duminică, 18 martie 2018

Au Revoir les Enfants, written and directed by Louis Malle

Au Revoir les Enfants, written and directed by Louis Malle

This is an arresting, monumental film, one of the best ever made, with a worthwhile, remarkable, unforgettable narrative about the ordeal suffered by the Jewish people and those who tried to help them, at the hands of the Gestapo and the Nazis, during the awful period of World War II.

In the first scene, Madame Quentin is at the railway station with her two sons, the elder Francois and one of the heroes of this motion picture, the younger Julien Quentin, as the boys depart for studies, away from the danger of war and the German Conquistadores and their abuses.
This family is rich, so much so that the father takes offence when parents visit children at the Catholic boarding school and the father superior, Jean, has a sermon that insists on wealth that corrupts souls and he quotes the famous, but often unheeded passage that mentions “it would be more difficult for a wealthy man to enter heaven than for the camel to pass through the needle”

Julien Quentin meets the other main character of this feature, Jean Bonnet, and the former learns early on that the real name of the latter is not Bonnet but something like Blumenfeld and after this discovery, made by prying into the boy’s locker; he keeps asking questions that Jean does not wish to answer.
During World War II, the fascists hunted Jewish people and other minorities and communities that they saw as inferior to their own, supposedly superior Arian stock, and sent them to die in the gas chambers of Auschwitz and other such terrible, death camps.

When they talk about letters and communication, Jean Bonnet explains with grief that his father is a prisoner and he has not heard from his mother, who lives in the free territory of France, which attracts a protest from his interlocutor, who points out that there is no part of the country unoccupied.
In the Catholic school, the situation seems to be rather normal, especially when considering the destitution associated with the war, even when taking into account the cold that is ever present and makes students complain, because they suffer from it in class and the dormitories, where given their large numbers, they at least benefit from the warmth emanated by so many bodies.

Julien is still wetting his bed at night and this attracts the scorn and mockery of colleagues who start shouting about it, as soon as they notice it, but the boy explains to his Jewish friend that, during his sleep, he feels very good, has the sensation that all is fine, he can pee and then he wakes up all wet around the stomach.

The boys are involved in a sort of black market, as they exchange goods, mostly food they receive with Joseph, a young man, Joseph,  who is not studying, but is employed as a sort of a help at the kitchen, where he felt he would do well, but now complains that the cook is worse than the alternative.
In exchange for jam, pate and other rater rare delicacies, Joseph provides what his trading partners want, which is often cigarettes and sometimes it involves money, only he also steals from the supplies and that would attract punishment, which in turn would show a despicable side of this man, who is responsible for the death of innocent teenagers.

One day, as they take part in a treasure hunt, Julien and Jean lose their way and the former finds the treasure, only it is late and they would have to be back, inside the walls of the boarding school and as they reach a road, a car is approaching and some Nazi soldiers come out, and the boy who is aware of his dangerous situation runs away from the enemy.
Later on, when the parents come to visit on the special day dedicated to this gathering, Jean has nobody to see him and his friend convinces his mother to take him along at the restaurant, in the city nearby, where a patrol of collaborationists enters the hall, asking for paper and insulting a man who had Jewish papers and therefore was not allowed inside.

A young, good looking girl plays the piano and she is the only female to walk in the premises where teachers and students are all male, attracting all the attention- well, almost all- as she plays the instrument in class and also during the projection of motion pictures with Charlie Chaplin.
One day, Joseph steals from the food supplies and is discovered by the cook and the father superior is calling those seven who traded with him, tells them they are not expelled only because he knows their parents, only the thief is dismissed, in spite of his protests and the fact that he has no place to sleep.

Alas, he finds a solution to that very quickly and he calls on the Gestapo with information, which would have disastrous effects and prompts the thought that Emotional Intelligence was not used in dealing with this case, although it has to be underlined that those who decided to punish, perhaps a bit too harshly, the young criminal would have to suffer much more than he did.
The boys are in class, and their teacher is placing the combatants on the map, stating that London Radio programs indicate that the Soviets have pushed the fascists far into the Ukraine, allies are fighting near Monte Casino, but Paris Radio, still controlled by the Vichy regime, gives other coordinates for battles.

