Time to share an instant film noir classic – and cheer Matthew McConaughey’s summer of amazing acting – and celebrate the Director who has given us so many great movies!
First of all, I LOVE THIS POSTER!
“A totally twisted, deep-fried Texas redneck trailer park murder story.”
I mean, c’mon man! This is a brilliant, bold and brutal movie – and helps cement Matthew McConaughey’s Oscar year!
Welcome back, Billy!
William Friedkin is an Oscar-winning Director of some of the greatest movies ever made – and we will get to those in a moment. But for many movie fans, he hasn’t resonated for them – due in part to the fact that his best movies were decades ago…
Here he is, back in fine form, on the set of his latest film, the terrific and terrifically sleazy crime drama “Killer Joe.” Again, what a great poster!
Check Out The Trailer!!!
Here is the plot – based on the play by Tracy Letts: Emile Hirsch is Chris Smith, a Texas drug dealer who finds himself in considerable debt.
Chris decides the only solution is to murder his mother to collect the insurance money. He gets together with his father – played by Thomas Haden Church, who is brilliant in this role…
So Chris and his Dad decide to hire Joe Cooper – Matthew McConaughey in a BRILLIANT performance – who is not only a contract killer, but also a police detective!
Chris Smith: “You ever hear of Joe Cooper? He’s a cop. A detective actually. He’s got a little business on the side.”
Does he ever have a little business on the side! The plan is that the money will go to Chris’ sister Dottie, played by Juno Temple. Juno’s performance is a revelation: innocent waif, sexy ingenue – usually at the same time. It is a performance that deserves accolades – it is as bold as the movie.
Oh, there is one problem when they try to hire Killer Joe: due to the size of the contract fee, Chris agrees that Joe can take Dottie as a retainer until the insurance comes through.
A Classic Film Noir Setup!
Of course, things just spiral out of control from there, as all the best film noirs do…and Matthew McConaughey gives another terrific performance…
It is an absolute pleasure to watch McConaughey in action in this movie: it is a pitch-perfect performance – he is really on a role after his terrific performance in “Magic Mike” earlier this summer…
WARNING! TOUGH ACTION AHEAD!
AS I SAID, THIS FILM IS BRILLIANT. AND IT IS BRUTAL. AND IT IS BOLD.
The film received an NC-17 rating, for “graphic disturbing content involving violence and sexuality, and a scene of brutality.” And yes, it is a tough, rough and violent look at small time crooks…do not go into this movie blind: it is rough and tough – but it is also funny, and it’s a great “welcome back” to Director Friedkin!
Gina Gershon and Juno Temple!
The acting in this movie is flawless, particularly with the two female characters: Gina Gershon is amazing as Church’s frustrated wife – it is a performance as bold as her work in “Bound”…she is fearless…
And huge kudos to Juno Temple – the daughter of British Director Julian Temple, who has been in a number of films, including “Notes On A Scandal” and “Atonement.”
As I said earlier, she is flawless – in fact, this entire cast is at the top of their game – especially when you see how tough some aspects of this film are – remember, it is rated NC-17 for a reason…
I loved this film! Go see this movie, but know it’s has some tough moments – the best film noirs usually do…and congrats to this entire cast for committing to this work – and to Friedkin for a masterful job directing them…
Matthew McConaughey should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his work in “Magic Mike” – which IS an amazing, fearless performance – as well as for this role…
THE YEAR OF THE HAT!
So we have two films this year where McConaughey rocks the cowboy hat – “Magic Mike” above, and his fearless work in "Killer Joe" – “Joe” will help reinforce what great work he did in 2012…
So congrats to everyone who had the guts to tackle the story that is “Killer Joe” – and to Director Friedkin – now let’s look at some of William Friedkin’s greatest films…
The Best Picture of 1971 – And The Best Chase Scene Ever Filmed!
The French Connection
First of all, check out that great poster! This movie ruled the Academy Awards in 1971, and deservedly so – it’s a gritty tale of a Cop who won’t let anything get in his way as he tries to take down a French Heroin dealer in New York City…
William Friedkin’s gritty police drama portrays two tough New York City cops trying to intercept a huge heroin shipment coming from France. Gene Hackman plays real-life cop ‘Popeye’ Doyle, a short-tempered alcoholic, along with his partner, played by Roy Sheider.
‘Popeye’ Doyle: “All right! You put a shiv in my partner. You know what that means? Goddammit! All winter long I got to listen to him gripe about his bowling scores. Now I’m gonna bust your ass for those three bags and I’m gonna nail you for picking your feet in Poughkeepsie!”
The scene where Doyle and Russo chase down the dealer near the beginning and Gene Hackman shouts out his famous question “Did you ever pick your feet in Poughkeepsie?” is based on actual “good cop/bad cop” interrogations by the real “French Connection” detectives, Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso according to William Friedkin in the DVD commentary.
“The French Connection” won four of the top five Oscars in 1971: Best Picture, Best Actor for Hackman, Best Director for Friedkin, and Best Screenplay for Ernest Tidyman. Roy Schieder was also nominated for Supporting Actor.
