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By Mariko McDonald | September 7, 2005

Right from the get go things were looking up. To start with, being made by an American director who was actually affected by the things he was examining, the film is much more socially critical. “Medium Cool” is probably best know for being rated X, although even by ‘60’s standards the film is very tame and the rating was likely politically motivated. It is also much more specific in its criticisms, and the use of real footage, including the infamous Democratic National Convention riot; adds poignancy and power to an otherwise simple story.

The basic push of the film is provided by the always fabulous Robert Forster as John, a swinging’ bachelor and blue collar TV news cameraman. He starts romancing a poor single mother whose husband was killed in Vietnam and is forced to confront the disturbing abuses of power going on around him and the resistance of his superiors in addressing it. But the actual plot is not what the film is about. The verite style of the film makes it a far reaching and surprisingly relevant criticism of (among other things): urban poverty, Vietnam, the shallowness of the sexual revolution and the overall impending collapse of American society.

Brendan and Graeme were flabbergasted by footage of a training exercise where National Guard soldiers attempted to quell a fake protest populated entirely with fellow soldiers. Someone commented that had they seen white men shouting “We shall overcome!” as a kid, it would have been enough to make them want to bomb stuff. The Kennedy conspiracy was introduced, probably for the first time on film and there was even a comment on the Italian Mondo films.

I’d like to think it was the power of “Medium Cool,” but folks were real quiet. Corinne made a quip about Forster’s abnormally abundant underwear. There was a brief digression about how poverty creates war zones which then lead into a discussion on the Wayans brothers’ proposed theme park in Oakland. Brendan and my husband were all fired up with righteous indignation. Only Will was asleep (although I did catch Corinne on her Nintendo DS, but she does that most nights anyway). Graeme conceded that although he had some doubts about where the film was headed, he did enjoy the twist at the end.

Rumblings from the Peanut Gallery: Predictably, the second half of the program was the quieter of the two. So bored were we with the pretentious wanderings of “Zabriskie Point” that we were all engaged in conversations about Willie Nelson’s reggae album, giant cacti that fall on people and the special laws against cutting them down and of course Corinne’s deep seeded hatred of Arizona. Later, a couple people thought they spotted the Master half of Master-Blaster as an MC at a roller derby in “Medium Cool,” although he isn’t listed as being in it. The general consensus was that “Zabriskie Point” started out good and fizzled out and “Medium Cool” started out sort of slow and ended up awesome.

Mariko McDonald and her husband host a weekly film night in their apartment, affectionately known as the Den of Sin. It’s kinda like evil film school. Monthly screening schedules are available at and if you happen to live in the Vancouver, BC area and are interested in catching a screening please drop her a line at filmgurl79@hotmail dot com. Suggestions, hate mail and cute pictures of cats also accepted.

And of course you can always offer up some juicy Back Talk>>>

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