I met and interviewed William Friedkin at the time his “The French Connection” was all the rage. Now, here he is at the age of 83 in the documentary “Friedkin Uncut.” Where did all the years go?
Director Francesco Zippel provides an intimate view of Friedkin today, with reflections about his various films, including “The Exorcist,” “Sorcerer,” “To Live and Die in L.A,” “Killer Joe” and “Cruising.” Clips illustrate the director’s accomplishments.
Friedkin currently lives in Beverly Hills and is married to Sherry Lansing, who achieved distinction of her own when she was head of Paramount Studios. (He was previously married to French actress Jeanne Moreau.) The film doesn’t dwell on the director’s personal life, but concentrates on his reflections about his career and the film world.
The documentary is a sort of valentine to him, and he makes an impression pontificating, often with a sense of humor, but always in light of the high esteem that he apparently has for himself and his work. He has earned this through his ability and also his proud determination to make films in his own way, and that gives him special stature.
When we are refreshed with scenes from “The French Connection” in particular, we see the talent that went into that film, especially with the famous car chase. What comes through is a combination of careful planning and recklessness with relation to some of the danger involved. Considerable attention is also paid to the making of “The Exorcist.”
There is a leisurely, congenial air about Friedkin as he relaxes and talks about his work. There are also contributions by various others with their comments, including by Francis Ford Coppola, Quentin Tarantino, Willem Dafoe, Wes Anderson, Matthew McConaughey, Ellen Burstyn, Michael Shannon and Juno Temple.
“Friedkin Uncut” serves as a reminder of how much creative energy the director was able to pour into his films, and why he merits an important place in retroactively surveying movies at the time when he was riding high. An Ambi Distribution release. Reviewed August 23, 2019.