Tonight’s movie was about an Icelandic grandpa with anger issues who scares everyone close to him, and threatens some with guns, but in the end is allowed to keep his job as a small-town cop. I complain about the trendy feel-good vibes in Everything Everywhere All at Once, but also don’t love watching movies about piece-of-shit dudes getting away with violent behavior, so what to do?

Our angry man Ingvar Sigurdsson was also in The Northman, which I missed in theaters because I decided to watch Crimes of the Future a third time instead. Enjoyed the biting string music, and most of the build-up before Ingvar destroys his psychiatrist’s computer then attacks and imprisons his own coworkers.

Love when a detective story involves library cards:

Best music (theater organist Travis McFarlane) and doc of the fest. Interrogating images and media coverage, avoiding easy/familiar archival riot footage by turning the images abstract. Centrist government commission released a report saying people were being repressed and cities needed massive funding, the gov’t’s only takeaway was to call for more police protection. Avoids the Dem convention in Chicago 1968 to show the jocular media coverage of minimal protests outside the Rep convention in Miami, and the protestors’ attempts to talk with local leadership. Nice archival ad for TV news sponsor Gulf selling a bug spray to rid yourself of unwanted abstract black dots, connected with footage of a private company selling a riot buggy to spray tear gas on crowds. Great abstract music and voiceover, writing and research. Would make a good double feature with All Light, Everywhere (or possibly with a fest feature we missed, 2nd Chance).

Lam Suet of every Johnnie To movie finally gets a major role as a bully fuckup cop – or so it seems, until the more capable Simon Yam takes over the movie, in search of the gun Lam lost while getting beaten by street kids. Not that Yam is so upstanding – his guys brutalize the youths, being careful to cover their tracks, and beat a red-haired asthmatic to death in an alley then manage to revive him. Suet steals evidence, makes a deal with the warring gangs, finds his gun (which it turns out he dropped in the scuffle and nobody picked up), the gang guys slaughter each other and the cops cover everything up. This more than compensates for Heroic Trio‘s portrayal of noble policemen with super abilities. Most importantly, this is on the early side of To’s spectacular run of great-looking movies – realism be damned, the actors glow as perfectly on the night streets as they do in neon-lit restaurants. Looks like Yam starred in a flurry of belated sequels.

A trap:

Sponsored by:

Double-featuring with Cotton Comes to Harlem, this is set in some of the same locations, driving past the Apollo during opening titles. And it’s a grim, joyless take on the same sort of story – cops and rival criminals all looking for stolen money, with a pair of cops as our heroes. This one replaces the humor and nudity with extra violence and racism, and yes it kills racist corrupt terrible cop Anthony Quinn in the final moments, but I got the feeling it wanted us to see this as a dark/unhappy ending.

Thieves dressed as cops rob a money room, killing everyone in it, and the Italians in charge want revenge – “We have to teach them a lesson, or we lose harlem.” Anthony Quinn is very mad that Yaphet Kotto is put in charge of his investigation, meanwhile Italian gangster Nick is reminding Black gangster Doc who pulls the strings, and the rest of the movie is Nick torturing the Black thieves and Anthony brutalizing Black suspects, while Yaphet and Doc stand by uncomfortably.

One weird thing about this movie: each character states their age aloud, I think the point being that everyone’s slightly desperate because they’re past the age when they should’ve been advancing in their organizations – or I’m giving the screenwriter too much credit.

I liked Paul Benjamin as the murderous lead robber (who throws his share of the cash to a playground full of kids as he’s dying) – he’d later play one of the three shit-talking corner guys in Do The Right Thing. His girl Gloria would play Maya Angelou’s sister in Poetic Justice, and Italian torturer Anthony Franciosa would star in Tenebre. Connections with Cotton: Doc’s enforcer Chevy led Cotton‘s five-man Black Berets group, and the robbers’ getaway driver Antonio Fargas (the first to die, after being extremely uncareful about throwing stolen money around) was in Putney Swope, which was shown playing on a marquee in Cotton. Shear followed up by replacing the fired Sam Fuller on The Deadly Trackers, which now I have even less incentive to watch.

“Lenny’s a racist, but he’s one of the good ones.” Filipe’s short letterboxd review kept coming to mind, “the overall absurdism does have its moments and Morris’s anger comes through,” especially when the movie ends with cops and feds getting cheerfully promoted for destroying the lives of cool weirdos. Lead weirdo is Moses, who runs a black militant duck farm. Agent Anna Kendrick is looking for people to set up to take credit for saving the world from terrorism I guess. The feds determine Moses’s crew is no threat, but after Moses sells fake uranium to nazi cop Jim Gaffigan (!), the higher-ups get involved and everybody below goes to jail.

Moses presides:

Danielle Brooks (Clemency the same year) gives Santa a touch-up:

Afrika nails informant Kayvan Novak (Four Lions):

Since I already watched one movie this week where Anya Taylor-Joy costars with a guy with multiple-personality delusions. Security supplies dude Bruce is joined by his son Joseph (Spencer Clark, same actor as in Unbreakable when he was 12! Now with black Hellraiser eyes). Bruce catches up with Horde who has kidnapped some cheerleaders, and the cops take them both to the same facility where Mr. Glass is being held.

