“Medium Cool” Mini-Review
So, now that this blog has officially been up for nearly a month, one thing that I have learned is that I cannot write a review for every film that I see. It is simply too daunting of a task and I want to write as many posts as I can. Therefore, I will only have full reviews for films that I see in the theater. For all other films that I watch for the first time in the comfort of my own home, I will provide a mini-review of several paragraphs, outlining my likes and dislikes. That will give me a chance to give my opinion and rating of the film without minimizing the amount of films I write about.
I caught the film “Medium Cool,” directed by all-star cinematographer Haskell Wexler, earlier today. Many filmmakers have been accredited with bringing about the so-called “American New Wave” in cinema, such as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Mike Nichols and Bob Rafelson. However, not many of them truly capture the essence of its French predecessor, using the concept of cinema-verite, as well as Wexler does in this feature.
Haskell Wexler is mostly known for directing various documentaries during the 1960s and 70s and he brings that absolute feeling of reality and historical truth into this semi-narrative film. The movie follows the life of a news cameraman (Robert Forster) during the raging riptide that was 1968, ending during the explosive 1968 Democratic Convention. Throughout the film, his character asks the question of how far is too far in regard to reporting the violence in human life and his journey takes him to some wonderful and dark places.
This was a film that really paved the way for the docudrama as a genre. It’s shot almost entirely handheld and carries a very realistic tone in both its writing and direction. Certain scenes of the film indubitably shine, in particularly one where Forster’s character ends up interviewing a group of semi-militant African-Americans, nearly against his will. The opening is also quite a stark introduction in which Forster and his audio companion make sure they get all the coverage they need of a fresh car accident before considering to call an ambulance. (featured below)
However, the film gets very much bogged down by the self-importance of its own style, and in doing so, forgets to really tell an interesting story. The film really doesn’t have much of a plot structure, but rather just tries to follow individuals and have that serve as a story. Needless to say, it does not. Yet, if the film’s intention is to carry you away in its whirlwind of reality and historical voyeurism, it certainly does that. “Medium Cool” is impacting and memorable and is certainly a dish of something different, even if viewed in today’s filmmaking climate.