House Logo
Explore categories +

William Friedkin (#110 of 13)

Summer of ’90: The Exorcist III

Comments Comments (...)

Summer of ’90: The Exorcist III

20th Century Fox

Summer of ’90: The Exorcist III

“Georgetown 1990”: A college rowing team trains on the Potomac. Suited-up runners pass by. A tired movie way of introducing life at a big-city university. It’s been done a hundred times to code Harvard. But stay with it. Just a few minutes in, our skepticism about the racing shell turns sour in our mouths as we hear the details of a brutal serial killing, its victim a young boy, crucified on a pair of rowing oars. And that’s not the worst of it.

It’s 20 years after the events of The Exorcist, and, as it turns out, after the grim reign of a monster dubbed the Gemini Killer. Following the college athletics and campus atmospherics of the opening shots, we’re introduced—at first visually only—to Jesuit teacher Joe Dyer (Ed Flanders) and Detective Lieutenant Bill Kinderman (George C. Scott), linked for us to 1970 and to each other in a photograph we see on Kinderman’s desk.

A church is invaded by a howling wind. Statuary eyes open wide. Something very ancient and evil has returned.

Holding Court: Bette Midler in I’ll Eat You Last

Comments Comments (...)

Holding Court: Bette Midler in <em>I’ll Eat You Last</em>
Holding Court: Bette Midler in <em>I’ll Eat You Last</em>

One of the distinguishing features of the dullish theater season has been the rise of the solo show. Last week alone, three opened on Broadway. Producers’ love for the genre makes sense: Running costs tend to be as low as it goes, and even when a one-person show doesn’t feature the best acting, it often has the most acting. And that can be enough to get a Tony. Done right, these shows take theater back to its magical roots, when a shaman would tell a story around a campfire. When they’re vanity projects built on such hoary devices as talking to off-stage characters or writing letters and reading them aloud, they can make theater feel like a dried-up old fossil. Fortunately, most of the ones currently running cast a dazzling spell.

We’ve got Holland Taylor as a persuasive Ann Richards in the enjoyable Ann, her own play about the Texas governor; the one-of-a-kind Alan Cumming captivates in the strenuously inventive one-man Macbeth; Tristan Shurrock stars in his own story Mayday Mayday, about a Humpty Dumpty-like fall from a wall; the thoroughly charming Buyer & Cellar features Michael Urie as an out-of-work actor who gets a job working for Barbra Streisand; and Fiona Shaw stuns as the virgin mother in The Testament of Mary.

Homosocialisms David Greven’s Psycho-Sexual: Male Desire in Hitchcock, De Palma, Scorsese, and Friedkin

Comments Comments (...)

Homosocialisms: David Greven’s Psycho-Sexual: Male Desire in Hitchcock, De Palma, Scorsese, and Friedkin
Homosocialisms: David Greven’s Psycho-Sexual: Male Desire in Hitchcock, De Palma, Scorsese, and Friedkin

In an early scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, the panning camera reveals a framed photograph of a young, smiling blond woman—except, the image is on negative film, which serves as a presumable correlation for disabled protagonist Jeff’s (Jimmy Stewart) outlook on women, which is tested in his gaze and projected desire from a lofty apartment window throughout the film. The well-known premise of Rear Window serves as a basis for David Greven’s Psycho-Sexual: Male Desire in Hitchcock, De Palma, Scorsese, and Friedkin, a provocative monograph that examines often casually dismissed “negative” images of non-normative sexuality, while offering serious reconsideration of not just Hitchcock’s critical legacy as a misogynist filmmaker, but key works within the oeuvres of New Hollywood directors like Martin Scorsese, William Friedkin, and Brian De Palma, the latter of whom receives considerable analysis and discussion in relation to his intertextual engagement with Hitchcock, but also his treatment of women and use of melodrama. Primarily, however, Greven details how these New Hollywood filmmakers “seized upon Hitchcock’s radical decentering of heterosexual male dominance, devising contemporary narratives of heterosexual male ambivalence that allowed for, at time depended on, an investment in same-sex desire as well as an awareness of its dangerous, pernicious seductions.” The end result is a rigorously researched, personal, and passionate work, worthy in style and content of the frenzied films and filmmakers being engaged.

