Posts Tagged ‘American Dream’

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On Crackle Now

by Kim Niccolini

I don’t need to tell you that the multiplex is dead. I am a girl who will see just about anything at the movies. I have spent my lifetime going to movies. But even me, the girl who can almost find something remotely redeemable to see at the multiplex, has stopped going. It’s that bad.

So I’m lucky to live in a town that has an independent non-profit cinema –The Loft – which not only shows independent and foreign films but that also screens classic movies on actual film. Currently they are showing a film noir series focusing primarily on tales of cops and corruption. They opened the series with Fritz Lang’s The Big Heat (1953) which tells the story of tough cop Dave Bannion (Glenn Ford) trying to take down the corrupt world of the mob and its marriage with law enforcement. Certainly the link between cops and crime is nothing new in the movies. It is as relevant today as it was when it was first explored in early gangster films such as Little Caesar (1931) and Scarface(1932) and when it was so brutally detailed in Frances Ford Coppola’s first two Godfather films (1972 and 1974). If you look to the movies as a model, in the past they have rarely pulled any punches in equating politics with crime and erasing the line between good and bad. Movies have been a great vehicle for showing the inherent corruption of the American capitalist system, whether legit or not. Criminals are cops, and cops are criminals, and in the end all systems – mafia or government – are out for the same things: money and power. Of course, that means money and power for the world of men, not women.

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BBC takes on Hunter S. Thompson…

 

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To me, a film is great if you’re still thinking about the ideas it dramatized twenty years later. Night of the Living Dead (1968) for example wouldn’t remain such a haunting masterpiece if not for the parallels the drama brought out, such as willful self-deception when family members are involved and, of course, race. If the lead character, played by Duane Jones, had been a flavor of the week pretty white boy (the Hollywood standard), I doubt the film would matter all that much to so many people. Such brilliance as casting the protagonist with a black man, surrounded by frantic and often irrational white people, elevated the film to its esteemed status.

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Easy Rider is also a masterpiece, and is one of the 1960’s most salient time capsules. Not quite realistic, but hyper-real. It captured the spirit of an era, with a war of ideas concerning society, concerning America and the types of people found here. It focused on two outsiders, the two motorcycle-riding drug dealers who take off across the southwest in search of a place they can settle down in and call home. They went “looking for America” and I do believe they found it.

This was Dennis Hopper’s directorial debut, and of course, Hopper also co-stars in this extensive road movie done for $360,000. Estimates of its returns are listed as $60,000,000, making this one for aspiring indie filmmakers to take notes on. The film succeeded for its artistry, for its musical score which is superb and includes classics of the era, and for its hard edged story.

Hopper refused to pull his punches. With a script by Peter Fonda and Terry Southern, as well as himself, the story doesn’t attempt to gloss over anything. For this rawness and unflinching look at the conflicts of the age, the movie received several nominations and wins, including at Cannes.

SPOILERS AHEAD

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