As Aristotle advocated, the golden mean would suggest that the best option lies not in the extremes, but in the middle and the professor opines that the front line is probably in between the longitudes given by the two opposing media sources.
The Gestapo enters the room and the officer takes down the marks for these battles on the line and talks about the superiority of the German soldier, who has discipline, a quality that is lacking in the French, at least according to this messenger form Hades, who is there to take people to death…

This jewel, chef d’oeuvre has wonders in many places, including the scene where teenage boys discuss religion:
-          “St. Thomas's proofs of God's existence don't hold water…
-          I do not agree. Since we can imagine God, he must exist.
-          That is just sophistry. At least Bergson seeks transcendence in science.”

The Forgiven, by Michael Ashton, Roland Joffe and directed by the latter

The Forgiven, by Michael Ashton, Roland Joffe and directed by the latter

The Forgiven can be dismissed as average, but it can also be cherished as a film about values, humanity, transcendence, vitality, forgiveness, role models as well as monsters and incredible scenes and acts.

   It all takes place in South Africa, after the end of the abominable apartheid regime, as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is working to establish the truth about the past atrocities, while trying to keep peace and have the former oppressors and their victims live with each other without retribution.
After seeing this film, one may appreciate the fact that the situation is not much worse in South Africa, which it could have been, considering the potential for an explosive, ample movement to pay back the former rulers, responsible for atrocities and ordeals depicted in the motion picture.

As it is, this country has experienced a lot of hardship, even after the departure of the white leaders, with the failed leaders that came after the extraordinary, otherworldly Nelson Mandela, from Mbeki and his stupid belief in curing AIDS with garlic (it was not this plant, but something similar) to the recently deposed corrupt Jacob Zuma, who has had public money used for works on his mansion, swimming pool and faced hundreds of counts of wrongdoing.
The hero of The Forgiven is not the man from the title, Piet Blomfeld aka Eric Bana alias The Forgiven, but Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the head of the Commission for Reconciliation Commission, but also a role model in so many ways, without taking into account his position as a religious leader.

This man has almost all of the Character Strengths identified by psychologists and some more:
Integrity, Bravery – he and the commission have been under threat repeatedly- Vitality, Perseverance, Love, Kindness, Social Intelligence, Humanity, Hope, Gratitude, Humor- one example is when he laughs at the ease with which people seem to hate and love him-Humility and Modesty- even considering that he is “His Grace” he approaches everyone with respect and deference, Pity and Forgiveness, Prudence, Self –regulation, Citizenship, Leadership, Fairness, Justice, Wisdom, Perspective, Open –mindedness…

Forest Whitaker, the Academy Award winner for his performance in the role of another African leader, situated at the other extreme, the brutal, heinous Idi Amin in the excellent The Last King of Scotland, has a very challenging task in rendering the image of His Grace, Archbishop Desmond Tutu in this feature.

The writer- director Roland Joffe could be argued to have had much more success in giving audiences motion pictures like: The Killing Fields, The Mission, The Scarlet Letter and Vatel.
Eric Bana has the role of the ultimate monster, Piet Blomfeld, a man whose role might be to render Desmond Tutu ever more unreal, out of this world, considering that the antithesis could not be more evident, when the saintly, kind, generous, sensitive, humane, tolerant, modest, peaceful archbishop meets with the beastly, cursing, violent, ferocious, animalic, monstrous, inhumane mass killer.

One caveat would be that Blomfeld has gone past the point of pity or compassion and his presence is so loathsome that it can only hurt the film, making the squirm at his presence on screen, his foul language, despicable presence, even after the plot encourages one to sympathize with this antihero.
For this devil experiences, albeit slowly in a doubtful manner, some kind of redemption and need to share with the others what he and others have done under the apartheid regime, perhaps with the wish of paying back some debts and making others take at least part of the blame for the killings and torture.

