To Live and Die in L.A.

To Live and Die in L.A. ★★★★½

William Friedkin’s thematic extension/reversal of The French Connection with gritty 70s semi documentary given to 80s synthetic artifice (all warm colors, decadent behavior, modernist architecture). This would be a gem for Robby Mueller great cinematography alone. It is pure pulp, a dance of seduction and death between cinema’s toughest mannequin (William Petersen) and an ambiguous capitalist zombie (Willem Dafoe). A tale of bad crooks and even worse cops that plays against the usual hyper competence of the genre with a comic series of blunders and failure (I don’t think Petersen does a single thing that actually helps him catch Defoe the whole movie). It starts around Christmas but the only thing shared here is brutality and obsession. It is one of the most straightforward among Friedkin’s crime films, yet it is predicted in the idea of one cop passing a set of self-destructive values to another time and time again. Forgery isn’t just the profession of the main antagonist, but the film large aesthetic strategy, everything is a fake of one manner or another. Violence here is always high sexualized even something as explicit as a shot to the head has the power of sexual release, just a series of hyper-masculine power games in the name of law and profit. Friedkin’s misanthropy has also rarely been this extreme, the only amount of sympathy goes to the women, for the men it is just a fast-paced rush to hell.

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