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DVD Review

DVD cover

L.A. Confidential
Two-Disc Special Edition


Starring: Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, David Strathairn, Kim Basinger and Danny DeVito
Warner Home Video
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 18
Available 09 March 2009

In '50s Los Angeles we follow three cops as they investigate crime. Ed Exley is the modern boy of the force and the butt of too many jokes, Bud White has a strong sense of justice but an even stronger temper and Jack Vincennes is the ultimate Hollywood cop playing both sides in an effort to keep his consultancy job on a TV show...

L.A. Confidential (1997 - 2 hrs, 12 min, 12 sec) was easily one of the best films of that decade. Directed by Curtis Hanson, from a script adapted from a James Ellroy novel, this is Hollywood in all its sleaze and corruption. The film won two Oscars, as well as a staggering sixty-nine other awards and was nominated for a further forty-three, all deservedly nominated and deservedly won and rather makes it a moot point doing a review for such a revered film.

To say that the script, direction and acting are near flawless is not over exaggerating; it has a stellar cast in Kevin Spacey (Vincennes), Russell Crow (White) and Guy Pierce (Exley). To add to your delectation they are more than ably supported by Kim Basinger (Lynn Bracken, the whore with a heart), Danny DeVito (Sid Hudgens), the more than slightly scurrilous reporter) and James Cromwell as the chief of police.

The plot is a delightfully convoluted repast, full of film noir sprinklings and a real insight into Hollywood lowlife. Its three protagonists represent a cross roads in policing Hollywood. Should they embrace television and movies, like Vincennes, losing nearly all credibility in the process, or do they embrace intellectual modernity in the form of Exley, or is it enough to have a sense of right and go around breaking heads, regardless of how many laws are broken, like White? Against a tableau of pimps, johns, gangsters and murderers the film strive to answer this question.

Okay so it’s a good film, arguably a great film, so why the reissue? I could imagine buying as a Blu-ray, for the better audio and picture quality, but considering you can pick up the film for £1.99 used on Amazon what would possess you to fork out any more for the film? In the case of this reissue it’s the extras which have plumped out the release.

Disc one, as well as holding the film, has a full length commentary by - breathe in now - Andrew Sarris, James Ellroy, Russell Crow, Kevin Spacey, Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, Ruth Myers, David Strathairn, Kim Basinger, Brian Helgeland, Jeannine Oppewall, Dante Spinotti and Danny Divito. It also features a music only track, trailers and TV spots. That said the commentary track sounds like it was made up of snippets drawn together, you don’t get the feeling any of these people were in the room at the same time.

Disc two is nothing but extras. The titles pretty much give away what you should expect. First up you have Whatever You Desire: Making L. A. Confidential (29 min, 30 sec); Sunlight and Shadow: The Visual Style of L. A. Confidential (21 min, 30 sec); A True Ensemble: The Cast of L. A. Confidential (24 min, 34 sec); L. A. Confidential: From Book To Screen (21 min, 07 sec); Off The Record: Interviews With Cast and Crew (18 min, 50 sec); Photo Pitch (8 min, 26 sec) where the director recreates his original pitch for the film; and the pilot for a TV version (46 min, 25 sec) of the show, staring Kiefer Sutherland as Vincennes, worth watching. It’s not quite as good as the film but does an equally good job at capturing the era.

If you don’t own this film then you have to ask yourself why not. The problem comes when you do own the film, is it worth forking out another sixteen quid for the extras. Well that depends on how many times you’re going to watch them. They do add value to the package, but if you’re like me, who will watch films over again but watch the extras once, then it may not be worth your while. That said it’s a pretty comprehensive look at a great film - so looked at on its own merits it pretty much demands the highest mark.


Charles Packer

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