I have tried so many times to read a book by Ellroy. I borrow them from friends or family, I maybe read a page or two, get bogged down in a very gritty dark story and give up before moving onto something nice and Hollywood.
The reviews of the film almost all talk about the wonderful characterisation, and how well written and developed each of the characters are. I have a problem with this opinion in that for me I don't like the coldness of the characters and lack of empathy (possibly excluding Spacey's character) I have for them is not something I like in a movie.
I watch movies as an escape from reality, I want to laugh with the characters, cry with them, cheer them on to victory, etc. LA Confidential is very much an arty movie that was designed to win Oscars - although unfortunately was released the same year as Titanic and Good Will Hunting. The pretentiousness of the movie makes it very difficult to be watched lightly (or even repeatedly) and so despite owning this movie for ten years now, I have only maybe watched in twice.
I guess that all suggests that I don't really like the movie, but I do. I can appreciate arty movies, I just don't necessarily like them as much as others.
The casting in LA Confidential is outstanding, and while Russell Crowe disappointingly plays a rather straight character for once, the relationship between him and Guy Pearce is brilliant. The portrayal of two people who detest each other but gain a grudging respect is exceptionally believable - nowadays that wouldn't be so hard to believe about the two actors but when you consider this was their first big movie in the US it makes it somewhat more enjoyable.
The story itself is fairly typical of a cop movie - there isn't much difference from the Departed except for the lack of any non-cop villains. The 1950s backdrop however is what sets this movie apart from the Departed and to me at least would push it much higher up the list of Top 100.
Definitely worth seeing - just make sure you are giving it time and concentration.