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A view on Hi-def DVDs by Gary W. Tooze

L.A. Confidential [Blu-ray]

 

(Curtis Hanson, 1997)

 

 

 

 

Reissued January 4th, 2011:

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Studio:

Video: Warner Video

 

Discs:

Region: FREE

Feature Runtime: 2:17:53

Chapters: 34

Feature film disc size: 33.2 Gig

One dual-layer Blu-ray, one CD sampler

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 23rd, 2008

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.4:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: VC-1

 

Audio:
English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English, French, Spanish, German, Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1)

Subtitles:
Feature: English, French, Spanish, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Swedish and none
 

Supplements:

Disc 1

Audio commentary from critic/historian Andrew Sarris, producers Arnon Milchan and Michael Nathanson, novelist James Ellroy, costume designer Ruth Myers, screenwriter Brian Helgeland, production designer Jeannine Oppewall, editor Peter Honess, director of photography Dante Spinotti, and actors Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, David Strathairn, Kim Basinger and Danny DeVito.
Whatever You Desire: Making LA Confidential (29:30)
Sunlight and Shadow: The Visual Style of LA Confidential (21:03)
A True Ensemble: The Cast of LA Confidential (24:24)
LA Confidential: From Book to Screen (21:07)
Off the Record: Vintage cast/creator interviews (18:50)
Director Curtis Henson's Photo Pitch (8:25)
The LA of LA Confidential - Map Tour (15 locales - 25 seconds each)
LA Confidential TV Pilot (45 minutes)

Trailer galley and TV spots

Music-only track showcasing Jerry Goldsmith's score

Disc 2

CD Sampler which includes six songs from the film: “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive” (Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers), “Look for the Silver Lining” (Chet Baker), “Hit the Road to Dreamland” (Betty Hutton), “Wheel of Fortune” (Kay Starr), “But Not For Me” (Jackie Gleason), and “Powder Your Face With Sunshine (Smile! Smile! Smile!)” (Dean Martin).

 

 

Product Description: L.A. Confidential is "tough, gorgeous and vastly entertaining", "a genuine masterpiece that will knock your socks off." Director Curtis Hanson and a terrific cast serve up a "ravishing, thrilling tale of police corruption and Hollywood glamour" in this adaptation of James Ellroy's novel. Three cops, a call girl, a mysterious millionaire, a tabloid journalist, and the Chief of Detectives fuel a labyrinthine plot rife with mystery, ambition, romance, and humor. What you'll see is off the record, on the QT and very hush-hush...

 

 

 

The Film:

In a time when it seems that every other movie makes some claim to being a film noir, L.A. Confidential is the real thing--a gritty, sordid tale of sex, scandal, betrayal, and corruption of all sorts (police, political, press--and, of course, very personal) in 1940s Hollywood. The Oscar-winning screenplay is actually based on several titles in James Ellroy's series of chronological thriller novels (including the title volume, The Big Nowhere, and White Jazz)--a compelling blend of L.A. history and pulp fiction that has earned it comparisons to the greatest of all Technicolor noir films, Chinatown.

 

 


Kim Basinger richly deserved her Supporting Actress Oscar for her portrayal of a conflicted femme fatale; unfortunately, her male costars are so uniformly fine that they may have canceled each other out with the Academy voters: Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey, and James Cromwell play LAPD officers of varying stripes. Pearce's character is a particularly intriguing study in Hollywood amorality and ambition, a strait-laced "hero" (and son of a departmental legend) whose career goals outweigh all other moral, ethical, and legal considerations. If he's a good guy, it's only because he sees it as the quickest route to a promotion.

Jim Emerson of Amazon located HERE

 

Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Funny how picky we can get - L.A. Confidential on Blu-ray looks pretty good if showing its, over ten year, age. The transfer itself seems competent and the only flaws are probably more inherent in the original source. There is noise/grain - detail is significantly superior to SD (ditto for colors) but not up to par with many 2007-2008 HD offerings. It is consistent and the 1080P brings up a crispness that I had never noted before. Technically it is dual-layered with the feature size being a healthy 33.2 Gig. I don't see evidence of DNR used to compensate for  the existing noise. In fact I'd have to say the image is fairly flawless and I have no strong complaints. Expectations for the image should be tempered a bit with its age but overall the film, and especially Kim B., looked far better than I anticipated.  I suspect fans of L.A. Confidential, and its previous digital incarnations, will be mightily impressed with the visual appearance of this Blu-ray.

 

 

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music:  
The
TrueHD option has some life to it, but it's the subtleties that I appreciate most. I'd say the bass and midrange aren't overused by this soundtrack but tend to be there seething beneath the surface. Your center channel will the the most work. Goldsmith's excellent score comes through just that much cleaner and supports some very noir-esque moments. Many of the period songs in the film are on the CD sampler included in the package.  Obviously set for region-free sales worldwide there is a host of DUB options (in 5.1) and a multitude of subtitles (full list above).

Extras:
A scattered commentary - sliced and diced with everyone under the sun taking part - excepting, strangely enough, the director. It's quite all-over-the-place but that's okay as I did get something out of it - Ellroy being probably my favorite participant. Next we have about 3 hours worth of SD featurettes and I really did enjoy some of these. Whatever You Desire: Making LA Confidential runs about a 1/2 hour and offers clips and interviews with all the principles involved (including Hanson, Ellroy, Basinger, Pearce, Crowe, Spacey, DeVito etc.) Quite good but it seemed to only touch the surface of the creative process at work here. Some of the information in these featurettes is expectantly duplicated in the commentary. There is also a filler component but I was pretty appreciative of the effort that went into these supplements - it opened my eyes to L.A. Confidential and certainly increased my appreciation of the film. The value of
Blu-ray (the space) even allowed the 45 minute TV pilot of LA Confidential with a younger Kiefer Sutherland (it's from 2000 I think). Bonus here is that you also get the CD sampler (as disc 2) and I checked it pout in the car while picking up my some from school - I kinda liked it - it gives nice reflections of the film's smokey aura. This Blu-ray is stacked to the rafters and fans will positively want to indulge in some if not all that is available.

 

 

 

Bottom line:
Once again
Blu-ray has pushed me from a film I simply liked - to one I now adore. Is it the improved appearance and sound? Could very well be - but tack on the supplements which also bolstered my enthusiasm more than one notch. The film itself gets a big thumbs up even beyond its obvious homage crafting. Great price too! The image and audio shouldn't disappoint anyone and it's a film that I will revisit - sooner rather than later - especially in Blu-ray
. Bravo Warner!

Gary Tooze

September 22nd, 2008

 

 

 

 

Reissued January 4th, 2011:

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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