Ed Driscoll

Milieu Frosty

Right Wing Trash explores one of the more interesting cinematic curios from the late 1960s: Haskell Wexler’s quasi-guerrila cinema classic, Medium Cool. With four decades of hindsight, Wexler’s movie can be viewed as a sort of mirror image of Michael Moore’s work, which begin as documentaries but invariably end up as agitprop fiction, as the late Pauline Kael perceptively first noted over 20 years ago. In contrast, Wexler’s goal was to film a fictitious Hollywood drama with the background of real life swirling just behind it, in this case the 1968 Democratic Convention.

Medium Cool blended killer cinematography (Wexler’s primary forte) with then-standard-issue late-60s proto-punitive folk Marxist politics, along with a dash of McLuhan for seasoning–not to mention the film’s title itself. But its immediacy works against it in one sense: it seems much more locked into its era than Blowup, which was obviously once of Wexler’s inspirations. Which makes it a great time capsule of the rot of the late 1960s, with Mr. Sammler just off camera.

A couple of years ago, we looked at Michael Mann’s use of high definition video cameras to shoot the big screen version of Miami Vice, often hand-held in very low light. I wonder if any cameras–video or good ol’ movie film–will be rolling in Denver documenting the left’s latest efforts, Mobius Loop-style, to “Recreate ’68.”