Three detectives in the corrupt and brutal L.A. police force of the 1950s use differing methods to uncover a conspiracy behind the shotgun slayings of the patrons at an all-night diner.
City of Angels? More Like City of Demons! Curtis Hanson directs and co-adapts the screenplay with Brian Helgeland from legendary pulp novelist James Ellroy's novel. It stars Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito and David Strathairn. Music is by Jerry Goldsmith and cinematography by Dante Spinotti. It's 1950s Los Angeles and three cops of very different morals and stature are about to be entwined in crime and corruption... I admire you as a policeman, particularly your adherence to violence as a necessary adjunct to the job. Tremendous film making. Hanson takes Ellroy's labyrinthine story and pumps it with period authenticity and seamless direction, the latter of which sees him garner superlative performances from the cast. This is the side of Los Angeles nobody wants to talk about, it's awash with corpses, hookers, seedy set-ups, violence, drugs, racism and corruption a go-go. And that's just involving the politicians, the press and the coppers! Rollo Tomasi. The absence of genuine heroes on show still further keeps "The City of Angels" covered in dark clouds, where even as the plot twists and turns, as the mysteries unravel and brutality unfurls, the final destination of the principal characters is never clear, thus there's a continuing edge of seat pulse beat within the pic. It's also sexy and dangerous, the dialogue sharper than a serpent's tooth, and while the ending is a little too cosy as opposed to original noir wave conventions, this is pure noir in all but black and white photography. It won only two Academy Awards, Basinger for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and for Hanson and Hegeland for Best Writing - Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published. Frankly it should have won a dozen or so for it's not just one of the best films of the 1990s, but also one of the best Neo-Noirs ever produced. 10/10