Medium Cool (USA, 1969)

tumblr_mn4bzaBais1rjaf4ko2_500Directed by: Haskell Wexler. I knew nothing bout this movie, but I had read a few things recently where it was mentioned in passing, but I can’t remember what or where it was. I had vaguely heard of the general concept of this movie—the blurred line between fiction and documentary caught up in the actual riots of the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago—sometime in my early Film Studies days. The general interest in American history, the political movements of the 60’s, as well as an interest in that blurred line between fiction and nonfiction, the larger topic of representation in general, in terms of the cinematic apparatus, all of that shit is really interesting. And then it turns out that the main guy is Robert Forster, so that’s cool! (Seriously, I could spot his face on the last episode of Breaking Bad but I couldn’t spot him for two hours as this young, relatively handsome man until the credits showed his name.) I guess I won’t go on and on about this movie because it honestly didn’t make a huge impression on me. It’s definitely another piece of 60’s American cinema influenced by 60’s French New Wave cinema, and it’s a pretty compelling, individually American piece of cinema in its own right. The real selling point of this thing is still the riot scenes, which are all the more incredible to a modern, post-Ferguson audience, the way that this film crew with their bulky setups are casually pointing and shooting this overt police brutality in a way that modern camera operators using tiny cell phones couldn’t get away with today. Unfortunately, all of the surrounding stuff, the whole story, the characters, the human interest, all the stuff that’s meant to be a compelling, really pales in comparison to how timelessly interesting the riot sequences are. I won’t sit here and criticize this movie I guess, but if someone wanted to skip to the riot sequences, I wouldn’t really blame them.

One response to “Medium Cool (USA, 1969)

  1. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2014 | Offhand Reviews·

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