While Philip K. Dick is rightfully regarded as a sci-fi visionary for his innovations and theories, he wasn’t the best at painting a picture with his writing. For this reason, the strong, though disconnected elements that Dick was able to create served as the perfect springboard for director Ridley Scott and production designer Lawrence G. Paull, who created a dystopian world that remains the high-water mark for the genre.
A further testament to the strength of the adaptation is that two other cuts exist, one with no narration, and one with a different ending, and all three versions build on the novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
L.A. Confidential emerged as a somewhat rote exercise from hard-boiled detective scribe James Ellroy. The noir genre benefits so greatly from a visual treatment that it’s hard for readers, especially contemporary ones, to find their way back to a setting that might not be as familiar to them as those in other genres. Enter Curtis Hanson, who truly overachieved, in part due to budding cast of Hollywood elite that the film featured. Kevin Spacey, Guy Pearce, and Russell Crowe all conjure a different time that feels more like a parallel dimension than it does recent history, which is what I’ve felt the noire genre embodies.