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Director Curtis Hanson won over audiences, critics with noir 'L.A. Confidential'

What impressed critics about the film 'Confidential'? Hanson also directed projects such as '8 Mile,' 'The Wonder Boys,' and 'Too Big to Fail.'

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    Hanson's 1997 film 'L.A. Confidential' was nominated for nine academy awards.
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Director Curtis Hanson of the movie “L.A. Confidential,” among other work, has died. 

Mr. Hanson also helmed movies including “8 Mile,” “The Wonder Boys,” and the TV film “Too Big to Fail.” 

“Confidential” was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar and Hanson was nominated for best director for his work on the film. He and writer Brian Helgeland received best adapted screenplay Oscars for their work on the movie.

What made “Confidential,” which was also a box office hit, a success? 

Critics hailed the 1997 movie, which was based on the book of the same name by James Ellroy, as a new, great example of a genre that has often captivated reviewers and audiences: the L.A. noir.

New York Times writer Janet Maslin referenced one of the genre’s most acclaimed movies in reviewing “Confidential.” 

“Without strain or affectation, ‘L.A. Confidential’ recalls ‘Chinatown’ in drawing an entire socioecomic cross-section and elaborate web of corruption out of an investigation that starts small,” Ms. Maslin wrote.

Monitor staff wrote at the time of the movie’s release that some of the movie’s success comes from its cast, writing, “The story is so complicated that the movie can't quite make it clear, but the picture has impressive energy and high-intensity performances from Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito, Russell Crowe, and Guy Pearce.” 

The film also co-starred Kim Basinger, James Cromwell, and David Strathairn.

Maslin also praised the way the movie kept the audience on its toes. 

“[The film] embroils [the characters] in a cliché-free, vigorously surprising tale,” Maslin wrote of the film. She also felt that the movie didn’t talk down to viewers. “…[The film] revels in its endless complications,” Maslin wrote. “Take a popcorn break and you'll be sorry.… Late in 'L.A. Confidential,' in a scene for which viewers will be endlessly grateful, a character being interrogated finally gives a brief synopsis of the plot. That's no easy matter.”

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