Monday, May 13, 2013

the Directors: William Friedkin

There’s an unevenness to William Friedkin’s career that I find fascinating. By his own admission, the man has made some pretty bad films. But he’s also responsible for some of the most noted classics in film history. It’s such a bold dichotomy of great vs. crap that I can’t help but be intrigued.

As of late, Friedkin has gone through a kind of impromptu transformation, redefining his career with daring pictures that stay ingrained in your mind, for better or worse.

In addition to his work on screen, Friedkin has always been frank about discussing his own career. He’s quick to point out his failures, his successes, and his lasting frustrations. I respect the hell out of his frankness, which, thankfully, is a trait that manages to bleed into much of his work.

Good Times (1967)
I feel it’s appropriate to begin my analysis of Friedkin’s first film with a disclaimer. For better or worse, William Friedkin is a man who tells the truth. He’s honest about his successes, and candid about his filmic misfires. For example, he openly discloses that the only reason he made his first few films was to get familiar with the filmmaking process. He didn’t choose to make Good Times, he says, certain people who liked his early documentaries did.

My point is, while Good Times is a forgettable Sonny and Cher-starring romp that you’re likely to forget the second it’s over, that’s mainly because the people behind it weren’t, well, fully behind it. (For the record, the movie is about the famed couple trying to find the proper material that will allow them to break into the film business.) I’m not making excuses for Good Times, but it’s an experiment by a guy who wanted to try something new. I appreciate the effort, but, sadly, not much else. D

The Birthday Party (1968)
Moving swiftly into the world of heavy drama, Friedkin’s next film was an adaptation of a Harold Pinter play about a man who is literally haunted by his past. In the film, boarding house resident, Stanley (Robert Shaw) is visited by two guys who, for reasons unknown, fuck with Stanley endlessly. The two men tell Stanley’s landlord that they would like to help plan Stanley’s birthday party, even though it isn’t his birthday. The modest party, which takes up much of the film’s running time, is a perpetual spiral into one man’s inner madness. We have no idea why these two men are so hell bent on ruining Stanley’s life, but ruin it do they ever.

Robert Shaw, delivering a bravado performance of sheer torment, carries the film singlehandedly. Sure, there are parts of the movie that lag, but the mystery surrounding its central storyline is compelling. Think of The Birthday Party as a sort of lesser-accomplished Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. B-

The Night They Raided Minsky’s (1968)
The Night They Raided Minsky’s is the type of film that is simply too dull to provoke anything other than indifference. It tells the story of an innocent Amish girl who moves to New York City right as burlesque dancing is taking off. Despite her admitted lack of talent, the girl gets a job at Minsky’s Burlesque club, and a love triangle soon emerges between her and two men from the show (including a monotonous Jason Robards).

Let me put it this way, after Friedkin was shown a rough cut of the film, he famously said it was “the biggest piece of crap I’d ever worked on.” Hard to disagree. D

The Boys in the Band (1970)
The Boys in the Band is a great example of a film I don’t necessarily like, but respect the hell out of. The film was based on an off-Broadway play about a group of gay men who assemble in a New York loft to celebrate one of their birthdays. As the night progresses and the alcohol consumption increases, tempers flare and friendships are tested. Guilt, resentment and judgment own the night.

Now, at nearly two hours, The Boys in the Band feels long. It’s slow, nearly methodical pace takes its time getting to the point, which is a serious test on our attention span. However, it is important to note that this film did what very few others had the audacity to do at the time, it openly discussed homosexuality in America. In fact, if nothing else, The Boys in the Band is still remembered as a pioneer of the gay cinema movement, which I respect dearly. It provoked controversy, ignored taboos and asked tough questions. I’ll let you be the judge as it if the film is worthy or not, but its cause is definitely essential. B-

The French Connection (1971)
Two main questions surround William Friedkin’s career, the first being: where the hell did The French Connection come from? How did the guy who made four seemingly forgotten films manage to create a Best Picture-winning crime masterpiece? The answer? Passion and determination.

