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…
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.
To Live and Die in L.A. is William Friedkin's hardboiled crime noir about corruption & survival in the city of no angels. In the 80s, William L. Petersen was the sharpest looking badass cop since Dirty Harry. With his shirts left half open & kick ass leather jacket, he's one suave rebel. Willem Dafoe's villain is money in the bank, literally, as a counterfeiter. Sergio Leone once said that Dafoe had the face of a killer. I agree, his offbeat looks & heavily mannered voice make him perfect for playing villains. As far as sleazy cronies go, take your pick. Dean Stockwell as a devious lawyer & John Turturro brilliantly playing an incarcerated henchman. Only Friedkin could direct the 2nd best car chase ever…
Friedkin films always feel like kinetic art films with just a bit too much extra stuff happening in the margins. Eventually, this extra stuff begins to take over and ends up bringing the entire picture down with it.
There is an incredibly bracing car chase that goes on so long and gets so intense that it finally clicked with me that William Petersen (nobody plays dark cop like him) is the film's real villain. He is a total megalomaniac and clearly not interested in "protecting citizens", or whatever his job title says. He is doing all of this for the thrill, which makes him to my eyes more sick than Dafoe. Alternate title: HOLES IN FOREHEADS.
For a movie that throws every cop-movie troupe into the script it is surprising fresh.
Gritty noirish thriller with everyone on top form, especially the director Friedkin. It also features one of the best car chases in cinematic history.
A great example of gritty, sex-infused noir that is at once timeless and a hyper-stylized relic of the 1980's. From the Wang Chung score to neon intro credits, the muted oranges and greys of L.A. to the shoulder pads and leather jackets of the characters, this film is as 80's as you can get without building a DeLorean.
The narrative is complicated, but compact. There's really only two characters (Chance and Masters) and the rest are merely cannon fodder for Friedkin's breakneck meat grinder of a story. The erosion of the line between good and evil, the hum of sex throughout the entire movie all the way until the final scene, and the way it's made clear that we shouldn't…
It's the thrill of it all.
This is William Friedkin's best film of the 1980's, and essentially a West Coast remake of The French Connection, car chase and all. It would of even been more excelling with a better lead besides the bland William Petersen.
Entertaining, and Willem Defoe plays a great villain, but it's also drenched in a very 80s vibe (and not in a good way) that makes it feel dated at times. It's also rather slight when compared with Friedkin's similar classic The French Connection.
The film is worth watching alone for a "French Connection"-esque car chase. It's pretty kick-ass. The most bizarro moment though is a xenophobic opening that feels incredibly out of place with the rest of the film.
It almost feels like a cliched 80s cop/crime movie, but then you realise; the style, the fashion, the soundtrack, even the dialogue was all here first.
This movie makes The French Connection look like Nancy Drew.
- 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