December 2, 2016No Comments

The French Connection, William Friedkin, 1971

The French Connection is neo-noir police story inspired by real events, which follows the daily work of two NYC cops trailing and finally unveiling a drug smuggling operation from France (!) to the USA. (Did you know that slang for French people is/was “frogs”? So good! )

Life for a cop in this film is by no means glamorous, funny or heroic. It’s shitty, it’s monotonous, it has a lot of waiting time in the car, or out in the cold. 

Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider are a winning pair of cops. Hackman is like a raging bull, volcanic and raw. Scheider is smoother. They’re both drinking in shady bars. They bring a ton of presence to the screen. W. Herzog says that 90% of a director’s job is done by casting well. So true in this case. Hackman’s character is larger than life, an obsessed hound, punching through anything that stands in his way. 

Anxiety inducing avant-garde musical score, atonal jazz, strings, by Don Ellis. 

Features one of cinema’s great chasing scenes, according to the critique at least, where Hackman drives, for real, at 100 km/h, chasing after a suspended train through Brooklyn, on an everything-in-camera terrific action and editing. He crashes in what where real cars with real people going to work; cinema at its craziest.

A genre breaker at the time. Two years later, Friedkin went on to the great Exorcist.  

July 1, 2016No Comments

Sorcerer, William Friedkin, 1977

Sorcerer is the name of a truck, one of two, which are filled with volatile explosives, that 4 men must carry through the jungle from A to B. There’s no alternative for the 4 men as they all carry their own personal explosive history, one is a financial crook, another a terrorist, or a heist-man. 

Film takes some time to take off and comes together around the “bridge scene”, see poster, one that apparently cost 2 million bucks to shoot, and 3 months of production time. It lasts for almost 20 minutes from what I recall. Man against everything. 

Great psychedelic score by Tangerine Dream adds tons to atmosphere.

Shot on location, in the Dominican Republic.

June 9, 2016No Comments

The Exorcist, William Friedkin, 1973

1973′s The Exorcist is a feat, pure high grade quality entertainment. It’s this year’s personal surprise. If you’re anything like me, you always take in disdain the horror genre. Consider it trivial, at best tasteless, at worst straight disgusting. (true, I’ve never seen BabadookPsychowas never a horror story, neither The Others. Or were they? Should I think in writing about what makes a horror horrorish? No.

Although for argument’s sake I’ll say that a horror story follows the strictest conventions in film biz, one of which is the presence of the surreal - supernatural visit. 

Back to The Exorcist: 

  • Scariest moment: a phone ringing out of the blue. Wonderful old school trick, maximum effect for minimum effort.
  • 70′s realism: characters seen at work, having extra-main-story conflicts, family issues, hushed dialogues, humane relationships - friends(!?).
  • you feel the priest might turn the corner of the street and bump into taxi driver Mr. Travis Bickle - the world is that well constructed.
  • Max von Sydow in the house.
  • The Devil has bad manners and bad language, yes, finally, of course! The Devil masturbates with a cross? Would be an angel not to! Great foul language.
  • the characters are mature, and make reasonable mature choices under pressure. Your daughter is kicking and screaming? Of course you go to the doctors for the first 10 times!
  • I loved The Exorcist.

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