The film tells the mostly true story of two New York Narcotics Detectives and their obsession at solving a case involving a huge import of heroin. At the center of the film is Gene Hackman, who plays the vengeful Popeye Doyle with enough fury to last an entire career. Rewatching this film, it’s obvious that Hackman was going for broke. He was on the cusp of breaking it big as an actor, and damn if The French Connection wasn’t a huge risk that paid off.

At the time, Friedkin was a young filmmaker angry with the system. He’d produced a series of films to various (if not nonexistent) degrees of success, and with The French Connection, he let all of his frustrations boil over. The film is dark, gritty, and raw. Friedkin shot much of the movie on the fly, without permits or permission. He didn’t have much more than a camera, a vision, and a small group of dedicated believers. And, sometimes, I suppose that’s all you need. A+

The Exorcist (1973)
Following his Oscar-winning success of The French Connection, Friedkin found himself able to make any film he wanted. So, leave it to a guy as ballsy as Friedkin to attempt to tackle a genre that was completely new to him.

The result speaks for itself, as The Exorcist is one of the defining horror films of cinematic history. With am unwavering dedication to realism, Friedkin crafted a universally terrifying film that still works (in Every. Single. Way.) to this day. One of the best compliments I can pay an older movie is that it doesn’t feel dated all these years later. Don’t get me wrong, The Exorcist looks like it was made in the early ‘70s, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way. The film hasn’t dated one bit: it haunts and captivates just as much now as I’m sure it did then. It’s funny, the two films Friedkin is remembered for most were made back-to-back, which is significant because they are so incredibly different. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but for me, The Exorcist always ranks highest among Friedkin’s body of it. Simply put, it is his masterpiece. A+

Sorcerer (1977)
In keeping with his status as one of the most audacious filmmakers of the time, Friedkin followed up his two hits with a remake of a film that is widely considered one of the best ever made. Now, if I may be so bold, I actually prefer the episodic structure of Friedkin’s film to the more expansive narrative of The Wages of Fear. Make no mistake, Henri-Georges Clouzot made the better film, but Sorcerer definitely sits well against it.

Now, Friedkin’s film was criminally ignored upon its release, and remains an overlooked marvel to this day. What went wrong? It had the great misfortune of being released just one week before a little film called Star Wars. It’s a shame that Sorcerer fell so deeply in the George Lucas’ shadow, as it ranks among the finest tales of obsession Friedkin has ever crafted. A-

The Brink’s Job (1978)
If the first question surrounding Friedkin’s career ponders where The French Connection came from, the second would be – what the hell happened to William Friedkin’s career?

After creating three marvelous films (one of which, admittedly, nobody saw) Friedkin has since fallen into hit or miss obscurity. From here on out, some of his films work (and work damn well) while others are forgettable bores or laughable duds.

The Brink’s Job tells the true story of the men who successfully robbed the Brink’s Building in Boston in 1950. With a great cast including Peter Falk, Peter Boyle, Warren Oates and Paul Sorvino, The Brink’s Job manages to stand out slightly better than some of the Friedkin’s lesser films, but it’s certainly nothing to flip over. C

Cruising (1980)
One of the most obvious suggestions of Friedkin as a pioneering provocateur is the fact that he was able to get Cruising made in 1980. The film is about an undercover cop (Al Pacino, in one of his best, most overlooked performances) trying to find a serial murderer of gay men. Because the murderer tracks S&M, leather-clad gay bars for his victims, Pacino is forced to cruise the same establishments in hopes of finding him.

I watched Cruising for the first time last year, and kept asking Wait, they actually did that? In short, this is a risky movie that disregards social convention and pushes everything to the limit. Upon its release it was incorrectly labeled as homophobic, which is frankly nonsense. The movie is in no way a critique of homosexuality, but rather another ingenious depiction of obsession through Friedkin’s eyes. If anything, I respect it for depicting a world I knew nothing about, with such remorseless candor. A-

Deal of the Century (1983)
Sadly, this one is pretty much a convoluted mess from start to finish. Something about a new fighter warplane that can pilot itself, and how Chevy Chase’s arms dealer wins a contract to sell millions worth of the planes. Gregory Hines shows up as Chase’s friend who is also suffering a religious crisis. And then there’s Sigourney Weaver, as the widow of the man who originally owned the contract Chase won.

