The Criterion Collection has brought out a remastered, stunning 'MediumCool'. America's answer to 'Cinema Verite'. Haskell Wexler's film couldhave been made yesterday, given the conditions in the US today.Although the technology of filming has changed drastically. In fact,given the success of 'Tangerine', it is easy to envision 'Medium Cool'shot exclusively on a Smartphone. Gone are the 40 pound cameras, theheavy television cameras set up at conventions, the one way voice boxesand the like. As Marshall McCluhan, the high priest and theorist ofcommunication, posited: 'the medium is the message'. And Wexler tookthis guru's words to heart. We're in Chicago on the eve and during theinfamous 1968 Democratic Convention. The story is half fiction halfcinema truth, of a fun loving news photographer whose passion is thestory and getting it right. Through his camera, we travel through theracial, economic and political stress and high drama of the times. (Forgood reporting, see Norman Mailer's 'Miami and the Siege of Chicago').The 'hero' John Cassellis is shocked that his footage has been handedover by his employer to the FBI. So what else is new today? In sceneswith blacks militants he is accused of being an undercover FBI agent,and they knew what they were talking about, for until then he wasclueless. The world of the poor whites from the coal mines of WestVirginia, the banter in the newsroom about the role of journalism. Thespirit of the turbulent 60s has run out of steam but in some eddieshere and there of on the fringe reporters, social media and streameddailies or weeklies. And yet, documentaries are making a comeback, andshowing the grim side of life and some moments of good works. Episodicas the film is, it is worth seeing, to see how everything old is newagain
John Cassellis is the toughest TV-news reporter around. His area of interest is reporting about violence in the ghetto and racial tensions. But he discovers that his network helps the FBI by letting it look at his tapes to find suspects. When he protests, he is fired and goes to the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.
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