Mulholland Falls

An odd kettle of fish, though a pretty alluring one. Lee Tamahori (Once Were Warriors) directs a Pete Dexter and Floyd Mutrux script, a noirish crime story set in Los Angeles during the 50s; thanks in part to gorgeous cinematography by Haskell Wexler and a yearning Dave Grusin score, the lyrical style often recalls Chinatown. An elite police unit nicknamed the Hat Squad (Nick Nolte, Chazz Palminteri, Michael Madsen, and Chris Penn) finds a routine murder investigation leads to the Atomic Energy Commission, and the troubled personal involvement of Nolte in the case makes matters even more vexing. The cast includes Melanie Griffith (as Nolte’s wife), Treat Williams, Jennifer Connelly, Daniel Baldwin, Andrew McCarthy, John Malkovich, and an uncredited Bruce Dern. If some of the plot twists are predictable, the performances and dialogue do plenty to make up for them. This has craft, feeling, and atmosphere you can taste. (JR)

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