Alternate Title: Copping Feels
Let’s talk about the LAPD. They’re a bunch of cops in Los Angeles, so arguably, they’re not real cops. Where I live, they shoot to kill and most of them don’t wear suits.
This is James Ellroy’s take on L.A. cops. He’s the author whose mom was murdered when he was a kid, so now he writes stories like the one this film is based on and also that super creepy one about the Black Dahlia. Like all good movies about L.A., the film takes plenty of swings at Hollywood and features characters who talk faster than they think.
Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey (yes, that fucking guy), and Guy Pearce play LAPD cops. As they deal with office politics, a murder spree goes on around the edges of the story, a spree that starts in the Nite Owl Coffee Shop (get it?) and initially gets pinned on two African-American guys (fuck the police). The murders continue despite the conviction of the two men and the department slowly unravels in the wake of new victims.
Crowe is Bud White, a cop who has a hard-on for beating up guys who beat up their girlfriends. This was before Gladiator and it’s worth tuning in just to see Crowe’s out-of-character tidy haircut. Bud starts shacking up with Lynn Bracken (Kim Basinger), a woman whose career centers on the fact that she looks like movie star Veronica Lake. Meanwhile, Spacey is Jack Vincennes, a cop who also helps out with a local TV show about cops and seems to enjoy that aspect of his job more than any other. Vincennes has a deal with local gossip writer Sid Hudgens (Danny DeVito) to feed him stories while Hudgens tosses Vincennes criminals.
Then there’s Pearce, Ed Exley, a cop who’s following in his dad’s footsteps after his father was killed in the line of duty. Exley is unpopular from the get-go after ratting out some of his fellow officers in exchange for being made a detective on the force. Exley and Bud especially don’t like each other, which colors the investigation into the Nite Owl killings with their own dude drama.
One of the key elements of the story does seem to be give and take. There’s dirty deals all over the place amidst the glitz and glamour that keeps up the appearance of Los Angeles. Like all too good to be true deals, even this story is not everything it seems to be from the start.
Although there isn’t a lot of actual sex in the movie, it manages to be sexy and bizarre at the same time (just like Los Angeles). The actors are stellar and the story, if dreamlike, is still highly entertaining.
Now it’s Your Turn…
L.A. Confidential was nominated for Best Picture in 1997, but did the Academy get it right?