So, yeah, Deal of the Century is a laughably over complicated film that aims for satire, but peaks (at best) at utter indifference. I watched it once on cable and haven’t the slightest desire to revisit it. D-

To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)
To Live and Die in L.A. might be the most polarizing film of Friedkin’s career. Seriously, the fan base for this crime saga is filled with crazily enthusiastic, die hard fans. The people who love this film, love this film. The people who don’t like it simply disregard it as a French Connection knock off.

Me? I dig it. I dig the synthesized music, the ridiculous outfits, the big hair (really, this is one of the most ‘80s-feeling movies ever made), and, moreover, I dig the unpredictability of William Friedkin at his best. The film tells the story of a rogue cop determined to find the money counterfeiter who killed his partner. And within any given scene, it’s nearly impossible to predict how it’s all going to end. A fascinating introductory sequence (in which Friedkin hired actual counterfeiters to consult on the process of creating fake money), a thrilling chase scene and one hell of a shocking conclusion all help make for one damn fine cop thriller. A-

Rampage (1987)
In Rampage, a lawyer (Michael Biehn) helps catch a serial killer who invades peoples’ homes and drinks the blood of his victims. Once the young killer is caught, Biehn is hell bent on getting the creep a death sentence. While it’s always a pleasure to watch Biehn flex his raging badassery, Rampage is nothing more than a generic courtroom thriller. Props, however, should be given to the film’s legal scenes, which are some of the most laughably hyperbolic (and, it must be said, purely entertaining) courtroom scenes in the history of cinema. They’re really out there. D+

The Guardian (1990)
Oh Jesus, let me see if I can get this one right. A kind, middle-aged babysitter is motivated to kidnap the infants she looks after, so that she can feed the babies to a… tree. A tree that follows the woman around wherever she goes, because she actually is the tree. Or… something. As I noted earlier, Friedkin is always quick to point out that he has made some very bad films. And although he rarely suggests which films specifically he dislikes, I’m fairly certain The Guardian is chief among them. It’s just awful. F

Blue Chips (1994)
After taking a short break from directing, Friedkin returned with a film unlike any he’s made before or since. In Blue Chips, a college basketball coach with a temper of fire (played brilliantly by Nick Nolte) is persuaded to recruit new players by paying them off with cash, homes, cars, and other various gifts. He gets the team he wants, and as he’s taking them far in a winning season, a few people close to the team get their wits about them, and start tracking the money.

In addition to Nolte, J.T. Walsh, Mary McDonnell, Shaquille O'Neal (yep), and Ed O’Neill, give excellent performances that make Blue Chips immensely enjoyable. It doesn’t necessarily feel like a Friedkin film, but it’s a fun one all the same. B

Jailbreakers (1994)
Jailbreakers is a B-movie Bonnie and Clyde in which the good girl falls for the bad guy, and the two embark on a crime spree en route to Mexico. It’s poorly acted, clumsily staged and holds the rare distinction of being the least convincing period piece I’ve ever seen. Granted, my only idea of what the ‘50s looked like are a composite of what I’ve seen on film and television, but Jailbreakers is just off. It feels and looks like 1994, not 1950. Sadly, that’s the least of its problems. F

Jade (1995)
Jade is an erotic thriller about a conniving woman (played by the impossibly sexy Linda Fiorentino) trying to prove to her ex lover (David Caruso) that she had nothing to do with a recent murder. It’s a healthy cross between To Live and Die in L.A. and Basic Instinct, one with genuine thrills, cheesy set pieces, and the ability to be in on its own joke. Better cops-vs.-femme fatale movies have been made, but Jade is a perfectly decent movie that fits snuggly in the middle of Friedkin’s body of work. B

12 Angry Men (1997)
I actually saw this made for TV remake before watching Sidney Lumet’s classic masterpiece. And although I was young when I saw it, boy was I blown away. Things are more or less the same as in Lumet’s film, save a color picture and a handful of colorful words. Jack Lemmon steps into the Henry Fonda role, and is backed by an amazing supporting cast including James Gandolfini, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Ossie Davis, and most notably, George C. Scott. This 12 Angry Men is a faithful adaptation, while still managing to stand on its own. In fact, Friedkin’s film does what any decent remake should: it motivates those unknown to seek out the original film. And for that, I am extremely grateful. A-

Rules of Engagement (2000)
I’ve listened to every DVD commentary William Friedkin has recorded. I’ve watched interviews, read his memoir, and from what I can gather, William Friedkin considers Rules of Engagement the best film of his career. Self praise like that will get me to watch anything from a filmmaker I respect so much. And thankfully, Rules of Engagement is a worthy testament to Friedkin’s personal affections.