In many ways it makes sense to widen the scope and have all responsible punished for their crimes, including another abhorrent character, Francois Schmidt, who had been a killer, but looks like escaping any discomfort, until Blomfeld decides to redress this, first by almost taking his ear off and then by recording some tapes.
Racist as he was and maybe he still is, only changing to some extent, the antihero is clashing with Africans who resent, hate him for what he did to late members of their community and they accept the offer of money and other privileges that are offered by Schmidt if they kill Piet Blomfeld and silence him forever.

The white supremacist had been trained to fight and when Benjamin, a young recruit, is sent to knife him finds it easy to not just defend himself, but send the other to the floor of the toilet and then take him to his adversaries, experiencing a paradoxical, hard to believe spiritual conversion, as he defends his attacker, talks about the fact that they want to kill him, but it is not the best solution and ending up in a rather strange situation.
It appears that young Benjamin, who is only seventeen (or was he even younger?), would die, unless there is a person that would protect him, in what looks like a traditional, medieval ritual, and the racist, murderous Blomfeld is the one who claims that he wants to be the “father” of the man who would die otherwise.

This another instance where part of the audience might reject the situation as farfetched- indeed, from the rating the feature has so far, the public has not liked The Forgiven-or just rejoice this Redemption and late change of heart experienced by this vicious, odious, atrocious individual, who then calls Archbishop Desmond Tutu, because he wants to testify and even if he may have trouble doing that, the truth is that what is heard in the investigations appalls victims, relatives and public at large.
There is an extraordinary act of forgiveness, when a mother decides to extend a hand to Hansi Coetzee, a man who had been responsible, engaged with others in horrific, unpardonable murders and tortures, which are described in recorded testimony that specifies ghastly details…after killing their victims, burning their bodies, the monsters would have a…barbecue.

sâmbătă, 17 martie 2018

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, based on story by James Warner Bellah

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, based on story by James Warner Bellah

This is one of the classic western films, with established qualities, but also with some shortcomings.

The main premise is that the white, American cavalry is right in fighting the bad, American Native people and the casting of the whites in the roles of the heroes and the non-whites in the roles of villains is obviously wrong.
General Custer and a number of officers, troops, many of whom are familiar to the protagonists of this feature, had just died and this is casting a shadow over the narrative and the fear that the travelers might be massacred.

Captain Nathan Cutting Brittles is the hero, portrayed by the legendary John Wayne, the most popular, loved actor in America and some other countries, for decades, including after his death.
In Who the Hell’s In The Picture by the great director Peter Bogdanovich, we learn many aspects from the lives of major, quintessential actors, including The Duke and his anecdote that involved another deity, Henry Fonda.

The two had some drinks in a bar in Mexico, where they had arrived on the boat owned by John Ford, the director of She Wore A Yellow Ribbon and so many other Duke films, when a huge snake, a python maybe, is brought to Wayne, who wanted to scare Fonda, who seemed to have had too much to drink.
Only Henry Fonda was used with snakes, did not fear them, took the one in question and went after The Duke, who was not familiar with reptiles and hurried away.

Captain Nathan Brittles has only a few days left from retirement and he uses a red crayon to mark them down, when Second Lieutenant Ross Pennell comes into the room and extracts a bottle of alcohol, which he thinks he had cleverly hidden for so long out of view, without the captain knowing about it.
Later on, it is discovered that Nathan Brittles is the one who had been laughing, all along, for so many years, giving the impression he is unaware, but taking amusement in just pretending he is fooled.

Major Mac Allshard orders the captain to take his wife, Abby Allshard and the beautiful niece, Olivia Dandridge to a location where they are supposed to meet with other troops and have them out of harm’s way.

Given the perils involved, the hero does not only protest loudly, but he also puts this in writing, considering the whole operation too dangerous to take the two women along, in a wagon, near enemy territory.
These were the views of the time, but with perspective and fairness, one would realize that America was Native American land and the colonists from Europe mostly, just took the land from the rightful owners.

