Medium Cool

1969 drama/documentary hybrid

Rating: 16/20

Plot: A news reporter tries to hook up with a woman while America goes nutsy.

With our current political climate, it was really interesting to watch this now. America was crazy in the late-60s, and America is crazy now. This is a blend of footage shot during a violent Democratic convention in Chicago and a story constructed with actors and actresses. I'm not sure how much Haskell Wexler wrote this and how much he shaped his story around what was happening in Chicago at that particular time. Undeniably, what we have 45 years later is important as a historical document but also still relevant, in ways that are both sad and scary.

I've never seen anything else Haskell Wexler has directed. He's maybe known more for his work as a cinematographer (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Conversation, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), and although there's nothing flashy going on with the camera work here, it's Wexler's eye that really makes this work. His camera has a way of capturing the chaos while simultaneously making some sense of it.

You have to give credit to the actors and actresses as well, especially Robert Forster. There wasn't a moment in this when I saw what they were doing as performances. They blended into the reality so perfectly, and that's exactly what they needed to do.

It was nice hearing the music of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention in there, too.

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