After a rescue mission in Yemen forces commanding officer Terry Childers (Samuel L. Jackson) to order his troops to kill a large crowd of men, women and children, Childers is put on trial for murder. Childers says everyone in the crowd had guns, but the United States government disagrees. Coming to Childers’ judicial defense is his longtime friend/war buddy Hays Hodges (Tommy Lee Jones). The two battle the system while battling old war demons within themselves. The film is at times over the top in its patriotism (and courtroom fury), but I’ve always been drawn to it. Also, any film that makes such good use of Guy Pearce’s talents (who here plays the New York-born prosecuting attorney) is automatically lent a favorable eye. B+

The Hunted (2003)
I love The Hunted. I love watching a crazed Benicio Del Toro mask his sanity by killing hunters for sport. I love watching Tommy Lee Jones’ gruff countryman track his best pupil via footprints and broken branches. I love the absurdly long climatic fight (and the insanely badass weapon preparation that precedes it). I love how the film gets endlessly compared to First Blood, when Friedkin’s film is infinitely superior. But most of all, I love how fun The Hunted feels.

It’s short, to the point, and serious without really taking itself too seriously. Del Toro, riding high off the success of his Traffic Oscar win, is quietly brilliant as an ex soldier lost in his own PTSD. The Hunted is the kind of film I can put on aimlessly and watch with little consequence. It’s silly yet sincere, bizarre yet amusing. Also, Johnny Cash’s bookended contributions really help encapsulate the overall tone of the picture. B+

Bug (2006)
I credit Bug as William Friedkin’s personal reinvention of his career. It perfectly sets the tone for where the man wants to take the third act of his vocation. Set mostly in one shitty motel room, Bug chronicles one woman’s swift spiral into inner madness. After white trash bartender Agnes (Ashley Judd) meets loner Peter (Michael Shannon) the two form a tender relationship based on mutual loss. They have sex (or rather, mate) and soon after, Peter is convinced that microscopic bugs have entered his bloodstream.

The bugs (which are never seen outside of Peter’s mind) are merely a catalyst for Agnes’ dread. She’s a woman who needs something to latch onto, and Peter’s insanity was first in line. The film, which is based on Tracey Lett’s off-Broadway play, is a series of extended scenes of mania, which result in as mind-fucked a third act as anything Friedkin has put on screen. Once you’ve seen it, you’ll never forget it. A-

Killer Joe (2012)
If Bug contains one of Friedkin’s most infamous third acts, then Killer Joe certainly features the most notorious third act of his oeuvre. One of the best compliments I can pay Killer Joe is that it just feels so damn… nasty. Which was precisely Friedkin’s goal. It’s a cruel and authentic depiction of white trash, shitkicker America that is indulgent yet deliciously spot on. In no way is this film for everyone (its NC-17 rating is indicative of that), but for sick sons of bitches like me, it is a perfect slice of redneck macabre.

After a father and son hire a police officer to murder their ex wife/mother, things go very wrong very quickly. Unable to pay Killer Joe (a career-defining Matthew McConaughey) in full, young Dottie (Juno Temple) is offered as collateral. Joe and Dottie’s relationship is eventful to say the least, spawning widespread family panic fueled by jealousy, greed and blood lust.

For now until the end of time, Killer Joe will always be remembered for its inventive use of fast food in its final act. Again, once you’ve seen it, it’ll never leave you. Which is great if you enjoy the film, and dreadful if you do not. A

In Summation
The French Connection
The Exorcist
Killer Joe

To Live and Die in L.A.
12 Angry Men

The Birthday Party
The Boys in the Band
Blue Chips
Rules of Engagement
The Hunted

The Brink’s Job

Just Plain Bad
Good Times
The Night They Raided Minsky’s
Deal of the Century
The Guardian


  1. Well I've only seen his "masterful" stuff but yes, they are enough to make me certain that he must be a fantastic director. I really have to watch The Birthday Party (English major taking the easy way out etc.)