Oscar 2013 Nomination Predictions Adapted Screenplay

Comments Comments (...)

Oscar 2013 Nomination Predictions: Adapted Screenplay
Oscar 2013 Nomination Predictions: Adapted Screenplay

If not bound to have the most impressive lineup, this category may just yield the season’s most deserving win, as Tony Kushner’s script for Lincoln remains miles ahead of the competition, standing, like its subject, in a class by itself. This article is, indeed, intended to outline the predicted nominees, but there are certain Oscar fields whose frontrunner dominates the conversation, and the truth is, Kushner’s path to the podium is even more secured than Daniel Day-Lewis’s. Agog at all the tack-sharp, workplace chattiness, many viewers have employed the term “Sorkinian” when describing Lincoln’s narrative, summing it up as The West Wing for the 19th century. But that analogy doesn’t come close to capturing Kushner’s evenhanded humanism, or his uncanny talents for pacing and characterization, which, together, keep this historical epic as nimble as it is organically populated, filled with individuals who, somehow, seem fully drawn in mere moments. Of course, there’s also the whole laborious research element, which, among other things, saw Kushner whittle his translation of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals down from an initial 500-page draft.

SXSW 2012: Girl Model, Tchoupitoulas, & Killer Joe

Comments Comments (...)

SXSW 2012: <em>Girl Model</em>, <em>Tchoupitoulas</em>, & <em>Killer Joe </em>
SXSW 2012: <em>Girl Model</em>, <em>Tchoupitoulas</em>, & <em>Killer Joe </em>

In tackling the harsh realities of the international modeling industry, Girl Model, David Redmon and A. Sabin’s documentary about a specific corner of the modeling industry, forgoes the expected activist-exposé approach and trains a more intimate eye on a handful of players in order to open up a window into the layers of complexity and self-delusion that make this world turn. Two people figure most prominently in the film: Nadya, a 13-year-old model from Siberia who goes to Tokyo to try to begin a modeling career, and Ashley, an American former model turned scout who discovers Nadya in the first place.

Nadya’s understanding of her financial obligation to her family in embarking on this modeling career doesn’t wipe away the feelings of homesickness and dislocation she feels intensely once she’s in Japan; a tearful phone call she makes to a seemingly uncomprehending mother is heartbreaking to witness. Ashley is, in many ways, the more compelling subject, however. She’s been working within the modeling industry for 15 years now, even though when she was starting out as a model herself she vowed she wouldn’t stay in the industry for this long. Even now, as trapped in the modeling world as she still is, she admits to the filmmakers that she feels no particular passion for it, but that she’s too afraid of trying out a new field to even think about doing something else for a living.

Watching Under the Influence: To Live and Die in L.A.

Comments Comments (...)

Watching Under the Influence: To Live and Die in L.A.
Watching Under the Influence: To Live and Die in L.A.

William Friedkin has had a fascinating—albeit puzzling—career, during which he has directed stunning works: stunning for their brilliance (The French Connection, The Exorcist and Sorcerer); stunning for their effrontery (Cruising and Rampage); and periodically stunning for their ineptitude (Deal of the Century). Yet Friedkin’s works are distinctly his, designated by artistic sincerity, ruthless moral curiosity, abstraction, and aesthetics that impart a sense that what Friedkin imagined has been translated to celluloid without the meddling of others.

After nearly two decades of regarding To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) with a spectrum of emotions ranging from disdain-at-first-sight to qualified enthusiasm, it occurs to me that of all his works, this is the film I have watched and pondered most frequently. No longer do I see it as a shimmering piece of costume jewelry, but a forceful, semi-serious diagnosis of a prevalent human malady: the discrepancy between what we desire, or what we are pleased by, and what we claim to value, not only in life but in cinema.