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Visually Friedkin Uncut is just a simple collection of talking heads and clips from William Friedkin’s films yet the director’s glorious tall tales draw you into this safe but interesting documentary.

Calling a documentary about the career of William Friedkin 'uncut' is hardly necessary. The veteran American director of The French Connection and The Exorcist is known for speaking his mind, which proves to be a blessing for Friedkin Uncut.

The movie features interviews with collaborators like actress Ellen Burstyn and cinematographer Caleb Deschanel and admirers like Quentin Tarantino, but foremost it's Friedkin's gift of the gab that keeps you glued to the screen.

Rather ironically the director plays down his achievements in the film industry while hopping from one film festival to the next to receive career awards, which gives the doc the same slyly subversive quality that most of his movies possess.

You could say the filmmakers play it perhaps a bit too safe, since they mostly focus on Friedkin's cinematic life and ignore both his private life and his barren period in the nineties and the oughts. It adds to the feeling that Friedkin Uncut never truly reveals what makes the director tick.

Maybe the film doesn't need to, however. Maybe William Friedkin is exactly the persona he appears to be in every interview he gives: someone who loves to challenge himself and then tell tall tales about his adventures. Which is perfectly fine and defintely very entertaining.

release: 2018

director: Francesco Zippel

starring: William Friedkin, Ellen Burstyn, Quentin Tarantino, Philip Kaufman


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