I had an exciting opportunity to see (and meet) William Friedkin(!), famed director of “The Exorcist,” “French Connection,” “Killer Joe,” and a bunch of other good stuff, at the Pacific Film Archive Theatre in Berkeley, CA. Other than to speak about his work, he was promoting his new memoir, “The Friedkin Connection“. Along with Eszter and Balazs attending this event, I was amazed at how this now 78-yaer-old director can tell endless stories for probably hours, if given the time, still sharp at his age.
This event included a screening of Friedkin’s “Cruising,” which I actually have never seen before. Going into an old school film, I can’t help but worry if it will hold up to the scrutiny of having watched so many films in the recent few decades. But, I’ve learned to watch films in the context of when they were produced. I was pleasantly surprised by Al Pacino’s performance in a risky, controversial role as an undercover cop infiltrating underground gay sex clubs for a serial killer. This film was produced after “Godfather I & II,” so I shouldn’t be expecting anything less. Context, I need to put the film in context. “Cruising” is a Friedkin (cult?) classic that most have not seen, but should. Like Kubrick, Friedkin covers diverse genres and topics in his films, and is a master at keeping your attention.
When it was almost my turn to meet Mr. Friedkin, Eszter had her camera ready to take a pic of me with the super director. But, the hostess stares me down and says,”No pictures!” Whatda…? Arrggghhhh… but as I nervously approached my turn to to meet William Friedkin, he said a firm “Hello” and quickly grabbed my book and the movies in my hand, asked me my name, and signed away. I was taken aback and didn’t even know what to say but “I watched both movies various times”. Like classic Friedkin speak, he started telling a story about… I have no idea what he was talking about… but ended with something about “hope you don’t leave 7-Eleven with a gun.” People around us giggled a bit, but I was rummaging through my brain “Did William Friedkin tell a story with a punchline I didn’t get? He’s not David Lynch. I get Friedkin movies. But I didn’t get this one joke he just personally told me?” Joooyyyyy!!! Then I smiled, giggled, watched how his signature scribbled across one of my fav horror flicks – “The Exorcist” – being etched in history, and said “Can I take a quick picture with you?” Mr. Friedkin stood up quick, put his arm around my shoulders, looked toward Eszter holding the camera. And, we both smiled at the hostess.