REVIEW: L.A. CONFIDENTIAL

CAST

Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)
Russell Crowe (Robin Hood)
Guy Pearce (Iron Man 3)
James Cromwell (Star Trek: First Contact)
Kim Bassinger (Pret-A-Porter)
Danny DeVito (Batman Returns)
David Strathairn (Eight Men Out)
Ron Rifkin (Alias)
Paul Guilfoyle (CSI)
Simon Baker (The Mentalist)
Graham Beckel (Pearl Harbor)
Bob Clendenin (Scrubs)
John Mahon (Zodiac)
Jack Conley (Angel)
Michael Chieffo (Roswell)
Brenda Bakke (Under Siege 2)

In early 1950s Los Angeles, Sergeant Edmund “Ed” Exley, son of the legendary LAPD detective Preston Exley, is determined to live up to his father’s reputation. His intelligence, insistence on following regulations, and cold demeanor contribute to his isolation from other officers. He exacerbates this resentment by volunteering to testify in the Bloody Christmas case in exchange for a promotion to Detective Lieutenant. This goes against the advice of Captain Dudley Smith, who states that a detective should be willing to shoot a guilty man in the back for the greater good. Exley’s ambition is fueled by the murder of his father, killed by an unknown assailant, whom Exley nicknames “Rollo Tomasi”.Officer Wendell “Bud” White, whom Exley considers a “mindless thug”, is a plainclothes officer obsessed with violently punishing woman-beaters. One such incident leads him to confront a former cop named Leland “Buzz” Meeks, a driver for Pierce Patchett. White comes to dislike Exley after White’s partner, Dick Stensland, is fired due to Exley’s testimony in the Bloody Christmas scandal. White is sought out by Smith for a job in which they harass and beat up out-of-town criminals trying to fill the void left in Los Angeles following the imprisonment of gangster Mickey Cohen for tax evasion. The Nite Owl case, a multiple homicide at a coffee shop, becomes personal after Stensland is found to be one of the victims.Sergeant Jack Vincennes is a narcotics detective who moonlights as a technical advisor on Badge of Honor, a popular TV police drama series. He is providing Sid Hudgens, publisher of the Hush-Hush tabloid magazine, with tips about celebrity arrests that will attract more readers to Hudgens’ magazine. When he becomes involved in Hudgens’ scheme to set up actor Matt Reynolds in a homosexual tryst with L.A. district attorney Ellis Loew, and Reynolds is killed as a result, Vincennes becomes determined to find the killer.

Three African Americans are initially charged with the Nite Owl murders, and later killed in a shootout. Although the Nite Owl crime initially looks like a botched robbery, Exley and White individually investigate it to discover indications of corruption all around them. White recognizes Nite Owl victim Susan Lefferts as one of Meeks’ escorts which leads him back to Pierce Patchett, operator of Fleur-de-Lis, a call girl service that runs prostitutes altered by plastic surgery to resemble film stars. He begins a relationship with Lynn Bracken, a Veronica Lake look-alike prostitute. The body count rises when White searches a storage room under Lefferts’ mother’s house, and finds the decomposed corpse of Meeks.When Vincennes approaches Smith with the evidence he has found with Exley, Smith realizes his scheme to take over Mickey Cohen’s heroin empire is threatened. Smith shoots Vincennes, who utters “Rollo Tomasi” before dying, the origin of which Exley told Vincennes in confidence. Exley’s suspicions are aroused when Smith asks him who Rollo Tomasi is. During an interrogation of Hudgens, Smith arranges for White to see photos of Bracken sleeping with Exley, which sends White into a rage. Confident that White has gone after Exley to kill him, Smith kills Hudgens. Exley investigates and discovers Meeks and Stensland used to work closely with Smith. White drives to the police station and begins to fight Exley, but Exley is able to convince White that Smith is corrupt and has set them both up. The two decide to team together to take down Smith. They are able to obtain evidence against Smith by threatening Loew, and later find Patchett murdered. Exley and White realize that Smith himself has been taking over after Cohen, and the killings have been Smith tying up loose ends.Exley and White are set up with a trap against Smith and his hitmen. After a gunfight that kills all the hitmen, Smith shoots White in the face, but then is forced to surrender to Exley. As police arrive, Exley shoots Smith in the back, killing him. The LAPD cover up Smith’s crimes and say he died a hero in the shootout to protect the department’s image, and in exchange Exley bargains to also be hailed a hero and receives a medal for his bravery. Upon leaving City Hall, Exley sees Bracken, who tells him she is returning home to Arizona with White, revealing White survived the shooting. Exley and White shake hands and Bracken drives off into the sunset.5616cde899678This was easily the best Hollywood movie of 1997, this just may be one the smartest movies you haven’t seen. With great performances from an ensemble all-star cast and a clever script, the dramatic tension of this modern film-noir classic is an absolute must-see! Told through a variation on the theme of “good cop, bad cop” with an overarching corruption angle, this film cleverly deals with issues of racism, social justice and ethics in a non-discriminatory manner. Character development is well-done and the dramatic tension is superb. If you are a fan of crime-drama and detective stories, you won’t be disappointed