    1. Hey if you've seen his masterful stuff, then you're well on your way. Ha, have fun with The Birthday Party. It's actually pretty damn intense.

  2. I'm a big follower of Mark Kermode and he is also very fascinated with the work of Friedkin (besides the fact that he thinks The Exorcist is the greatest film in the history of cinema). I need to check out more of his stuff especially The French Connection.

    1. I'd really love to read Kermode's book on The Exorcist - I just love how passionate that dude is about the movie. I think reading his text would only make me appreciate the movie more.

      Definitely check out The French Connection when you can. It's great.

    2. Yeah it's been on my list for awhile and Kermode made mini-documentaries about both French Connection and Exorcist which I'll probably end up checking out as well.

    3. Oh damn, I didn't know about the docs. Definitely going to check those out too.

  3. It's weird cause I've only seen Friedkin's work from the 80s (with the exception of DoTC) and from the 00s (I saw The Exorcist way too long ago for me to claim I've "seen" it), and I agree that it is very uneven. I actually thought Rampage was decent enough, but I agree that the likes of Cruising is underrated. I'm a little surprised you dug Jade though since almost everything I've heard and read about it was that it was a total stinker - I might have to reevaluate seeing that one.
    I remember seeing Bug back when it was first released on DVD (not knowing anything about it or anyone in it) simply based on the cover on the DVD and boy was my mind blown when I saw that movie. I hold it as Friedkin's best (of his work that I've seen). I just think every performance in that film is amazing. Shannon is at the top of his game there and is probably the most bonkers I've seen him. I just can't help but love that movie.

    1. I like Jade for the same reason I like most any script written by Joe Eszterhas - it's trashy, but with full knowledge of its own smut. By no means great, but definitely fun.

      Bug really is a tremendous and ballsy film, really glad you like that one. Definitely check out The French Connection and The Exorcist when you get a chance.

    2. I actually just watched The French Connection just after reading this article. I can dig it, some parts I wasn't as enthralled by but it was sure a hell of a fun ride.

    3. Nice man, glad you dug it. Movies like that simply were not made in American in 1971. It really pushed things to the edge.

  4. Hey Alex!

    The American Cinematheque here in Los Angeles just did a mini-retrospective of William Friedkin this past weekend (4 days, 7 films). I went on the opening night (Thurs, May 9th) and watched a double bill of Sorcerer and Crusing. There was a book signing before the event and a Q&A between the films. You are right in that he is frank, and engaging and very funny. He is also a very cool guy in person.

    I enjoyed your overview, as I have only seen a handful of his films. Let me tell you, if you haven't seen Sorcerer on the big screen: it is INTENSE!! We applauded after the bridge scene.

    I'm seeing the Exorcist tonight for the first time. This screening is unrelated to the retrospective, as it was screened on Sat. the 10th. But Linda Blair is scheduled to appear, which should be cool.

    Thanks again!

    1. Hey Jonathan... wow. Just... wow. I am so insanely jealous that you got to see two of the great Friedkin films on the big screen, attend a book signing and meet the man himself in person. That is just awesome man. Congrats!

      I would love to see Sorcerer on the big screen. I bet that bridge scene kills.

      Hope your Exorcist screening was a blast. Come back and let me know how you liked it!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    2. Thanks for the congrats!!

      The Exorcist screening was great. Friedkin was there as well to introduce and do a Q&A with Linda Blair. Both were wonderful.

      As far as the movie itself: I enjoyed it. The sound design was awesome, as were the performances and cinematography. The exorcism scene was amazing! Though I was never scared (but I was disturbed at times), I can see why it's considered as one of the scariest films ever.

    3. Friedkin AND Blair... wow man. And it was your FIRST. TIME. Seeing it?! What a way to see a great film, you know?

      I've actually never been scared by it either. Disturbed, yes; mortified, sure; but I suppose not exactly scared. Either way, I love everything about it.

      Thanks for stopping by again!

