I started with a top 10 list and decided what the hell lets see how far I can go. Top…
To Live and Die in L.A.
A federal agent is dead. A killer is loose. And the City of Angels is about to explode.
In director William Friedkin's supercharged thriller, William L. Petersen plays a "hot dog" special agent of the Secret Service who's out to arrest and convict an arrogant counterfeiter (William Dafoe) who has eluded the law for years and who flaunts his success. Dafoe has been asking for a down payment on a sale of bogus bills, but the amount is larger than the secret can authorize Petersen, undercover, to pay to entrap Dafoe in a "sting" operation. Petersen is forced to set up a dangerous plan to steal the advance money from another crook (John Turturro) and use it to buy bogus bills and bust the counterfeiter.As the film winds to its dark and exciting resolution, the distinction between the pursuing law enforcers and the pursued criminals will continue to blur.
"Guess what? Uncle Sam don't give a shit about your expenses. You want bread, fuck a baker."
Removed from the partnering of the other stylish cop picture featuring William Petersen (Manhunter) and whatever feeling you have about Wang Chung (it's probably wrong), this sleaze jam is as deserving of the praise now being bestowed on the first film in tonight's Friedkin double bill: Sorcerer.
Friedkin's continual fascination of the internal struggle between good & evil roars through the grimy & steamy haze of Los Angeles. Petersen's Richard Chance is a thrill junkie, stretching each case, bust, and interpersonal relationship to a breaking point; his nemesis, Willem Dafoe's Rick Masters is an icy artist/counterfeiter who never makes a false move. The image of…
Decades Project: 2/8 of the 80's
"You're working for me now."
Los Angeles. They call it the city of angels, but when dedication turns into obsession the angels protecting the city from its demons begin to look like demons themselves. Richard Chance will do anything it takes to catch the criminal counterfeiter responsible for the death of his last partner—even if it means stealing the money he needs and becoming a criminal himself.
Impeccably minimalist photography (wide angle, long take) from Robby Muller, who would go on to work regularly with greats like Jim Jarmusch, Lars Von Trier, and Wim Wenders. Meticulously crafted montages (evocative cuts, artistic arrangements) which drive the action forward and highlight the contrast between cop and…
Wang Chung: a Chinese expression roughly translating to, "Impose your nihilistic world-view on a cliché-ridden 80s law enforcement procedural, punch-it up with shocking, arthouse cutting and artful use of sound."
Dafoe: Belgian-Congolese for "the foe"
William Petersen: who's he again?
Friedkin car chases > other car chases, because in a Friedkin film everyone's already careening wildly toward death; cars let them do it even faster.
It's taken me a while to get around to watching William Friedkin's L.A. set thriller. It started when I bought a DVD at a bargain basement store and got it home to find it was region 1. Eventually when I did find a copy it was scratched and kept sticking, so I reckoned I was cursed and destined to never to see it. However when another copy fell into my lap, it was fortunately third time lucky.
William Petersen may well have found real celebrity status as Gil Grissom on the universally popular CSI, but he did make some interesting films back in the eighties. Both this and Michael Mann's Manhunter gained cult status as being just that little bit…
Seeing this right after Sorcerer really makes it clear how different a career William Friedkin had in the 80s from what he was doing a decade earlier - this is pure commercial pulp, not just invoking the cliches of the genre but shouting them at the top of its lungs, but as commercial pulp goes it's pretty great. Brutal violence and neon-bright colors have pretty much equal pop, and there's nothing commercial about that ending, nor about Friedkin's still-intact refusal to believe in heroes and villains, even in a story about a hero chasing down a villain.
Nothing that stands out too much, but its got creepy Dafoe and William Petersen maniacally slamming a suitcase into a wall - good enough.
My friend made a list of films that I should watch.
I made a list of films that he should watch.
Getting back into watching this list of films now. This was a cracking thriller, apparently criticised at the time for having no celebrities in it. Bit of an error. No stars doesn't mean a bad film. Useless critics. Anyway, it's a decent buddy cop film (one is good, the other uses questionable tactics), where our protagonists are looking to take down young Willem Defoe and his counterfeit money business. The sequence where he makes the notes looks stupidly realistic and seemingly some of the cash that was made actually made its way into circulation. Whoops.
Cops and robbers done cold, cynical and weird. The ending still blows me away.
After his partner is murdered by a notorious counterfeiter, secret service agent Richard Chance embarks on a relentless campaign to bring him down.
From its very first frame, To Live and Die in L.A. is awash in cliches, rehashing such tired tropes as the doomed partner, the renegade lawman, and the conniving criminal who skillfully skirts the law. Then there's the matter of its aesthetic, a kind of Miami Vice by way of MTV shooting style, coupled with a Wang Chung score which dates it instantly.
Yet despite all that, the film remains quite distinct, due to its strong performances, lively direction, and detached, nihilist tone.
William Peterson is great as Agent Chance, a reckless, adrenaline junkie who doesn't let…
great night-time exteriors, and random bursts of extreme violence.
trivia: also happens to be Robert Yeoman's first major credit (2nd unit)
I saw this a long time ago — when I was too young, really — and didn't appreciate it then. I sure do now. To Live and Die in L.A. is a weird, wild, transgressive film that sometimes is dragged down by what have now become cliches but frequently bursts free of them.
Some observations -
1) William Peterson plays a Secret Service agent. At the beginning of the movie his partner not only says, "I'm getting too old for this shit," but also explicitly says he's only three days from retirement. Guess what happens next.
2) The famous wrong-way-on-the-freeway car chase about three-quarters of the way through is terrific ... thrilling, practical and perfectly shot and edited. I especially…
Filmaço policial de William Friedkin, com uma deliciosa atmosfera oitentista e cheio de coragem (inclusive no fim que dá ao seu protagonista). Há uma sequência envolvendo um roubo e uma perseguição que entra fácil numa lista de grandes momentos do cinema de ação.
To Live and Die in LA is crap. Well-filmed, competently-crafted crap.
The film observes a takedown of Willem Dafoe, who plays a guy who is sinister. He is taken down by a cop, who has no characteristics whatsoever. I can’t even give him a quick label to describe his personality. The script could have only described him as “Man . . . is Male.” He’s a blank canvas in the worst possible way, devoid of any personality. In fact, that last sentence can apply to basically any character in the film that isn't the grimacing Dafoe.
Let’s talk about non-persons. While often avoided for good reason, they can be utilized very well if the audience is embarking on a completely…
- Once Upon a Time in the West
- Assault on Precinct 13
- The Good, The Bad, The Weird
- Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
- Hard Boiled
- About Last Night...
- The Accidental Tourist
- Across the Universe
Every film Roger Ebert has given a four-star rating. This is an ongoing project.
- Out of the Past
- The Maltese Falcon
- Touch of Evil