The title of the feature, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, refers to the fact that Olivia Dandridge wears one in her hair, which is a statement that she likes someone, she is infatuated with a man in the Cavalry.
The problem is she would not say who and this can be taken as a game played by younger people, a flirting that is innocent and can do no harm, maybe contribute to make the men in question stronger, more manly.

On the other hand, it can appear as a superficial, careless, antagonizing, maybe even cruel attitude, given that the young woman was actually playing with the feelings of two officers, both of them in love, or at least thinking they are, with one of the few females they encounter and a very attractive one at that.
Lieutenant Flint Cohill and second Lieutenant Ross Pennell are adversaries, compete for the attention, feelings and appreciation of the young woman and they nearly come to blows trying to eliminate their nemesis.

As they move on their way, the captain and the troops he commands encounter some of their own comrades, who had been attacked by the Native Americans and with hindsight, one could look at this movie and support the side that the filmmakers meant for the audience to reject and actually feel dejected by what the white men did.
There is a scene wherein Captain Brittles talks to a Native American leader, Pony That Walks, and they both seem much wiser, peaceful than the troops they command, regretting the ones that would die in the seemingly unavoidable battle, which in the film seems to have the white on the right side…false as this is.

The white invaders have eliminated the Natives and taken their lands, but in one relevant scene in the film, the public gets a snippet, just a small piece of Native American “injustice”, the killing of some traders, over the prices offered for some rifles, which were then taken and the white salesmen killed.

Of course, people on both sides have been involved in wrongdoing and scalping, taking the skin and hair from the top of the head of your enemy does not sound civilized or ethical, but the truth remains that the Cherokee, Cheyenne and other great tribes have all been exterminated, with very few exceptions that live in reservations now, where they tend to have shorter, more agitated, violent lives than the majority.
This motion picture provokes the audiences into meditating, thinking about how to rate it- to appreciate the values, talent and the story as it is, or reject the main idea that white heroes are fighting and defeating non- white, but entitled owners of land and property taken away from them by the People of the United Sates…

                This film is on the New York Times’ Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made list:

The King’s Choice aka Kongens Nei, by Harald Rosenlow-Eeg and Jan Trygve Royneland

The King’s Choice aka Kongens Nei, by Harald Rosenlow-Eeg and Jan Trygve Royneland

This is a film that will not arrive at a theater near you, anytime soon, but maybe you can see it on Netflix or Cinemax, the latter was the channel that gave us the opportunity here.

As the title suggests, the king has a choice in this feature, which deals with a tragic period in the history of Norway and the planet, during the World War II, but it is not a situation in which he has any happy option.
The Nazis have attacked this country, as well as so much of Europe and the rulers have to retreat in the face of the overwhelming, considerably more powerful Wehrmacht, but they do not abandon the fight.

There is a loathsome, despised figure, Vidkun Quisling, who is a Nazi sympathizer in the manner of Petain, Antonescu, Miklos Horthy and so many other collaborators that have supported the fascists, their deportations, massacres and policies of extermination in a number of occupied lands.
King aka Kong Haakon VII is horrified by this politician and when the time comes, he rejects the idea of having this stooge rule the country he loves for the occupiers and his majesty opts for exile if there is no alternative.

The invaders play dirty, because while they impose their presence on the ground, under their appalling terms, they also pretend they want to negotiate, with one exception, Curt Brauer may be sincere.
This German official appears to respect Norwegians and their royalty, at least to a much greater extent than the rest of the Nazi, emphasizing that his son was born in Norway and trying to prevent bloodshed.

The royal family moves away from Oslo, trying to avoid capture at the hands of the fascists, staying away behind the frontline for as long as possible and meeting some of the soldiers, many of them very young.
As they drive in the cars near the troops, king Haakon VII talks to one of the Norwegian soldiers, Menig Fredrik Seeberg and when the issue of the fight for the king comes up, his royal highness talks about Norway:

                “Alt for Norge aka All for Norway”

This was the motto for his majesty Haakon VII and his son, who would be crowned as Olav V, and then the present day ruler, Harald V., would adopt it.
Curt Brauer is played by a phenomenal actor, Karl Markovics, best known for his outstanding performance in the acclaimed Counterfeiters, wherein he had a role of a prisoner abused by the Nazis.

