Cinema: Deep City Blues in New Orleans THE BIG EASY

Directed by Jim McBride; screenplay by Daniel Petrie Jr.

The locals refer to New Orleans as the "Big Easy," which is a nice, possibly ironic phrase to apply to a city that -- seafood and wrought iron aside -- appears to be as bustling, gritty and crime ridden as any other postmodern metropolis. It also makes a sharp and catchy movie title, and, finally, a misleading one.

For The Big Easy is actually tense with concern over what might be called the little easys, those minor, tolerated corruptions that have become a seemingly ineradicable part of our professional and public life. Especially the latter, and especially among police officers. What...