Every film Roger Ebert has given a four-star rating. This is an ongoing project.
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.
Petersen's inability to play a stone-cold badass makes his psychosis even more alarming,
the more ridiculous parts of the soundtrack make this feel even more creepy (rather than laughable),
I was thinking i'd give this 3.5 or 4 stars because some of the editing (especially in the first half) bothered me,
but then the last 10-15 minutes happened and I feel pretty
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…
The Good: Much like Michael Mann's Manhunter, William Friedkin's To Live and Die in L.A feels like a total product of its time. Between star William Peterson and a score by Wang Chung, I actually found myself forgetting from time to time that Mann didn't direct this film. The film is dark, following the investigation by two secret service agents (Peterson, John Pankow) into the work of a counterfeiter (Willem Dafoe) and all of its fallout. Peterson's Richard Chance is an excellently complicated main character, exploiting co-workers, informants (including Darlanne Fluegel's Ruth Lanier), and his own authority to do whatever he deems necessary. Is it in his nature? Or is that what the dark corners…
I adore this film. Really, really adore it. I adore the brilliant cinematography and the Wang Chung soundtrack. I adore the performances, particularly by Willem Dafoe and William Petersen. I adore the way Friedkin concentrates on the decaying industrial edges of Los Angeles. I love the almost complete lack of morality of most of the characters. I love that there's more casual male nudity than female nudity, including a full frontal shot of William Petersen. I love the fucking brilliant car chase. I just flat out love it all.
This didn't quite connect with me. I've always heard so many good things about this film and I love Friedkin as a director. I just felt like the characters and story weren't fully fleshed out and the script didn't have much focus. I did however really enjoy the visuals of the city of L.A. Good stunt work and a killer car chase also added to my enjoyment. As a Friedkin film, I would rank this pretty low on his filmography as it didn't have the gravitas and swagger that usually comes with his directing style. While there was nothing terribly wrong with the film, I can just say it barely gets a pass due to the cinematography and portrayal of L.A. in an interesting light.
More like To Live and Die in Long Beach.
A story of the Secret Service's worst agents, featuring an incredible-for-its-day car chase and honest-to-goodness character arcs, both of which have had their edge somewhat dulled by decades of CGI reproductions.
To Live and Die in L.A. is especially adept at being smart and slick while being preposterous often in the same scene. The latter adds a kitschy quality that is endearing in its own right. Much of the dialogue is so knuckleheadedly macho that it simultaneously comes across as earnest and serves as a commentary of sorts on the sort of sleazy macho knuckleheads that populate the film.
Getting past the five minute intro sequence is a bit of a tough pill as our protagonist and soon to be murdered ("...too old for this shit!") partner (with two days left on the job!) defeat an Islamist suicide bomber (as portrayed in a manner one can euphemistically call basic Hollywood). The…
A prime example of how "style over substance" is not necessarily a bad thing.
While the acting and story are merely decent, the film firmly stands on powerful imagery soaked in rich color that lasts long enough to appreciate the action, all the while kept rolling along by the relentless pounding of its 80's-beats soundtrack.
And that ending, man...
I wonder if Friedkin was going through some rough personal stuff while making this.
I started with a top 10 list and decided what the hell lets see how far I can go. Top…