  5. I've only seen a few films from William Friedkin like The French Connection, To Live & Die in L.A., Blue Chips, Jade, 12 Angry Men, and The Hunted. With the exception of Jade despite that great car chase, I like what I've seen from as I'm eager to check out his more recent films as well as the new remastered print for The Sorcerer that is going to come out. I also want to note that he was one of the very first established filmmakers to shoot a music video in Laura Branigan's "Self Control" which is a freaky but awesome video.

    1. I can't wait to see that remastered print of Sorcerer that he's working on. I'm sure he'll do some great things with it.

      Okay, I need to watch "Self Control" ASAP... I had no idea Friedkin directed that. Thanks for the info!

    2. Wow, I had no idea that Friedkin directed "Self Control". I always thought that video stood out from the pack back in the 80s (it'll feel extraordinarily dated now, but I loved it then).

    3. Even though it's dated now, it definitely does still stand out. Great stuff there.

  6. The French Connection and The Exorcist are excellent, and I enjoyed Killer Joe and The Hunted. That's all I've seen of Friedkin's work, though. I need to see more of his films, especially Bug and Sorcerer.

    1. You've definitely seen some amazing ones. I love the hell out of Bug, and Sorcerer is genuinely one of the best remakes ever.

  7. Have you read the extensive conversation between Friedkin and George Stevens, Jr.? Good stuff, and there's an awesome anecdote about how he chose Linda Blair for The Exorcist. If you're not familiar I'll share it as best I can, it's pretty great. He's truly frank, almost to a fault.

    1. I haven't read that yet, but I really need to. If you have a link to it, feel free to post it here.

      Thanks for the info!

  8. I haven't seen any of his "Eh's" or "Just Plain Bads" That's probably a good thing. I find Friedkin to be a very frightening director. Like he always shows me something I shouldn't be watching, but I can't look away.

    1. Yeah, that is a good thing actually. Ha.

      Frightening... that's a really good word for him. It all goes back to his audacity. The dude isn't afraid to try anything.

  9. I'm woefully unfamiliar with Friedkin's work, having only seen "The Exorcist" and "Killer Joe" - both of which I loved - so this is a very helpful document to help me investigate the rest of his filmography (though I somehow wasn't aware that he directed "The French Connection" until now!).

    "Killer Joe" is a great, greasy film - I love how, with the possible exception of Joseph Cooper himself, everyone is just astoundingly stupid and easily manipulated. And that ending! I have a lot of respect for films that pick the exact right moment to roll credits, and "Killer Joe" is undeniably one of them.

    1. I love Killer Joe for the exact reasons you mentioned - it's greasy, its characters are ignorant as hell... it's just a damn different film.

      DEFINITELY check out The French Connection when you can. It's '70s filmmaking at its finest.

  10. I was going to write and say that I'd just seen The Exorcist and The French Connection, but then I remembered that he also directed Blue Chips and Jade. Those aren't really that exciting, though Nolte makes the former interesting. He's had such a diverse career.

    I love The French Connection and am still amazed when younger movie fans are underwhelmed by it. Beyond the car chase, it's also just a great police film. Hackman has rarely been better. I like the Exorcist and admire what Friedkin did with it, but I'm still a little cold towards it. It's been a while since I've seen it, so that might be part of it. Nice job!

    1. Thanks!

      He's had a diverse career indeed. He really isn't afraid to tackle any genre or subject. And I respect that.

      I'm with you all the way on The French Connection - I suppose it's too... slow for some younger viewers today...? I'm not sure. But damn, it is such an immensely engaging film, I love it to death.

  11. What a strange, strange career. I know a lot of filmmakers—the majority of them through history, probably—tend to genre-hop a lot (whether from choice or necessity, probably usually the latter), but when you lay out Friedkin's filmography like that, somehow it looks odder than most such filmmakers' oeuvres would. Well, apart from Bob Clark's, maybe. THERE's a truly baffling career for you...

    Can't wait for the Sorcerer reissue. I saw it on the big screen about ten years ago (with Friedkin in attendance), and have been bummed ever since that there's no good home video release.

    1. I hadn't seen many of his older films before researching this post, but as I made my way through his films, I was stunned by how different they were. Very very odd career, for better or worse.