Curt Brauer wants to meet with the Norwegian king and offer him a special choice, a way out that the German thinks is optimal, indeed the only solution that would not involve many deaths and continuing fighting and tries to contact the royal family, through the only official he finds at the government building in the capital.
The government, not the alternative organized by Quisling, has also left Oslo, but they are aware of the high cost in human life, economical damage and destruction that the prolongation of the conflict would involve.

Therefore, a meeting with the king is organized, Brauer is driven to a point in the forest, but before he gets there, the other Nazis, in charge of the army, mention that he will be able to see that they actually have other plans.
As he meets the Norwegian guards, the German is blindfolded, so that he would be able to disclose the whereabouts of the royal family and the government officials, an effort that would prove futile.

King Haakon and a few members of his government meet Curt Brauer and the latter insists on meeting his royal highness in private, which prompts the objection of the officials and makes his majesty uncertain.
The Nazi representative insists that this is a special occasion and he has a solution that is the last chance and he gets to talk to the king and wants the royal person to sign an agreement that does not really mean too much, even if it is supposed to save Norwegian lives if the terms are accepted.

King Haakon VII says something extraordinary, that he was democratically elected and he does not choose to undermine this system by taking a decision like this on his own and therefore he knocks at the door to bring the officials in.
This effort as failed, the German envoy is taken blindfolded to his car and as soon as he leaves, German planes start attacking the premises, bombing the buildings where the king, royal family and officials with their families, women and children have found refuge and killing people and injuring civilians.

This is a very good film about values, morals and role models, people who have most, if not all the Character Strengths identified by positive psychology:

                Wisdom- Perspective, Open- mindedness, Curiosity, Creativity, Love of Learning-
                Courage – Integrity, Bravery, Vitality, Persistence
                Humanity – Love, Kindness, Social Intelligence
                Transcendence – Appreciation of beauty and excellence, Hope, Gratitude, Humor, Spirituality
                Temperance – Humility/ Modesty, Pity/ Forgiveness, Prudence, Self-regulation
                Justice  Fairness, Citizenship, Leadership

vineri, 16 martie 2018

Eternite aka Eternity, based on novel by Alice Ferney

Eternite aka Eternity, based on novel by Alice Ferney

If very often resplendent, jubilant and radiant, this film is also extremely sad.

Even if it is not a war drama, so many children and some adults die that one can wonder why?
Happy ending motion pictures can become tiresome and lacking in challenges, but apart from a reasonable conclusion that it is bad to have more than maybe six children, what other messages can we extract?

Maybe that men do not care so much and instead of limiting the number of children to five, they exhaust their wives with so many more, sometimes.
Even when, like in this film, there is love and so much feeling and admiration, care, sensitivity.

Psychological studies have demonstrated that the happiest people have in common not money, wealth, mansions and so on, but a strong social support.
This means that the characters involved in this feature should be living for Eternity, in Paradise.

For they have the strong social support and they are also well off, living I splendid, lavishing surroundings, with a glorious, huge garden and access to the ocean nearby.
One of the men involved in the motion picture is a very talented guitar player and the music, the beauty of the landscape is divine.

Alas, one of the husbands swims in the ocean never to return and many children, more than twenty perhaps, die of various diseases and two teenage boys in the war.
The women of the film are talented, delicate, splendid, brave, resilient, indeed, heroic, if we consider the number of births they have had to go through, the many children they raised and the tragic loss of so many of them...

" A thing of beauty is a joy forever "

This film is like poetry and a moving camera immortalizes outstanding canvas, one thinks of the Impressionists and their chef d'oeuvres.

joi, 15 martie 2018

Dead Poets Society by Tom Schulman

Dead Poets Society by Tom Schulman

This is not just one of the best films ever made, but also one of the most important for its messages, role models and educational value.