This movie includes the best chase scene ever filmed, as Hackman chases a subway train that is on the tracks above him….filmed on the streets as raw as it could be…
Hackman did some of the driving but the extremely dangerous stunts were performed by Bill Hickman with Friedkin filming from the backseat. Friedkin operated the camera himself because the other camera operators were married with children and he was not.
This entire sequence is a master class in editing action – but what makes it work is that it is real – they filmed on the streets of New York, and a number of the scenes in the film were unplanned and extremely dangerous!
The car crash during the chase sequence, at the intersection of Stillwell Ave. and 86th St., was unplanned and was included because of its realism. The man whose car was hit had just left his house a few blocks from the intersection to go to work and was unaware that a car chase was being filmed. The producers later paid the bill for the repairs to his car.
This is a great film, a perfect action thriller, and beautifully directed by Friedkin, who would have one more HUGE success right away – to be discussed later – and then many obscure films – one in particular that I wanted to call your attention to first, another action thriller that is criminally under seen!
To Live And Die In LA
This hugely under-rated 1985 thriller has been rediscovered on DVD – a deservedly so – it stars William Peterson and Willem Dafoe – and it includes a chase sequence on par with “The French Connection!”
Two cops in Los Angeles try to track down the vicious criminal Eric Masters – William Dafoe. Then, one of them is killed by Masters and the other one – played by William Peterson – swears revenge no matter what the cost.
After that, the hunt becomes an obsession and the law he once swore to uphold becomes meaningless to him. Like when he gets involved in one of the greatest action sequences since – well, “The French Connection!
The chase takes place on a freeway – mostly going the wrong direction into traffic!
The car chase sequence took six weeks to shoot. It was the last thing shot – apparently so that, if anything happened to the principle actors, the filmmakers would at least have the bulk of their movie completed without having to replace anybody.
The freeway car chase was filmed with the traffic flowing backwards. While Chance and Vukovich appear to be driving against traffic, they are in fact going in the proper direction for the U.S.; it is the rest of traffic that’s moving on the wrong side of the road!
This is without a doubt a film worth finding and enjoying – great performances, great action, and once again, great directing by Friedkin!
EVERYBODY WANG CHUNG TONIGHT!
And another classic thing about the movie – the soundtrack!
1980s band Wang Chung provided much of the soundtrack for this movie. The title track is a classic, and the moody, original instrumentals and songs written by Wang Chung for this are timeless….here is the title track performed by Wang Chung…
Oh, and speaking of timeless, I think you’ve heard of Friedkin’s masterpiece:
This is, without a doubt, William Friedkin’s timeless masterpiece – the scariest film ever made – and a critically-acclaimed movie that is one of the best ever!
The Exorcist – 1973. Directed by William Friedkin
OK, we all know about the shocking sequences in the film – the buildup of dread that begins when young Regan starts to become – well, POSSESSED…
Director William Friedkin made this two years after he won the Oscar for Best Picture for “The French Connection”…
“The Exorcist” was also nominated for Best Picture of 1973 – one of the smartest decisions was casting acclaimed Actress Ellen Burstyn as Regan’s Mom:
And Linda Blair was perfect as the young, angelic Regan – which makes what happens in the film all the more shocking:
Equally smart was the decision to hire legendary Actor Max Von Sydow as Father Karras – who happens to know how to performs exorcisms…
Regan MacNeil: “My bed was shaking. I can’t get to sleep.”
A visiting actress in Washington, D.C., notices dramatic and dangerous changes in the behavior and physical make-up of her 12-year-old daughter. It leads to the ultimate confrontation between a frail, elderly priest and an old demonic enemy.
Demon: What an excellent day for an exorcism.
Father Damien Karras: You would like that?
Father Damien Karras: But wouldn’t that drive you out of Regan?
Demon: It would bring us together.
Father Damien Karras: You and Regan?
Demon: You and us.
The refrigerated bedroom set was cooled with four air conditioners and temperatures would plunge to around 30 to 40 below zero. It was so cold that perspiration would freeze on some of the cast and crew. On one occasion the air was saturated with moisture resulting in a thin layer of snow falling on the set before the crew arrived for filming.
Oh, and then it gets REALLY SCARY, as the demon begins to taunt Karras:
Demon: “Your mother sucks cocks in Hell, Karras, you faithless slime!”
Oh yeah, and then there is the “head turn” sequence! This film is so intense and scary that the original teaser trailer, which consisted of nothing but images of the white-faced demon quickly flashing in and out of darkness, was banned in many theaters, as it was deemed “too frightening”.
And then of course, there is the projectile vomiting scene!
The substance that the possessed Regan (Linda Blair) hurls at Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller) is thick pea soup. Specifically, it’s Andersen’s brand pea soup. The crew tried Campbell’s but didn’t like the “effect.”
In a 2007 poll conducted by the UK’s The Times for the Top 50 Scariest Movie Moments, “The Exorcist” topped the list. It is, without a doubt, the scariest film of all time…
So congratulations William Friedkin for your latest movie, and thanks for the classics you’ve given us over the years!
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