Sarah Paulson (Fassbender’s slaveowner wife in 12 Years a Slave) is a phony-sounding psych specializing in delusions of grandeur, and will spend the rest of the movie trying to talk these men out of the idea that they’re heroes or villains, saying Bruce just has a brain cloud. This is the Glen or Glenda of superhero movies, overexplaining all its ideas – I flipped off the TV more often than I usually do. The movie ends with its own clip reel getting released as a viral video, thanks to some hacker code quickly written (complete with comments, lol) by Glass. It’s the super-serious parts of X-Men movies without the fun parts. At least I appreciate that M. Night ends the story on a note of needless police brutality.

Oops I’d been trying to avoid police brutality movies, then put this on without knowing what it’s about. Got what I deserved with the icky ending, a beaten wife pledging to wait for her new man, a crooked violent cop heading to jail for killing a man and framing her dad.

Cool trick shot, the two cops are the same guy:

Dana “Night of the Demon” Andrews is bad cop Dixon, busted down a rank by bignose lieutenant Karl Malden, determined to prove himself by busting chill sniffy gambler Gary Merrill (All About Eve the same year). While shaking down one of Gary’s players for info, Dana knocks the guy’s block off then spends the rest of the movie covering up his crime. Besides the trick shot above (seriously, I was glad for once that the characters begin every other line by saying each other’s name, since they all kinda look the same) there’s a neat bit where time passes via light-play on a miniature(?) of the city. The Girl is The Ghost and Mrs. Muir star Gene Tierney, separated wife of the newly-dead guy, who falls for her husband’s killer even as her sweetie dad Tom Tully is being held for the murder.

Louisiana and Mississippi, cutting between different threads. After the lovely and gentle Stop the Pounding Heart led to the intimate look of The Other Side led to the racist militia at the end of that movie, it’s nice to reset and spend time with the New Black Panther Party. And after a month of watching movies on the laptop screen, it’s nice to see this on the big(ger) screen, experiencing as close as I’ll get to cinema this summer.

Michael Sicinski on Mubi via letterboxd:

As with Minervini’s previous films, there is something both startling and a bit disconcerting about the degree of access he achieves, as well as the fact that his camera crew is almost never acknowledged. How does he get so close, capturing key emotional moments like Judy’s cousin Michael finally visiting his mother’s gravesite, or Judy herself meeting a fellow addict and describing her years of abuse? One of the things that Minervini accomplishes in What You Gonna Do…, both with these scenes, the New Black Panther meetings, and in some consciousness-raising moments in Judy’s bar, is a careful depiction of free black discourse, the kind of discussion about identity, politics, and culture that a community can have when they are not worried about how outside listeners will misconstrue their words.

“Cops are pigs / cops eat shit!” You know when your cynical movie opens with a couple of news guys chancing upon a car wreck and filming the dying victims before bothering to call an ambulance, the movie’s gonna end with the death of a main character and the camera looking back at us, accusingly.

Pausing to get a beer halfway in, I looked up the female lead Verna Bloom (paper-mache artist in After Hours, Mary in Last Temptation of Christ) and realized our lead is Robert Forster – I had no idea, never seen him young before. Forster wheels around town with his soundman (Peter Bonerz of Catch-22, later director of Police Academy 6: City Under Siege) in the lead-up to the ill-fated Democratic National Convention. They follow a kid home and Forster falls for his mom Eileen (Verna).

Robert and Verna enjoying some TV:

The movie has character to burn. Playful editing, very mobile camera, and full of Zappa songs. A black community confronts the white camera crew about exploitation in the media, the morals of Mondo Cane are discussed, and in a movie (/city/year) where police are the villains, the reporters discover that their TV bosses have been letting cops study their raw footage. After Forster is fired, and before he’s hired by someone else to cover the convention, he seems like a calm and okay guy, just a good dude who loves shooting film and hanging out with Eileen and her pigeon-loving son Harold – so it’s the profession that’s sick, not him personally.

This would’ve been a vaguely-memorable late’60’s anti-establishment movie, but for the ending. Harold goes missing, Forster’s at the convention, so Eileen walks the city wearing a bright yellow dress in the midst of the real police riots – some of the most intense location shooting I’ve seen.

Wexler shot everything from Burt Reynolds’ film debut in 1961 to Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Conversation, to Hal Ashby and John Sayles movies, to concert docs and a Zappa video.

There’s shooting and there’s shooting:

Thomas Beard for Criterion on the movie’s True/Falsey nature:

Wexler has had a kind of double life as an artist, known both for his poetic reportage and for his role as a studio craftsman, and his bifurcated career is mirrored in the dual nature of Medium Cool … To watch a fiction film and subordinate its plot and characterizations to the documentary value of the world it depicts, or, alternatively, to watch a documentary and constantly question its veracity, is to read the work against the grain. Given the design of Medium Cool, a film that explicitly functions as both document and fantasy at once, to view it at all is to read it against the grain. It’s a movie whose very composition not only allows for but demands multiple kinds of perception and visual thinking; it preserves its own disorder.