|Woody Harrelson, Ice Cube, Rampart, Millenium Entertainment, 2012.|
Gliding through grit like some sort of slumming angel, novelist James Ellroy has produced some of the most extraordinary Angeleno crime yarns the world has yet to see. From The Big Nowhere to L.A. Confidential, Ellroy's acid kiss and poetic realism permeates the neon dusk. For gifted scripter turned helmer Oren Moverman's choice to craft an intensely felt psychological portrait AND a capturing of a specific period in L.A. law enforcement's iffy past, his inclusion of Ellroy in the creative process has elevated his sophomore feature into the realms of the unreal.
Once again working with the fiery Woody Harrelson, after the dramatic and critical triumph of their first time out, Moverman's lauded debut The Messenger, Moverman and Ellroy have birthed a fascinatingly complex man whose vices and virtues play out for us amid a miasma of characters surging through the inner-city. Harrelson realizes the character of Brown with a burning conviction which marks this as his greatest performance to date. We feel the dark backwards of his life, and the discomfort smarts just right.
Moverman and Ellroy cast us adrift in the early-90s Rampart division scandal in the L.A.P.D., yet they focus more on the inner workings of a so-called crooked cop with an uncommonly astute insight. Backed up by an outstanding cast including Cynthia Nixon, Ben Foster, Anne Heche, Ice Cube, Sigourney Weaver, Robert Wisdom, Robin Wright, Steve Buscemi, and Ned Beatty, Harrelson is propelled into the stratosphere of Lee Marvin, sharing his particular blend of aged masculinity and secret tenderness.
Bobby Bukowski's camera burns the smeary, vivid colors of the past into our minds. Jay Rabinowitz's cutting is breathtakingly paced and pure. Dickon Hinchliffe's score is evocative of the inner-turmoil of Brown. Working together, guided by the spirit of noir-master Ellroy, and under the direction of new American master Moverman, this team has made one of the most important pictures of the new year.