Hit Me With Your Best Shot: L.A. Confidential (1997)

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This is an entry for the amazing “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” series, hosted by Nathaniel Rogers over at The Film Experience

I wanted to marry my choice for the best shot of L.A. Confidential with this particular viewing of the film, and the biggest thing I took out of if (besides gaining even more admiration for Dante Spinotti’s work  as the movie’s cinematographer) was Kevin Spacey’s performance. I’ve never been a big Spacey fan, having grown up in his über-hammy post-American Beauty days, so I always am surprised when I actually like him in something. That is why I must say that I love him in L.A. Confidential. It is without a doubt my favorite performance of his, so I wanted to pick a shot that showed both the awesomeness of Kevin Spacey’s character (fame and glamour-loving cop Jack Vincennes) and the amazing visual work done in the movie. The perfect shot came very early in the film:

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A classically colorful Hollywood movie theater in the background. The best representation of the magic of the dream factory. And in the foreground, like a twisted film director, Vincennes gives out orders, setting everything up for what is essentially a fabricated arrest. They are making news just like they make movies.

Not only do I love the concept of the shot, but its beautiful use of widescreen. That composition, with a central vanishing point and the shot vertically divided into thirds. There is a grand, and eye-pleasing element to it. I also love how Vincennes is shot from a low angle, making sure we know how much he revels in being a celebrity, and how he may say he wants to get over with this quickly, but he knows this is the kind of thing that keeps him part of the Hollywood glamour he enjoys so much.


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