Asbury Park Press from Asbury Park, New Jersey on September 19, 1997 · Page 95
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Asbury Park Press from Asbury Park, New Jersey · Page 95

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Asbury Park, New Jersey
Issue Date:
Friday, September 19, 1997
Page:
Page 95
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1 9 "SEP T'E Wl t Rr 1, $f. CI-F R I D A Yi - A SBU RY PARK PRESS P A O f movie review i 'n ILJf l i$ i Film deftly demonstrates good and evil in the city of angels By ELEANOR O'SULLIVAN Movie Writer Admirers of director Curtis Hanson won't be surprised at the sheer pleasure generated by his sultry brain teaser, "L.A. Confidential." This new movie, about three men and a blonde, finds Hanson at the top of his form again, 10 years after his excellent film noir debut, "The Bedroom Window." Hanson and co-screenwriter Brian Helgeland have whittled down James Ellroy's densely plotted crime noir to a tidy two hours. Amazingly, four distinct personalities remain intact, even with the shorning. Beyond that, a specific time, place and mood are captured by Hanson and his talented colleagues the seedy but alluring underworld of L.A. in the 1950s. Hanson begins this twisted murder mystery with a travelogue hyping L.A.'s unlimited, post-World War II promise. We're told that the city is wide open for newcomers. This little film-within-the-film is shot in bleached tones and LA. ill ml I A Opens today Rated R its wholesome Cleaver family types exude optimism. But that short film is L narrated by (out of 4) Sid Hudgens (Danny De- Vito), who's a new breed of reporter-photographer. Sid peeks in bedroom windows and snaps sensational photos for the tabloid, Hush-Hush. He knows the film's sunny layer is a ruse. Sid gets his tips on vice busts and errant movie stars from Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey), a dandy with a mysterious personal life and plenty of shady action. Sid pays Jack $50 for each tip, big money in those days. Ten bucks will buy Jack's slavishly strait-laced colleague, Ed Exley, a new pair of good loafers. Ed (Guy Pearce) is the shunned police son of a heroic cop; he's a loner because he's smug and inflexible. By the end of "L.A. Confidential," Ed will have loosened up. 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Dudley (James Cromwell) has a coy brogue and a sharp eye; he's not as pleasant as he appears. Jack, Ed and Bud are only nodding acquaintances when "L.A. Confidential" begins, but they're sucked together when Bud's partner is gunned down at an all-night diner. A cop murder is high profile stuff; solving it will do wonders for the scandal-plagued, image-conscious LAPD. Moreover, Bud and Ed both fall in love with a beautiful prostitute, Lynn Bracken, who models her looks after the then-vo-guish actress, Veronica Lake. The contemporary relevance of this film's rogue cops, the cover- I J. Russell Crowe plays an explosive police detective in 1950s Los Angeles. ups engineered by the department's top men and their subordinates' messy sex lives sting. Ellroy's characters can't resist the flame, and of course, they get burned. Is the law enforced? In this film, the victims far outnumber the protected and served. Just outside this circle of shysters, con artists and compromised women is the film's most fascinating character, Pierce Patchett. He's rotten and rich. Pierce runs the call girl service that employs Lynn, and he provides plastic surgery for his stable of women. The prostitutes are surgically revised to resemble movie stars. Pierce, as played by the eminently talented David Strathairn, is the man of the future, which takes root in L.A. first, naturally, and then works its way across the country. By 1997, the Pierce Pat-chetts are a dime a dozen, no longer rare or even scorned. Danny DeVito plays vile Sid for more laughs than such a sleazy type deserves, while Kim Basinger portrays a woman disappointed by life but still hopeful for salvation. Hanson and crew have created a look that defines the sensual appeal of Los Angeles, then and now: vast houses perched precariously on ragged hills, thick, pulsating air and excessively lush plant life. But "L.A. Confidential" acknowledges a surreal dichotomy: that a place can be rotten and flourishing, simultaneously. "TWO VERY EM THUMBS IIP! VERY ENTERTAINING. VERY, VERY GOOD." !!' i Vjfy j (f vW fl It j " '"L.A. CONFIDENTIAL' Is riveting a dangerous and Intoxicating tale of big trouble In paradise." "A brilliant blend of booze, bribes and broads. A rare and rattling detective story with a cast that deserves to be decorated, (-Today Show, NBC-TV) "Gangbustersl 'L.A. CONFIDENTIAL' Is a shrewd, elegant film with a flawless ensemble cast and style to burn." KouMtklbrM -JaMt Masla B 'CeS flV h y i Hit CjiC'-: , i I ji ! I in pi if, 'I 11,11?! ij I'l '1 r STARTS TODAY OCEANj j 4 Wtm mCKHAZA NAVl AMVSEMFNTS Ffi CfNEMAI THIATM 477 A2O0mAMOY MUIWUM EDKADltT 1 MONMOUTH V LOfWI CINFWFXOnftW SCWYTHEAnrei NIW UNSWtCK GSMENLO MRK tf FIVEEHOLP NfWBRUNSWIClC MAU CfNIMAS METROPLfX l 9?00 EOISON FflEEHOtO PAVILION i r -,.'- J! NATt AMUSEMENT? 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