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Drama Movies

March 27 2018 Drama Movies Newsletter

"The dull ready-made clothes, worn without style, with a sort of contempt; the look of men who are poor and yet proud of their power, watching always for ways to make it felt, to shove it into you and twist it and grin and watch you squirm, ruthless without malice, cruel and yet not always unkind...Civilization had no meaning for them. All they saw of it was the failures, the dirt, the dregs, the aberrations and the disgust." Raymond Chandler in "The Little Sister"

I watched two American films this week released in 1969; one that was immersed in the political culture of the era and one that completely ignored the social climate of the times.

Chandler's novel "The Little Sister" was published in 1949 but, as evidenced by the above quote, has a point-of-view that could easily be updated to reflect the 1960s. "Marlowe", adapted from Chandler's novel, instead sucked the story completely dry of its trenchant political and social criticism. As a result, the film is a tepid crime drama without any real bite. James Garner is not a bad choice to play Chandler's wounded knight in a corrupted world, but Stirling Silliphant's screenplay lacks the depth given the character in Chandler's books.

The other film, which I write about in this week's review, is Haskell Wexler's "Medium Cool". Wexler was active in the civil rights movements of the 60s and a critic of the media, especially television. "Medium Cool" opens with a cameraman dispassionately shooting the result of a car crash in which a woman lies dead or dying. The film then cuts to a group of journalists describing the abuse and physical danger they experience when covering events. Wexler does not demonize his characters, but feels the people behind the camera have a responsibility to behave ethically. Although "Medium Cool" was released in 1969, Wexler's critique of the visual age has special resonance in the era of Facebook Live and YouTube.

Here's the latest article from the Drama Movies site at BellaOnline.com.

Medium Cool Film Review
Haskell Wexler was voted one of the most influential cinematographers in American film. His 1969 directorial debut, "Medium Cool", is a prescient exploration of politics, violence, and the deleterious effects of a post-literate culture on democracy.


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Angela K. Peterson, Drama Movies Editor

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