In LA Noire, there are a couple of points where the game flirts with what must be one of the most maddening aspects of crime, and something you rarely see in pat episodic TV shows: sometimes you can’t know who committed a crime, because people lie and evidence doesn’t always tell the whole story. Unfortunately, LA Noire pulls its punches in this regard. It only dabbles in contrived ambiguity so it can set up a later reveal.
If I thought documentaries were real movies (they aren’t), it would bring to mind Paradise Lost, a pair of fascinating documentaries about the 1993 murder of three children in West Memphis, Arkansas. There’s a bit of an agenda behind director Joe Berlinger’s movies (the first made in 1996, the follow-up in 2000), but he doesn’t let it get in the way of telling the story and leaving you as unsatisfied as you should be. Probably the best cinematic example of this is David Fincher’s chilling Zodiac, an icily detached dramatization of the search for a serial killer in the 70s who (spoiler!) was never caught. I would have loved to have seen a little of that uncertainty and helplessness in LA Noire.
Most recently, I stumbled across an Australian movie called Noise, starring no one you’ve ever heard of and not to be confused with an American movie called Noise, starring Tim Robbins. To this day, I have no idea how the Australian Noise made its way into my Netflix queue. It just showed up one day and I had the good fortune to start watching it without knowing whether it was a horror movie, a romantic comedy, or a documentary (which isn’t a real movie anyway).
Noise is an unsettling experience from the opening scene to the final shot, but it’s an unforgettable study of how a crime unfolds and resolves, told from the perspective of a victim and a police officer, and the community they inhabit. It’s creepy, stylish, as unmistakably Australian as Picnic at Hanging Rock, genre bending, and flat-out unforgettable. For better or worse — you may very well hate it — it’s one of those movies that will bounce around inside your head as sure as the ringing in your ears after a gunshot.
Noise is available on DVD and Netflix’s Instant Watch .