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Heavy strands of his hardheaded energy found their way into TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. (1985), but the argument for his deathless value should come to a dead stop with Sorcerer, the last undeclared masterpiece of the American ’70s, and a jugular ordeal by environment and desperate circumstance that no amount of vertiginous CGI fart noise will ever approximate. Criminals hiding in a South American jungle hellhole, a distant oil-rig fire, a few cases of unstable nitroglycerine that need to be trucked through the wilderness — the ingredients are from Georges Arnaud’s novel and Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1953 adaptation, but the balls-out holy-shit mise-en-scène and masculine integrity and you-are-there authenticity of Sorcerer is all Friedkin. Structurally nervy (the film’s entire first third is taken up with original international backstories for the four protagonists) and scored with Tangerine Dream’s relentless synthesizer minimalism, the movie is a guaranteed eye opener for a generation of filmgoers whose idea of cinematic “action” is defined by Spider-Man’s cartoon swooshes. Even if Friedkin had maintained his cachet into the Reagan era and beyond, today he’d be an antique, devoted to gravity and genuine damage in a moviesphere drunk on cheap fakery.

THE EXORCIST February 13 at 7 pm
TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. February 13 at 9:30 pm
CRUISING + THE BOYS IN THE BAND February 14 at 7 pm
THE BIRTHDAY PARTY February 15 at 3 pm
THE FRENCH CONNECTION + THE PEOPLE VS. PAUL CRUMP February 20 at 7 pm [director present]
SORCERER + THE HUNTED February 21 at 7 pm [director present]
THE BRINK’S JOB February 22 at 3 pm

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ARTICLES BY MICHAEL ATKINSON
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