      I'm seriously pumped for the Sorcerer rerelease. I know he's been working hard on it.

      Bob Clark, ha, jesus. From Black Christmas to Porky's to... Baby Geniuses.

  12. This is a great post...I just started reading Friedkin's memoir, so I've been wanting to dive into some of his other work. This will help a great deal...

    I can't freaking wait for Sorcerer (well, I've been waiting for decades, so I guess a little while longer can't hurt). I expect it'll come to the Lightbox here in Toronto, but if not I'll be ecstatic to pick up the BluRay. Wages Of Fear is all kinds of awesome, so I'm really curious to see how Friedkin spins it. Your comments make me even more so.

    I also need to see Cruising straight away. One of the documentaries I saw at the recent Hot Docs Film Festival was called "Interior. Leather Bar." and it's supposed to be an attempt to recreate the missing 40 minutes of footage from that film (ie. the stuff they had to cut). It ends up being very different than you would expect, but it made me need to see Cruising.

    I've also long wanted to The Boys In The Band. Have you seen the great documentary The Celluloid Closet? It's a history of gays and lesbians in film (anyone interested in any kind of documentary on film should see it) and Boys In The Band is a central and pivotal film that gets a lot of discussion. It does look like it'll be a tad slow (not in the good way), but I've been to track it down.

    I'd had no interest in Jade or Rules Of Engagement until now. You're gonna make me watch them aren't you? Damn it.

    I'm slightly curious about Jailbreakers simply because it stars Shannen Doherty. I'm not a shallow person, but I always thought she was exceedingly attractive.

    Killer Joe is great because it makes you feel so very awful for having enjoyed it. You feel a bit defiled after watching it. Emile Hirsch almost ruins it for me, but the rest is so grimy and grubby and slimy and slovenly that it more than makes up for him.

    1. Cruising still gets a lot of shit, but I thought it was remarkable. Definitely polarizing.

      Ha, well, you check out Jade and Rules of Engagement, and I'l hunt down The Celluloid Closet. That sounds like my kind of doc.

      Your comments about Killer Joe are So. True. It's almost as if we shouldn't like it, and feel bad for doing so. But it's just so... appealing. But how?

  13. Oh, and while I was looking up Jailbreakers, I found that it was part of a 10 episode TV series called Rebel Highway where each episode was a standalone full-length movie. Here's a list of the directors:

    Robert Rodriguez
    Uli Edel (Christiane F; Baader Meinhof Complex)
    John Milius
    Joe Dante
    John McNaughton
    Allan Arkush (Rock 'n Roll High School)
    Mary Lambert (Pet Sematary)
    William Friedkin
    Ralph Bakshi
    Jonathan Kaplan

    What the what?! I'd never heard of this till now...I'm betting the quality wasn't overly high on most of the episodes, but that's a pretty interesting list of names.

    1. I never knew that either! But you know, Rodriguez's Roadracers is very thematically similar to Jailbreakers, so that makes perfect sense. (For the record, Roadracers is Rodriguez's personal favorite film of his, and is MUCH better than Jailbreakers.)

      Thanks for this info!

  14. Love these posts! Friedkin is someone I need to see more of, but at least the three I have seen all made your "masterful" list. I've got Bug queued up soon on Netflix Instant, so I'm looking forward to that.

  15. So I've seen Killer Joe and my thoughts are: ....?///!///?.... It was either one of the worst films I ever saw or it was a great film. Either way I loved it (this sounds sick). The third act and Matthew were great. I feel the need to go to KFC. I really want to see Cruising, To Live and Die in L.A., Jade, Rules of Engagement, The Hunted (is it better than First Blood?) and especially Bug, The French Connection and Sorcerer ASAP.

    1. Glad you're such a fan of his work. I love a lot of it too. And Killer Joe... man, that's such a fucked up movie, but I do really love it. Matthew McConaughey is so perfect in it.

  16. Friedkin also did great TV stuff in the 1980s and 90s...
    Take a look at "Nightcrawlers" (from "The Twilight Zone" in 1985) and "On a Deadman's Chest" (from "Tales from the Crypt" in 1992)!

    1. I love his Tales from the Crypt episode. Need to check that one out again. Thanks for the comment.