It should be taught in schools and indeed, it is, for Harvard Professor Tal Ben-Shahar used the Carpe Diem segment in his lectures, which are the most popular in the prestigious University's history.
The English teacher John Keating aka the late, regretted and phenomenal Robin Williams, is not just unusual, different, provocative, he is a role model and a Superman.

Perhaps with one caveat, which refers to his destruction of the introduction to the manual of English literature, which, even if very bad, excrement Keating says, might be better ignored, even dismissed, but not so violently attacked.
After all, in his own philosophy, one is a free spirit, must find the path, shout like Walt Whitman over the top of the houses, and could let the author of the textbook alone in his incapacity to understand great poetry.

The school where John Keating is a new teacher has very rigid, retrograde views and the leaders insist on rules, obedience, principles, tradition, punishment over anything else.
Flaunting the achievements of the past, principal, the board see no reason for change and they apply the same old fashioned, ultimately counter productive methods that had been used for...ever.

Whenever a student makes a mistake, even a minor one, he - there are only boys allowed here - faces corporal retribution, a painful beating with a heavy, wooden bat.
John Keating is the exact opposite of the stuffy, cruel, vicious, sadistic staff that takes such a sick pleasure in domination, abuse, destruction of natural tendencies and the urge to find a calling.

John Keating insists on Carpe Diem, seizing the moment, for we are all going to be food for worms and need to celebrate the magic of life in the manner of Walt Whitman, who is quoted a few times, and other poets.
Inspired somewhat by their Superman role model, but this is by no means his fault, some bright pupils form the Dead Poets Club, that gathers in a cave and where they recite poems and eventually find new meaning, some them...in fact all, discover their humanity, manliness, wisdom, bravery, transcendence, temperance and sense of Justice.

One of them, Neil, finds out that he is not destined to become a doctor, as his domineering, absurd father imposes on him, when he has the chance to act in A Midsummer Night's Dream, in the leading role of Puk.
Another is inspired by the mantra of Carpe Diem to pursue his love interest, find the courage, perseverance, vitality, social intelligence, hope, modesty and perspective to engage with Chris, the girl he loves, in spite of the fact that her present boyfriend is a rude, thick, primitive, but very strong individual, who kicks him once and will do so again and harder, whenever he has the chance.

Professor Keating is crucial in helping his students find themselves and their true calling, which might be different from what they are forced to contemplate, study by their parents and perspectiveless educators, by offering the repeated example of WW, insisting that simple words can reveal great thoughts, nudging them to be creative.
They have a different relationship with the manual, this teacher thinks outside the box and mocks the official graphics that take in account coefficients, surfaces, like poetry is some mathematical operation that has equations, variables and one can just use formulas and...voila, there is a sonnet by Shakespeare resulting from calculations.

Nuwanda is the new name of one of the most enthusiastic members of the Poets Society, probably the one that came closest to Whitman and his beautiful lines in Miracles..."I know of nothing but miracles"

Nuwanda publishes a note in the journal where he is a corrector and the leadership of the school is stupefied, infuriated and revolted by the request that girls should be admitted in this school, alongside boys.
It goes to prove how fundamentalist, medieval, stupid, fixated, calcified these talibans were.

When they gather all the boys, Nuwanda makes a joke and when the principal makes his threat regarding those involved in this "unforgivable" act, he makes the sound of a phone ringing, answers the one he had brought with him and says that "it is God and he agrees".
The daring, humorous Nuwanda is beaten, but not expelled yet and even John Keating scolds him, for his pushing too far and risking expulsion and adding, after the student argues that the atmosphere is suffocating and there is nothing to do if they are so much oppressed, that the boy should stay, if for nothing else, for the privilege of attending the English classes.

