Tag Archives: LA Confidential

A Week In Film #509: Folks

L.A. Confidential title screen
L.A. Confidential
Curtis Hanson’s adaptation of James Ellroy’s 1950s-set crime novel fizzes with period flavour, nudges up to film noir without really going in two-footed, and gives us a relentless, multi-layered thriller that jumps between protagonists seemingly on a whim.

Great cast – Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, James Cromwell, Kim Basinger, Danny De Vito – and unfussy direction are aided by a punchy pace and a lack of pretentiousness.

Jaws title screen
Spielberg’s original big hit, with fidgety ex-city cop Roy Scheider trying to enjoy his new sinecure as police chief of an upscale New England tourist town with a hungry new visitor. Throw in some snappy editing to hide a chunky puppet, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss jostling with each other for prominence, John Williams’ score, and some well-judged thieving from Hitchcock’s palette, and you have a full 10/10.

The Pledge title screen
The Pledge
Sean Penn directs Jack Nicholson as a just-retired cop haunted by a child’s murder.

A Time To Kill
John Grisham adapted by Joel Schumacher, and you know where that’s going – certainly not the go-to team you’d think of first if you wanted a thoughtful, sensitive treatise on America’s inability to face up to slavery and racism. Still, watchable-enough courtroom dreck, with Matthew McConaughey, Samuel L Jackson, Kevin Spacey, Donald Sutherland, Patrick McGoohan, Oliver Platt and, um, Brenda Fricker.

The Client
Schumacher’s previous effort in taking Grisham to screen, and in much the same ball-park when it comes to subtlety. With Brad Renfro as a young trailer trash kid who witnessed a Mob-related violent death who secures the services of lawyer Susan Sarandon in the face of attempts by Federal legal hot-shot Tommy Lee Jones to secure his evidence.

The Gambler (2014) title screen
The Gambler (2014)
Remake by Rupert The Escapist Wyatt and William The Departed Monaghan of Hollywood sex-pest James Toback’s 1974 movie about a nihilistic academic and his gambling addiction. Mark Wahlberg in the lead is actually pretty good, backed up by his star student Brie Larson. Michael K Williams and John Goodman are larger than life as a pair of shylocks who lend him money he can’t pay back.

A Week In Film #321: 2015 and reset

The Gatekeepers title screen
שומרי הסף AKA The Gatekeepers
A fascinating documentary, in which five former (and the then serving) heads of Israel’s internal security service Shin Bet talked on camera about their work, in many instances with a level of candour that is striking. Kudos to filmmaker Dror Moreh for making it happen.

As The Palaces Burn title screen
As The Palaces Burn
Curious tale of how the lead singer of American heavy metal band Lamb of God, Randy Blythe, was put on trial following the death of a concert goer, Daniel Nosek, two years previously. Solidly old fashioned fly-on-the-wall type documentary from Don Argott.

Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull title screen
Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull
Spielberg attempts to outdo his chum Lucas in the pissing-on-decades-of-goodwill stakes, and upgrades ‘jumping the shark’ to boot. Not even Cate Blanchett as a sexy Soviet spy can save it. Not even the return of Marion Ravenwood can save it. And sure as shit Shia LaBeouf cannot save it.

Die Hard With A Vengeance title screen
Die Hard With A Vengeance
A definite improvement on 2, but Jeremy Irons is no Alan Rickman.

L.A. Confidential title screen
L.A. Confidential
Bent cops in a bent Los Angeles as Curtis Hanson handles James Ellroy’s noir thriller with aplomb.

Nightcrawler title screen
Jake Gyllenhaal as a creepily unempathetic but resourceful freelance news videographer covering nocturnal LA. The likes of Rene Russo, Bill Paxton and Riz Ahmed round off a fine cast. Impressive directorial debut by Dan Gilroy, a mere twenty-two years after getting his Freejackscript made.