Friday, May 31, 2013


Director/cinematographer Haskell Wexler's MEDIUM COOL (1969)  occupies a strange netherworld somewhere between fictionalized drama and documentary film-making,  and in doing so, may have brought a more convincing "truth" to cinema.  There are at least two overlapping dramas here,  poised somewhere between the personal (Robert Foster's John,  a camera-man, and Verna Bloom as Eileen,  an Appalachian war widow with son new to Chicago) and the political (the backdrop of the 1968 Democratic National Convention).  Seen with 21st century eyes and minds mesmerized by the supposed veracity of reality TV,  MEDIUM COOL's view of a society on the brink of crisis,  violence,  and countercultural upheaval might be a tad too real for audiences immersed in Snookie's worldview or THE BIGGEST LOSER's food addictions.  These actors slowly get entangled with the very real events of the day,  giving credence to Godard's dictum that "All great fiction films tend toward documentary,  just as all great documentaries tend toward fiction... each word implies a part of the other.  And he who opts wholeheartedly for one,  necessarily finds the other at the end of his journey". Ultimately,  MEDIUM COOL's quasi-improvised dialogue and narrative are framed by Wexler's    dispassionate camera work and given full bloom by an irony,  that of a viable dramatic  veracity.

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