Alas, a terrible drama is about to happen, which also serves the purpose of highlighting what happens when parents impose their view on the children-which it must be said that it happened decades ago in the Western world, today children suffer from the opposite pernicious attitude, they are allowed to do anything.
Neil has found that acting is his calling, only his father would have none of that, his son is destined to be a great doctor, not some performer and the parent takes extreme steps, disregarding the obvious, common sense, the interest of the boy and furthermore, blames the Ubermensch Keating for the resulting tragedy.

The moment when students climb on top of their desks and honor "Oh Captain, my Captain" is divine, glorious, superb...one of the most memorable scenes in Cinema History.

But then, this masterpiece is destined to be part of that Glorious History of Art.

L.A. Confidential, based on the novel by James Ellroy

L.A. Confidential, based on the novel by James Ellroy

This film is one of the most popular and it is placed at number 106 on the list voted by audiences.

It has also won the Academy Award and the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Kim Basinger in the role of Lynn Bracken and an Oscar for Best Screenplay.
A list with the other actors and their respective roles would reveal the immense talent involved in this production:
Kevin Spacey -Jack Vincennes, Russell Crowe -Bud White, Guy Pearce-Ed Exley, Danny DeVito -Sid Hudgens

Jack Vincennes is the policeman who wants attention, he has a corrupt arrangement with Sid Hudgens, who is the editor and owner of a tabloid which prints photos of arrests, important drugs captures, but also innuendo and salacious details when it has them.
In exchange for money, Vincennes provides the details of the address and the photographer from the newspaper is waiting to get exclusive coverage

One night, suspects of an assault on the police force are brought to the station and a number of those inside start beating the detainees, with Bud White trying to calm his partner in the first place and joining in the punishment when he is insulted.
Other journalists were present and they had the chance to take pictures of the officers beating those in their custody, with a scandal that has some victims, scape goats and some suspensions.

Vincennes is moved from his previous department and his lucrative position, Bud White is  sent off, only to be reinstated by the chief Dudley Smith, with nefarious intentions.
The only one promoted is the "rat" Ed Exley, who will soon get famous, after he arrives at the scene of a multiple homicide, is in charge of the investigation, catches the suspects after they escape and shoots a few, gaining  a medal for valor.

Bud White hates him, for his testimony had been crucial in sending his partner into early retirement and then death, as he is one of the victims of the serial killers.
This simpler, rough, rather violent detective falls in love with Lynn Bracken, who works in the sex industry, as part of an operation controlled by the rich, ruthless Pierce Patchett.

White, Exley and Vincennes uncover dirty secrets and start putting the pieces of the puzzle together, but one of them is killed and the others are in death danger, as they become a menace for the new leader of the drug trade in L.A.

A male prostitute is used to blackmail the gay D.A. And then murdered, Vincennes finds about this and the Fleurs de Lys illegal enterprise, with more details regarding previous, old dossier and somebody in the higher hierarchy of the police, involved in some suspicious cases.

Ed Exley arrives at the house of Lynn and he wants information about White, who is a nemesis at that time, only to be seduced by the woman who was staging a compromising photo shootout to be used against the man from whom she wanted to defend her lover.
Alas, Bud White has had traumas in his childhood, tells the story of the attack on his mother, killed by the father who had tied him and left the body to be discovered only after a few days.

He cannot stand violence against women, in one scene he takes all the Christmas decorations down from a house and beats the man who was abusing a woman inside and Bud saw it, confronted, challenged the molester and made him pay for it.

Yet, when he finds the photos with Lynn and Ed, planted to make him furious and eliminate the latter from the game, as he was coming too close to the truth, he kicks the woman he loves and continues to find and kill his rival.
Exley explains the rules of the game, that this is a set up and White needs to think and see that he is trapped and does exactly what the killers want him to do.

The former enemies are destined to work together now and they actually depend on one another, seeing as they are alone against an organized crime group, which is determined to eliminate them, as they have done with journalists, witnesses, opponents, in short anybody who stood in their way or presented a threat of any kind.

And the Godfather of this whole Mafia like organization is the one we least expect.