From the title of this DVD alone, you can tell what you will think of it. If it makes you think “Who?” or shrug, then perhaps this is not for you. Then again, I might be doing you a disfavour, perhaps you know the films but not the name. The French Connection? Cruising? The Exorcist? If these three are in your top 100 (Exorcist is in my top three, Cruising in my top 20) then there is plenty for you here. If you’re still shrugging then perhaps you have some homework to do.
William Friedkin is a glorious auteur who puts everything he has into his stories and directs in a way that puts him in the greats, he’s probably Mount Rushmore with Coppola and Scorsese and…whoever you love, I’m not your father. Normally documentaries about such icons are dry affairs, you are made to suffer to get the information. Not Friedkin Uncut, oh no, it is like listening to your favourite relative chat about the films from his childhood. Engrossing, informative, exciting, very rarely is the ‘one guy in a chair telling you his stories’ idea done so well, but director Francesco Zippel knows that fans are not here for bells and whistles we just want stories about some of the best films ever made and Friedkin steps up to the plate and knocks it out of the park with a cheeky swing,
Seeing film from the making of The Exorcist is a joy and hearing Friedkin talk about it is fascinating and exciting. Again with the Pacino classic Cruising, I was hanging off of every word. It’s years since I have seen To Live And Die In LA, but hearing Willem Dafoe talk excitedly about it took me right back to another Friedkin classic.
There are, as with most documentaries, a number of talking heads here, bizarrely it does not give them captions, but you will probably recognise Tarantino and Coppola and McConaughey and Wright even if some might pass you by. (I still don’t know what Wes Anderson looks like, but he is here)
William Friedkin has one of the best back catalogues of any living director and this is a chance to stand and applaud one of the greats, even though his humility would probably tell you to shush.
Friedkin Uncut is out now from 101 Films