The plot of "L.A. Confidential" is a maze of sordidness that leads from the Mexican-bashing imbroglio to a mysterious multiple homicide in a diner to the activities of a wealthy pimp/pornographer (David Strathairn), who provides a special, kinky service: girls who've been "cut" by a plastic surgeon to resemble movie stars. When the diner murders are pinned on some inner-city blacks, we see the racism of the cops in all its casual ugliness. Ellroy is sly about setting this fully ripened immorality in the past, knowing -- with a wink -- that he's also depicting the present. Like most of Ellroy's novels, "L.A. Confidential" is a dark-side-of-the-moon reverie, a neo-Chandler pulp fantasia that wears its rotting organs on the outside. The movie, directed with feral authority by Curtis Hanson (who cowrote the script with Brian Helgeland), weaves an underground web of cops, criminals, politicians, tabloid blackmailers, and,of course, a femme fatale: Kim Basinger as a lonely hooker who works as Strathairn's "Veronica Lake." This is the first film that has truly gotten Ellroy on screen, and, in many ways, it's a sleeker and more pleasurable experience than his hard-boiled-bebop prose. With its plot that zigs and zags like knife slashes, its cynicism stoked to the melting point, the movie brings the thrill of corruption crackingly to life.