Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Double Features: Gritty Crimes & Tarnished Badges

Here's another Double Feature programmed on a theme by your friendly neighbourhood Nerdlinger. It's a recurring column I began a little while ago to help some of you come up with some interesting options at the video store, along with a tasty beverage and snack to accompany your evening.

Double Feature: To Live and Die in LA & Narc

This time out we're diving into the seedy side of law enforcement with a couple of particularly nasty cop films that examine the blurred line between cops and criminals. Yeah, yeah, it's cliched subject matter, but it's also kick-ass, intense subject matter, so enjoy some car chases, bad language and truly bad muthafuckas.

To Live and Die in LA is first up, and it was looked upon as one of director William Friedkin's many comebacks. Friedkin shot to the absolute top of the directorial pile with the incredible one-two punch of The French Connection and The Exorcist before flaming out in spectacular fashion with Sorcerer and Cruising. He would continue to direct, and every once in a while, he'd have a film come out that seemed poised to return him to the A-list. To Live and Die in LA is the one that came a closest; a lean, brutal and joyously over the top movie about federal agents so obsessed with taking down a counterfeiter that they will cross absolutely any line to do so. William Petersen and John Pankow plays the cops and Willem Dafoe is the crook. There's a killer car chase, and an equally killer twist in the final act, and while the film is almost a museum piece of the 1980s and the dialogue can get a little obvious, the film still packs a vicious punch.

Before Joe Carnahan disappeared up his own ass with overly stylized, empty-headed excess like Smokin' Aces and The A-Team he made Narc, an intense and brilliant study of two cops seemingly completely destroyed by the war on drugs. Jason Patric is heartbreaking as a cop traumatized by an awful experience who has been paired up with Ray Liotta's veteran detective. Liotta has skated completely over the edge in his pursuit of the two dealers who he thinks killed his partner, and the crux of the film is whether Liotta has lost it, and whether Patric will follow him down the rabbit hole. It's a depressing, but captivating, film, and it makes one wish this was the type of film Carnahan continued to make.

Drink: As an ironic counter-point to the cops in these films, I offer you the Pink Police:

Pink Police Recipe

12 oz Beer
12 oz Vodka
12 oz Frozen Pink Lemonade

Pour one can of beer into a pitcher. Add one can of frozen pink lemonade. Add vodka (in place of the water), stir and serve.

Snack: What better snack for a double feature about cops is there than this:

Old-Fashioned Cake Donut Recipe

If you would like to make traditional donuts you will need to buy a simple donut maker machine. They are inexpensive (often less than $10) and can be found in brick and mortar specialty cooking stores or can be easily purchased online at a kitchen supply store. While waiting to receive your donut maker, you can start by making donut holes. Simply drop small balls of dough into the hot oil.

• 2 1/2 c. flour
• 2 tsp. baking powder
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
• 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
• 1 c. sugar
• 2 beaten eggs
• 1 Tbsp. softened unsalted butter
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• 1 c. milk


1. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
2. In a separate bowl beat the eggs and sugar with a mixer.
3. Add the softened butter, vanilla, and milk and mix until well-incorporated.
4. Slowly add the dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Do not overmix.
5. Lightly coat the inside of the donut maker with nonstick cooking spray and fill with batter.
6. Hold the machine just over the hot oil and lightly press on the lever to release the batter. Then gently release the lever and allow the donut to fall into the pan.
7. Fry the donut batter in hot vegetable oil, turning halfway through to ensure even browning. Fry approximately one minute per side, although that time can vary depending on how hot the oil is.
8. Remove golden-brown donuts and allow them to cool on paper towels.

Makes about 1 dozen donuts.

Enjoy the show!

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