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Read Good Shit On Musings
When asked during his first ever on-camera interview if he’d like to continue acting, a young Ethan Hawke replied, “I don’t know if it’s going to be there, but I’d like to do it.” He then gives a guileless shrug of relief as the interview ends, wiping imaginary sweat off his brow. The simultaneous fusion of his nervous energy and poised body language will be familiar to those who’ve seen later interviews with the actor. The practicality and wisdom he exudes at such a young age would prove to be a through-line of his nearly 40-year career. In an interview many decades later, he told Ideas Tap that many children get into acting because they’re seeking attention, but those who find their calling in the craft discover that a “desire to communicate and to share and to be a part of something bigger than yourself takes over, a certain craftsmanship—and that will bring you a lot of pleasure.”
The way things currently stand, it’s probably safe to say that William Friedkin has retired. Not that there isn’t still a market for his brand of hilarious, opinionated coarseness—as two recent documentaries, Francesco Zeppel’s Friedkin Uncut, and Alexandre O. Philippe’s Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist can attest—but as a filmmaker, as a director of movies of all kind, movies that are often idiosyncratic, sometimes nakedly commercial, not infrequently provocative, even deeply shocking, he appears to have packed it in. Friedkin is 85 now, so who can blame him, especially when you consider how much longer the gaps between his films had become? He’s made just three in the last fifteen years.
“Shitsville.” That’s the name Killing Them Softly director Andrew Dominik gave to the film’s nameless town, in which low-level criminals, ambitious mid-tier gangsters, nihilistic assassins, and the mob’s professional managerial class engage in warfare of the most savage kind. Onscreen, other states are mentioned (New York, Maryland, Florida), and the film itself was filmed in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, though some of the characters speak with Boston accents that are pulled from the source material, George V. Higgins’s novel Cogan’s Trade. But Dominik, by shifting Higgins’s narrative 30 or so years into the future and situating it specifically during the 2008 Presidential election, refuses to limit this story to one place.