WASTE LAND: Cops Crossing The Line

Pieter Van Hees’ Waste Land premieres tonight with a story of a cop “spiral[ling] into the abyss of his own darkness, haunted by the question of whether he’ll be able to claw his way back.”

And the VBPD is spiralling with him, as Dets. Leslie and Carol stake out movie police who are tempted, who cross the line, who go too far. And by the end, maybe we’ll lose our badges and our guns. But we’ll slam them on the captain’s desk with pride, because we’re so far gone we’re doing this just because it’s right. It’s what this blog needs. Maybe it’s what this movie needs. Hell, maybe we can’t tell the difference between right and wrong anymore when all we care about is justice, justice and writing about movies. Now give us the damn bottle. No, we don’t need glasses.

We each chose three film cops. Here are their stories.

Forget it, Leslie, it’s Vanguard, or, Leslie’s collars.

Hot yoga is great. You should really try it sometime.


Blade Runner

Rick Deckard is a retired police officer who grudgingly agrees to “one last job” for the police department (yeah, how many times have we heard that before?). But this isn’t a regular job; it’s a skin job. Three skin jobs, to be precise, and they’re all deadly assassins. Deckard gets his ass kicked, falls in love with a replicant whose time is running out, and learns he might be one, too (depending on which version of the movie you prefer).

Don't worry, they can't tell you're from
Australia.

L.A. Confidential

While Edmund “Ed” Exley seems like a square with his police pedigree and fancy glasses, he’s not above sleeping with a prostitute to further his agenda. That prostitute is not only involved in a murder investigation but also sleeping/in love with fellow cop Wendell “Bud” White. Exley and White already hate each other so when White finds out Exley moved in on his woman, fists fly. Eventually the two realize they’re on the same side and work together to solve a case. Friendship!

Does this hat make my nose bandage look big?

Chinatown

Jake  “J.J.” Gittes (what is it with cops and nicknames?) is investigating an extramarital affair when he uncovers some mysterious goings-on in the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. At one point, Roman Polanski shows up and slashes the tip of his nose with a knife! Ouch. Then Gittes gets romantically involved with the dead guy’s wife and her crazy dad and uncovers some nasty family secrets. Lesson: stay away from Chinatown if your name is Jake. Or Marge.

Do you feel lucky, Carol? Well, do you? or Carol’s collars.

Orson Welles was carefully coated in 3″ of grime for the role of Cap. Harry Quinlan.

Touch of Evil

Mexican narcotics detective Miguel Vargas and his wife Susie are on their honeymoon when they witness a car bomb explode. Vargas is out of his jurisdiction, but offers his help to the magnificently corrupt local police captain, Hank Quinlan. Seriously, Quinlan just makes me feel grimy. In fact, this whole film makes me feel grimy as Quinlan plants evidence to convict a young Mr. Sanchez, who had married the victim’s daughter secretly because of the victim’s racism. Vargas investigates Quinlan’s case history and Quinlan has Susie kidnapped, shot up with heroin and frames her for murder. And it’s even worse when it turns out that Quinlan’s hunch about Sanchez was probably right. It’s not explicit, but the palpable corruption presented Touch Of Evil always makes me feel like I need a shower afterwards. That and Charleton Heston’s brownface.

“Oh, I can’t stay mad at you.” “Jinx.”

The Killer

Actor Danny Lee has made a career of playing cops on the edge. In The Killer, he’s Inspector Li, pursuing Chow Yun-Fat’s hitman with a conscience, Ah Jong. At first, Li is relentless, driven to stop Jeff after Li’s partner is injured while pursuing Jong. But Ah Jong has charming eyes and saves a little girl from a crossfire. And then Jong starts caring for a chanteuse accidentally injured during a hit. And Li just can’t help liking him. I know I couldn’t help it. Li’s suits go from white with black pinstripes to full on black as he wavers between the law and Ah Jong. In the end, Li just can’t quit Ah Jong.

Maybe we should form a gang where we listen to sweet speakers and be handsome all the time.

Infernal Affairs 

Lau Kin-Ming (Andy Lau) is a Triad member who infiltrates the police academy and becomes a detective, but remains loyal to his gang and his Triad boss, Hon Sam, played by an unusually frightening Eric Tsang. Lau discovers that there is an undercover cop spying on Hon Sam and reporting back to one particular police inspector (Anthony Wong Chau-Sang). To things worse, the police totally stole Hon Sam’s idea and the mole is a made Triad member, Chen Wing-Yen (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai). One day it’s all listening to crystal stereo speakers together. The next thing you know, Anthony Wong’s body is on top of a car, Andy Lau and Tony Leung are out-handsoming each other on a rooftop, and Lau has to make a choice about whether he’ll be a bad triad member or a bad cop.

WASTE LAND screening times:
Sat., Sept. 6th, 9:30 PM, BLOOR HOT DOCS CINEMA
Mon., Sept. 8th, 4:30 PM, TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX 2
Sat., Sept. 13th, 6:30 PM, SCOTIABANK 13

 

See more of Leslie’s writing at her amazing pop culture site, Popshifter.

This post originally appeared on the Toronto International Film Festival’s Vanguard Program Blog.

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