REVIEW: BIRDS OF PREY

MAIN CAST

Ashley Scott (Into The Blue)
Dina Meyer (Starship Troopers)
Rachel Skarsten (Reign)
Shemar Moore (Criminal Minds)
Ian Abercrombie (Army of Darkness)
Mia Sara (Legend)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Chris Ellis (The Dark Knight Rises)
Shawn Christian (Las Vegas)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
AJ Michalka (Super 8)
Maggie Baird (Eragon)
Silas Weir Mitchell (My Name Is Earl)
Brent Sexton (Flightplan)
Joe Flanigan (Stargate: Atlantis)
Robert Patrick Benedict (Waiting)
Autumn Reeser (The American Mall)
Riley Smith (Eight Legged Freaks)
Michael Welch (Twilight)
Brody Hutzler (Angel)
Lori Loughlin (Full House)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Shane Johnson (Behind Enemy Lines)
Sarah Brown (VR Troopers)
Kristoffer Polaha (Dollhouse)
Brian Thompson (Hired To Kill)
Annie Wersching (The Vampire Diaries)
Sung Hi Lee (The Girl Next Door)
Neil Hopkins (Lost)
Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files)
Bob Papenbrook (Jeepers Creepers 2)
Llia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)
J.P. Manoux (Euro Trip)
Bob Clendenin (That 70s Show)
Ian Reed Kesler (2 Broke Girls)
Kirk Baltz (Natural Born Killers)
Steve Hytner (Roswell)

Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)

untitled-3-copyLoosely based on DC Comics and a variety of other sources with a touch of Marvel’s the X-Men thrown in, the series continues the legend of The Batman. We enter the future, dark and fantastic world of New Gotham City. Long after The Batman has driven himself into exile, his legacy lives on in the form of the Birds of Prey – Black Canary, Oracle, and the Huntress. From the creators of the CW hit Smallville, Birds of the Prey was produced in 2002 for the now defunct WB, but had only 13 episodes before cancellation. Since then, its devoted fan base worked tirelessly to have the series released on DVD. It was a really exciting action show, breaking new ground because ALL of the lead characters were women.This boxed set collects all 13 episodes and a never-collected-on-DVD before Flash-animated series “Gotham Girls.” Awesomely, it also includes the unaired pilot, which featured Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks) in the role of Dr. Quinzel. Mia Sara was later cast as Quinzel in the series. She also appeared in the AIRED pilot. Interestingly, all of the scenes featuring the character in the AIRED pilot were reshot with Sara, word-for-word. Also of note, the aspect ratio of the episodes in the set will be full frame, but will have dark bars on top and on bottom to mimic widescreen. While normal citizens slept, the Birds of Prey flocked together to fight crime on the streets of New Gotham City. Several years after the city was abandoned by Batman, the awesome threesome of Huntress (Ashley Scott), Oracle (Dina Meyer), and Black Canary (Rachel Skarsten) was formed. Huntress is the daughter of Batman and Catwoman, and can smell danger from miles away. Black Canary has the gift of clairvoyance and Oracle leads the team through her cyber experience, despite being wheelchair bound by Batman’s nemesis, the evil Joker.When the series opens, we learn that New Gotham’s Batman has disappeared leaving behind a daughter from his long-time love Catwoman. Her name is Helena Kyle, who transforms herself into the mysterious superhero known as “The Huntress.” Helena has hypersensitive senses and agility, but uses her gifts selfishly. Fate brings her face-to-face with her choices as well as a wheel-chair-bound Barbara Gordon, the hero Oracle, who befriends her but agrees to train her only if she uses her powers for good.splash_780-1376-720x340She teams up with Barbara, who had been “Batgirl” prior to being paralyzed by the Joker. By day, Barbara is a teacher at New Gotham High, but by night she fights crime from her secret lair in the New Gotham Clock Tower. The two meet a determined Dinah Redmond, a young woman who was drawn to New Gotham to learn more about her powers. Dinah is a touch-telepath and psychic who had terrifying dreams about Batgirl’s brutal incident that resulted in her paralysis. The Huntress resists working with Dinah, but Oracle convinces her to give the younger woman a chance. Now, they must learn not only how to work together as New Gotham’s protectors, but also as a family.Special recognition goes to Mark “Star Wars” Hamill who briefly reprises his award-winning voice role as the Joker from the iconic classic, Batman: the Animated Series. In Birds of Prey, “Mister J” on-camera is portrayed by actor/stuntman Roger Stoneburner but Hamill’s voice was dubbed over Stoneburner’s performance.  During the course of the series, the women are often confronted with schemes masterminded by the Joker’s on-and-off girlfriend, psychiatrist Dr. Harleen “Harley Quinn” Quinzel (Mia Sara), but they always prevail and eventually beat her at her own game.jsyjp3Other characters of note are: Alfred Pennyworth (Ian Abercrombie), who serves Helena as heir to the Wayne estate, and Police Detective Jesse Resse (Shemar Moore), confronted with crimes and abilities he cannot explain. A central feature of the series is the concept of metahumans: Individuals born with powers that cannot be explained. No two metahumans have the same specific ability (or set of abilities) and there exists a whole sub culture of metahuman society that the outside world knows nothing about. It is this world that Detective Reese is drawn into, reluctantly teaming up with Huntress and the Birds of Prey to defeat metahuman criminals. At first, he is disapproving of Helena’s vigilantism, even trying to arrest her, but eventually he realizes there is a need for the Birds of Prey to take down criminals the police can’t handle. Episodes in this four-disc collection are: the Pilot; Slick; Prey for the Hunter; Three Birds and a Baby; Sins of the Mother; Primal Scream; Split; Lady Shiva; Nature of the Beast; Gladiatrix; Reunion; Feat of Clay; and Devil’s Eyes. Very popular theme song “Revolution” was performed by Aimee Allen.