L.A. Confidential

One of the better American studio films of the 1990s, this adaptation of the James Ellroy novel looks back to a thoroughly corrupt, intoxicatingly lurid, and tabloid-infused era that may only have existed in Ellroy's head. Curtis Hanson directs the serpentine 1997 thriller about two more-or-less honest cops (Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce) under the command of a less-than-honest sergeant (Kevin Spacey), all working for an entirely rotten LAPD. Kim Basinger won an Oscar for her prostitute update on Veronica Lake. Danny DeVito gleefully provides relish as the editor of a scandal sheet. Bathed in a dirty neon glow, early '50s L.A. is revealed as a considerably less wholesome place than the standard Hollywood treatment of the time. Upon its release, some dismissed L.A. Confidential as a genre exercise, but it's much better than that. It's a souped-up, turbocharged noir, where secrets that were once only hints now become mileposts in the delightfully twisty story. All the dirty linen gets aired, and the bloodstains never wash out. (R) BRIAN MILLER

April 16-22, 7 & 10 p.m., 2009

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