For Reel

Medium Cool (1969)
July 20, 2016, 9:25 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Haskell Wexler
3.5 Stars
Medium CoolWhen Medium Cool opened in 1969, Roger Ebert called it a “perfect example of the new movie”, arguing that its form works so spectacularly because it has faith that the audience can infer much from just the images. It does, indeed, serve as a fruitful exploration of this time in American cinema—just as the New Hollywood movement challenged classical norms and demanded the major studios to take note, Medium Cool all but abandons its narrative for an exercise in the nature of truth. Seamlessly blending real and fiction elements, director Haskell Wexler argues that there is little difference between them. After all, the camera’s only function is to document a story, and the “truth” of the image becomes a highly political, challenged experiment when the filmmaker disavows familiar structure. More than its innovative form, Medium Cool is the sort of film that’s value may increase by the year, both serving as a remarkable document of a time in history (both in documenting sociopolitical unrest and late-60s Chicago) and an eerie reflection of just how little some things have changed. Whereas a film like Woodstock shows the era with a sentimentality that contemporary audiences are bound to find alienating, Medium Cool might as well have been shot yesterday.

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