Reverse Shot for President
If the recent events at the nefarious Republican National Convention taught us anything, it should be obvious that in the current American mentality direct address is more crucial than art-world acceptance.
It gives us unique access to American public and private spaces alike as they peddle their sacred wares to housewives in rollers, nervously chain-smoking cigarettes and wondering how they will be able to afford the enormous $40 volume before them, complete with full-color illustrations of the stations of the cross.
Though we’re probably not alone in this, America is too adept at forgetting the inconvenient, awkward, or shameful moments of its past, even when there’s so much to gain through simple, unadulterated remembrance. It’s the lesson of In the American Grain and a large part of Snow Falling’s power as well.
We’re in the highly radicalized, politicized, and deeply angry world of British filmmaker Peter Watkins, probably the greatest filmmaker that you’ve never heard of. Watkins’s Punishment Park is his deepest incursion into the American psyche, and the centrality of violence in American political and social life.
It is difficult to view David Fincher’s 1999 polemic Fight Club and not recall the 9/11 attacks—in the final shot, two financial towers explode and collapse as Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter look on from a vantage point earlier dubbed “Ground Zero” by Brad Pitt.
Harold & Kumar features likable minority protagonists with fully developed, stereotype-defying, well rounded personalities and is also an enormously silly film, ultimately a series of juvenile set pieces selected for their ability to keep the audience giggling through sheer quantity over originality.