detectives (or at least the two who were still alive at the end of the movie), the constant intrigue of celebrity crime in Los Angeles, and the perpetuation of tabloid journalism. Of course, there have been many TV shows about LA crime and all of that, but none set in the 50’s and none done quite like this. Then again, do we really need another police procedural? Probably not.
In any case, the acting in this movie was terrific, and it also looked like a lot of fun for the actors. They got to be snarky and quick and punch people and be badasses, and who wouldn’t want that? I also want to point out that Guy Pearce was stellar, and that he never gets enough credit for how subtle and seamless his performances always are. I had forgotten he was in a Chris Nolan mindfuck, Memento, in which he also killed it, until I looked it up during this movie. Good job, Guy.
What else is there to say about this movie? The guns, the sex, the triumph, it has all of that. A lot of movies have that. But this one balances it better. The sensationalism is in the story, not in the visuals—in fact, L.A. Confidential actually pokes fun at sensationalism with the tabloid newspaper rather than giving us a bunch of sex for the sake of drawing viewers. And even with all the smut in the underbelly of the L.A. the movie is portraying, the movie keeps it classy. They really don’t make them like this anymore.