By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders
I always thought L.A. Confidential was like a window into ‘50s Los Angeles. I didn’t fully appreciate it until I moved here and recognized all the locations in their historically altered form. On Blu Ray, it could have been a surreal portal but they’ve maintained the window aspect.
On Blu-Ray: L.A. Confidential
Though the film is 10 years old, that’s about the cutoff point for most movies. More recent than that and you could have an otherworldly look. Older than that and you’re talking about how good they can remaster the old film. L.A. Confidential looks spotless and pristine, but they’ve kept it authentic to the original film presentation so it still looks like real old L.A..
There are no inordinately bright colors. It’s all how things would have looked to you if you were hanging around in the ‘50s. Suburban neighborhoods are green, but green like grass, not some hyper-lit techno-green. Neon lights looks like actual neon, not some vibrant specter that lights your whole living room.
You can definitely see all grit from the dingy police station and crusty holding cells to the stubbly tough guys and stucco creased bedroom walls. All the nighttime shots, of which there are many, are totally crisp so you can see the figures cutting through the dark. That captures the whole tone of the movie to me. Then by contrast, daylight scenes are not overlit. The people are the same shade as the backgrounds, so it’s kind of like a picture where the nighttime scenes emphasize the action. Only interiors, with fluorescent or 40 watt light sources have a sort of gloss that comes from unnatural light.
L.A. Confidential is the perfect answer to any filmmaker worried that Blu Ray might be too revealing. You can make a film look better than it ever did in theaters (and I saw it opening weekend with fresh prints) without going overboard. It’s just all the details they intended with precise exhibition.