This is the next entry in a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time, a series that was begun here. Since I am in the backstretch of my Versus AFI: 10 Top 10 arc, this month looking at the Mystery genre, it’s almost now a tradition I chronicle one of its selections in this series. My #1 pick of Chinatown was one of my early entries from last year. So, it’s fitting that the next memory I record here is one that I linked with that exceptional film.
“I admire you as a policeman — particularly your adherence to violence as a necessary adjunct to the job.”
The Marina Del Rey Six:
September 21, 1997: I had heard of this particular James Ellroy novel, but hadn’t read nary a page of it before its film adaptation arrived in the Fall that year. At the time, my routine pastime with books was taking a backseat in my household. Two years of fatherhood with a new son had significantly cut into my reading habit. If I had managed to read more than a couple of books since his birth, that would have been an accomplishment. And while I missed poring over the pages, I couldn’t say what replaced the activity was any less stimulating or unimportant in any shape or form. I loved being a dad, and still do.
Given all that was going on in my life to that point, I felt little interest toward seeing Curtis Hanson’s L.A. Confidential. Yes, that was partly due to knowing next to nothing of its storyline. Plus, the two Aussies cast as the important leads in the film weren’t at all familiar to me. Lastly, in all honesty, the film just looked like another Chinatown wannabe. I mean, True Confessions in ’81 and 1990’s The Two Jakes came somewhat close to recreating vintage L.A. on celluloid, but nesting nowhere near the 1974 neo-noir classic. And don’t get this Angeleno started on the previous year’s Mulholland Falls. Sheesh.
Yet, the early word on the film was enough to get me out on its opening weekend. The nearby and old standby of the Marina Del Rey Six was where I landed. Alone. You see the other byproduct of 1995 motherhood reduced instances my wife could accompany me to the movies. She was on toddler duty this Sunday afternoon. While I wished she could have seen the picture with me, each minute I was in that darkened movie hall made me take back every reservation I brought with me. So much so, I made the decision soon after to buy and read that book. Though it took me till 1998 to do it (taking it one page at a time during lunch breaks), I found out how great this adaptation was.