Thursday, November 26, 2015

To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)

Director: William Friedkin

Writers: Gerald Petievich, William Friedkin

Composer: Wang Chung

Starring:  William Petersen, Willem Dafoe, John Pankow, Debra Feuer, John Turturro, Darlanne Fluegel, Dean Stockwell, Steve James, Robert Downey Sr., Michael Greene, Christopher Allport

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Detroit, Chicago, New York, Miami were like this! This is THE CITY OF ANGELS! This is L.A.

Plot: L.A. branch Secret Service Agent Chance obsessively hunts for counterfeiter Rick Masters, who is responsible for the murder of his former partner and mentor.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

This has been on my to watch list for three decades.  I should've seen it then.  While it definitely looks like a product of the 80s (the music dates it more than anything else), it's got a 70s vibe lingering through it and I expect that's courtesy of Friedkin.  The performances aren't bad but there's a loose feeling to many scenes as if the camera is lingering, watching instead of filming actors.  I kind of liked it but it was a bit strange.  It makes more sense when you see the making of featurette where Friedkin and the actors explain how they shot the film.  It's neat seeing a very early performance from Dafoe before his face had more definition.  It's a pretty good picture and you might think you're watching a Michael Mann imitation but it's its own thing.  That's another place where the 80s vibe creeps in.  Some of the dialogue and line readings are totally and stylishly 80s cool which makes for some really cheesy moments.  The MGM DVD has a good (but nowhere close to pristine) anamorphic widescreen print. The extras you get are a commentary with Friedkin, a making of doc (30 minutes and it's a good one), an alternate ending and deleted scene each with a several minute intro, the theatrical and teaser trailers (both anamorphic wide) and non-anamorphic widescreen trailers for LA FEMME NIKITA, FARGO and DARK BLUE.

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